Virtual Terminal and How It Works

A virtual terminal is used on a web page, and secures it for any card payments going through it. The reason it’s called a virtual terminal is that it functions just like a physical credit card terminal, but is done online rather than in reality. The page will be accessed as the customer of a website goes to pay after entering the card information, address, and name.

This may be done when a customer is paying for a hotel room, for example, and the staff member will take the customer’s details, and enter them into the system. These will then be checked and approved by the virtual terminal, the money will be charged, and the money will be transferred. There will generally be an additional cost or fee for the use of the service and processing. 

How It Works

If you’ve shopped online before, you’ll already be familiar with the basic concept of adding your payment information to a web page and clicking to pay. A virtual terminal is very similar to this and works as follows.

The first step is to make sure you’re connected to the Internet. Once you’re connected, you can create an account with the payment processing provider you’re working with and sign in. The page will then give you a selection of boxes to fill in, and several boxes to tick before the payment can be processed. Just go through the instructions and add in the customer’s information as prompted. This will include their name, address, and payment details. Once you have all of this information, you’ll be asked to confirm the payment. Just click yes, and the payment will be processed automatically.

There are several key advantages to using virtual terminals and online payment processing software. The first is that you can take payments easily and quickly without the customer with you. This means minimal waiting time for the customer, so they will be more likely to go through with the payment, as well as less hassle for you having to get the payment in another way. If the customer is present, all you need is a chip and pin card reader.

Additionally, you don’t need to invest in an expensive piece of software to take the payment, which is traditionally costly and requires additional machinery like card machines.

Finally, there’s more flexibility when using a virtual terminal over other options. With your terminal in place, you can take a payment anytime and anywhere. All you need is access to your portal, and you can bill someone from your car, home, or even on holidays.

There are some disadvantages to using a virtual terminal, though. The main one is the additional security you’ll need to put in place to protect the customer. Also, there’s more manual effort involved as you type in the customer’s details. This can lead to potential issues like putting the card or address details in the wrong.


Image Credits: Virtual Terminal from Foxy burrow/Shutterstock

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