How to set up an EFTPOS machine
Find out how EFTPOS works and what’s required for you to be able to accept card payments through an EFTPOS machine.
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If you're running a business from a physical location – whether it's a café, retail store, health clinic or even a taxi – people will expect to have the option of paying by card. EFTPOS, which stands for Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale, is the most widely used electronic payment system in Australia and New Zealand.
This system gives you access to a machine that allows you to process both debit and credit card transactions. It can also integrate with your point-of-sale system so that you have a simple way to keep track of transactions.
Banks and other payment processing companies all offer different types of EFTPOS machines you can buy or rent. So, let's take a look at your options and how the setup typically works.
What is an EFTPOS machine?
An EFTPOS machine is a countertop or wireless unit that processes payments made by swiping, inserting or tapping a credit card, debit card or compatible mobile device (such as a phone with Apple Pay).
The terminal communicates with at least three parties: the customer's bank, the merchant's bank, and the authorising banks. It first checks the customer's account to see if there are enough funds to cover the sale, then issues the amount to the authorising bank, which then passes it over to the merchant's bank. When the amount is accepted, the transaction is approved and a receipt is rolled out.
How do I choose an EFTPOS machine?
The type of EFTPOS machine you choose largely depends on your business setup and needs. For example, if you want to be able to accept payments from anywhere, you could look at a wireless or mobile EFTPOS setup. On the other hand, if your business needs to process Medicare and private health cover claims, getting a machine with these features might be a higher priority.
Cost can also play a role, so it's a good idea to ask the following questions as a way of narrowing down your options:
- What features are essential? As well as wireless or health-claiming services, you might want to consider whether you can get multiple machines or whether it can be fitted to an existing mobile phone or tablet.
- What types of payments can be processed? This includes contactless payments and mobile payments, as well as processing networks such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
- Will it sync with the billing and accounting software? EFTPOS machines typically offer compatibility with a range of POS programs, but it is worth double-checking before you choose one.
How much does an EFTPOS machine cost?
This is one of the most important questions business owners will ask before choosing an EFTPOS setup. The pricing can vary depending on factors including the EFTPOS provider and the annual turnover of your business. But typically, you will pay:
- A monthly fee for the EFTPOS terminal
- A percentage fee for each transaction
As a general guide, monthly rental could range from around $30 up to $150 or more, while transaction fees could be around 1% to 3% depending on the type of payment (American Express and Diner's Club typically attract higher transaction fees).
Some EFTPOS machine providers may also charge for additional machines, features or services. There may also be fees for delivery and instalment (around $100), as well as regular maintenance costs.
However, much like credit card issuers, rival networks may offer discounts or other perks. For example, Live eftpos black also offers you 1 Qantas Point for every $1 transacted. So, it does pay to shop around – although acceptance and network reliability should always be a priority.
What do I need to set up an EFTPOS machine?
The steps you need to take to set up your EFTPOS machine largely depend on the provider you choose. This means you will need to read through the instruction booklet and/or user manual that comes with your EFTPOS machine/s.
Once you've done that, the set up process should be fairly straightforward. However, depending on the machine, you may need to have some of the following features already setup for your business:
- An Internet connection
- A 3G or 4G mobile network
- A phone line
Keep in mind that these requirements can vary a lot between machines. For example, many of the more established, plug-in EFTPOS machines do require a phone line in order to operate, while wireless and mobile machines may only need WiFi or a mobile network.
Make sure you check these requirements before choosing an EFTPOS machine so that you know you'll be able to set it up and use it straight away.
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