virtual terminal mobile card payment

Virtual terminal credit card processing allows transactions to be processed online from anywhere in the world. While this is also true of online payment gateways, in the case of virtual terminals, the merchant enters the card details into a form on behalf of the customer, who is not present.

This payment method is ideal for low volume transactions and small businesses that do not want to invest equipment and time in more complex systems. No specialised hardware is required and it is the responsibility of the virtual terminal provider to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), because card details are not stored by the merchant.


  1. What Are Virtual Terminals?
  2. How Do Virtual Terminals Work
  3. Virtual Terminal Providers
  4. The Future of Virtual Terminals

What Are Virtual Terminals?

Virtual terminals are simply a case of a person doing the job of a credit card reader. The merchant inputs data directly into the web-based payment form and the electronic transaction is processed.

These are known as MOTO payments (mail order telephone order). When you give your card details over the phone or fill in a form to order something from a postal catalogue, or email card details, it is a virtual terminal that sends card data off for processing.

Virtual terminals can also perform other functions, such as:

  • The processing of card data in batches
  • Direct debit and other recurring payments
  • Multi-location networking – useful for businesses operating in more than one location.
  • Cheque imaging.
  • Customers can go to the site and edit their card details

How Do Virtual Terminals Work

The most common virtual terminals are form-based. They do not require dynamic-link library (DLL) software and because the site is security protected, the merchant entering the card data does not always need to encrypt the connection between the site of data entry (their computer) and the destination.

Some virtual terminals use XML (Extensible Markup Language) transport, whereby documents are encoded according to a set of rules present on that server. A SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate ensures encryption of the link between the user and the server that processes the card data.

COM based virtual terminals require DLL software on the server that is processing the card as well as an SSL certificate. Many web-hosts are wary of DLL software downloads due to their security implications.

Virtual Terminal Providers

Virtual terminal providers include the following:

  • Iridium
  • United Bank Card
  • 2Checkout
  • PayPoint
  • Sage Pay


An effective and efficient web-based application, Iridium’s virtual terminal provides options for businesses seeking to accept credit card payments.

It can process and manage transactions, provide reporting, support multiple users and has customisable anti-fraud settings. The virtual terminal service also gives businesses the opportunity to access its Merchant Management System service for about £20 per month.

In terms of support, an extensive resource catalogue is published on their website where there is also an online contact form. Regional telephone details are also available.

United Bank Card

UBC offers risk-free (no contracts or cancellation fees) virtual terminals and support. Credit processing technology is provided free of charge, with a 3-hour approval, next day funding, no application and no set-up fees. An integrated cash register is provided free.

Loyalty and gift cards, check services and Free American Express/Discover setup is also possible.

Support comes in the form of 24/7 live merchant support. Users can also avail themselves of a personal account representative.

2Checkout provides a way for its users to reach a wider audience by acting as a reseller for your products and services, but a virtual terminal is used to process transactions including PayPal, credit card and debit card transactions. It supports 87 currencies and 15 languages, with many payment methods accepted and advanced fraud protection.

Users can receive help via a web-based FAQ, an in-depth Knowledge Base or one to one support from an in-house representative online or by phone within business hours.


PayPoint is a popular provider of credit and debit card processing services, especially in the UK, which also offers virtual terminal services. Understanding that not all businesses take payments via websites, PayPoint facilitates payment processing for all business sizes.

The company’s virtual terminal features include a no set-up fee and PCI CSS Level 1 approval, as well as real time payment authorisation and supporting multiple logins.

The service costs £10 PCM and charges 20p per transaction (the first 100 are free), making this cost-effective for both small and large businesses.

Support is on hand via online guides and FAQs. Users can also get help via webform or by calling or emailing their support desk.

Sage Pay

Sage Pay is a market leader among the providers of virtual terminals and almost every other business transaction. This means that it can offer tailor made packages for specific sectors as well as businesses of every size. Customers can also access free training, which adds value for customers at the beginning of their lives in business.

iPhones, iPads and Android platforms can all be used to take virtual payments via Sage Pay.

The most basic package starts from £15 per month and can handle businesses with up to 250 employees. Additional features can be added on for an extra £25 per month.

The 24/7 Sage Pay support has an excellent reputation and can handle up to 2000 simultaneous users.

The Future of Virtual Terminals

New mobile applications mean that virtual terminals are no longer tied to desktop computers, but can be accessed via tablets and smartphones, making them an ideal and cost effective payment processing system for sole traders and businesses on the move, such as plumbers, market traders and crafts people. They are also very useful at trade fairs and exhibitions. The virtual terminal market is set to expand as people embrace mobile technology. Virtual terminals represent one of the simplest and most cost effective payment processing solutions around.