Virtual terminals (similar to a payment gateway) provide the same functionality as a physical terminal in a brick-and-mortar store, except you’re accepting payments online. With a virtual terminal, business owners with a merchant services account will be able to process their customers credit card payments from any computer or mobile device with a internet connection.
How Virtual Terminals Work
Virtual terminals are used for small business credit card processing to enable an online shopping cart or eCommerce platforms to allow your business to process credit card payments through card-not-present transactions. A variety of features and functions can be utilized by a virtual terminal from recurring billing, collecting and storing customer data, added security, and fraud prevention.
To use a virtual terminal, typically, you will log in to a page through a standard web browser and use a menu to process payments. This is often referred to as a merchant dashboard. It’s similar to using a physical swiper or card reader, except that instead you manually enter the data.
Common Questions about Virtual Terminals
What is the difference between a virtual terminal and a payment gateway?
The main difference between a virtual terminal and a payment gateway is that a payment gateway is typically used for eCommerce transactions while virtual terminals are usually used by the business owner. However, some businesses use both means of accepting credit cards.
To break it down further, a payment gateway makes a connection between your business and the processor. It takes data from a secure hosted payment page or shopping care, verifies the credit card information for accuracy, and then sends it to the processor. Although a payment gateway is integrated into your website, without a virtual terminal it can only capture and process transactions on the customer’s end.
That means a virtual terminal enables you to actually go in and process those transactions as a business owner. Used together, a payment gateway and a virtual terminal can offer secure, efficient, and reliable solutions through the entirety of the credit card processing journey.
What are the benefits of virtual terminals?
There are many benefits of a virtual terminal for a small business owner. Those benefits include:
- An easy and secure way to manually enter transactions
- Ability to access your account any time and any where with a reliable Internet connection
- Perform safe and efficient authorizations with no need for additional for costly software
- Integrate with a payment gateway for a one-stop-shop solution
- Utilize batch credit card processing by uploading all your transactions at once to save time and money
What businesses typically use virtual terminals?
Small business owners who accept payments via mail order or telephone (MOTO) or those who work from home, will typically benefit from a virtual terminal. Other businesses that might be interested in a virtual terminal include:
- Non Profit Organizations
- Schools & Universities
- Membership Associations
- And more!