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What is a Smart Terminal? The ideal POS tool for in-person payments

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Ryleigh Stangness | August 22, 2023

“7 smart terminal features to upgrade the way your business accepts debit and credit card payments in-person.”
8 min read
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    For all you small business proprietors out there, it's no secret that having a smooth payment process is key. You might be in the midst of checking out different merchant services and picking a reliable payment processor, or perhaps you're an old hand looking to upgrade your current setup.

    In the world of efficient POS systems, there's something fresh on the horizon: Smart Terminals. These aren't your run-of-the-mill wireless credit card readers; they're designed to bring a new level of ease and finesse to your operations, all while keeping your customers smiling.

    So, let's take a friendly tour through the features of these Smart Terminals and how they could make a difference for your business. We'll skip the tech jargon and focus on the perks they offer and how they work. By the end, you might find yourself considering if these terminals are the missing piece that'll take your business up a notch.

    What is a Smart Terminal?

    A Smart Terminal is not just a device; it's your payment processing sidekick. Unlike traditional card readers or the old typical, on-site POS systems provided mostly by the big banks, a Smart Terminal is equipped with advanced features, has a built-in POS app and can be used anywhere so you can say goodbye to clunky setups and your age-old servers! This eliminates the complexities of managing multiple devices, helping small businesses do it all from a single, user-friendly interface.

    Helcim Smart Terminal for home services

    The boost you didn't know your business needed…

    Maybe your tedious and crowded POS setup is a little like a rom-com main character; a bachelor living on autopilot, slogging through a meh 9-to-5 routine, feeling as colorless as the beige plate of food before him. Then, like a whirlwind, change crashes in – turning his world upside down giving him a renewed spark for life. The protagonist of your payment rom-com? You guessed it— a Smart Terminal.

    Okay, maybe the payments world won't give you blockbuster drama, but Smart Terminals do bring their pinch of magic to the mix.

    It's all about lifting your checkout process, and cutting some of the clutter. Now you can do it all on one screen. No more fat fingers punching in totals, untangling unforgiving curly cords to maneuver the card reader to your customer, or finding the finding a way to interupt the conversation so you can grab their receipt at the other end of the counter. Let's look at some of the ways a smart terminal can elevate your payment experience:

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    Features of a smart payment machine

    Beyond just the standard ability to accept payments, Smart Terminals bring much more to the table than one might think. Specifically, they are capable of doing more with less and with greater flexibility.

    For example, rather than needing an array of device options, Smart Terminals include a built-in receipt printer,, and POS software which allows you to manage inventory, synchronize transaction and customers' data, and offer multiple payment types such as mobile and contactless payments (such as Google Pay and Apple Pay), EMV chip cards, tap to pay, and even track cash payments- all via wi-fi or remote connectivity.

    So what does a Smart Terminal do?

    • Acceptance of Tap, Chip cards, and PIN payments, including mobile wallets in one device
    • Acceptance of credit card and debit payments
    • Integration of payment processing, inventory management, customer transaction history and data, and receipt issuance
    • Elimination of the need for multiple devices
    • Intuitive touchscreen user interface
    • Wireless and standalone functionality
    • Access for unlimited users without additional charges (with the Helcim Smart Terminal)

    Helcim Smart Terminal vs Card reader

    Payment technology

    The Smart Terminal is a remarkable tool, but even more so when you consider the evolution of payment methods. Wireless credit card machines can now use cloud technology and radio frequency (RF), Bluetooth, or wi- fi to send data back and forth, so you're no longer tied to a local router or countertop. Using NFC technology and Radio Frequency (RF) for functionalities like contactless payments, Smart Terminals can easily accept both Chip and PIN or Tap securely. Plus tokenization and encrryption tools keep payment details and transaction data secure.

    How a Smart Terminal can help you grow your business

    Simplicity is the cornerstone of efficiency. These terminals aren't just about making it easier for business owners to process payments; they're also designed to enhance your purchase experience. Here's how:

    1. Less tech stack: With an all-in-one POS system, the need for a third-party software or hardware is unnecessary effectively cutting costs and providing your business with more control in just one streamlined device.

    2. Settle up faster: With the ability to accept various payment methods, including contactless options like Apple Pay and Google Pay, they expedite the checkout process. Your clients can pay with a simple tap, minimizing wait times.

    3. Flexible options: These portable tools allow your customers to pay the way they prefer, whether it's by credit card, mobile wallet, or other digital payment methods. While you may still need cash drawers for coins and bills, you can track cash flow through the built-in app, making balancing your books easier than ever.

    4. Accurate orders: Built-in features like barcode scanners can help ensure that products are accurately scanned and processed, reducing errors in orders and leading to greater customer satisfaction. Plus, with the built-in app, you can track stock across multiple locations & channels even as purchases are made in real time.

    5. Digital receipts: By offering the option to send digital receipts via email or text message, you can reduce paper waste— making it easier for customers to keep track of their purchases.

    6. Enhanced security: Customers are increasingly concerned about the security of their payment information. These devices offer advanced encryption and security measures, providing customers (and you) with greater peace of mind.

    7. User-friendly interface: The intuitive touchscreen interface and portability make the payment process straightforward for customers, reducing the likelihood of confusion or frustration.

    In a nutshell, It's not just about streamlining processes and cutting down on redundancy; but contributing to a smoother, more enjoyable experience for both merchants and your valued customers.

    "The Helcim Smart terminal is a streamlined way to accept payments for my business. I like the all-in-one design as it makes it easy to accept payments anywhere without worrying about connecting to a [mobile device] or tablet." — Rebecca Ollenberger, Owner of SNAP Foto Club

    One device for all your transactions with the Helcim Smart Terminal

    From in-store to on-the-go, whip through transactions with our integrated point-of-sale, stock management, and customer insights in a single device. No contracts or monthly fees, just competitive rates with our transparent Interchange Plus pricing. Easy setup, user-friendly interface – a smart choice for a professional payment experience.


    What is a Smart Terminal vs. a regular credit card reader?

    Imagine you have a computer screen that you can use to type things and see what's on the screen. This is called a "terminal." Now, there are different types of terminals. One type is called a "dumb terminal." This kind of terminal is like a basic calculator. It can show you things on the screen and let you type using a keyboard, but it doesn't have the ability to do complex tasks or calculations as modern computers can.

    When we are talking about technical capabilities, a credit card reader is limited in it's capabilities but has the essential capabilities to input transaction amounts, punch in credit card details, conduct purchases, refunds, voids, and settlements. A "smart payment terminal" can do much more than just show things on the screen and let you type and they have more advanced payment capabilities.

    Just like how your smartphone can do much more than a regular phone, a smart payment terminal can do much more than a basic one. It's like having a high-tech assistant for handling payments quickly and in different ways. Smart payment terminals are able to use POS software and perform functionalities that you would traditionally need to use a POS screen or computer for.

    In summary, a "smart payment terminal" is a modern, advanced version of a POS terminal with greater technical capabilities.

    What are the advantages of Smart Terminals compared to traditional card readers?

    What is the main advantage of Smart terminals? The ability to do more with less wherever you go. This includes having multi-purpose payment applications within the device such as employee logs, inventory management, cloud storage capabilities, acceptance of various payment options, and enhanced security measures. These new features make them a convenient and secure choice for businesses, streamlining your checkout flow and ensuring a seamless payment experience for customers while reducing the need for multiple devices and POS accessories.

    What POS equipment do I need for my business?

    You may need various software and hardware equipment depending on the nature of your business and transactions. For example, as an accountant, you may customize your ideal POS system to be a simple computer to send out invoices to your recurring clients every month while entering new client payment details into the virtual terminal to be saved and stored securely in a credit card vault.

    Conversely, you might be a contractor on -the-go who wants to take advantage of lower in-person rates without sacrificing portability or convenience. in this case, you could use a standalone Smart Terminal to accept card payments directly from your customers. No need to pair a separate card reader to your phone to access your POS software app or follow up with an invoice when you get back to the office. Check out our article on how to choose the best POS setup for your business and its unique needs.

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