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Virtual Terminal

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Virtual Terminal for Card-Not-Present Orders

A virtual terminal lets a merchant with a home business, mail order or Internet business, securely process credit card orders. Card-not-present payments are risky because the merchant never even sees the credit card, but is given the card information by the customer. A merchant account gateway, however, includes a virtual terminal that lets a business owner take orders on the phone, Internet, and by mail with confidence. Because of the special nature of card-not-present transactions, this special account is required to handle them.

Less expensive than some other card authorization systems, and so much faster than standard dial-up processing, these terminals provide access to the system using any Web browser. This merchant account setup gives the business owner a user ID and password, which enable the owner to tap into all the accompanying services. These include approval for purchases, credits, returns, and summarizing reports on transaction activities.

Electronic Processing

The first step in authorizing credit card purchases is for the merchant to fill out a form electronically so the necessary information is entered into the system. As with all secure, electronic processing, the information is encrypted, then sent by a secure transmission to the system server. Again using a secure transmission, the server forwards the card information to the bank that issued it.

Upon approval in a few seconds, the merchant receives an authorization number. The transaction is electronically collected and placed with the accumulation of the day's purchases. The virtual terminal account automatically processes these transactions daily, with funds placed in the business owner's bank account within two-to-three business days.


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