EFTPOS Machine cost comparison

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What does EFTPOS stand for and what does it do?

With Australians increasingly turning to plastic to pay for everything, small businesses have little choice but to equip their shops with EFTPOS terminals. EFTPOS, which stands for Electronic Fund Transfer at Point of Sale, is the most widely used electronic payment system in Australia and New Zealand (although the networks are separate).

How does the EFTPOS terminal work?

A typical EFTPOS machine is a countertop unit - with wireless units emerging too. Inside is a complex program that reads card information, encrypts and transmits data through telephone lines, authorises transfers between banks, and prints out receipts in the span of a few seconds.

The terminal communicates with at least three parties: the customer’s bank, the merchant’s bank, and the authorizing 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 authorizing 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.

The EFTPOS network

In Australia, the EFTPOS system is made up of several connected bank networks (including the Big Four: NAB, Commonwealth, ANZ, and Westpac), which form one large network. A business wishing to accept EFTPOS must sign up with one of these networks and rent a terminal from them, although any terminal will accept payments from other networks. This costs $25 to $35 per month, depending on the terminal type and agreement (this doesn’t include telephone fees, which can run from roughly $20 to $30 monthly).

There may also be fees for delivery and installment (around $100), as well as regular maintenance costs. However, much like credit card issuers, rival networks often offer discounts or waive these fees to get more business. So it pays to shop around for the most valuable prices, although acceptance and network reliability should also be taken into account.

Features to look for in an EFTPOS terminal

The most basic EFTPOS machine will accept debit and credit payments for a single merchant, nothing more. These can be rented for less than $10 per month. Most owners, however, will invest in more features as this opens up business to more clients. You may want to add security features, accept a wider range of cards, process multiple payments, or use a faster connection, for instance.

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