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What’s the Difference Between a Mobile Payment System and a Virtual Terminal?

Ease of access, personalized customer experience, and record-keeping are changing for the better. The digital age is enhancing almost every industry, and the storefront is no different.

There are many options when it comes to accepting payments from your customers. Mobile payment systems and virtual terminals are at the top of many lists, but what are the differences? Do the differences matter?

Here are a few pay system options, their differences, and the opportunities available for you.

Mobile Payment Systems

Mobile payment systems are a type of payment gateway. With payment gateways, customer information is needed to finish the transaction.

This means that a customer has to enter all of their payment details, enter the required verification themselves. That means entering a pin number, security code, potential identity check questions, and other details.

Sound secure? It is, as long as the customer isn’t giving out their PIN to everyone on the street. No one–not even a merchant–should be able to grab someone else’s payment card and simply process a payment randomly.

Security is good, but not always necessary. If you’re dealing with regular customers who need you to simply make things happen, it’s harder to do with a mobile payment system.

At its core, mobile payment systems put the power, security, and responsibility of the payment in the customer’s hands.

Virtual Terminals (VT)

A virtual terminal places most of the responsibility on the merchant’s side, and allows manual processing by the merchant. If you have a customer in your database, you can bill that customer as needed.

This is important if the customer isn’t present, but wants to make a purchase. There are many scenarios when a customer can’t simply swipe a card, such as making purchases from an account with funds you maintain or an account without card access.

A robust virtual terminal still has a payment gateway attached to it.

Which Should You Use?

Mobile payment systems and virtual terminals are vital for different types of businesses.

Typically, virtual terminals are used by established merchants. If you expect to have customers who need to be billed later–such as in-store credit, personal transactions without cards, or discrete purchases–use a VT.

If you plan on taking payments from credit or debit cards, a mobile payment system is a must. Especially for merchants on the go, being able to swipe and move on is an easy form of income.

A card swiper for phone and mobile devices allows versatility in a time when easy payments and mobile freedom are changing the world in many ways. That said, some mobile swipers feel cheap or shady.

Would you want to pay someone with a scuffed up, grimy block attached to a personal phone? Your business shouldn’t scream SCAM, and even if you work in a dirty job, you should have a cleaner option for people who need reassurance.

You can augment your payment systems by having a more stable credit card swiper deck in your stationery business. If people have issues sliding through smaller phone swipers or don’t trust phone swipers, bigger swipers tend to be more trustworthy.

Many businesses can handle a mixture of mobile payment systems and virtual terminals with different sizes. It’s important to poll your customers about your equipment and ease of payment since many customers are willing to share their experience.

It’s about being candid and offering a better experience. Contact a payment systems professional to discuss other parts of making payments easier.
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