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Credit card readers for small businesses

Credit card readers for small businesses

2 August 2018 Product Information

Nowadays card readers are so commonplace you may not even remember the last time you visited a ‘cash-only’ business. Even if you do, perhaps at the time you thought how outmoded it seemed not to have a digital or card payment option. Maybe you didn’t have cash on you, so had to abandon the transaction altogether…


Card Readers Enable Small Business Growth

In a society increasingly dependent on debit or credit card transactions, it makes obvious sense for any business to have a card payments system. There are upwards of 2.2m card readers in the UK today. Forecasters expect cash payments to make up just over one in four (27%) of all payments by 2026.

Due to the rise in payment technology, cash usage in general is falling. Customers no longer want to carry around wads of cash for transactions – no matter how large or small. If someone wants make a purchase they expect to be able to do it by card payment. The net effect of this is that the proportion of payments using physical currency has declined from 62% of all transactions in 2006, to about 40% in 2016, with a further fall to about 21% expected by 2026.


The 3 types of small business card readers

With so many card payment companies’ products, understanding what best suits your specific business needs can be a little daunting. So whether you’re a small business, just getting started or a more established operation, you’ll find this guide helpful for understanding the types of card readers available for small businesses.


1. Countertop Credit Card Reader

No doubt you will have encountered these machines – they’re now widely adopted by the retail industry, including major supermarkets and department stores. Countertop card readers connect to the internet via dial-up or ethernet cable. They’re best suited for businesses operating from a fixed premises, such as retailers, hair & beauty salons, fast food outlets or corner-shops.


Benefits of using a Countertop Credit Card Reader

Countertop card readers are straightforward and ready to use straight out of the box. They can be integrated into an existing EPOS setup or installed as a stand-alone system. Solidly built, and often secured to the table top or self-checkout counter they allow the quick and easy card transactions we take for granted every day.


2. Portable Credit Card Reader

Portable or Wireless credit card readers are the perfect payment solution within the hospitality sector, allowing you to take customer payments from any location around your restaurant, bar, café, or pub. That’s great news for your staff members and your customers — staff don’t have to pointlessly walk back and forth and customers are able to pay while seated at their table. The information required to conduct a transaction from the portable reader is passed wirelessly from the portable reader to the base unit, which in turn is transferred via a fixed telephone line. Only then is the merchant’s service provider contacted for authorisation. It is important to note that portable card readers differ slightly from fully mobile card readers in that they will only work within a certain range from the base unit (usually up to 100m).


Benefits of using a Portable Credit Card Reader

These portable card readers extend the capabilities of countertops but do not offer the potential for fully mobile payment services, which enable payments to be made well outside of the business premises. Portable credit card readers contain a long-life battery which recharges when the unit is put in its docking station. The range is excellent, usually up to 100m via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Portable card readers are also ergonomically designed and compact enough to be carried.


3. Mobile Credit Card Reader

If you operate a mobile business (or if you work at festivals and events) you can take a mobile card reader with you, which means you can take payments from wherever you happen to be. Mobile card readers feature a built-in GPRS SIM which takes advantage of the interconnectivity of the mobile phone network and Wi-Fi hotspots to connect you with your customer’s bank. The transaction can proceed when the customer inserts their card into the mobile card reader. Once the customer is satisfied and agrees to the transaction, the merchant service provider is contacted via the mobile phone network (or through Wi-Fi if the smart device is connected to an available service). At this point, the payment is authorised with the transaction information being displayed on screen within the app.


Benefits of using a Portable Credit Card Reader

As well as being able to connect to the mobile network and being small and portable, they can also produce receipts, either by printing them out or emailing a digital copy to the customer, so the entire process is kept wireless and fully mobile. This means that goods and services can be paid for in virtually any location, whether indoors or out.


Give Your Customers What They Expect

Think about your own experience as a consumer and apply it to your business. When you make a purchase, do you pay by cash, write a cheque or use a card as payment? Has there been an instance where you’ve not been able to pay via your preferred method? With all the payment options now available, customers expect businesses of all sizes to accommodate their preferred payment choice.

By using a small business card reader and displaying the logos of payment methods you accept, you establish your business credentials and grab the cardholder’s attention. If they prefer a particular payment method you offer, research suggests it develops a stronger sense of trust in your business. As high street banks are closing and cash points become harder to find, not taking card payments means that your customer may take their business elsewhere.

Paymentsense provides affordable credit card reader solutions for small businesses of all shapes. Price plans and set-up costs will depend on things like card transaction volume, the type(s) of card readers you require and the nature of your business.

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