Are card machines hygienic?

Published: 09/12/2020

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we knew it has been turned upside down in 2020. There aren’t many areas of society that haven’t felt the impact, and one of the biggest changes brought about by the virus is the way people are spending money.

The World Health Organisation and governments around the world have advised consumers and businesses alike to offer and use safer payments wherever possible, and this has lead to a staggering decline in the use of cash, and significant uptake of card and contactless payments.

Why? Because banknotes and coins have been reported as the worst payment carrier of infection - they pose a transmission risk - and Joe Public is afraid to handle it. But what about our knight in shining armour, the humble card machine, is it a risk-free alternative?

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the hygiene surrounding card machines, the safety measures you can introduce, and how you can start offering safer payments today.

Are card machines hygienic?

Card machines, although small and mighty (and quite frankly our saviour right now) are not immortal to the threat of germs, nothing is, but they are more hygienic than cash for three important reasons.

1. They can offer contact-free payments

Card machines with contactless functionality are particularly hygienic as a contact-free transaction eliminates any risk of lurking bacteria being spread from the touching of shared surfaces. 

Unsurprisingly then, the British government has outlined guidelines encouraging businesses to accept contactless payments wherever possible and upped the limit on contactless transactions from £30 to £45 in April (a limit which has been rapidly adopted by cautious consumers).

2. They can be cleaned between uses

Even for ‘traditional’ chip and pin transactions card machines offer a layer of security, when it comes to cleanliness, that cash payments can’t - and that’s their ability to be disinfected and made safe between uses.

Because of the £45 spending cap on contactless, the simple fact is chip and pin transactions are still very common, meaning multiple consumers are touching the same surface (the card machine) within a short space of time, but unlike cash, business owners can do something about this potential risk and clean their equipment (more on this shortly).

3. Positioning

It’s not just the touching of shared surfaces which poses a hygiene threat in 2020, but the proximity between people too. Yep, we’re talking about social distancing, and card machines allow for it where cash payments can’t. 

Shy of throwing money at a checkout assistant, cash requires payer and payee to be within touching distance of one another to transact. Card machines can be strategically placed to allow for simple compliance with distancing rules, keeping all parties safe.

How to clean a card machine

Cleaning your card machine is the most critical element to ensuring you’re offering a hygienic payment option to consumers paying with chip and pin, and let’s face it, that’s what they want right now.

You can clean your terminal using either disposal disinfectant wipes or a cloth sprayed with a disinfectant solution designed for electrical equipment - remember not to soak your cloth as you don’t want liquids getting into the machine.

Top tip: wipe any excess moisture off your machine using a paper towel.

Wipe down the exterior as well as the main display and keypad, paying extra attention to the buttons (the most common touchpoint) and the crevices surrounding them. 

The whole process should take a matter of seconds (no more than a minute), making it super simple to perform between uses without costing you valuable time. 

What’s the best way to keep card machine payments hygienic?

As well as regular cleaning, one of the best tools at your disposal when it comes to fighting bacteria is to offer a variety of safe payment methods. 

We’ve mentioned the popularity of contactless payments and the hygiene benefits they offer, but the spending cap puts a stop to their use for higher-value transactions. However, mobile payments like Apple and Google Pay offer all the same safety features without a spending limit. 

So, what’s the best way to keep card machine payments hygienic? 

  • By arming yourself with a card machine that’s set up to accept the latest payment types - allowing for uncapped contactless payments and eliminating any physical touch. 
  • By disinfecting your machine between chip and pin transactions.
  • By positioning your card machine at a safe distance to comply with social distancing.

Are some card machines more hygienic than others?

Whether one card machine is more hygienic than another will ultimately depend on the measures businesses take to keep their staff and consumers safe, e.g. cleaning. 

That said, card machines that accept contactless and mobile payments offer more hygienic payments to consumers and businesses. 

There are card machines on the market that offer features that make hygiene a piece of cake, so now let’s take a look at your card machine options.

Types of card machine

At takepayments we offer four market-leading card machines; countertop, portable, mobile, and multipay. 

All four are set up ready and rearing to accept contactless and mobile payments as standard, a big tick in the hygiene box from the get-go, but they’re all packed with additional perks, so let’s take a brief look at each.

Countertop

Our countertop machine is smart and compact, prints instant receipts, plugs directly into your phone line or broadband, and is a breeze to set up. When it comes to hygiene its two-metre cable is a big plus as it allows for simple and seamless re-positioning to comply with social distancing and boost safety.

Portable

Our portable machine also prints instant receipts, is lightweight and durable, holds a long charge, and boasts a 50-metre range (thanks to Bluetooth). On the hygiene front, our portable reader’s transportable nature is its trump card - it can be taken to customers, positioned safely with ease, and makes compliance with ‘table service only’ a doddle.

Mobile

A takepayments mobile card machine does all of the above plus it can accept card payments from anywhere in the UK thanks to its inbuilt sim card. It’s lightweight, durable, compact, prints receipts and holds a long charge - ideal for mobile businesses who traditionally rely on cash but want to offer a hygienic payment method in light of COVID (e.g. a window cleaner).

Multipay

Last but not least is our ace in the pack on the hygiene front, our revolutionary multipay card machine. Its glass touchscreen surface makes it the perfect card machine for the moment - wiping it down couldn’t be simpler as there are no buttons to contend with. 

Multipay boasts a super slick design, allows businesses to add up to six users and allocate tips by user too, plus there’s real-time online reporting, instant receipts, and the option to upgrade to the mobile model too. 

Not sure which is the right fit for your business? Don’t sweat it, our experienced experts will help you work it out, and hold your hand every step of the way.

We don’t charge sign up or exit fees, offer short 12-month contracts and create personalised pricing packages to suit each and every business. Sold? Reach out to our experts today!

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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