Customers love convenience these days. In fact, they expect to be able to order more and more products and services remotely for delivery or in-store pick up, and they expect to be able to pay whenever and wherever they’re ready. This means small businesses need a way to accept card payments without customers being present and when card readers are not available. The solution? A virtual terminal.
Virtual terminals offers a way to accept payments through a web portal, which is essentially a private, password-protected webpage. Businesses can hand-key card payments from any Internet-connected device.
What are the key benefits? Virtual terminals have minimal setup, need almost no maintenance and usually come standard with point-of-sale hardware or a payment gateway (which is used to process eCommerce payments). They also allow you to take payment from customers who are not physically at a place of business or when you do not have a card reader present.
One huge downside of virtual terminals is that card numbers must be keyed in manually. This is more prone to human error than a normal swiped, dipped or tapped card payment, and it can make it nearly impossible for businesses to verify the identity of the cardholder to prevent fraudulent transactions. Fraudulent transactions can expose businesses to greater risk of chargebacks, which can eat into profits. Because the risk is significantly higher, hand-keyed, or card not present (CNP), transactions typically have higher processing and interchange fees, which can eat into profits.
When using a virtual terminal, you must be careful to not store or write down customer card numbers anywhere at the risk of compromising card security. Employees must enter the numbers into the designated form field to ensure the numbers are encrypted and tokenized like any other eCommerce payment gateway or payment processing system.
Some merchant service providers may charge a fee to access a virtual terminal, while others will offer access for free. Be sure to ask before signing up for service.
Almost every small business that typically processes via swiping, dipping or tapping may need to take payment over the phone once in a while. If they already have a credit card processor, chances are there is a virtual terminal somewhere on the dashboard with which they can manually enter credit card details through a web-based form.
Depending on the type of business you run, a virtual terminal may be a valuable tool for making sales. When you have payment processing through Bank of America Merchant Services, whether with POS equipment or an eCommerce gateway, you have access to a virtual terminal, which helps ensure you can accept card payments whenever, wherever your customers are ready to pay.