For most of us, it’s hard to even imagine a world without credit cards. Yet plenty of consumers – as well as some merchants – take the convenience of smart terminals for granted.Even if you’re getting into ISO sales or looking at credit card processing options for your business, there’s plenty about smart terminals you might not know.So, today we’re covering everything related to smart terminals, from how they work and how they’ve evolved over the years to the top features and benefits of modern terminals.
Let’s just backtrack for a moment to establish what we’re talking about. A credit card terminal is a device that allows merchants to process debit and credit card transactions electronically. They’re also referred to as point-of-sale machines, credit card terminals, and EFTPOS terminals.A smart terminal is a modern version of the credit card terminal that, in addition to processing transactions, allows merchants to manage their business more efficiently. We'll go into more detail on this in a bit.
Smart terminals allow merchants to swipe, insert, or manually enter credit card data for fast and convenient checkouts. Most modern terminals also accept nearfield communication (NFC) transactions for even faster tap-and-pay options (for example, Apple Pay and Google Pay).When a customer uses their card to make a payment, the terminal submits a request to the merchant services provider and the information is passed to the acquiring bank for authorization. Then, once the payment is verified, the funds are electronically transferred to the merchant and the sale is completed. Most smart terminals submit credit card data over an internet connection. They can be hardwired or wireless. Wireless terminals use Bluetooth, WIFI, cellular networks, and satellite networks to process payments.
This versatility allows smart terminals to function just about anywhere, so customers can use cards to make purchases in almost any scenario – whether they’re in a store, on a flight, or somewhere without great cell reception.From the customer’s perspective, tapping their card on a smart terminal is infinitely easier and more secure than carrying around cash for every purchase. From the merchant’s perspective, smart terminals are a safer and more efficient way to capture credit card details than manually recording them. Plus, smart terminals interface with banks in real-time to protect merchants from unknowingly accepting unverified payments.
Smart terminals go above and beyond basic payment processing. Software upgrades allow merchants to enjoy new features that add value to their business in other ways.For instance, terminals can be equipped with accounting software to simplify payroll, data analytics tools to optimize business practices, as well as the ability to add loyalty programs and gift card processing to offer holistic customer experiences.
Let’s take a look back at how terminals have evolved over the years into the convenient tap-and-go machines we use today.
Modern smart terminals have certainly come a long way from the zip-zap machines businesses once used to manually copy a customer’s credit card data. These days, there are a number of popular companies in the smart terminal space and a variety of terminals to choose from – each with unique features and benefits that appeal to merchants in different ways.To give you a sense of what’s available, here’s an overview of some of the best smart terminal providers in business today.
Clover is a cloud-based POS system owned by payment processing firm First Data. It’s available to merchants who use Clover hardware to receive debit and credit card payments. Their product line includes the Clover Mini, the Clover Station, and Clover Mobile.
PAX supplies secure electronic payment terminal hardware and transactional software. Their products include countertop, mobile, and smart terminals supported by the PAXSTORE open software distribution platform.
Poynt creates hardware, software, and apps that help merchants process transactions. Their solutions allow business to take payments on-the-go, customize their checkout experience, and integrate Poynt terminals with major POS systems. Poynt devices come with access to Poynt HQ, which enables merchants to monitor transactions and manage as many terminals as they need.
As one of the original names in electronic payment processing, Verifone’s earliest terminals transformed the way merchants accept payments from customers. Today, they’re one of the biggest POS terminal vendors and process 7.6 billion payments annually. Earlier this month, Verifone announced that they will be acquired by technology investment firm Francisco Partners.
A smart terminal is a great addition to any ISO sales offering. We've seen massive adoption of smart terminals in the middle of the market, which by volume is the largest number of merchants. Smart terminals are perfect for businesses that want more than just a dumb credit card terminal to accept payments but don't need the full-featured product of enterprise POS solutions.These smart terminals are relatively inexpensive when compared to their POS brothers and provide the greatest bang for the buck in terms of value to the business.Are you interesting in selling smart terminals? Get in touch with us and we can help you select the best product for your business and customers. We work with all major smart terminals brands and have established reseller programs that are simple and inexpensive to get started.