Point of sale is a term used to describe the place where a sale takes place. On the high street the point of sale will commonly occur at a till or checkout so they are sometimes referred to as a POS. If card payments are taken at the POS a POS terminal is required. Types of POS:
Fixed countertop terminals are commonly used in retail. They are suitable where all payments are taken in one place on the business premises. The terminal is normally connected to the till and payments are verified with the bank via a phone line or internet connection. In the UK countertop terminals process payments using chip and PIN, though they may also be equipped for swipe and sign payments. Paper receipts are issued from the terminal once payment is approved.
Portable terminals are commonly used in hospitality. Where a business needs to accept payments at multiple locations within their premises portable terminals are the most suitable option. Payments are verified with the bank through a central hub which is located on the premises. Portable terminals process chip and PIN payments and may be equipped for swipe and sign. A paper receipt is issued from the terminal once the sale has been approved.
Mobile POS terminals are used where the point of sale is outside the merchant’s premises. A mobile phone signal is used to verify payments with the bank and this may be done through the terminal or through a smartphone or tablet. It used to be that you needed a mobile chip and PIN terminal which could perform the whole transaction. Now it is possible to get a mobile card reader which works with an internet enabled mobile device like a smartphone. Payments are processed via an app and the customer is sent a receipt by text or email once payment is approved.
Contactless payments are a way of accepting card payments without the need for the customer to enter their PIN. A contactless POS terminal is able to read the card details at short range through a technology called near field communication (NCF). There is currently a limit of £20 for contactless payments in the UK making this type of payment suitable for retailers processing many transactions of less than £20 where payment speed is important. Many banks now issue contactless cards to their customers as standard so this type of terminal is likely to become common on the high street soon. NCF can also be used for mobile payments which are payments where customers use their smartphone to pay rather than a payment card. Mobile payments are currently being trialed in the UK.