Many people now leave the house with only their credit or debit card and the only way you can serve them is by having a card payment terminal to accept payments.
Increasingly shops of all sizes, from supermarkets to corner shops have some sort of card terminal. If your competitors are offering the option to pay by card you may well miss out on custom by not having a card payment terminal.
The system in place in the UK and Europe is EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) though it is more commonly referred to as chip and PIN and the payment terminals as chip and PIN machines. Incidentally Europay no longer exists as it was bought out by Mastercard in 2002.
Using the chip and PIN system means that cards can’t be replicated like magnetic strip cards can as each card has a unique chip. In Europe there was a switch over from magnetic strip cards to EMV in the 1990s and in the US they are now switching over too.
Contactless cards are now being introduced in the UK and Europe. Using a contactless card the customer can make payment by simply waving the card near the payment terminal. The terminal has to be set up to receive contactless payments which are made via a short range magnetic field. This technology is known as Near Field Communication or NCF.
Mobile payments are also being introduced currently. This form of payment requires nothing but a mobile phone. Google Wallet and ISIS are the main 2 companies in the space at present though there are many other companies with offerings and large companies like PayPal will be offering mobile payments soon.
In order to accept card and mobile payments a payment terminal is required. For a typical high street retailer this will be a single, wired, counter-top terminal. Portable terminals are commonly used in the hospitality industry and mobile terminals can be used anywhere there is a mobile phone signal.
The payment terminal works in combination with a merchant acquiring bank to process payments. Your business will need a merchant account set up by the bank to accept payments. The terminals can then be bought or rented from the bank or sourced elsewhere. The rates can vary from bank to bank and you should be aware of all the fees including rental, setup costs, the minimum monthly service charge and cost per transaction.