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What Is A PDQ Payment

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Last editedSep 20212 min read

The letters PDQ stand for “Process Data Quickly” and they are of huge importance to any merchant wishing to take payment via debit or credit cards. That’s because PDQ is usually followed by “machine”, and a PDQ machine is another description for a Chip and PIN machine. A PDQ machine is a device that enables a merchant to take a payment from a customer’s debit or credit in full confidence that the person presenting the card has the right to do so and that the payment itself has been authorised.  

The advantages of using a PDQ machine

Prior to the development of PDQ machines, card payments had to be processed via card terminal with a security system that relied on the customer’s signature. In simple terms, the merchant taking the payment had to compare the signature signed at the time of purchase – usually on a payment slip or receipt – with the signature on the back of the credit or debit card itself. Clearly, this method was open to a relatively high risk of fraud, as any person in possession of a card would have the opportunity to practise replicating the signature on the back of that card – at the very least to a standard high enough to convince a busy merchant.  

For a modern retailer – whether running a bricks and mortar store, a mobile unit or a market stall – the expectation from customers is increasingly that a card payment option will be offered, and that means providing a PDQ machine. As we progress towards a largely cashless society, even merchants trading generally low-cost individual items will find themselves losing customers if they aren’t able to offer the convenience and speed of card payments. 

The different types of PDQ machine

Generally speaking there are two types of PDQ machines for merchants to choose from. These are:

  • Countertop – this is the type of PDQ machine that most readily springs to mind when you hear the phrase “Chip and PIN payment”. It is a machine that sits on the counter next to the till and is mainly used by retailers working from a single fixed location. 

  • Portable – a portable PDQ machine is one that can be carried throughout the store while communicating to a home base unit via Bluetooth technology. This greatly increases the flexibility and convenience that a merchant can offer, as multiple units can be in operation at any one time, enabling employees to process payments in any part of the store. The template for this kind of PDQ machine is that of a bar or restaurant, where members of the wait staff bring the PDQ machine to the table for customers to pay. But the technology is increasingly being employed in retail environments, to maximise flexibility and reduce customer waiting time.  

  • Mobile – the latest iteration of the PDQ machine is the mobile version. This is a terminal that can accept card payments in any environment within which the merchant is able to access Wi-Fi or mobile data coverage. This is particularly useful for retailers and traders such as craftspeople who travel from market to market selling their goods, or pop-up food and drink destinations. In simple terms, this renders payment technology as mobile and flexible as a modern smartphone.  

The advantages of a PDQ machine

  • Security – no amounts of cash being gathered by merchants or present on premises

  • Customer satisfaction – customers increasingly expect the ease and convenience of card payments as the norm, not an added luxury

  • Affordability – modern PDQ machines are more affordable than ever, putting this technology within reach of merchants of any size 

We Can Help

If you’re interested in finding out more about PDQ machines, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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