If you’re shopping for a new credit card terminal, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your options. Make the wrong choice and you could be in the same position in a year’s time. Changes in payment technology and consumer trends are unpredictable, but some credit card terminals are better suited for the future than others.
Without over-complicating the matter with makes and models, we’ll focus simply on the credit card terminal's physical orientation. There are five compelling reasons why you should opt for a customer-facing terminal over a traditional cashier-facing one.
The Imminent Rise of Chip and PIN
With security perpetually advancing to combat fraud, we’re expecting chip and PIN to be the next standard for credit cards. EMV cards are more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards, but data shows that PINs provide better fraud prevention than signatures.
Between 2004 and 2010, only 9 percent of fraud occurred on PIN-verified debit cards whereas 91 percent occurred on signature-verified cards, according to a Federation of American Scientists study. Simply put, a signature is forgeable, but a PIN is challenging (read: nearly impossible) to guess correctly.
If chip and PIN does become the new norm, you’ll need a customer-facing terminal to protect customer privacy and PIN integrity.
You can go paperless and protect your business from chargebacks by collecting electronic signatures. This isn’t just an environmentally friendly decision, it also improves your bottom line and health. With signatures and transactions stored in the cloud, you can stop managing paper receipts, paying for storage and maintaining related supplies.
We estimate that paper receipts cost businesses upwards of $883 in initial setup, $348 in monthly storage fees and $135 quarterly to restock materials. According to The Huffington Post, one year of paper receipts in the U.S. takes 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water to produce. Additionally, studies show that paper receipts contain BPA, an estrogen-mimicking chemical that’s harmful to human health and is absorbed through the skin.
You need a customer-facing terminal to capture electronic signatures, go paperless and capitalize on these benefits.
As we pointed out earlier, technology and security are constantly evolving. Our phones have used biometrics for a few years now, so it’s no surprise that the major credit card issuers are considering it as a security measure. MasterCard is currently testing fingerprint readers on its credit cards in South Africa, and has plans to test in Europe and the Asia Pacific next, reports TechCrunch. These cards will rely on a PIN as a fallback for failed fingerprint readings.
As this technology catches on, having a customer-facing terminal that accommodates fingerprint and PIN technology will increasingly become critical.
Germs and a Healthy Staff
When was the last time you cleaned your credit cards? Probably never, and that’s true for your customers too. Handling customer cards exposes cashiers to numerous viruses and bacteria. Specifically, one London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study found that one in 10 credit cards contained fecal matter.
In another study, half of all credit cards in a sample tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to CreditCards.com. This antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection is spread through skin-to-skin contact, open wounds or pathways like the mouth and eyes; it can compromise people’s joints, bones, blood and organs.
If these dangerous bacteria are present on credit cards, consider as well how easily the common cold can be transferred. By opting for a customer-facing terminal, you can keep your employees healthy and reduce operational disruptions resulting from employee sick days.
Mobile Payment Adoption
Mobile payments rely on near-field communication (NFC), a method of wireless data transfer that doesn’t rely on an internet connection. If you’ve seen a shopper use this technology, you know that it entails waving a smartphone or smartwatch over an NFC-enabled credit card terminal. A customer-facing terminal is better positioned for easy payment from an NFC-enabled device.
Considering these many technological advancements, health concerns and cost savings, a customer-facing terminal will be a better long-term investment than an old-fashioned, cashier-facing option.
Do you currently have a customer-facing credit card reader or terminal? Do you find it easier or more cumbersome? Share your perspective in the comments section below.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.