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Card Machine

Countertop Card Machines

3 min read

In this article we’ll cover:

Countertop card machines allow you to take payments at a fixed location in your business, and are perfect for you if you require a reliable machine that doesn’t need to be used on the go.

What is a countertop card machine?

Countertop card machines are connected physically to both power and to the internet or a phone line and are suitable for businesses that have a fixed payment point, for example, shops, supermarkets, or hair salons. Some businesses choose to have a countertop machine as a backup alongside a portable or mobile machine as they are fast, reliable and can be used if connection fails on one of these machines.

How does the countertop card machine work?

Countertop card machines work by utilising a fixed connection to a power supply and a physical connection to broadband or a phone line to connect to the payment processor or acquiring bank. They typically support chip and PIN or swipe and sign transactions, and the majority of newer machines support contactless transactions. 

The countertop card machine securely takes card information and connects to the payment processor or acquiring bank. This process verifies the card's validity and determines whether the consumer has enough funds or credit to complete the purchase. An authorization request is sent by the card machine to the cardholder's bank or card issuer. This request includes facts such as the transaction amount, merchant information, and card information. The bank of the cardholder reacts to the authorization request by authorising or denying the transaction. If the transaction is approved, the countertop card machine generates an authorization code and completes the transaction.

Countertop card machine features

Security measures are incorporated into countertop card machines to safeguard private cardholder data. Among these features are industry standards compliance, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and data encryption during transmission. They usually use a dedicated phone line or the internet (broadband or Wi-Fi) to connect to the acquiring bank or payment processor. This guarantees a trustworthy and safe connection for handling transactions. Countertop card readers can occasionally be connected to point-of-sale (POS) systems, enabling smooth integration of card reader transactions with other business processes.

Countertop card machines are typically small and compact, but larger than mobile or portable machines, and consist of a keypad, screen, and built-in receipt printer that provides merchant and customer receipts after transactions. Some newer machines have touchscreen features

Do countertop card machines accept contactless?

Yes, a lot of contemporary countertop card readers can take contactless payments. Through the use of near field communication (NFC) technology, consumers can make contactless payments by simply tapping wearable devices such as an Apple Watch, mobile phones, or contactless-enabled cards against the card machine. The ability to accept contactless payments has several benefits including speed and efficiency, convenience, lower transaction costs, increased customer satisfaction, and versatility.

What types of payment can I accept with a countertop card machine?

Countertop card readers are made to be flexible and can usually take multiple payment methods including all major credit cards and debit cards, contactless, digital contactless payment methods like Apple Pay, corporate or business cards, gift cards that your business uses or accepts.

Why should I choose a countertop card machine?

A countertop card machine is suitable for businesses that take payments at a fixed point within their business, for example retail, cafes, corner shops, supermarkets, or bars that don’t offer table service. 

Countertop card machines follow EMV guidelines to guarantee safe processing of chip card transactions and lower the possibility of fraud and compared to more sophisticated systems, they frequently provide more affordable options, which makes them appropriate for small and medium-sized enterprises. They can also provide a more reliable experience as they have wired connections and this lessens the risk of connection and power issues, they may also process transactions faster than a machine with wireless connectivity. Some businesses like to have a countertop card machine as a backup alongside an alternate card machine.

Alternatives to the countertop card machine

If a countertop card machine doesn’t sound right for your business, then a portable or mobile card machine may be a better choice for you.

Portable card machines can be used on the go without having to be tethered physically to a phone line or the internet. They can connect wirelessly to broadband or a phone line, with a reach of up to 100 metres, and can be the ideal choice for businesses that require the ability to take payments in various locations around a premises, for example restaurants or bars.

Mobile card machines are similar to portable but allow for further portability as they utilise a mobile SIM card to connect to mobile networks using GPRS. This makes the mobile card machine ideal for businesses and employees that travel, host events, or need to accept payments at various locations.