Should I Be Using a Payment Gateway or a Virtual Terminal?

May 18, 2017

Selecting the right payment processing solution can be confusing. One of the most common misconceptions is understanding what the difference is between a payment gateway and a virtual terminal.

Aren’t they the same thing? Well no, but for your business to accept online payments with ease, you’re going to want a payment gateway.

So let’s talk about payment gateways, virtual terminals, and what they do for your business.

What they do

The best way to explain what they do for your business is to define what each of them does.

Virtual terminal

A virtual terminal is an internet-based facilitator of electronic payments. It allows you to key in and process transactions using any computer (or smart device) with an internet connection.

In practice, this involves logging into a secured page on a standard browser and using a built-in menu to process payments. It’s similar to a physical card reader, except all the data is typed into the page instead of swiping the card or reading the card’s chip.

Payment gateway

A payment gateway works to route transactions from your virtual terminal to the processor and verifies the transactions for authenticity.

The payment gateway is integrated into your website, typically used with a shopping cart and checkout solution. A payment gateway without a virtual terminal can also capture and process transactions, but it only will work from the customer’s end through your website. The virtual terminal is what enables you to go in and process a transaction as a merchant.

Now that you understand what each solution does respectively, you can see why you would need them both. You need a payment gateway to process the payments you take on your website. You also need the virtual terminal to take payments on your website, especially if you are running an E-Commerce site.

You may find that payments aren’t always obtained via an online shopping cart and checkout solution, so a virtual terminal would be preferred for other methods (like mobile, over the phone, and even in-person).

Struggling to accept online payments or your E-Commerce site?

Contact us, and we’ll be happy to determine the best solution for your online business.

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