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Payment Terminals and Device Management: Know Your Options

Payment terminals are a necessity for in-person businesses that accept credit cards, debit cards, and tap-to-pay/digital wallets.

Knowing how they work, which terminals are best for your business, and how to manage them can help increase operational efficiency and ensure smooth, uninterrupted payment services. This blog breaks it all down for you.

What is a payment terminal?

A payment terminal is a piece of hardware that connects to a point-of-sale (POS) system. Its sole purpose is to accept credit and debit card payments at a physical location. Most people outside of the payments industry just call them credit card machines.

The difference between a credit card machine and a POS system

Modern POS systems are software-based systems that usually include the hardware needed to process in-person payments, but also serve as a business management tool. An example of a POS system is a software platform like Archy, which lets dental practices manage their operations all in one place and includes an embedded payments component for online and in-person payments.

A credit card machine’s sole purpose is to accept card payments. An example of a machine you’re likely familiar with is a model like the Sunmi P2 Smartpad, which has a PIN, swipe, dip, and tap options.

The payment terminal evolution

Payment terminals have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1979. These machines drastically improved the efficiency of card payments as they allowed customers to slide their cards and merchants to capture the card data electronically.

Even 45 years later, the slide functionality of the first credit card machines is still in use, albeit with more sophisticated technology. Today, customers can slide, swipe, dip, or tap their cards to make in-person purchases.

Let’s take a look at how payment terminals work, as well as a few of the most popular models on the market today.

How do payment terminals work?

Like an online payment gateway, a terminal captures card data and transmits it to the necessary players in the payment stack so a purchase can be authorized and completed.

Payment terminals require integration with POS software or a payment provider. Depending on your provider, this is done via API or an SDK and is how communication flows between your terminal and application.

For example, at Finix, you’d use our API to build your in-person integration.

Did you know?: With Finix, you only need one integration for online and in-person payments. This can save you as much as 50% in development costs.

Terminal configuration

Once integrated into a payment provider, you’ll need to configure your terminals. This stage will dictate how the devices will operate, including what payment methods and features are available and where each terminal will be assigned. After configuring your terminals, you must connect them to your network and install updates.

See how the setup process works with Finix in more detail.

Terminal inspection checklist

To ensure your credit card terminals run smoothly throughout their usage, we’ve created a checklist.

Tips for functionality

  • Verify connectivity: Ensure the terminal maintains a stable connection for processing payments to avoid slowdowns or interruptions in service.

  • Check screen clarity: Make sure your terminal displays are clean and clear.

  • Confirm receipt functionality (if applicable to your terminal): Print a test receipt to ensure the terminal printer is working properly.

  • Test a transaction: Use a test card or make a small purchase to test payment functionality.

  • Check power supply and cables: Upon setup and periodically, check to make sure all cables and the power supply are stable and firmly connected to your devices.

Tips for security checkups

  • Install updates: Keep your payment terminals’ software updated with the latest patches.

  • Verify your password: Confirm passwords and access codes are viable and haven’t been compromised.

  • Check for unauthorized devices: Make sure there are no unfamiliar devices connected to your payment terminals, such as USBs or unknown cables.

  • Check for signs of tampering: Look for mismatched seams or other signs of device tampering to ensure your terminals are secure.

Download the payment terminal checklist

Types of payment terminals

There are several different kinds of credit card terminals on the market. Some are wired, while others are wireless. Each serves as a point-of-sale for card acceptance, but some also have additional features and capabilities.

Which terminal your business needs depends largely on what type of service you provide. Here’s a look at a few of the most popular types of payment devices.

  • Countertop terminal: Also called a tabletop, wired, or fixed terminal, this device connects directly to a POS and allows customers to swipe or dip their card, and requires at least some physical interaction with the device. Depending on the model and manufacturer, some countertop terminals can also accept digital wallets.

  • Contactless POS terminal: A contactless device can be countertop or handheld but lets customers pay without any physical contact. These types of terminals run on near-field communication (NFC) technology, which makes them more flexible than traditional terminals. For instance, many contactless POS terminals can work with smartphones, smartwatches, and similar devices, as well as NFC-enabled and tap-to-pay cards.

  • Handheld POS terminal: A handheld payment device is designed for merchants on the go or that need more flexibility than a traditional countertop model. It can be contactless or support swiping, dipping, and tapping. A good example is field service providers that take payments at your location, such as electricians, plumbers, or handymen.

  • Apple and Android POS terminals: Also known as mobile swipers, these terminals are designed to accept mobile payments specifically from Apple and Android devices. They act as portable cash registers without the need for a traditional register.

  • Unattended payment terminal: An unattended terminal functions similarly to a countertop device. The main difference is that customers can use it independently, without a cashier or clerk. If you’ve ever used a self-checkout option at a store or been to a restaurant with a terminal at your table, you’ve used an unattended payment terminal.

Terminals at Finix

We offer several different payment terminals so you can choose which one works best for your business or your merchants.

  • Desk 3500

  • Desk 5000

  • Ingenico Lane 3000

  • Ingenico Lane 7000

  • Ingenico Lane 8000

  • Ingenico Link 2500

  • PAX A30

  • PAX A35

  • PAX A77

  • PAX Aries8

  • PAX A920Pro

  • PAX IM30

  • Sunmi P2

  • Sunmi P2 Smartpad

Each of our credit card terminals run on the latest technology and can be easily integrated with the Finix API and tested within your Finix sandbox environment.

Visit our documentation to learn more about the functionality of each of our terminals.

Payment terminal management system: Keeping track of your devices

Ordering your terminals and getting them set up is just the beginning. You also need to monitor them. The problem is, most POS systems and payment providers don’t have a device management system. This makes terminal management tedious if not outright impossible.

Finix is one of the only providers that has a complete device management system embedded into its payment product. It’s accessible right from your dashboard. With our management system, you’re able to manage your entire fleet of payment terminals in one place.

Why do you need a credit card terminal management system?

With Finix’s terminal management system, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to set up, configure, track, and troubleshoot your devices. All of this can be done right in your dashboard. This means no more guesswork when it comes to your terminals—no matter how many you have. You’ll know where every terminal is assigned and located and its operational status.

You can quickly and easily add and activate new devices and set individual settings for every device or use default settings for all of your terminals.

Under the hood

In the Finix dashboard, you’ll see the date each terminal was created, the merchant assigned to the device, the device name or terminal ID, and the device model.

You can click on any terminal in your list of devices to customize it based on your needs or based on your merchants’ requirements. For instance, you can choose whether to allow debit, if the terminal should check for duplicate transactions, whether an amount confirmation prompt is required, if manual entries are allowed, and whether or not a device will be used to capture authorizations.

You also have the option to add tags to any device for easy tracking and monitoring.

You’re also able to view payment details for each terminal, including successful, failed, pending, or canceled transactions, as well as authorizations and refunds. Sort by filters and export transaction data for deeper analysis or to share with your team.

Everything you need to manage your payment terminals is at your fingertips with Finix’s Terminal Management system.


Choosing the right payment provider and terminal can make a big difference in your in-person checkout experiences for your customers and your team. As terminals have different functionality, it’s important to ensure the model you select has all the features you need.

Many payment providers offer terminals directly or through third parties, which can help get you started faster. However, it’s best to work with a provider that has multiple payment terminal options so you can pick which one best fits your budget and business model. Another thing to consider is device management, which can increase operational efficiency, help you troubleshoot any device, at any location, and monitor in-person transactions easily.

Need an in-person payment solution?

Finix offers easy online and in-person payments with a single integration, multiple terminals to choose from, and a robust device management system right in the dashboard.

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