Technology has advanced in most industries. The retail sector of the business world is no exception. Most of us still remember the old credit card imprinting machines. They require the vendor to handle the credit card, which is not a widely accepted practice due to the current worldwide pandemic. Touchless forms of transactions are the preferred mode. The digital age has changed the way credit cards are processed. Can you even use a manual credit card machine to conduct sales transactions? We were curious about it, so we did some research, and here is what we learned.
What is a manual credit card machine anyway?
The younger generation of shoppers may have never seen a manual credit card machine in action. These devices are also referred to as credit card imprinters. Here's a quick lesson on the history of credit card use. According to Business Insider, people have been using credit cards since the early 1900s. It all started with the Diners Club Card around 1950. By the end of the 1960s, credit card use was prolific in American society. Credit cards were processed for payment by an imprinting machine. The device didn't connect to a computer terminal. There was no connection to a phone line or even an electrical source. They were totally manual devices that had to be operated by hand. The credit card was placed in a holder at the bottom of the imprinted. A sales slip with carbon paper in the middle to create two copies were placed on top. A rubbing device slid across the top of the credit card. The raised account number and the name on the account are imprinted on both pages. One copy was retained by the seller to send to the credit card company for redemption. The other was given to the buyer as proof of the transaction and a receipt.
Can you still use a manual credit card machine today?
According to Chron, technically, you can still use a manual credit card machine to conduct credit card transactions. Some may wonder why anyone would want to keep this archaic type of equipment around. The manual method is useful for making sales in remote areas where no connection to terminals or networks exist. It's also useful where there is no power available. They may still be used if the power goes out and there is no way to use modern digital systems.
Manual credit card machines are all but obsolete
Charge.com points out that there are still some of us who remember when the manual credit card machines were the main method for processing these types of payments. Have you ever wondered why most credit cards are embossed instead of simply being printed? It's because of the old imprinters. Without the embossed surface of the credit cards, there would be no way for them to work. This was a common practice before the advent of online shopping, which has rendered manual credit card processors obsolete. There is no way to use them without the buyer physically presenting the card.
Online shopping and new methods for processing credit card payments have outdated the old imprinters. You might still see a few out of the way towns relying on this old technology but it's becoming a thing of the past. Most transactions are conducted electronically with a swipe of the card. There is no longer a need for vendors to mail the old type of credit card receipts to the financial institutions for payment. This method has become antiquated. The more streamlined electronic transfers are recorded and show up in both purchaser and seller accounts instantly in most cases. The Point of Sale is set up to record all of the necessary information with little to no assistance from the seller, and a simple pin or verification of approval by the card owner, and in some cases, the buyer has only to select the payment method if they have a card on record with an online vendor. Purchases that would take 5 minutes to complete at a checkout stand are now done in a few seconds.
Manual credit card machines will phase out
Visa announced that they would no longer supply or use manual printers. It's only a matter of time before the rest follow suit. As it stands, there are very few of these machines still in use and they are not viable for some forms of credit card transactions. It's hard telling when this will happen amongst other providers though. Although it's rare, now and then you might still run into a vendor who uses an old manual imprinter.
Some marketing experts recommend having one on hand
Merchant Maverick does encourage merchants to keep one of the old dinosaurs on hand. You never know when the lines of communication for electronic transactions will go down, or if there will be a power outage. The site provides information on how to use them. They point out that it's a necessity to have a manual credit card machine in the event of an emergency and that the old method is better than turning customers away without a sale.
Technically, you can still use a manual credit card machine for completing credit card transactions, but Visa is in the process of discontinuing service for this type of payment processing. It's a slow way to get paid, but if you're not able to connect to a terminal for processing, it may be the only way you can sell your goods. It can come in handy for outdoor events where no power is available. However, there are very few reasons other than this for going backward in time to a processor that is time-consuming and inconvenient for all parties concerned. While it's better than not making a sale at all, it does require a small learning curve to train salespeople to perform the transaction, especially when they may have never seen or heard of a manual imprinter.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee