How does a smart card terminal work?

A smart card terminal is a hand held device which can be linked to a computer or used in a standalone mode. They are used to read information from smart cards, such as debit or credit cards. They are usually linked to a computer via a USB connection, but a number of new computers are now designed with in built smart card terminals.

What can smart card terminals be used for?

The major advantage of a smart card terminal is that data can be written onto certain smart cards as well as read from them. This makes them a great management device for all sorts of applications, including payment systems, employee security systems, time and attendance recording and access control. The growing use of mobile computing is rapidly expanding the market for smart card and chip technology. More and more businesses are choosing to take control of their finance, security, stock and human resource systems and smart card terminals are a leading resource to make this happen.

Taking payment with a smart card terminal

One of the most common applications for a smart card terminal is in e banking and e commerce. Debit and credit cards are linked to a PC through the smart card terminal to allow on line banking, both for business and personal use. With this, all usual bank transactions can be carried out, including making payments, setting up direct debits, analysing statements and transferring money between accounts. In addition, a chip and pin smart card terminal can transform any PC into a till point, allowing money to be taken from a customer’s card. This means that you can take your business to the customer and not disadvantage sales by not being able to take payment in homes, exhibitions or in meetings.

Advantages of using a smart card terminal

There are a vast range of smart card terminals on the market at the moment. However, they all have certain features in common which give them a real advantage over other kinds of card reader;

  • A smart card terminal is very small, compact and lightweight. It is easy to transport and can be shipped quickly, with very little packaging.
  • It can be integrated easily into most computer systems, most usually via a USB port.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to install and use.
  • Large range of designs to choose from.
  • Can be used with computers and mobile smart phones.
  • Excellent in built security features.

Choosing the right kind of smart card terminal will largely depend on what you are planning to use it for and how often you wish to use it. Are you looking to only read information, use it to process payments or use it to manage an entire smart card operations system? Careful research and planning will ensure you purchase a terminal which is both cost effective and will help your business to expand.

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