A card terminal is a device used by merchants to accept credit and debit card payments for goods or services. It can be a portable handheld unit, a fixed countertop unit or a software-based virtual card terminal that connects to a merchant account. These devices capture the payment details, transmit them to a merchant services provider or bank for verification and then deposit the funds into the merchant’s account. The merchant or their customers then use the funds to pay for their purchase.
A terminal can process a variety of different types of cards, including magstripe and EMV chip cards, and may support additional features such as NFC (near field communication) and QR code payments or P2P payment apps. Some terminals also have the ability to print receipts. Stand-alone terminals can be either proprietary or universal machines – the former are restricted to one processor’s platform, while the latter can be used with several different providers.
In addition to the hardware, a terminal can include a computerized display and keypad that allows the merchant or their customer to enter the sales amount, and optionally type in a personal identification number. Once this information is entered, the card’s magnetic stripe or EMV chip will be scanned and the transaction confirmed or declined by the merchant services provider.
Mobile and wireless terminals can provide similar functionality but are much more portable, and are a great option for merchants who do not work out of a storefront, such as home repair specialists or service businesses that perform work at the customer’s home. These terminals typically transmit their card processing data over Wi-Fi or cellular network connections, and can also allow a client to submit payment details online and then pay via an app on their smartphone. card terminal