Coronavirus is stirring up business and buyer behavior on a huge scale. Both the public and private sectors are scrambling to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Merchants who rely on in-person payments can expect a marked reduction in business activities. This means restaurants, retailers and other businesses are seeing reduced foot traffic or have outright shut their doors to the public. However, a virtual terminal can be a reliable alternative during this pandemic.
A virtual terminal is the web-based variant of a physical, retail location point-of-sale terminal that can be used to process credit and debit cards on a computer or tablet. This online solution provides an effortless transaction experience, for both merchants and their customers. In contrast to its hardware counterpart, a virtual terminal can effortlessly handle transactions from a distance. This means processing payments safely and securely.
Businesses can get connected to a virtual terminal by accessing a dedicated link provided by their payment processor. From there, they are ready to process card payments.
Who Typically Uses a Virtual Terminal?
Restaurants, retailers, professionals, entrepreneurs, delivery services and others can benefit from using an online payment solution. However, small business owners may not have the in-house technical knowledge or budget to create a full-fledged eCommerce website. This is where a virtual terminal comes in. It’s an affordable, at-distance payment solution that is secure and reliable.
Let’s break down the key factors as to why a virtual terminal can be a business savior during the coronavirus pandemic, and how it can be used to further boost business once things get back to normal.
- Restaurants: Patrons can pay by phone, prior to a delivery, and receive their meals without having to leave their home or handle in-person payments.
- Service professionals: Accountants, attorneys and other professionals can continue to do business by phone or email and accept payments through a virtual terminal.
- Home-based businesses: Freelancers and business owners who operate from the comfort of their home office can easily take payments.
- Other delivery services: Whether a business sells wine, toilet paper, potato chips or hand sanitizer, any type of local business can now accept payments by phone, deliver to their clients and avoid business downtime.
Why are Online and Telephone Orders Thriving During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
In response to the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised the use of contactless payments and informed people to "wash their hands after handling banknotes." This is in order to restrict the potential viral spread through paper currency. A few nations are taking this a stride further: South Korea, for instance, is isolating all the cash at its national bank for about fourteen days before purifying it and returning it to circulation. China is embracing similar steps. A surge in online payments is evident, not only due to the avoidance of cash, but because shoppers are now under quarantine or in self-isolation.
What’s the Difference Between a Virtual Terminal and a Payment Gateway?
A virtual terminal is a web-based interface typically used for phone, mail order, or in-person transactions. As with a physical POS terminal, transactions are processed in near real-time, and a merchant knows almost instantly after processing the credit card details whether a transaction has been successfully accepted or declined.
In contrast, merchants with eCommerce websites have a payment gateway integrated into their shopping cart/checkout solution. Under both scenarios, it’s the payment gateway that routes the transaction to and from the payment processor.
How Secure is a Virtual Terminal?
A virtual terminal is a secure and PCI-compliant method of accepting digital payments. Security methods include encryption—to scramble the sensitive data so it can't be utilized without decoding—address confirmation services, tokenization, card verification value (CVV), among others.
What Other Features Are Included with a Virtual Terminal?
Depending on the setup, virtual terminal features can include:
- Processing payments, refunds or voiding transactions in real-time or in batches
- Manually keying in credit card information to accept payments
- Setting up recurring or installment billing for memberships or subscriptions
- Printing receipts immediately or securely storing card information for invoicing