Shopping online or in-person involves many things, most of which we usually take for granted. Take credit card terminals for instance. These little devices are found everywhere business is done, but we rarely give much thought to them.
Why are some on a countertop? Why are others connected to a smartphone? What about online transactions? Here are some interesting snippets of information to remember next time you’re shopping in person or online.
#1: Credit Card Terminals Vary
Credit card terminals have evolved with the changing business landscape so that they now come in all shapes and sizes.
Among others, you might have seen and used: a vendor’s smartphone with a small “dongle” credit card reader attached, mini devices with 5-inch touchscreens, making them similar in size to a smartphone, all-in-one “smart” terminals which print receipts and allow for barcode scanning, devices with keypads to allow customers to use debit and EBT cards, terminals with two devices: one for the customer, one for the merchant. These allow the customer to enter their PIN and other details without passing a terminal back-and-forth.
The most important thing about these devices is that they fit the needs of the business using them. These can change over time. For example, a food truck might move to a physical (bricks and mortar) location. By doing so, they might switch from a smartphone-based reader to a physical credit card terminal at the checkout register.
Others might find that having only one physical terminal slows down the checkout experience. They may get mini devices that can be used by staff closer to their customers. (This is a common solution for restaurants.)
#2: Designed with Security In Mind
Credit card companies are hyper-vigilant about security for good reason. The US Federal Trade Commission recently reported that, in 2021 alone, it received over 5.7 million consumer reports about fraud, identity theft, and other consumer protection topics.
These reports led to $5.9 billion in total losses. One interesting finding was that younger people (aged 20-29) reported losing money to fraud more often than older people (aged 70-79). Credit card companies play a key role in protecting consumers against fraud. To do this, they have introduced Payment Card Industry Council standards that merchants and card terminal providers must meet.
Credit card issuers have also adopted various technologies, including EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) microchip-embedded card payments, and NFC (near field communication) technology which, when used with Apple Pay or Google Pay, requires the buyer’s and seller’s devices to be physically close to each other.
#3: Helps with Business & Inventory Management
Modern “smart” point of sale systems can help businesses grow. Credit card terminals fit within these systems by helping business owners keep track of stock, set low-stock alerts, and even track inventory in spreadsheets. They also play a key role in human resources management, by helping with employee scheduling, performance tracking, and even forecasting.
A terminal might just be a small box, but, in the right hands, it’s a powerful business tool.