What’s a Virtual Terminal? 

The future of chip and pin technology centres around two main goals in payment processing: to be faster and to be more secure for customers.

Many barriers in the way of making such technology faster and more secure have already been broken down, thanks to contactless debit cards and virtual systems such as Apple Pay. These have become commonplace in physical points of sale such as shop tills and ATMs, but there’s one area of payment processing yet to be revolutionised by chip and pin technology: online shopping.

Enter the Virtual Terminal. 

A virtual terminal is a ‘card-not-present’ point of sale terminal. In lieu of a card reader, customers usually manually input their billing information, usually via a telephone agent. If done online, customers then go to the checkout and their virtual banking system performs a quick security check, such as a captcha, before processing the payment.

This isn’t a new concept. Virtual terminals via telephone have been continually used in professional environments to make online transactions as secure as possible. However, there is one element of virtual terminals that still slows the customer down: inputting their billing information in the first place.

In response, chip and pin is now being made accessible from home. Portable card readers are being created to connect via USB or wireless to your computer, making chip and pin technology fully part of the virtual terminal experience. Completing your purchase can now be just a tap or swipe away.

This could also be beneficial in the retail world. From 1-click payment options and ‘buy now, pay later’ credit systems, to transaction merchants and online banks helping to move C2C sales into the online world, virtual terminals are always evolving.

While pulling out your debit or credit card to type the long list of numbers isn’t a huge task, it can be a crucial hindrance. In an age where time-pressured e-commerce is a reigning marketing tactic, with 10-minute reservation windows for concert tickets and limited stock of popular products by prestige brands, paying as quickly as possible is an issue solved by these new virtual terminals.