Collecting money from clients and customers is always useful for business. For many businesses being able to take EFTPOS and credit card payments is essential. No terminal = no business.

According to EFTPOS New Zealand Limited Kiwis are the most prolific users of debit and credit cards in the world. We can use them virtually anywhere including in taxis, mobile espresso vendors, and at temporary events such as WOMAD, the Queenstown Winter Festival, and the annual Baby Show.

Taking credit and debit card payments is becoming an essential tool for many businesses such as trades people, says Sam Chatterjee, Telecom Business Hub Manukau owner. More and more have mobile EFTPOS machines in their vehicles, which they can whip out for payment on the spot. Those that do, report that bad debtors are nearly a thing of the past.

There are three main ways of accepting credit and EFTPOS payments. That's face-to-face with dedicated EFTPOS terminal, via your website, or card not present transactions via telephone/mail order payments.


In the case of face-to-face, businesses need to either buy or rent an EFTPOS machine. Business owners will also need a merchant ID from their bank.

Once using the hardware, small businesses pay two fees over and above any EFTPOS machine rental, says Paul Whiston, head of sales and marketing at Paymark. One is Paymark's standard $13.00 + GST per terminal each month and the second is a transactional fee per credit card payment, which is paid to their bank.

Debit payments are not charged, which is why some businesses only accept EFTPOS. The trouble with this is that not all customers have sufficient funds in their current accounts to pay big bills and the business may lose custom for that reason.

EFTPOS machines come in a variety of flavours. They may be standalone, integrated into the till, or wireless.

A tradesman, for example, might want a wireless machine, says Chatterjee, to ensure on-the-spot payment. Other businesses may prefer it fixed to the counter.

Mark Palmer, a Christchurch-based Bowen Therapy and Kinesiology therapist offers mobile treatments in workplaces. A mobile EFTPOS machine makes a huge difference to his Avonhead-based business Bowenz Therapy Clinic. It means that he can be paid on the spot instead of invoicing later or taking cheques and cash. Invoicing takes time and cheques and cash would require time spent banking them. "It would be really awkward without the EFTPOS machine," says Palmer.

Even if the employer, not employee is paying for the treatments, they're usually happy to pay via EFTPOS, which can save administration for both sides. Palmer also teaches martial arts and can use the machine to take payments from his students.

Businesses should also consider future proofing their investment. They may, for example, want a terminal that is enabled for near field communications (NFC), which will be able to accept payments from mobile phones.

Even businesses with existing EFTPOS machines should review their setup, says Chatterjee. Like all technology, EFTPOS is moving ahead fast. "A lot of business owners do not understand that technology has changed and there are different ways of taking payments," says Chatterjee.

Newer machines may have Tap & Go functionality, which means a customer doesn't need to enter a PIN for small value transactions. Others are ideal for paying at a table or in the yard of a rural supplies or hardware store. Or it may be: decline alerting, multi merchant, or loyalty application functionality that may be of importance to the business.

Businesses that deal with tourists and business travellers might want to use a machine that has a customer preferred currency functionality. That allows them to charge the customer in their home currency.

Small businesses with existing fixed line EFTPOS machine should consider using broadband instead to free up their telephone lines when they are taking payments, says Chatterjee.

*We will be writing more about web payments in the next few weeks.