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What is a PDQ Machine? A Detailed Guide

What does PDQ stand for?

PDQ is an acronym, and its full form is ‘Process Data Quickly’. PDQ machines are designed to process card transactions with speed and maximum security. They are mostly used by businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors, but any type of business can use them.

What is a PDQ machine

Any electronic device that can accept and process card payments is called a PDQ machine. PDQ machines include today’s card machines, card readers, and chip and pin machines. They also come in various shapes, like a countertop, mobile, and portable. Each type of PDQ machine serves one main function, “to process payments,” but also has its own specifications.

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How does a PDQ machine work?

The main function of a PDQ machine is to accept payments. You have the following choices for handling payments with PDQ machines:

  • Contactless (Using digital wallets, debit cards, or credit cards)
  • Chip & PIN

Steps to process transactions

Keep in mind the following steps so you can process payments by using the Chip and PIN or contactless method easily.

  1. Start by putting the total charge for the customer’s purchase into the machine and double-check the amount
  2. Ask the customer if they will be paying through a card or digital account. Request your customer to slide their card against the PDQ machine if they are paying through a credit or debit card. However, if your customer wants to pay with their digital account, ask them to tap their mobile instead.
  3. If the customer is paying via the contactless method, you don’t likely need a password to process the transaction. If it’s a card payment, the machine will ask for a PIN. Instruct your customer to enter their 4-digit PIN.
  4. The machine will then process the transaction. It checks the PIN with the customer’s bank and confirms there is enough money for the transaction. This step is automatic and may take a few moments.
  5. If a transaction goes through, the payment will be sent within 24 hours from your merchant account to the business’s bank account.

Taking payments via contactless method with a PDQ machine

To accept contactless payments through debit or credit cards, or with digital wallets, the process is:

  1. Your customer taps their card or mobile device against your compatible PDQ machine.
  2. The approval request is sent to the customer’s card provider, which checks the customer has the funds to clear the transaction.
  3. If the customer has the funds, the transaction is approved and the money is transferred into your merchant account.
  4. If the customer doesn’t have the funds, the transaction will be declined.
  5. For approved transactions, the funds will be transferred from your merchant account into your business’ bank account – this can be as quickly as 24 hours.

Types of PDQ machines

PDQ machines are of various types, you can select the one most suitable for your business.

  • Countertop 
  • Mobile
  • Portable

We’ve discussed the features of each type of PDQ machine, the businesses for which they work best, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Countertop PDQ machines

The most commonly used type of PDQ is a countertop machine, which is directly attached to a POS. A POS (point of sale) is a place where customers pay for products or services.  It can be a computer or a cash register. 

Countertop PDQ machines are connected with POS, so payments can be processed at the same place where they were made.

Ideal for:  Brick-and-mortar stores like supermarkets, retail stores, hair salons, etc. that have a fixed till point.

Benefits Drawbacks
  • User-friendly as it's the most common type of PDQ machine.
  • They are physically connected to the point of sale, which makes the connection stable.

  • You cannot move the PDQ machine around, hence zero mobility.
  •  It takes up a lot of space in a business setting.

Portable PDQ machines

Portable PDQ machines are also called wireless chip and PIN machines. Portable PDQ machines are handheld devices that can process transactions via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to send data to the POS. Portable PDQ machines have a maximum range of up to 100 meters.

Ideal for: restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars, clubs, fine dining, or any businesses that want to offer the best service and ease for their customers.

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Better experience for customers as they don’t need to wait in line for their payments to be processed.
  • Increased mobility as compared to countertop PDQ machines.
  • Sleek designs that are handy and take up less space.
  • The device needs to be charged.
  • Wifi range of 100 meters from the POS. 
  • working of the machine depends on Wifi/ Bluetooth.
  • Disruption in connection results in failed transactions.

Mobile PDQ machines

Mobile PDQ machines use wireless technology, such as Wi-Fi or mobile data networks, to connect to POS.  Unlike traditional PDQ machines that are fixed to a location, mobile PDQ machines can process payments anywhere. They are also not limited to a specific range. They will work efficiently even outside the business premises, as long as you have an internet connection.

Ideal for: businesses that travel a lot, like food truck businesses, delivery services, market stalls, or taxi drivers.

Benefits Drawbacks
  • Compact designs that take up less space, are perfect for businesses that are on the go.
  • Not limited to business premises.
  • Not reliable if you have a poor internet connection.
  • The device needs to be charged.
  • Usually, more than one device is needed to carry out transactions.

Benefits of using a PDQ machine

There are countless benefits of using a PDQ machine for your business. By using a PDQ machine, you’ll benefit from:

Save your time with PDQ machines: You just need to enter the checkout amount and the customer’s PIN to carry out cashless payments. There is no need to count the money and calculate change, as the whole process is done digitally. So, avoid the long queues near your cash register, save time for your staff, and get a PDQ machine today for your business.

Improve your brand image: By using a PDQ machine, you can accept all types of payments, from cash to cashless. Customers feel welcomed, and they trust the business more when they can choose from various payment options. 

Secure payments: PDQ machines process card payments using bank authorisation. Even after the customer puts in a 4-digit PIN for card payments, the transaction is sent to the bank to validate it. This whole process is highly secure. 

Win over your customers: When customers see that your business integrates various payment options, they don’t feel the pressure of carrying cash everywhere. This gives you an advantage over your competitors, who are still accepting cash-only payments.

Reach out to more customers: More than 50% of the payments made in the UK today are cashless. If you don’t integrate cashless options for checkout, you are missing out on many potential customers. By using a PDQ machine, you’ll be able to accept a wider range of payments, not just cash.

Make the Switch to Cashless Payments with ComparedBusiness

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Written by:

Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson
Isabella Robinson is a seasoned business content writer, leveraging several years of experience to craft impactful narratives that seamlessly blend business insights with engaging storytelling across diverse industries. Her expertise lies in delivering compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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