What is a Virtual Payment Terminal?

By Emma Lewis, bOnline

A Virtual Payment Terminal (VPT for short) is a software-based solution that means a business can accept payments electronically without needing any point-of-sale (POS) hardware or a physical card terminal. It instead works completely online using a web browser or a dedicated app.

So why would you, as a small business owner, need to know about them? The answer is, because your current POS hardware or card terminals may be running via a landline, rather than online – and landlines are about to be switched off for good. This makes it the perfect time to check not just your payment system but your security and CCTV, and any other system that might use a landline to operate.


What Types of Businesses Would Use A Virtual Payment Terminal?


If you run a business primarily over the phone or online, then a virtual payment terminal is likely to make payments much easier. They’re also good if you only tend to take occasional card transactions and don’t want to pay out for one or more physical card terminals. Not only that, but VPTs are flexible, secure and convenient, also complying with payment card industry standards.


How Does A Virtual Payment Terminal Work?


In a nutshell, VPTs work like this:

  1. Online Access – Merchants can access the virtual payment terminal via a secure online portal provided by their bank or payment service provider
  2. Payment Entry – When a customer is ready to make a payment, the merchant enters the transaction details such as the customer’s card information and amount straight into the virtual terminal interface
  3. Transaction Processing – In real-time, the virtual payment terminal will then securely process the transaction, verifying the card details and starting the transfer of funds from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account
  4. Confirmation – Once the payment is approved, both the customer and the merchant will get confirmation of the transaction

How Do I Choose A Virtual Payment Terminal For My Small Business?


When deciding on a VPT for your small business there are lots of different things to consider. Ask yourself questions like “Is this VPT compatible with my existing systems and website?” and “How easy will it integrate?”

You’ll also want to check out the security features it offers, such as PCI compliance, as well as how cost-effective it will be for your business. For instance, what are the transaction fees and monthly subscriptions costs? Also, is there a good range of payment methods the VPT will accept, and what’s the customer support like?

Additionally, look at whether the provider offers features like invoicing, recurring billing and analytics tools that can help to make your business operations more efficient.

You really can’t overdo the research on this one so it’s well worth reading reviews (Trustpilot and Google are a good place to start), and comparing different options to make an informed decision. The key is to go for a VPT that aligns with your business needs and growth objectives, whilst also balancing cost.