COVID-19 lockdown and the role of card readers

Published: 06/07/2020

As of July 4th, businesses up and down the country opened their doors once again following the COVID-19 lockdown, but as we’re all too aware, day-to-day life is very different as a result of the pandemic.

Safety is everybody’s number one priority when heading back out, and for businesses, this means putting all the necessary measures in place to become COVID-secure. What exactly this will look like depends on the sector you operate in, and the government has released in-depth guidance broken down by industry.

Besides the obvious things, like handwashing and cleaning, there’s one measure all businesses have in common, and it relates to taking payments.

Safer payments

In the government’s most up to date guidance for safe working, updated on July 3rd, there’s a common theme that pops up throughout - safe payments. So, here are a handful of examples taken from various sections:

  • Entertainment - “Encouraging use of online ticketing and online or contactless payments for entertainment where possible.”
  • Venues where food and drink are served  - “Encouraging contactless payments where possible and adjusting location of card readers to social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).”
  • Keeping your workspace clean - “Cleaning surfaces and objects between each customer use. For example, cleaning tables, card machines, chairs, trays…”
  • Deliveries - “Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.”

In a nutshell, contactless payments and the use of card readers is an important element to safe working. 

COVID-19 risk assessment

Government guidelines state all employers are responsible, by law, to protect both their staff and their customers from risk in the wake of COVID-19, and this includes carrying out a risk assessment before reopening. 

Naturally, the potential risk of COVID-19 cannot be totally eliminated, but businesses must do everything in their power to keep risk to an absolute minimum, by following the guidance issued to inform the measures taken.

Your risk assessment should involve identifying any actions you can feasibly take to minimise risk - based on the guidelines provided - and acting on them. 

We know this is a stressful and turbulent time for businesses, and there’s a lot to do, so we’re here to help. We’ve broken down everything you’ll need to know about card readers, positioning them, types of machines, and contactless payments, to help you comply with the guidelines. Let’s get stuck in... 

Card readers

We know the government is strongly encouraging the use of card readers and contactless payments, but why? 

It all boils down to hygiene and safety, and multiple people handling the same item, like cash, can contribute to the spread of germs. Card readers on the other hand, and particularly those that accept contactless payments, significantly reduce human contact during a transaction.

Top tip: for chip and pin transactions, don’t forget to disinfect your card reader after each use as bacteria could linger on the keypad. 

Positioning

As we saw above, the government advises the positioning of card readers be altered to comply with social distancing measures.

Now lockdown is being eased somewhat, the two-metre social distancing rule is being replaced by a one-metre plus rule, but what does that really mean?

It means, ideally, people from separate households still maintain a two-metre distance but where this cannot be achieved, they must keep at least one metre or more apart. With this in mind, take a look at your point of sale and configure it in a way consumers can use your card reader without coming within one to two metres of you or your staff. This might involve:

  • Placing it on the end of your bar, countertop, or sales desk
  • Putting an additional surface, for example, a table, between your till point and your customer, on which the card reader can safely sit
  • Putting up a plastic screen to separate you from your customers, with a space for the card reader to be passed through.

Types of card reader

If you haven’t already got a card reader, don’t panic, they’re super quick and easy to set up and you’ve got options so you can find the perfect fit for your business. Let’s take a look at the three types of card reader we offer here at takepayments:

1. Countertop

Our countertop card machine does exactly what it says on the tin - sits on your countertop or point of sale ready to accept card payments. It’s plugged into your broadband or phone line with an ample two-metre cable, so to comply with distancing would be a simple case of moving the terminal, plus:

  • It’s small and compact,
  • Offers fast thermal receipt printing,
  • Is PCI compliant, and
  • It’s super quick and easy to set up.

2. Portable

The portable card reader offers an impressive 50m range, so you can use it around your workplace and take the payment to the customer - perfect for avoiding queues and maintaining distancing and table service guidance - all thanks to Bluetooth technology, plus:

  • It’s small and lightweight,
  • There’ll be no wires lying around,
  • It has a long-lasting battery, and
  • Is fast and straightforward to set up.

3. Mobile

Last but not least is the mobile card reader, which allows you to accept card payments from anywhere in the country - perfect for anyone offering a mobile or delivery service in the wake of the pandemic. The machine works in a similar way to a mobile phone using 3G via a sim card, plus:

  • It prints instant receipts,
  • Is light and durable,
  • Holds a long-lasting charge, and
  • You guessed it, is super-simple to set up.

Contactless payments

You might be wondering why we haven’t mentioned contactless payments in relation to any of our card readers, and it’s because all takepayments card readers come set up and ready to accept contactless card payments, plus Apple and Android Pay, as standard. 

Contactless payments are by far the safest way to pay right now, thanks to the near field technology they employ requiring no physical contact whatsoever. 

The spending limit for contactless payments has been increased to £45 during the COVID-lockdown, and unsurprisingly consumers have adopted the higher limit rapidly. However, if you’d like to offer your customer the option to pay contactless-ly but you’re worried about the spending limit, we’ve got a solution for that too...

Beepaid

Beepaid is takepayments’ brand spanking new payments app, and not to toot our own horn, but the timing couldn’t be better. 

All you’ll need to start accepting contactless payments using beepaid is your phone and you’re ready to go. Here’s how it works:

  1. You raise an invoice within the app
  2. You send it to your customer
  3. Your customer enters their card details
  4. You get paid.

It’s completely safe and COVID-secure, there’s no limit on the transaction size, and you’ll have your money in your account the next banking day. Game-changing, right?

For more information on any of our card readers, a helping hand deciding which machine is the best fit for your business, or to find out more about beepaid, get in touch with our friendly experts today.

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