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PDQ (process data quickly) machines are just another name for card machines, POS terminals or Chip and PIN machines. It was the original name for card machines when they were first introduced in the UK and it’s still used today.
PDQ machines capture the cardholder’s payment information when they present their card to the merchant’s terminal. The captured information is sent to the acquiring bank.
The acquirer sends the request for approval to the customer’s card issuer to ensure the funds are available in their bank account.
The card issuer approves or declines the transaction and sends the information back to the merchant. If approved, the funds are transferred from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account.
The entire process takes only a few seconds to complete.
The type of card payment machine you need will naturally depend on the type of your business (i.e. retail, hospitality, mobile etc.).
PDQ machines fall into three general categories:
These are normally part of a larger point of sale (POS) system located at tills and they work by connecting to a phone line or the internet. They are ideal for shops where customers take their purchases to the till to process payments.
Ideal for hospitality businesses, such as restaurants and bars, as they can be carried from table to table. They work via a Bluetooth connection. Portable credit card machines work in the same way as countertop ones do, but they come with the convenience of being wireless.
Instead of using a dial-up connection, they use Bluetooth technology to deliver payment facilities. Portable card readers are ideal for use in the hospitality industry, as they allow customers to pay without having to leave their tables.
Portable devices that communicate via GPRS technology through the use of a SIM card. They are ideal for businesses that provide mobile services such as plumbers, taxi drivers and builders.
For small businesses and pop up shops that have an annual card turnover of less than £15,000, the best options are likely to be the pay-as-you-go credit card readers below from Zettle, SumUp or Square Reader.
If you have a card turnover exceeding about £2,000 per month you are likely to make significant savings using a merchant services provider where your card machine has a monthly fee but lower transaction fees.
The set-up costs and transaction fees offered to you will depend on your business and the merchant service provider. We can get you quotes if you fill in our short form on this page.
PDQ machines can accept the following types of payments:
Chip & PIN payment was introduced in 2004 with Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) and made mandatory in 2006 as a way of preventing growing card frauds. Before their introduction, the use of magnetic stripe technology made it easy for criminals to use a stolen credit card by forging the true cardholder’s signature.
Chip & PIN payment stores the card’s authorisation data on a chip located inside the card. Entering the customer’s PIN into the terminal compares and matches the four-digit code to the one in the chip.
Contactless cards also have an embedded chip, as well as an antenna that transmits card data to the terminal using radio-frequency identification. A cardholder needs to merely hold their card near the terminal in order to pay.
As it currently stands contactless payments don’t require cardholder identification via PIN for transactions below £45 but that is likely to be increased shortly given the rate of previous increases.
Near field communication (NFC) payments work similarly to contactless payments: the cardholder holds their phone near the terminal enabling the technology to exchange data between readers and the payment device (e.g. mobile phone, watch etc).
Android Pay, Apple Pay and Amazon Pay are the most well-known examples of mobile NFC payments.
The most outdated type of payment that is slowly going out includes swiping the card through the PDQ machine that reads the payment details. The cardholder then needs to sign the receipt to verify that they are the actual owners of the card and the merchant compares the receipt signature to the one on the back of the card.
|Clover||Flex||Natwest / Tyl|
|PAX||A920 smart POS terminal||Paymentsense (Dojo)|
Equipped with wireless broadband capability, this user-friendly mobile credit card machine has a simple printer reload function and comes with an in-car charging dock. It also gives you access to an online reporting tool to help you keep track of your transactions.
Offered by Barclays, the 1-2-1 Mobile GPRS Terminal is both portable and mobile and is integrated with contactless technology. It has extensive coverage in the UK and uses a roaming SIM with Vodafone, O2 and Orange GPRS networks. The device is lightweight and can process up to 150 transactions between battery charges. It can be configured for gratuities, cashback, refunds and even pre-authorisation.
This is the world’s smallest portable credit card machine, with a durable casing that’s designed to be drop resistant. With its 3G technology, the VX 675 can be used as a mobile payment machine as well. It has a built-in charger and a thermal printer that can print 18 lines per second. It’s compatible with a wide range of globally accepted card payments.
This GPRS credit card machine is lightweight and both spill and drop resistant. It can process up to 650 transactions between battery charges and its thermal printer can print 30 lines per second. It has a user-friendly interface and comes with multiple connectivity options.
There are types of these you should be on the lookout for are fixed (related to the hardware) and variable (which are related to payments you process).
A summary of the important ones are below but you can see a more detailed list of card processing fees here.
Whether you should buy or rent your PDQ machine will depend on your budget and needs. There are pros and cons to each option.
Do keep in mind, however, that there are many payment service providers that will throw in a PDQ machine for free for 12 months or for a reduced monthly fee if you use their services.
Signing a contract with the merchant account provider will give you the option to rent a card machine for around £15 to £25 per month so it’s good to look at these companies as well as direct PDQ machine suppliers. EPOS suppliers will also provide mobile card terminals if required.
PDQ machines vary greatly in price, ranging from £200 to £800 on average. The price is dependent on the features and wireless capability of the machine.
Most companies pay a monthly fee for their card machines and do not purchase them outright. Rental fees range from around £15 to £25 a month. You are likely to get a discounted rate if you rent more than one unit and tie yourself down to a longer contract.
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