A Brief Business Guide to Virtual Terminals


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A Brief Business Guide to Virtual Terminals

Merchants can expand the ways in which they take payments by integrating a virtual terminal, also known as a virtual POS. Virtual terminals are perfect for merchants looking to grow and expand their business, reach clients who prefer not to pay via an online checkout page, and enhance the overall customer experience. But there is still a lot of uncertainty among businesses regarding virtual terminals, which in turn creates apprehension about integrating one.

This article demystifies virtual terminals for merchants, covering the following:

  • What is a virtual terminal?
  • How do they work?
  • The benefits of using a virtual terminal
  • Fast virtual terminal installation

What is a virtual terminal?

A virtual terminal is a type of software application that allows businesses to process card-not-present payments via debit and credit card. Payment providers typically host a virtual terminal on a page within their online portal.

Merchants can access the virtual terminal via their online payment processor account, such as CardPointe. Unlike a physical payment terminal for card-present transactions, the virtual kind is online and merely requires both a computer or mobile device and an internet connection to use, for card-not-present transaction processing. These types of payment include over-the-phone orders, recurring digital transactions, mail orders, and ACH.

How does a virtual terminal work?

It is generally a very simple three-step process to accept credit or debit card payments via a virtual terminal.

  • Log into virtual terminal
    Merchants log into their payment processing account online where they can then access the virtual terminal page.
  • Input transaction and card details
    When on the virtual terminal page, necessary details include the transaction total amount and customer credit or debit card details
  • Receive transaction confirmation
    Once a payment has been successfully processed, the merchant will receive a confirmation. They can send a digital receipt, typically via email, or print out a paper version and send it via mail to the customer

Once the funds clear, they should then appear in the merchant’s bank account.

The benefits of a virtual terminal

There are numerous benefits of integrating a virtual terminal.

Access to more customers

People are increasingly shopping online. Global e-commerce sales grew to $4.28 trillion in 2020 and this figure is predicted to rise to $5.4 trillion in 2022. By only offering a card-present payment terminal, merchants cannot access this enormous e-commerce market. The right virtual terminal can provide a fast, convenient, secure solution, opening merchants up to online purchases.

Greater flexibility

With a virtual terminal, merchants can accept payments from anywhere, with a mobile device or computer and internet connection, and without the customer being present. This means that merchants don’t have to wait until they are back in the office or on site to process payment. Likewise, they don’t have to arrange a meeting with a customer to make payment. This flexibility enables faster, smoother business.

Supports geographic expansion

Merchants may wish to grow their business into other geographic areas or even overseas without having to “set up shop” in other locations. A virtual storefront and terminal act as a foundational necessity to making this possible. In this way, merchants can more easily sell beyond their local, regional, and national borders.

Virtual terminals are inexpensive

Subscriptions to a virtual terminal service tend to be low-cost. Moreover, with the enormous value that they can provide, they tend to pay for themselves before long with the amount of card-not-present business that they position merchants to do.

Choosing the right virtual terminal provider

Merchants can get up and running with a virtual terminal in next to no time. With security against fraud and business applications in mind though, choosing the right provider is a crucial step to get right. There are some things that merchants can look out for to ensure they are matched with the ideal virtual terminal provider.

  • Tokenization, encryption and PCI validation
    The right virtual terminal should offer cutting-edge tokenization and encryption to protect against credit card fraud. Moreover, PCI validation offers merchants a stamp of approval that the provider is serious about security.
  • Device compatibility
    Benchmark virtual terminal services should easily integrate with a merchant’s devices, making payment processing as easy as possible.
  • Card-present and card-not-present versatility
    Merchants can benefit from greater convenience with a virtual terminal that takes both types of transactions: when customers are present with their debit or credit card or when they need to process a card-not-present transaction, such as over the phone or via email. This means that there is a single sign-on payment terminal, for both types of transactions.Other important information includes virtual terminal uptime rate, which payment processors should be happy to provide and an ability to customize the virtual terminal to suit a merchant’s unique needs.

Using a virtual terminal for your business

Commerce is under constant change in the modern business landscape. Demographics and customer demands are shifting quickly, competition is fierce, and the digital transformation of society presents a whole new challenge for businesses. With these factors in mind, it is critical for merchants to be as competitive as possible. Virtual terminals help businesses to be exactly that, by offering a simple yet highly effective, secure and economical means to processing card-not-present debit and credit transactions.

Integration with a benchmark virtual terminal provider is quick and easy. Once integrated, merchants can go about immediately taking advantage of the many benefits that a virtual terminal provides, including greater access to online customers and the flexibility of taking payments from anywhere at any time.

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