In this article we are going to provide a brief description of the common features of a payment terminal application. The features under consideration concern such aspects as payment processing, loyalty programs, management of agreements, and other, more advanced matters.
Let us describe each of these aspects, and respective payment terminal application features, one by one.
Payment Processing-related Features
- ACH transaction handling – ability to handle bank account payments or capture bank account data for recurring payments. More detailed information on how ACH works can be found in our respective article.
- Swipe/Manual – ability to handle magnetic stripe cards, as well as manual card entry for processing and recurring payments.
- PIN Debit – ability to handle encrypted PINs when PIN-debit or EMV transactions are processed.
- Contact EMV – ability to handle ICC (integrated circuit card) EMV payments. For contact EMV transactions an ICC (chip) is inserted into the terminal.
- Contactless EMV – ability to handle contactless EMV payments. During contactless EMV payments it is enough to touch the terminal with a card (without inserting it). Check out our respective article on the benefits of EMV standard for more information.
- Proximity – ability to handle RFID (radio frequency identification) cards and mobile payment systems like ApplePay or Google Wallet. For RFID card handling it is enough to put the card close to the terminal without inserting it.
- Gift Cards – ability to handle closed loop gift cards, including activation, reloading and redemption. Closed loop cards are accepted only by the company, which issued them to its customers.
- Offline Transactions – ability to handle transactions when no connection to the host is available (generally due to connectivity issues); exists in two flavors – store and forward (for non-EMV cards) and EMV offline handling.
Features Concerning Loyalty Programs
- Cards – ability to handle non-payment magnetic cards for loyalty programs. Examples include cards for accumulation of points, bonuses, etc which can be later exchanged for some benefits
- Phones/Tags – ability to use NFC (near field communication) enabled devices or NFC tags for non-payment operations (check-in, loyalty program, etc).
Features Concerning Agreements Management
These features are common for large-screened terminals, which have an ability to support different non-payment functions, particularly concerning customer agreements. Usually, these features concern interaction with a customer through dialogues and forms displayed on the terminal screen.
- Custom Dialogs – ability to show custom prompt dialogs and capture customer’s selection.
- Signature Capture – ability to capture signatures and initials.
- Custom Forms – ability to present customized input forms to collect arbitrary data.
Features of a Stand Alone Offering
- Regular Payments – ability to handle payments using terminal without POS (stand alone terminals).
- Split Payments – ability to handle partial authorization. Partial authorization takes place, for instance, when a customer wants to pay with one of his cards, but gets an “insufficient funds” response, and makes the actual payment with another card.
- Batch Management – ability to handle voids and settlements using terminal without POS. In terminal management context a batch means a series of transactions accumulated during the day.
- Tip Management – ability to handle tip adjustments on pre-authorized transactions using terminal without POS.
Advanced Payment Terminal Application Features
- Tokenization – in addition to standard payment processing functionality, tokenization allows capturing of payment information for its subsequent reuse as part of the recurring billing process. It is often necessary to avoid manual entry of payment information for tokenization purposes. For more information on tokenization, see our respective article
- P2PE – ability to encrypt PAN data from the point of capture (terminal) all the way to the point of processing (either at the gateway or processor level). While P2PE without formal PCI certification does not provide out-of-scope status for merchants using it, it significantly reduces possible exposure of cardholder’s data. Usage of P2PE methodology imposes additional key injection procedures. For more information on P2PE, see our respective article
- Advertising – ability to show customized media content (image slideshows or video) on terminal’s screen in idle mode (when terminal is not used for a specific operation). Targeted deliver of marketing content provides additional value to the terminal offering and helps justify costs associated with hardware acquisition.
- TMS – ability to connect and communicate with terminal management system for remote configuration and updates. While the feature is not required for solutions with local footprint where DLLs are distributed as part of the main application (desktop thick clients), it is necessary for embedded system.
- Donations – ability to accept donations or surcharges as ‘add-ons’ to primary application payments.
When you make a decision concerning implementation of some terminal solution, make sure that you think through the payment terminal application features that you are going to need, and that they are available in the solution of your choice.