Basics on Virtual Terminals and Payment Gateways

At Merchant Card Advisors, we’re proud to offer a variety of online credit card processing services for a variety of companies, from lending companies to small businesses and many others. Using just our single application, you can accept credit card and mobile payments without any complexity or hidden costs while remaining compliant with all prudent regulations.

When it comes to the specific kinds of equipment or software utilized by services like ours, two very important items to know about are virtual terminals and payment gateways. While some people confuse these and assume they are the same, they are actually different items that work together to provide you with the ability to easily process online payments. Here’s a basic primer on these two important solutions and the purposes they serve for your business.

Virtual Terminal

To simplify it as much as we can, a virtual terminal is an internet-based technology that facilitates electronic payments across numerous fields. As long as you have a simple internet connection plus any kind of computer, smart device or other technology, you are able to log in and process credit card transactions at your convenience.

To do this, you log in to a secured page on a basic internet browser and use a built-in menu to process payments. Our team will inform you of the page (or pages) you need to visit to accomplish this. In many ways, you can think of a virtual terminal as a physical card reader, only with the information typed in rather than swiped in or read on a chip. Besides the input format, the two accomplish the exact same thing for your business.

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway, on the other hand, is meant to route credit card transactions from the virtual terminal to the credit card processor. It also verifies all transactions for authenticity. Essentially, it’s the messenger that helps complete the process the virtual terminal kicks off.

Generally, the payment gateway will be specifically integrated into your website, usually in the shopping cart and checkout areas. It finishes the process on your end, placing the payment in the hands of your processor.

Why You Need Both

Technically, it’s possible to capture and process online transactions using only a payment gateway without a virtual terminal. However, this will only work for the customer themselves – you, the merchant, will not be able to process the transaction on your end. In addition, many payments that aren’t obtained online (mobile, phone or even in-person) are much easier to deal with if you have a virtual terminal. For those running e-commerce sites, the virtual terminal along with the payment gateway is the proper route to take.

For more on payment gateways and virtual terminals, or to learn about any of our merchant processing solutions, speak to the staff at Merchant Card Advisors today.

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