Fully Integrated Terminals vs. Semi-Integrated vs. Non-Integrated: Which is Right for You?
With only 17% of U.S. consumers using cash for purchases, choosing the right payment terminal for your business is more important than ever. Businesses need to streamline the entire payment process by offering customers a payment setup that’s fast and convenient for credit card transactions. At the same time, you need to address security concerns since you’ll be handling sensitive client information.
To decide which credit card terminal is right for you, it’s useful to take a close look at the different types of payment terminal setups available.
In this article, we’ll be examining fully-integrated terminals, semi-integrated terminals, and non-integrated terminals. We’ll consider the pros and cons of each and we’ll look at what you should consider before choosing a terminal for your business.
- A Comparison of Different Payment Terminal Setups
- What is a Fully Integrated Terminal
- What is a Semi-Integrated Terminal
- What is a Non-Integrated Terminal
- What Type of Terminal is Right for You?
TL;DR—A Quick Comparison of Different Payment Terminal Setups
If you’re looking for an at-a-glance view that compares fully integrated, semi-integrated, and non-integrated terminals, the following table has got you covered.
|POS Requirements||The POS and terminal are one and the same. As such, there is a 2-way sync between the devices||The POS system offers One-way communication to the physical terminal.||A POS system isn’t required to process payments; just a physical terminal and Internet access. *Note: If you are planning to use a POS system, it must be purchased separately.|
|Payment Processing Rate||Card-present rate.||Card-present rate.||Card-present rate.|
|Initiating Transactions||Can start transactions from either the POS or payment terminal.||Can start transactions in the POS system and send to the semi-integrated terminal.||Can only start transactions using the payment terminal.|
|Access to Data and Reports||Access to real-time transactional data and rich reports from one platform.||Access to real-time reporting by sending data to the terminal.||No real-time reporting. Reports are limited to customers, transaction dates, and totals. Only access the most recent batch and settlement data from that day.|
What is a Fully-Integrated Payment Terminal?
A fully-integrated payment terminal often comes in the form of an all-in-one solution that combines your point-of-sale system and card terminal into one device.
This setup eliminates the need for a separate POS and credit card machine. A fully-integrated payment terminal has a 2-way sync capability between the POS and the terminal, enabling you to process and refund payments on either device.
A fully-integrated setup means the payment app or software is downloaded directly on the terminal, offering a fast way to process payments.
The two-way sync between your POS and credit card machine (which happens in real-time) enables you to ring up sales using either your POS or payments terminal without worrying about data loss or inaccuracies. This seamless sync between the two systems also gives you access to rich and updated payment reports.
Payment information is transmitted automatically, so there’s no need to re-enter payment amounts at the checkout counter. As such, cashiers can process sales faster, and there’s no room for human error. Plus, you reap the benefits of card-present rates.
A fully-integrated payment terminal may limit your choices when it comes to which devices and payment processors to choose. If you have a preferred POS system and want to pair it with a separate payments terminal, then a fully-integrated setup won’t work for you.
What is a Semi-Integrated Payment Terminal?
With a semi-integrated solution, your POS system is separate from your payments terminal. However, the two systems are integrated in the sense that they can “talk” to each other. The credit card terminal sends payment data to the POS system, enabling you to process and record payments easily.
This means when a customer swipes, taps, or dips their credit card using your payment terminal, the purchase amount and payment data are automatically transmitted to your POS.
Like fully-integrated payment terminals, semi-integrated payment terminals offer customers quick ways to process their payments. Transaction data like payment amounts are automatically synced between the POS and payment terminal, which reduces human error. The systems can also associate transactions to customer records or profiles.
In addition, transactions made through these terminals are considered “card-present,” which come with lower fees.
Semi-integrated payment terminals require separate devices for payments and point of sale, so the setup can be a bit clunky. You may also encounter issues with processing payments if the connection between your terminals and POS system breaks down.
The biggest disadvantage of this setup is it offers a 1-way relationship from the POS to the terminal. As such, you can only initiate payments from the POS system. Unlike with fully-integrated terminals, you can’t use the terminal on its own to start a payment independently from the POS.
What is a Non-Integrated Payment Terminal?
With a non-integrated payment terminal, the POS system and terminals are not connected.
When it comes to ringing up sales, you only need the terminal and a web connection to process payments. Your customer inserts or swipes a credit card through the terminal, sending the information for processing directly from the card reader to the payment processor.
Once the card is authorized, you can manually record the transaction into the POS or record-keeping system while a receipt is printed from the card terminal.
You don’t necessarily need a point-of-sale system with a non-integrated setup. But if you do decide to use a POS, it would have to be purchased separately.
You can see non-integrated payment terminals still being used in smaller retail stores where cashiers calculate your total on a calculator before entering it on a PIN pad. However, most modern businesses tend to use fully-integrated or semi-integrated payment terminals.
Non-integrated payment terminals offer you a very basic way for your business to accept credit cards from your customers. While they don’t communicate with your software, they do allow you to service clients who prefer to pay by card instead of in cash. You’ll also get card-present rates when using this setup.
A major disadvantage of using a non-integrated terminal is the limited reporting that it offers. Data isn’t synced in real-time, so you won’t have access to live transactional data. Instead, you’ll get the data within the next business day, once the transaction has been processed.
Accessing reports can also be cumbersome because you have to manually print out long batch reports at end of the day to see what amount will be deposited.
Additionally, non-integrated payment terminals don’t keep all of the data. They can typically retain just the most recent batch and settlements from that day. This means it would be difficult to access historical information and track trends over time. You may also need to pay extra to access a point-of-sale solution since the POS isn’t part of your terminal.
What Type of Terminal is Right For You?
So, how should you decide which payment terminal is right for you? Ultimately, this depends on the size of your business, your company’s needs, and the type of customers you serve.
Fully-integrated payment terminals offer a much faster way to process credit card payments.
Customers will appreciate this efficiency during checkout. Fully-integrated terminals also offer real-time data sync between your POS and payment device, so you can access rich reporting and live transaction data.
Semi-integrated payment terminals offer better security when processing your customer’s credit cards.
Because their card information does not enter your POS software during the transaction, you’ll enjoy more peace of mind if you’re concerned about data breaches or hacker activity. This makes semi-integrated payment terminals a great choice if you value speed and security in your credit card transactions.
Non-integrated payment terminals are becoming outdated, with an increased possibility of human error from manually recording the transaction data (such as payment amounts) into your POS system.
Nevertheless, they do offer an affordable way to accept credit cards if you don’t have to deal with a large number of clients who insist on quick checkouts.
Knowing which payment terminal provides you with the most beneficial payment solutions is vital to running a successful business.
Contact Stax today to learn more about the credit card terminals we offer and how they help your needs. Whether you’re looking for fully-integrated or semi-integrated terminals, Stax can point you in the right direction.