Chip and pin is part of our lives. Four digits and a piece of plastic is all that’s needed to pay for anything from a morning coffee to that expensive watch for Christmas (you have got all your presents by now – right?!) The chip and pin terminals or PDQs (Process Data Quickly) have become the staple of any company who want to take larger payments at events. As the cheque looks destined to bow out (perhaps?) shortly we take a quick look at some of the key points of PDQ machines in a mobile environment as they can be the cause of much pain.
Merchant Account – Anyone who accepts payments from a card needs a merchant account. Issued by the banks it can be a lengthy application process so leave plenty of time when applying. In our experience to keep a merchant account live you’ll need to have a PDQ of some type – this is typically a phone line based model you can keep in the office. The merchant account and terminal rental have a monthly fee normally around £20.
Transaction Fees– The downside of card payment are the transaction fees, typically for credit cards these are around 2.5% of the transaction amount. For debit cards the fee is normally a fixed amount of around 35p per transaction.
Mobile Terminals – If you are going to be using your PDQ out and about all the time then go for a mobile terminal as your default instead of a telephone line based model. The main reason people don’t go for these all the time is because mobile units (by which I mean GPRS connected) have a higher monthly charge just like a cellular data card.
GPRS Connectivity– When looking at a mobile terminal you’ll need to select the right type of connectivity to keep it working. A GPRS terminal works in a similar to a cellular Internet data dongle. Connected to the cellular data network the unit will work anywhere with mobile phone reception for whichever mobile operator you select. This is great for smaller stands who operate at venues or locations where the amount of attendees is not excessive, by which I mean the cellular network will continue to operate. The issue here is as the attendee numbers for the event increase the mobile phone network becomes slower to respond and may become overloaded. We have all experienced not being able to make calls at big events – the same problem exists for the GPRS terminal – it will just stop working, often at a critical point. In 2010 we have seen a significant rise in the number of events that have experienced problems with GPRS devices due to the network being overloaded.
Wired/Wi-Fi Connectivity – The latest PDQ units are now shipping with Wi-Fi or cabled network connectivity built in. For those people who work at large events when the mobile phone network is not reliable this type of connectivity is a reliable way of ensuring you can continue to process transactions regardless of the mobile phone networks. The challenge here is the event needs to have a Wi-Fi or wired network in place – many of the larger events now do but the best thing to do is check beforehand.
Short Term Terminal Rental– Many companies like the option of renting PDQ machines for a short period, especially for events where they need Wi-Fi or GPRS units. There are several companies that rent units (including ourselves) but it is important to note there is a lead time of around 14 days to get your merchant id added to the temporary unit and some banks have additional restrictions which need to be removed. For PDQ rental you still need to have your own merchant id.
So whatever choice you make a PDQ terminal can be invaluable for any business on the road. Increased transaction amounts and greater security are just some of the obvious benefits but beware the pitfalls and make sure you plan well in advance of when you need the service operating. As always we are happy to provide advice on types of machine, connectivity, pros and cons etc. to help you make the right decision for your business.