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What is Pin Pad and why you need one for your business?

Whether you are buying food at the local supermarket, ask for a bill at a restaurant or take a taxi ride, when it comes to paying, the majority of us pulls out a credit card. Even though cash is a king, more and more consumers find it more practical to pay with a card, and it would not be possible without this little black device that the merchants use to accept payments.

What is Pin Pad?

Pin Pad is an electronic device used to accept debit or credit card payments that require a PIN (Personal Identification Number) and therefore, the presence of a cardholder is obligatory. With a growth of credit card payments PIN Pad has become a standard way of charging clients at a checkout counter of most major retailers around the world.

How does Pin Pad work?

Pin Pad is a device whose main function is to enable payment by credit or debit card, although it can already be done with the smartphone (if it has NFC, or short-range wireless technology). The operation is very simple and we all know how to use it. But what actually happens when we swipe up a credit card through the Pin Pad?

In order to make a purchase, the card holder has to pass the card through the magnetic stripe reader of the device or close to it, if it is contactless. Once the system recognizes the card the Pin Pad is responsible for connecting with the bank issuer. Sometimes as a security measure, it is necessary to introduce a PIN number in order to provide the vendor with the access to our funds. It takes only few seconds for the system to contact the bank and send an encrypted message to verify the card holder and current balance of the funds available.

Once the payment is authorized the machine prints out a small invoice as a proof of a transaction that took place.

Benefits of paying with a card via Pin Pad

  • Security levels used to verify the identity of a card holder through PIN number.
  • For businesses it is an additional was to accept payments and this way increase the sales.
  • No need to carry around large amounts of cash.

Pin Pad vs. POS terminal

Even though the concepts of Pin Pad and POS terminal are similar there are some differences in these two methods to accept payments.

POS Terminal

It is a comprehensive management system for your business. POS, which means Point of Sale Terminal is the sum of software tools and hardware devices that controls the whole process: card charges, tickets and invoices, inventory, etc.

Pin Pad

Pin Pad is one of the hardware devices that may or may not be a part of the POS system for which you have opted for your business. For example, if your commercial activity is 100% online, you will need a virtual POS terminal and not a Pin Pad. On the other hand, if you have a grocery store, surely a physical payment terminal will be essential to charge your clients. As Pin Pad is a very common device and we are very used to it, in many occasions the term Pin Pad is used to refer to the entire POS system.

How to choose a Pin Pad for your business?

Pin Pads: fixed, mobile or offline

Because not all businesses have the same needs, there are several types of Pin Pads to offer different options for commercial activities.

The fundamental function of the device is the ability to connect with the bank. If we want a Pin Pad located in a fixed point of our business, we can connect it to the traditional telephone network.

But imagine this: you are on the terrace of a restaurant and ask for the bill. The most normal thing is for the waiter to bring you a mobile Pin Pad. It may be working with a Wi-Fi connection that allows charging at any point where it reaches the network.

If we have to go out to make a payment outside our usual office, the safest thing is that we use a GPRS communication similar to that of a smartphone. They work with a SIM card from a telephone operator and connect when necessary to charge the card.

There are other kinds of high-risk terminals called offline Pin Pads. These terminals are not usually provided by banks since they can be used to charge a card without the presence of the holder. This type of Pin Pad is very difficult to obtain since risk of making fraudulent charges is very high.

How to contract Pin Pad for your business?

The Pin Pad can be contracted with the bank that gives you the most confidence or makes you the best commissions. They provide you with the physical device according to the contractual conditions that you have agreed.

It is important that you study the market a bit. Keep in mind that it is a product offered by a financial institution, and as such you must select what suits your business needs best. Thoroughly check the rental rates of the terminal, maintenance, security, conditions for payment with foreign cards, in case you use a contactless Pin Pad, the requirements to authorize operations (for example, from what amount you need to enter the PIN) etc.

Finally, like any other product you purchase, we recommend that you thoroughly analyze your real needs and the profile of your customers. Calculate if it compensates you for the use that you are going to give the Pin Pad with what it will cost you its maintenance.

If you are not sure if your business needs that service or not, perhaps it is better that you leave it at the moment and after a while evaluate it again.

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