90% of retail payments made in the UK in 2021 were card payments, instead of cash.

Covid catapulted us into a contactless payment world, but we were well on the way there anyway.

In June 2017, just 34% of card payments in the UK were contactless. Compare this to 2021 where contactless payments accounted for 90% of all card payments and the trend is clear.

If your business isn’t accepting card payments, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be.

Modern technology has turned payments into a hassle-free process. And it’s something you should be taking advantage of.

Accepting card payments helps you:

  • Streamline transactions
  • Bring in more cash from customers
  • Keep your money safe and secure

So if you’re looking to take the next step in your business and finally join the card payment world, here’s everything you’ll need to get started.

Choose a payment method

First things first… you’ll need to decide exactly how you want to start accepting card payments.

This might sound a little odd, but there are plenty of different ways you can accept these types of payments for your business. Even though everything is technically coming from a card.

They vary depending on the type of business you run – face-to-face, over the phone, etc. But there’s something to suit every business.

Card machine

When it comes to taking card payments, card machines are the most obvious choice. Today it’s more unusual to find a business that doesn’t accept card payments in some form.

Card machines allow customers to make payments via their credit or debit cards – of course.

Modern card machines also allow customers to make digital payments using their smartphones or wearable devices.

Otherwise known as a ‘PDQ’ machine or a ‘terminal,’ these are the best form of payment if you run a face-to-face business, like a shop.

But the beauty of most modern card machines is that many of them can be used wirelessly if you need to move around to accept payments.

You’ve probably seen wireless card machines in places like restaurants or cafes – the wireless capability allows staff to roam around the building taking payments from customers anywhere on site.

A must-have for any business that deals with customers in-person. 

Internet connection

A bit obvious, but essential nonetheless.

An internet connection is what will allow all your card transitions to take place.

Some card machines can indeed take payments without an internet connection, but it only means the customer’s information will be stored until you eventually get your machine back online.

In other words, like most other things nowadays, an internet connection is a must if you want to start accepting card payments.

Paying customers

Naturally, you’ll need paying customers to accept card payments.

The great thing is, if you feel like you’re in a position to begin accepting card payments, you’re probably doing a great job with your business and want to keep the momentum going.

Card payments are the natural next step.

These are the essential elements you’ll need to start accepting card payments. But here are some more options you may wish to consider, depending on the type of business you run.

Merchant Account

A merchant account is where your funds will sit until they’re approved for release into your business account by the customer’s bank.

Some new business owners confuse merchant accounts and business accounts as the same thing – but they are different and you’ll need both.

Online payment system

A huge percentage of the population is online in 2023, with 2.64 billion people shopping on the internet.

So if your business is online, or you’re looking to make the move, you’ll need the tools in place to accept payments online, too.

One tool in particular you’ll need is a payment gateway.

In short, it replicates the action of a card machine when you’re checking out online, while maintaining all the essential security steps to keep your details safe.

Don’t worry though – after the customer has entered their card details, they aren’t stored by your company. Taking any potential security risks out of your hands.

With a payment gateway, you’ll be able to sell online and secure payments with ease.

Phone payments

It might be more old-fashioned than some of the other payment methods we’ve discussed, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.

Taking payments over the phone totally revolutionised shopping when it was first introduced. And it’s just as essential in 2023.

If phone payments are the way to go for your business, there are a few options available to you.

You’ll need access to something called a virtual terminal. This is a piece of software which allows customers to enter their card details and make purchases over the phone.

This works by either having the customer use their phone keypad to type in their details. Or, alternatively, some virtual terminals can pick up a customer’s voice, if they’d prefer to say their details out loud.

Better still, virtual terminals come with all the security and encryption you’d expect from other digital payment methods, making them the go-to choice for a lot of businesses.

With so many customers now opting to use cards and contactless payments, only accepting cash could leave your business trapped in the past. It’s worth considering a move into the digital payment space.