You may wonder if online payment services differ from traditional methods of processing payments offline. There are differences yet both have advocates. Increasingly, online services seem to be taking over the majority of payment processing.
There are a few perceived advances to this older method both for the customer and the business owner. The traditional imprinting machine that used to be used to process credit card transactions has almost disappeared from view.
Many who reside in cities or near large shopping centers have forgotten the old manual machines that made carbon copies of your credit card to process your payment.
It took days or longer for the transaction to appear on your credit card account. You were given a copy of the transaction and there was a copy for the merchant who sold the product to you.
A third copy went to the credit issuing company to apply the sale to your account. As credit card use became widespread, the danger of allowing copies of your card ot be made were evident.
Consumers were advised to never allow their card to be out of sight during a transaction. This was to prevent unscrupulous employees of a business from making another unauthorized charge or recording your credit card number and expiration date for fraudulent transactions at a later date.
The first processing machines were manual and a few are still in use today. If you shop outside large cities you will still find a few small shops, flea markets and other mom and pop stores where you may see one of the older machine used. It is rare, however, as offline charges have been automated in most business establishments.
Easy to Set Up
One reason merchants may opt to forego online credit card processing for offline methods is the ease in setting up an offline processing system.
Merchants who choose this route may also have online transaction through a major credit network such as MasterCard or Visa. Using offline processing in their storefront, they can access the same online network they are already paying for.
For consumers, using a credit card offline eliminates the need for carrying cash and provides security. The problem of keylogger software that might record transaction details is eliminated and PIN numbers seldom need to be revealed.
In practice, offline processing of purchases today almost always is tied into the online credit card processing features of the business if that business has an online presence.
Even small retail shops with only one location are rapidly joining the crush of retail merchants who are establishing themselves with their own websites online to take advantages of all the consumer sales they can generate.
The Main Idea
Only a few years ago, the idea of processing payments online by simply entering credit card information on a keyboard was nothing more than a dream. Today it is not only a reality but has taken credit processing by storm.
Consumers are not limited to presenting a credit card in a store or even to entering the card number on a desktop computer. Orders can be placed through wireless laptops, Smart phones and any other piece of equipment that can access the internet.
For consumers, the process of buying is made simple and convenient. For retailers, there has never been a time when it was easier to access their inventory and make a purchase. Online credit card processing services have revolutionized buying on the internet.
Perhaps the most useful application has been for salesmen on the road, flea markets or any other location where you don’t have access to a computer terminal. If you can access the internet as a consumer, you can buy. If you can access the internet as a retailer, you can sell.
When using a credit card to swipe in a store, the card does not leave the hands of the consumer today. The same is true for online credit card processing but the online methods require strict security protocols. No signature is required and, in fact, there is no verification of the card owner’s identity.
If you have a credit card you can buy online from most retail outlets. All that is required is the account number, the three digit code from the back of the card and the expiration date.
Those three pieces of information are clearly imprinted on your credit cards. This is one reason lending banks provide protection from fraudulent charges for consumers.
Online payment processing is done in real time. Immediately after making a purchase, you can go to the lender’s site and see that purchase on your credit card account as a pending transaction. This is an advantage if you need to make multiple purchases and need to know what spending limit remains on your account.
For merchants, the online processing is increasingly competitive in price as more large companies move into the field. As the price has decreased, more businesses are moving quickly to make their products available to anyone with a smart phone.
Offline processing of credit cards will remain valuable to any consumer who visits a physical store or shopping mall. Most offline processing now is tied into the merchants online credit card processing system as well.
For years merchants have plotted to stock their stores in a way that encourages impulse buys. Now merchants can provide a fast way to buy that may encourage impulse buys by allowing consumer to buy through electronic gadgets at any time.