A few years ago, the U.S. migrated from credit cards that relied only on cardholder signatures to the globally ubiquitous EMV technology, and American merchants were forced to adapt. Like many merchants, you likely dutifully purchased (or leased) EMV terminals for your stores to avoid expensive penalties. However, also like other merchants, your interest in the new tech might have disappeared as soon as customers began successfully dipping instead of swiping.
EMV terminals do more than pull information from the microchip embedded in payment cards. Though the features available to you entirely depend on the complexity of the system you invested in, you probably have access to more abilities than you know. Here are a few different options for point-of-sale equipment and what you can really do with each.
A countertop terminal sits on the counter near your payment station, ready and willing to accept EMV cards. This is perhaps the broadest variety of EMV tools because a single device can boast a multitude of features — or it can be barely more than a brick. Some of the capabilities you might look for in your countertop terminals include:
Wi-Fi connection. This makes it easy to connect your EMV terminal to your computer or mobile device, which reduces the number of wires tangling up your payment area.
However, whenever you connect critical technology via Wi-Fi, you should be certain that your connection is secure. You should double- and triple-check your router for security before allowing any payment information to be sent through the airwaves.
Near-field communication. Near-field communication (NFC) allows two electronic devices to talk to one another, such as your EMV terminal and your customers’ payment tools. Some payment cards are equipped with NFC — recall those tap-and-go cards that were popular not long ago — but most frequently NFC is used to facilitate mobile payments, like Apple Wallet and Samsung Pay. NFC could be the future of payment, or it could be a fun way some customers prefer to pay today.
Printing. Some EMV terminals connect to printers, and some EMV terminals have printers built in. Having a receipt printer directly connected to your EMV terminal ensures that receipts come out fast and accurately, which every customer appreciates.
Color screen. Thismight seem like a small perk — and it is. However, if advanced tech and bright color are major aspects of your brand, you might seek out a countertop terminal that does more than green and black.
Pin pads are a major downgrade from countertop EMV terminals for one critical reason: They can only process debit transactions. Though pin pads are smaller and more affordable, they provide dramatically less function than your business likely needs.
Most often, pin pads supplement rudimentary countertop terminals, but you would do better to invest early in the EMV terminals you truly want, so you don’t have to worry about upgrading later on.
You already learned what NFC is and why it is a useful feature for countertop EMV terminals. NFC peripherals allow you to add NFC functionality to terminals that do not come equipped with it. This type of device can never act alone; you will always need additional EMV equipment to service the majority of your customers’ transactions. Still, if you want to add some high-tech to your POS system, it is easier and more affordable to tack on a peripheral than to buy a brand new set of NFC-capable countertop terminals.
Wireless Mobile Terminals
Wireless mobile terminals became popular with Apple Square, but today dozens of providers offer dozens of tools capable of transforming your smartphone or tablet computer into a mobile POS station. Most often, startups and small service industry businesses, like restaurants, are the only businesses to rely on mobile terminals for all transactions. If you don’t fall into this category but you would like some mobile functionality, you should equip your business primarily with countertop terminals and invest in a couple of mobile terminals for appropriate use.
Finally, we should touch on the latest and greatest in EMV tech: smart terminals. As you might expect, smart EMV terminals offer the most cutting-edge features, including all those listed under the countertop terminals section and more.
Smart terminals can communicate with your business network, providing updates on terminal status, allowing remote lock capabilities, broadcasting messages across all payment terminals and more. You would do best to invest in smart terminals only if you are mightily concerned about future-proofing your POS; otherwise, you will probably find appropriate features in run-of-the-mill countertop varieties.