Virtual Terminals

Common POS and Virtual Terminal Software

Credit Card Processing SoftwareSoftware solutions for payment processing, such as virtual terminals, make it possible to accept credit cards without investing in a credit card machine. These are most popular at Mail Order Telephone Order (MOTO) designated companies, but in fact if your company takes orders over the phone, you can use payment gateways for these orders and avoid investing in too much hardware. All of these systems are based around the principal of CNP, or "Card Not Present" transactions. If your store does a lot of in-person processing, a credit card machine setup where transactions are swiped will result in big savings. Some POS software and processing tools take advantage of USB credit card swipers to get the same effect, but in most cases the card number is usually given telephonically or obtained from paperwork which may be on file or mailed in.

Cloud-based solutions

Software as a Service (SAAS) and Portals

There is no shortage of card processing software vendors and application developers. PC Charge is an old standby in the industry by this point, and QuickBooks has a "Kit" that is popular with small business owners nationwide. Many cloud-based payment solutions are pushing the boundaries of PCI compliance by sharing data with the wider Internet, leading some to wonder about the strength of the encryption service as well as what would happen if the cloud were to spontaneously disappear or experience unexpected disruptions.

A payment gateway, which is the "plug" that gets your processing services onto the Internet, is almost always at the root of such software products. Your virtual terminal software may look sleek or archaic, but at its heart it needs to follow encryption and security standards designed to prevent data breaches either through tokenization or non-storage of card numbers. Older virtual terminals tended to store payment card data, but due to risks most system upgrades eliminated this security hole. The good news about this change is that your virtual terminal program (or app, if you use an Android or Apple product) is not at risk of spilling customer data. Tablets, slates, and iPads also may be using specialized apps along with readers (or "dongles") that plug into the headphone jack of the device, though at that point they go from being virtual terminals to a kind of hybridized mobile terminal.

A lot of merchant account software is designed to be used by specific industry niches, and often it is created as a module that works with CRM systems to take payments. Therefore, a pizza delivery service (which may be taking orders thousands of miles from the actual store) would have an input designed to work around its interface, while a mail order house might have different looking front-end programming. Very generic terminals include online systems that can process a card through a web browser. or simple programs on the desktop that require minimal details. Class II and III processing, meanwhile, might append the sent data with individual line items on an invoice, mileage and fuel calculations, or other costing data.