A guide to accepting card payments for your bar or restaurant

PDQ machine

With customers now expecting businesses to be able to accept multiple payment types, there is currently a large drive for fast, convenient and often contactless payment options.

It is essential for businesses of all sizes to consider accepting card payments in order to stay competitive. Thankfully, there are now more options than ever that allow even small businesses to accept card payments relatively easily and with little financial investment.

Card payments now make up 35% of all UK transactions

According to the UK Card Association, 35% of all UK transactions in 2016 were made using card. This figure is on the rise as the use of cash continues to plummet and more convenient payment options continue to gain traction with consumers.

There were 39.2 million card payments made each day in the UK in 2016, and consumers are increasingly leaning towards the faster, easier payment methods such as contactless. An indication of this is the huge 97% increase that was seen in the use of contactless payments in 2017. This pushed the number of contactless payments made up to over 5.6 billion.

We have also seen an introduction in the use of wearable and mobile payments which now allow users to choose a payment accessory that suits their lifestyle and even their fashion and style.

Smart watches such as the Apple Watch can now be used to make payments, although they currently lack the biometric security of other mobile payment techniques they bring a new level of convenience – a wearable payment option. It is an innovative design which we are sure will be improved upon and refined as time goes on.

Looking at the recent trends, it comes as no surprise that over 50% of shoppers believe their wallets could be replaced by their phones in the next five years. Phones and apps are believed to be the future of payment, allowing payment without the use of a physical payment card and providing protection to users via biometric security such as fingerprint scanning.

In support of this, passwords are one of the main sources of frustration for online shoppers and 61% of consumers believe biometrics are quicker and easier to use than passwords.

Another benefit to using mobile technologies such as Apple Pay and Android Pay is that they can be used in-store, online and in-app too with very little effort.

Which mobile card readers should you use?

With the increase in the use of card payments comes an increased need for businesses to have the capacity and equipment to be able to accept these payment types.

Cash is losing its appeal and customers are expecting to be able to pay with card so not offering this service is likely to result in a loss of sales. Fortunately, over recent years, a number of simple and affordable card readers have been made available.

Before the introduction of these mobile card readers, many small businesses simply could not afford the previous systems. If you’re looking for an inexpensive and effective way to accept card payments, here are the most popular solutions for small businesses:

The iZettle is an extremely popular, versatile and compact mobile card reader. It is one of the most affordable options, at around £60 for the reader, and boasts no monthly fees as well as a 1.75% flat rate transaction fee. This reader has a lot to offer for very minimal costs; it can connect to the iZettle app, has an eight hour battery life and is able to accept card payments of all types including contactless, Apple Pay and Android Pay.

The PayPal Here mobile reader is a fantastic solution for PayPal user;; there’s no monthly fees, money reaches your account instantly and the reader only costs a mere couple of pounds more than the iZettle. PayPal Here works with a point-of-sale app too. However, you are required to have a PayPal business account in order to use the PayPal Here reader to accept payments.

SumUp also offers a mobile card reader. This one is best suited to small businesses who are processing low volumes of card transactions. The SumUp reader accepts card payments including contactless, mobile and international. There are no setup or monthly fees and the transaction fee is 1.85%.

WorldPay Zinc was created by the largest credit card processing company in the UK, Worldpay. This reader is one of the cheapest available, if not the cheapest, at £39.99, and can be used for face-to-face and phone transactions. The downside to the WorldPay Zinc is that it is not able to accept contactless payments. If your small business is looking for a basic but effective reader that allows for phone payments then this is a good option.

As you can see, there are multiple mobile card readers available on the market and this has given smaller businesses opportunities to accept card payments without experiencing the financial and administrative struggles that used to come with accepting payments by card.

When we look at the retail sector, card payments now account for 76% of sales volume so not accepting card payments in this day and age could become a business’ downfall.

Are PDQ machines going to be made redundant?

As innovative technology continues to strive in creating and improving payment methods it may not be long until we wave goodbye to big, bulky PDQ machines.

The mobile readers we looked at above are all lightweight, handheld readers that have the same capabilities as the older PDQ machines but with increased portability, improved aesthetic appearance and simple, faster operation.

The majority of compact mobile readers are able to accept chip & pin, contactless and mobile payments. This leaves us asking the question: why would a business choose a bulkier, more expensive card reader when there are now other more compact and affordable options out there?

Ever-improving technology will likely lead to a phasing out of these more old-fashioned readers making way for sleeker, up-to-date readers that can do more than PDQ machines in a faster and smoother way. Ultimately, the future of card reading is smart, sleek and lightweight.

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