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Published: 20/11/2017

How do you begin taking card payments

Business Growth

Small​ ​and​ ​medium​ ​sized​ ​businesses​ ​which​ ​don’t​ ​accept​ ​card​ ​payments​ ​are​ ​missing​ ​out​ ​on £8.8​ ​billion​ ​of​ ​business​ ​according​ ​to​ ​a​ ​recent​ ​​Barclaycard​​ ​report,​ ​which​ ​also​ ​revealed​ ​that​ ​a third​ ​(33%)​ ​of​ ​people​ ​‘would​ ​consider​ ​walking​ ​away​ ​from​ ​a​ ​purchase​ ​if​ ​they​ ​couldn’t​ ​pay​ ​by card.’

Nobody​ ​wants​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​business,​ ​so​ ​how​ ​do​ ​you​ ​go​ ​about​ ​setting​ ​up​ ​card​ ​payment​ ​facilities?

Choose​ ​an​ ​acquirer

You’ll​ ​need​ ​to​ ​select​ ​an​ ​acquirer.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​ask​ ​your​ ​bank​ ​but​ ​shop​ ​around,​ ​there​ ​are independent​ ​providers​ ​-​ ​for​ ​example​ ​Payzone​ ​-​ ​who​ ​can​ ​offer​ ​good​ ​deals​ ​for​ ​small businesses.​ ​Once​ ​you’ve​ ​made​ ​a​ ​decision​ ​you’ll​ ​need​ ​to​ ​sign​ ​a​ merchant service agreement, which​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​minimum​ ​contract​ ​term.

Your​ ​acquirer​ ​will​ ​discuss​ ​with​ ​you​ ​which​ ​card​ ​types​ ​you’ll​ ​accept​ ​(for​ ​example:​ ​American Express,​ ​MasterCard,​ ​Visa).

Additional​ ​services​ ​are​ ​also​ ​available,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​‘Code​ ​10’​ ​call,​ ​which​ ​you​ ​can​ ​make​ ​to​ ​the acquirer’s​ ​Card​ ​Authorisation​ ​Centre​ ​if​ ​you’re​ ​suspicious​ ​about​ ​a​ ​cardholder.​ ​Its​ ​questions will​ ​generally​ ​be​ ​phrased​ ​in​ ​a​ ​way​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can​ ​answer​ ​‘yes’​ ​or​ ​‘no’.

Terminal​ ​for​ ​processing​ ​card​ ​transactions

Your​ ​acquirer​ ​will​ ​provide​ ​you​ ​with​ ​a​ ​terminal,​ ​for​ ​which​ ​it​ ​will​ ​typically​ ​charge​ ​a​ ​monthly​ ​fee, that​ ​connects​ ​with​ ​the​ ​acquirer​ ​to​ ​process​ ​card​ ​transactions.

The​ ​various​ ​types​ ​of​ ​terminal​ ​available​ ​include: 

  • Desktop​ ​card​ ​machines with​ ​an​ ​integrated​ ​or​ ​separate​ ​PIN​ ​pad
  • Portable card machines ​that​ ​can​ ​be​ ​used​ ​anywhere​ ​on​ ​your​ ​premises
  • Mobile card machines​ ​that​ ​can​ ​accept​ ​payments​ ​almost​ ​anywhere
  • Integrated​ ​point-of-sale​ ​terminals​ ​linked​ ​to​ ​other​ ​devices
  • Internet​ ​sales​ ​use​ ​a virtual terminal or payment page.​ ​

Here at Payzone, your card machine will​ ​accept​ ​contactless ​payments​ ​for​ ​transactions​ ​up​ ​to £30.

Payment​ ​transactions

The​ ​terminal​ ​will​ ​authorise​ ​the​ ​processed​ ​transaction​ ​by​ ​checking​ ​that​ ​the​ ​card​ ​has​ ​the​ ​funds required​ ​for​ ​the​ ​payment​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​checking​ ​that​ ​it​ ​hasn’t​ ​been​ ​reported​ ​as​ ​lost​ ​or​ ​stolen. Note​ ​that​ ​this​ ​doesn’t​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​the​ ​transaction​ ​will​ ​be​ ​paid​ ​as​ ​there​ ​are​ ​various​ ​reasons why​ ​it​ ​may​ ​be​ ​charged​ ​back.

The​ ​acquirer​ ​manages​ ​the​ ​payment​ ​and​ ​will​ ​pay​ ​the​ ​funds​ ​into​ ​your​ ​account,​ ​typically​ ​within four​ ​working​ ​days​ ​after​ ​processing.​ ​Proceeds​ ​from​ ​‘card-not-present’​ ​transactions​ ​by​ ​phone or​ ​mail​ ​order​ ​may​ ​take​ ​longer​ ​to​ ​reach​ ​your​ ​account​ ​and​ ​internet​ ​transactions​ ​may​ ​take​ ​as longer​ ​than​ ​30​ ​working​ ​days.

The​ ​amount​ ​you​ ​receive​ ​will​ ​be​ ​less​ ​than​ ​the​ ​card​ ​transaction​ ​amount​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​the​ ​‘Merchant Service​ ​Charge’​ ​(MSC)​ ​deducted​ ​by​ ​the​ ​acquirer.​ ​The​ ​MSC​ ​also​ ​covers​ ​the​ ​charges​ ​paid​ ​to the​ ​issuer​ ​(the​ ​‘interchange​ ​fee’)​ ​and​ ​the​ ​card​ ​scheme​ ​(the​ ​‘card​ ​scheme​ ​fee’).​ ​You’ll negotiate​ ​the​ ​MSC​ ​with​ ​the​ ​acquirer.​ ​The​ ​MSC​ ​will​ ​be​ ​lower​ ​for​ ​debit​ ​cards​ ​than​ ​for​ ​credit cards.​ ​Charges​ ​for​ ​accepting​ ​American​ ​Express​ ​card​ ​payments​ ​will​ ​generally​ ​be​ ​higher​ ​than those​ ​for​ ​MasterCard​ ​or​ ​Visa.​ ​You​ ​may​ ​also​ ​see​ ​deductions​ ​for​ ​other​ ​services​ ​such​ ​as​ ​the monthly​ ​fee​ ​for​ ​renting​ ​the​ ​terminal.

The​ ​acquirer​ ​will​ ​pass​ ​the​ ​transaction​ ​details​ ​to​ ​the​ ​card​ ​scheme​ ​–​ ​MasterCard​ ​or​ ​Visa​ ​for example​ ​–​ ​which​ ​manages​ ​the​ ​clearing​ ​of​ ​the​ ​card​ ​payment​ ​transaction,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​will​ ​pass​ ​the transaction​ ​details​ ​to​ ​the​ ​issuer.​ ​The​ ​issuer​ ​is​ ​the​ ​cardholder’s​ ​card​ ​provider,​ ​for​ ​example Barclaycard,​ ​MBNA​ ​or​ ​Capital​ ​One.

You​ ​can​ ​also​ ​print​ ​a​ ​daily​ ​summary​ ​of​ ​all​ ​the​ ​card​ ​transactions​ ​from​ ​the​ ​terminal.

So​ ​that’s​ ​it.​ ​It’s​ ​pretty​ ​simple​ ​and,​ ​contrary​ ​to​ ​popular​ ​opinion,​ ​the​ ​set-up​ ​costs​ ​and​ ​monthly charges​ ​are​ ​minimal. If​ ​you’re​ ​thinking​ ​about​ ​introducing​ card payments into your business, we have a range of card machines available - with no set up fees and a short 12 month contract available.

Payzone card machine in use
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