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What exactly is a virtual terminal?


The first POS system was introduced by IBM in the 1970s. These top of the line systems were simple and bulky and required terminals that were wired back to mainframes. It was not until the 1990s with hardware and software updates and advances that the touchscreen terminals we use every day when we shop began to grow in use. However, with the advent of the internet, POS systems and credit card processing has made another major advancement with the advent of virtual terminals.


A virtual terminal enables business owners to accept credit and debit card payments without a physical credit card terminal. Using secure online forms, business owners can enter the credit card details of customers, to process their payments without a physical terminal. Virtual terminals are internet based and can be assessed from any internet connected device. Business owners can also use a credit card reader to swipe the card, so they do not need to enter it manually. Another benefit of virtual terminals is that business owners are also able to log into their virtual terminals and view reports on their sales and transactions.

Virtual terminals process payments through a payment gateway. Payment gateway acts as the equipment for processing a credit or debit card. Payment gateways are different from virtual terminals as payment gateways are also used by customers to enter the information online to process a payment while virtual terminals are used by businesses to process customers payments. A payment gateway can operate with a virtual terminal, but a virtual terminal cannot operate without a payment gateway.

Businesses that accept orders on the go, through fax, phone or mail can benefit from having a virtual terminal. With a standard printer connected to a computer that can access a virtual terminal, business owners can print receipts for customers or business reports for themselves. Like with other credit card processing tools, using a virtual terminal will include credit card processing fees. If you think your businesses would benefit from having a virtual terminals or you already have a virtual terminal but are unhappy with the quality of the virtual terminal or high fees associated with it, you should contact a credit card processor that specializes in virtual terminals, payment gateways and all e-commerce credit card processing needs.

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