Card payments make up more than half of all payments to businesses in the UK. This has been a gradual trend dating back more than a decade, but the last two years have seriously accelerated the growth in card and digital payments.

At the height of the pandemic, governments and health bodies alike recommended customers ditch cash in favour of more hygienic contactless card payments, or payments made through smart devices. Many businesses followed suit, some actually refusing to accept cash payments.

Mobile cash machine
photo credit: Tom Official / Pexels

As well as more card payments, digital payments through smartphones have been on the rise too. In fact, almost 20% of smartphone users now make payments through their phone. That’s expected to increase to 25% in the next two years.

With all this happening, cash payments continue to decline. So, if you’re a small business, is it commercially viable to operate without a card machine?

Six Ways Card Machines can Benefit Small Businesses

1. You can take more payments

  • Card payments are quicker for customers and businesses.
  • Many cards offer contactless payments too, making shopping that bit easier.
  • During busy periods you don’t have to worry about long queues, as you’ll get through them quickly with a card machine, especially if it accepts contactless payments.

2. You’re meeting the needs of the customer

  • If people know you offer a range of payment options, they’re more likely to come in and make a purchase.
  • Customers like to have an easy shopping experience, if they can come in, get what they want and just tap their card to make a payment, they’ll like it.
  • Since December 2020, there has been 1.6 billion card transactions made in the UK.

3. You’re opening yourself up to more customers

  • If only 20% of your customers carry cash, then you’re closing yourself off from 80% of your potential customers.

4. It reduces the risk of fraud

  • With a card machine you’re less likely to be given counterfeit cash payments.
  • You can’t use fake cards to make payments so you can be sure the money spent will add to your overall profit.
  • Safety features to prevent fraud include asking customers to provide a pin after a certain number of contactless payments.

5. It shows you care about your customers

  • Having payment options available shows you care about customers’ experience when they’re in your shop.
  • It shows you value them and want to give them as many options as possible.

6. You can increase your sales with a card machine

  • There have been research studies that show people spend 12-18% more when using a card than if they were to pay with cash because it’s so much easier.
  • If you can increase your sales by almost 20%, it’s worth investing in a card machine, as it can boost your overall profits.

Processing contactless payment

Which Card Machine is The Best Option for Your Small Business?

Yes, card machines are useful, but you need to choose one suitable for your business. Will you need one on a countertop?Will you need one that’s more mobile?

Here are a few options for you to consider before you decide.

1. Countertop card machines

As the name suggests, countertop card machines sit on top of a counter near the point of sale. They need to be plugged in to the till and stay there all the time, so you never have to worry about losing them. They don’t take up much room and are convenient for customers.

Places most likely to opt for a countertop machine are clothing shops and supermarkets, as the customer goes to a pay point to buy things, rather than you having to go to them.

2. Portable card machines

Portable card machines are great if you need to take it to the customer.

They are perfect for cafes and bars that have outdoor space, as you can take them around the building and accept payments as long as you’re in range.

It allows customers to pay straight away rather than leaving it till the end…and they don’t have to leave their seat to do it. It’s also a very efficient way of accepting payments, as they can be used by different employees at different locations in the building.

3. Mobile card machines

These are great if you’re an on the go business but still want to give your customers payment options. For mobile hairdressers, tradespeople and takeaways, mobile card machines are the one for you.

4. Contactless card machines

Contactless payments are becoming more and more popular, with no signs of slowing down. It helps that the contactless payment limit increased to £100 in October 2021, meaning customers are no longer limited to smaller purchases when paying through contactless.

For any business, big or small, accepting contactless payments is something to consider when you’re looking at card machines:

  • They’re quick and secure for customers.
  • They’re fast and efficient for businesses (meaning they can take more payments).
  • And they’re better for employees who won’t have to waste time counting cash.

Plus, having a payment machine that can accept Apple, Samsung and Google pay means you’re future proofing your business ready for the next wave of digital payment technology.

A restaurant accepting mobile payment

How The Right Card Machine Supplier Makes All The Difference

You need a company that will set you up with your card machine, payment systems and make sure you have a clear understanding of data safety.

What deal are you getting from the supplier? Many companies charge hidden fees later down the line which aren’t necessary, like monthly service charges.

If it’s your first time having a card machine, you’ll want a company that offers you support and advice regularly, with a contact number you can use if something goes wrong.

Advantages of Having a Card Machine as a Small Business

As a small business you need to do what you can to open yourself up to as many potential customers as possible. And that includes accepting as many payment types as you can.

Depending on which card machine you choose, whether this is from Handepay or elsewhere, customers have a range of payment options and they don’t even have to remember their card if your machine accepts Apple, Samsung or Google pay.

It’s also a lot quicker for business owners as payments go through easily and they can protect themselves from fake cash payments.

Ultimately, while cash will always have a part to play in the economy, customers are far more likely to pay using a card or digital wallet.

If you don’t accept the types of payments they want to make, there’s enough choice available to them that they can simply go somewhere else. And when it comes to your business, that could prove a disaster.