Get Acquainted: Mobile Card Readers

Everything you need to know about mobile credit card terminal.

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In this article, you’ll learn:

  • About remote terminals used to process card payments

  • How mobile card machines offer flexible and immediate payment processing

  • The benefits of operating your business using mobile transactions

Unlike fixed credit card machines, a mobile card reader can be used just about anywhere. Gone are the days when cardholders needed to take their card to the till in order to pay.

Although many retail outlets still use such systems, especially supermarkets where customers are passing through the point of sale on their way to the exit anyway, today all sorts of businesses can and do take advantage of card payments thanks to the fully mobile card terminal. Cash is expected to account for only 7 percent of in-store purchases in the UK by 2024.

A mobile credit card reader takes advantage of Wi-Fi hotspots in order to process transactions, meaning that goods and services can be paid for in almost any location.

What are Remote Card Readers?

For some time, terminals that can read cards have been used in settings like bistros and bars in order to offer customers greater convenience when making a payment.

It is important to note that these systems differ from fully mobile card machines in that they will only work within a certain range from the base unit.

Although the information required to conduct a transaction from a remote unit is passed wirelessly to the base, the transaction is still commonly passed on to a fixed telephone line. Only then is the merchant's service provider contacted for authorisation.

Such remote card readers extend the existing technology but do not offer fully mobile services so that payments can be made outside of the business premises, for example.

How Do Mobile Card Machines Work?

Instead of using a remote card reader and base unit, a mobile credit card reader takes advantage of the interconnectivity of the mobile phone network and of Wi-Fi hotspots in order to process transactions. This means that goods and services can be paid for in almost any location, whether indoors or outside.

Instead of a traditional PDQ machine an app, such as the SumUp Card Payment App, is downloaded to the seller's smart device.

Both smartphones and tablets are capable of working with the system. The seller enters the transaction amount into the app on a screen whose setup is no more complex than a simple calculator.

The customer then inserts their card into the pocket-sized Solo and the transaction can proceed. Once the customer is satisfied and agrees to the transaction, the merchant service provider is contacted via the included 3G data network or through Wi-Fi if the smart device happens to be connected to an available service.

At this point, the payment is authorised with the relevant transaction information being displayed on screen within the app.

A receipt can then be easily produced, either by printing it out if you have a SumUp 3G bundle, or emailing it to the customer, keeping the entire process wireless and fully mobile.

How Secure are Mobile Payment Systems?

Unlike card-not-present transactions, which are usually made via the web or over the phone, a portable card reader with a mobile chip and PIN can be used to accept card payments. This method gives customers a greater sense of security when making a payment rather than ringing a third party in order to read out their card's number over the phone, for example.

Mobile chip and PIN means the customer enters their four-digit number into the reader only after the chip's data has been read. At every point in the process, the data stored in the card remains encrypted and secure. The seller has no access to the customer's personal identification number, just like a fixed line PDQ.

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What Are the Advantages of Fully Mobile Transactions?

A major pro regarding a mobile card system is that it allows payments to be secured immediately. For sales personnel, this can be a big advantage because it allows them to obtain a payment or secure a deposit whilst their customer is fully engaged in the sale.

For sales reps who call in at their customers' homes and business premises, a mobile payment terminal lets them turn a potential order into a fully-paid for sale.

For anyone who works outside of a traditional brick-and-mortar business premises, mobile card machines give them just the same sort of flexibility with payments as other businesses.

Often sole traders and those who run firms which call door-to-door can only accept cash or take cheque payments.

But by switching to a mobile credit card processing service, these merchants can reduce the risk of theft as they’ll be handling less cash, and they can also remove the possibility of bad credit derived from accepting fraudulent cheques.

Does your business accept card payments?

The SumUp Card Reader enables businesses to accept debit, credit and contactless payments with a simple 3-in-1 device.

No monthly contracts. No hidden fees. Ever.

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In Summary

Remote card readers have allowed mobility within a shop or restaurant for payment for quite some time now. However, fully mobile processing services take this convenience to another level entirely, giving merchants the option to securely process payments anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi connection.

SumUp offers you the best solution in card payments

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With SumUp, you can quickly and easily accept credit and debit card payments with your smartphone or tablet.