Merchant services may seem complicated to figure out, and choices abound. Both SMEs in Ireland as well as established larger businesses are confronted with an array of options, from traditional card readers and EPOS systems to cutting edge online payment systems and API integrations. Indeed, the payment landscape is vast – and the decisions are critical.
At New Payment Innovation, we understand that making informed choices about merchant services is pivotal to your business’s success. That’s why we offer tailored solutions to businesses of all sizes and sectors.
This comprehensive guide to merchant services will equip you with the insights necessary to optimise your payment process and grow your business with ease. To demonstrate, we’ll look into the world of EMV chip and pin card solutions, various virtual terminal options, the importance of payment security, and more.
Prefer a one-on-one conversation to get the info you need? Contact NPI payment experts today to get all your questions answered. Want to talk to someone now? Give us a shout at 01 44 75299
What are Merchant Services?
Merchant services are the financial tools and solutions that make it easy for businesses to accept payments from customers. Whether you own an online shop, a fine-dining restaurant, or a mobile dog grooming business, you’ll need the payment processing power of professional merchant services.
These types of services include handling in-store payments with card machines, taking online payments, and even taking payments over the phone – plus a few more payment options. Merchant servcice providers supply payment technology, like card readers and payment gateways that businesses need to process payments safely and efficiently. They also offer important features like data analysis to help businesses understand their customers better and make data-driven decisions.
In an increasingly digital world, the significance of payment terminals cannot be overstated. Payment terminals serve as a gateway between a business and its customers, facilitating secure, efficient, and convenient transactions. And as we witness a global shift away from cash-based transactions, payment terminals have emerged as a necessity of modern commerce.
Knowing which payment terminal is the ideal option for your needs is crucial for growing your business. Below are the three types of payment terminals available, and who should use them. But first…
What is a Payment Terminal?
Just what is a payment terminal?
A payment terminal is a type of card reader. They are designed to read credit cards, debit cards, and increasingly contactless payment methods, like Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Typically, these debit and credit card machines not only read the card’s information, but also facilitate the secure processing of transactions, allowing customers to pay for goods or services.
Wired Payment Terminals
Wired payment terminals are stationary devices that connect to a business’s network through physical cables, such as Ethernet or phone lines. They are typically found at fixed checkout points, like in grocery stores.
How they work: When a customer initiates a transaction by swiping, inserting, or tapping their card, the wired card machine captures the card data and securely transmits it to the payment processor via the wired connection. This connection ensures a reliable and stable link for transaction processing.
Advantages of a Wired Payment Terminal
- Reliability: Wired terminals, connected via Ethernet or phone lines, provide a stable and consistent connection, making them ideal for businesses with consistent sales volumes throughout the day.
- Security: Wired terminals often feature enhanced security measures, protecting sensitive customer data during transactions.
Limitations of a Wired Payment Terminal
- Fixed Location: Wired payment terminals are stationary, limiting their use to brick-and-mortar establishments.
- Installation: Setting up a wired terminal may require professional installation and ongoing maintenance.
Which Businesses Need a Wired Payment Terminal
While lots of industries and business types can benefit from a wired payment terminal, here are a few specific businesses that may get the most out of a wired card machine setup.
- Brick-and-mortar retailers
- Supermarkets and grocery stores
- Sit-down restaurants
- Gas stations
- Healthcare facilities
- Car rental agencies
- Wholesale and B2B businesses
Wireless Payment Terminal
Wireless payment terminals are portable devices that allow businesses to accept card payments without relying on a fixed physical connection. They typically connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or cellular networks.
How it Works: These card readers communicate wirelessly with a payment processor, enabling transactions from various locations. These are self-contained devices, like wired payment terminals; they function without having to connect to another device.
Advantages of a Wireless Payment Terminal
- Flexibility: Wireless payment terminals go where you go, so you can take payments from multiple points around your business. You’re not stuck at a single counter.
- Customer Convenience: Eliminate crowding and queues by bringing payment to the customer.
- Higher Turnover: If you’re taking payments for a restaurant, table turn-over is a must. A wireless payment terminal helps you serve more customers faster.
Limitations of a Wireless Payment Terminal
- Connectivity: In remote areas or locations with poor network coverage, wireless terminals may encounter connectivity issues.
- Battery Life: Continuous usage may require more frequent terminal recharging, making them less suitable for high volume businesses. An additional card reader will help solve this problem.
Which Businesses Need a Wireless Payment Terminal
Businesses who rely on flexibility to accept credit card payments will readily benefit from a wireless payment terminal. A few of these business scenarios include:
- Restaurants and cafes
- Tradeshows and exhibitions
- Fitness instructors and personal trainers
- Salon services
- Independent consultants
- Outdoor events and festivals
- Food delivery
- Food trucks
- Concert venues
Mobile Payment Terminals
Mobile payment terminals are compact devices that can be paired with smartphones or tablets. They leverage the mobile device’s connectivity and processing power to accept payments.
How it works: To use a mobile payment terminal, it needs to be connected to a compatible smartphone or tablet, usually via Bluetooth. The terminal then interacts with a payment app on the mobile device to process transactions. When a customer makes a payment, the mobile terminal captures the card data, communicates with the paired mobile device, and securely sends the transaction data for processing.
Advantages of a Mobile Payment Terminal
- Versatility: Mobile payment terminals offer a blend of mobility and convenience. If you do business from lots of different places, you don’t have to worry about a wired connection or ensuring a good Wi-Fi signal.
- Cost-Effectiveness: These smaller payment terminals are less expensive and less complicated to set up, making them more accessible to small businesses.
Limitations of a Mobile Payment Terminal
- Device Compatibility: Mobile terminals depend on compatible devi es, which can limit their use in some scenarios.
- Security Considerations: Making sure that mobile transactions are secure is essential, especially when using personal smartphones or tablets.
Which Businesses Need a Merchant Services Mobile Payment Terminal
Because mobile card readers are so versatile, a lot of different business types and sizes can easily take advantage of all they have to offer, especially if their business is on the go.
- Artisan and craft vendors
- Event planners
- Traveling dog groomers
- Personal trainers
- Mental health workers
- Food stall vendors
An EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) system is a comprehensive payment processing solution that can do a lot more than just take payments. And chances are you’ve seen them before.
What is an EPOS System?
An EPOS system is a face-to-face payment system that can quickly and accurately process transactions. But beyond that, it can also store data, manage inventory, track sales, and interact with customers. It works by connecting hardware, like barcode scanners, receipt printers, and cash drawers, to software that processes transactions and tracks inventory.
Advantages of EPOS
- Efficient Transactions: EPOS systems streamline the entire checkout process, making it quicker and more efficient, which means reduced wait times for customers.
- Inventory Management: Being able to track sales and inventory in one place streamlines management.
- Reports and Analytics: Comprehensive EPOS systems generate detailed sales reports and can provide valuable insights into trends, customer preferences, and revenue patterns, leading to easy data-drive decision-making.
- Multi-Location Management: Businesses can easily track sales data and inventory across multiple locations
- Loyalty Programs: EPOS allows businesses to set up unique loyalty programs, which encourages customer retention and increases sales.
Limitations of EPOS
- Cost: EPOS systems are generally more costly than payment terminals.
- Training: Staff may need training to effectively and correctly use the EPOS system.
- Scalability: Some EPOS systems may not easily scale to accommodate the needs of growing businesses, so finding the right solution for small, medium, and large businesses is essential.
Which Businesses Need an EPOS System
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from a great EPOS system. It’s especially important for businesses that need to track inventory, offer loyalty programs or schedule appointments.
- Clothing boutiques
- Vape shops
- Restaurants and cafes
- Bars and nightclubs
- Hotels and other accommodation
- Salons and spas
- Vet clinics
- Convenience stores
- Museums and attractions
- Fitness centres and gyms
Online Payment Systems
According to the Central Statistics Office, nearly half of all enterprises (44%) in 2022 had eCommerce sales. Medium-sized businesses had the largest proportion, with 54% opting for online sales. 41% of small businesses in Ireland also had eCommerce sales. In fact, the need for eCommerce rose sharply in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic, when consumers had little in-person shopping availability.
It’s no wonder that having a reliable online payment system is a priority for many businesses in Ireland. Here’s what you need to know about online payment systems.
What is an Online Payment System
An online payment system, sometimes called an electronic payment system or e-payment system, is a digital platform that enables businesses and customers to conduct financial transactions over the internet. These gateways facilitate the secure transfer of funds for goods or services, cutting the need for physical currency or checks.
Advantages of an Online Payment System
- Convenience: Customers can make payments from anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection.
- Wider Reach: Businesses can tap into a broader customer base by accepting payments from around the world.
- Fast Transactions: Online payments are processed quickly, reducing the time required for transactions.
- Fewer Errors: Automated processes result in fewer errors compared to manual payment methods.
- Enhanced Security: Robust encryption and security measures protect sensitive financial information.
- No Brick-and-Mortar Required: Having a reliable online payment system means business-owners don’t have to have a traditional walk-in shop.
Limitations of an Online Payment System
- Technical Issues: Software glitches or connectivity problems could disrupt transactions. Access to developer resources can help mitigate these issues.
- Transaction Fees: Some online payment providers charge transaction fees, so it’s best to compare rates.
- Customer Adoption: Not every customer will feel comfortable or familiar with online payments.
Which Businesses Need an Online Payment System
If you want to sell something online, then finding the right payment gateway for accepting payments online is for you.
- ECommerce-only retailers
- Online service providers, like web designers, writers, tutors, etc.
- Subscription services
- Restaurants and food delivery
- Nonprofits and charities
- Event management
- Digital products and downloads
- Fitness and wellness
- Artists and musicians
Hosted forms are secure webpages or popup windows provided by merchant service providers or eCommerce platforms. They allow customers to enter payment information, such as credit card details and billing addresses, securely during the checkout processes. Hosted forms are hosted on the provider’s server, ensuring the highest level of security.
Benefits of Hosted Forms
- Security: Using hosted forms means the payment service provider handles security. With professionals handling gateway security, there is less risk of data breaches, keeping customer information private.
- Simplified Compliance: Hosted forms often come with built-in compliance features, making it easier for businesses to adhere to industry standards and regulations without having to know them all.
- Convenience: With a hosted form, business owners can take payments online with ease while maintaining a familiar payment experience for customers, boosting conversion rates during online purchases.
API Integration and Merchant Services
API (Application Programming Interface) integration involves connecting a business’s software or website directly to a payment gateway’s API. In other words, API integration offers businesses greater control, customisation, and flexibility in their online payment processes. It lets them create a unique and branded payment experience that aligns with their own website or software, which encourages brand recognition and trust.
Benefits of API Integration
- Customisation: Businesses can tailor the payment process to match their branding and user interface, increasing customer satisfaction.
- Real-Time Transactions: API integration enables immediate payment verification and instant transaction feedback.
- Enhanced Reporting: API integration gives businesses access to detailed transaction data, reporting, and analytics, leading to better overall financial management.
Merchant Services and Shopping Cart Integration
Shopping cart integration is when an eCommerce website’s shopping cart software is linked to a payment gateway. It allows customers to add items to their cart, review their selections, and seamlessly complete the purchase by processing the payment through the integrated gateway.
Benefits of Shopping Cart Integration
- Efficient Checkout Process: This type of integration simplifies the purchase journey, reducing cart abandonment rates and increasing sales.
- Inventory Management: Integrated shopping carts often include inventory tracking and management features.
- Order Processing: Businesses can efficiently manage and fulfil customer orders within the integrated system, streamlining the entire process.
Pay with Phone
Taking payments over the phone is a convenient option for many businesses to expand their offerings and provide more value to their customers. This type of virtual payment allows straightforward transactions that are safe and secure.
How it works: Pay with phone payment processing happens over a secure virtual payment terminal supported by your chosen merchant services provider. With New Payment Innovation’s virtual terminal, each staff member of a business will have their own secure login, which allows them to enter customer card details and complete transactions quickly right over the phone. Learn more about how to take card payments over the phone.
Advantages of Pay with Phone
- Customer Convenience: Customers can call from anywhere to make a payment without having to have internet access. Also, customers can ask any questions they have about the product, service, or payment process right there on the phone.
- Sales Opportunities: Taking payments over the phone presents an opportunity for staff members to upsell directly to the customer during the payment conversation.
- Enhanced Security: Phone payments are processed through a secure virtual terminal. Tokenisation is also used to eliminate the need to store sensitive customer card information.
Limitations of Pay with Phone
- Data Privacy: Customers may be concerned about giving private card information to someone over the phone, especially if they can’t see how it is being handled. Reassuring the customer that the virtual terminal and payment processing is compliant with regulations can help.
- Payment Confirmation: Customers may seek confirmation of the transaction immediately. Businesses should have procedures in place to provide this confirmation.
- Time: Paying over the phone can take more time than a traditional online payment. However, this is a good time to resolve any concerns your customers may have.
Which Businesses Need Pay-with-Phone Merchant Services
Taking payments over the phone is a useful option for many businesses and scenarios, especially service- and subscription-based businesses.
- Medical services
- Home repair
- Subscription boxes
- Charities and non-profits
- Salons and spas
- Event planners
Choosing the Right Merchant Services for Your Business
Not sure how to choose the right merchant service solution for your business? Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether you need a payment terminal, EPOS, online payment gateway, or pay with phone option.
Payment service needs will be different depending on whether you are a small business or a large establishment.
Different industries may have specific payment needs, like needing a fully customisable EPOS system to manage a loyalty program and inventory.
Understand your customers’ payment preferences to decide which payment method suits their needs.
Transaction Volume and Value
Businesses with more daily transactions may need a more robust payment system, like a wired payment terminal or EPOS.
Different payment solutions will incur different transaction fees, setup costs, and ongoing maintenance fees. Taking the time to compare these costs against potential benefits will help your business make the right choice.
Some payment solutions can be complicated to understand for the non-tech-savvy. Make sure you choose a solution that you can leverage to improve efficiency in your business.
Customer Support and Training
More in-depth payment processing solutions may require ongoing customer support or initial training to ensure correct usage and reduce errors.
If branding is everything for your business, opting for a customisable online payment terminal with API integration might be the right choice.
Finally, stay on top of payment trends within your customer base to make sure you are future-proofing your revenue stream.
Find Your Payment Solution with NPI Merchant Services
Since 2014, New Payment Innovation has been providing SMEs in Ireland with professional payment solutions with the utmost security and compliance. And with payment experts at the ready, there’s never been a better time to get in touch and learn what NPI can do for your business.
To learn more about NPI merchant services and payment options, give us a call at +353 01 447 5299 or fill out the free contact form.
Merchant Services: FAQs
What are merchant services?
Merchant services encompass financial solutions that enable businesses to accept electronic payments, including credit/debit cards and digital transactions, ensuring smooth and secure transactions.
How do payment terminals work?
Payment terminals are devices that read card information, encrypt it, and send it for authorization. If approved, the transaction is completed, and funds are transferred to the business.
What's the difference between mobile and wireless payment terminals?
Mobile terminals are handheld devices with built-in connectivity, while wireless terminals connect via Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Mobile terminals offer greater mobility, while wireless terminals require a fixed connection.
What businesses need wireless payment terminals?
Businesses that require flexibility and mobility, like food trucks, market vendors, and event organizers, benefit from wireless terminals.
What businesses benefit from wired payment terminals?
Businesses with a fixed checkout location, such as retail stores and restaurants, find wired terminals suitable for stable and secure card processing.
Do I need an EPOS system for my business?
EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) systems are valuable for businesses seeking advanced sales and inventory management, making them ideal for retail stores, restaurants, and hospitality businesses.
What's the advantage of online payment systems?
Online payment systems enable businesses to accept payments over the internet, expanding their reach to global customers and enhancing convenience for online shoppers.
What is API integration in online payment systems?
API integration connects a business’s software or website directly to a payment gateway’s API, allowing seamless and customized payment processing.
How does tokenisation enhance payment security?
Tokenisation replaces sensitive card data with unique tokens, minimizing the risk of data breaches during transactions and protecting customer information.
Who can benefit from phone payments?
Businesses across various industries, including service providers, nonprofits, and subscription-based companies, can offer phone payments to cater to diverse customer preferences and enhance payment convenience.