Coronavirus Payments Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Switching To Online & Phone Payments

As we face the grim reality of the global coronavirus pandemic, businesses around the world are confronting the enormity of the challenges ahead of them. The need to minimize the risk faced by vulnerable public-facing employees is particularly important.

Thankfully, there are steps many businesses can take to reduce in-person contact. There are ways your business can minimize such exposure by accepting remote payments — both online and over the phone.

Is Cash Still Safe to Handle?

Cash is an efficient means of germ transmission even in the best of times. A Swiss study from 2008 found that, in some circumstances, flu viruses can survive up to 17 days on the surface of cash. Considering the heightened dangers we currently face, preparing your business to accept cashless and card-not-present transactions has never been more crucial. We understand that the nature of certain types of businesses will preclude the possibility of everyone doing this at scale, but there are ways to accept payments from your customers that don’t involve the exchange of cash or even a credit/debit card.

You Can Still Accept Payments From Customers Who Aren’t Present At Your Place Of Business

If you’re considering shutting down your office and switching your business to delivery-only, know that you can get paid without having to send out invoices. Thankfully, you can accept payments both online and, via a virtual terminal over the phone. If you haven’t gone this route in the past, we’ll explain how it works.

Of course, accepting these kinds of payments presents security challenges along with logistical challenges.

Security Concerns For Card-Not-Present Transactions

When accepting payments remotely, you’re responsible for ensuring the security of your customers’ payment information. The key to achieving this is to make sure that your payment system is PCI-compliant.

  • PCI compliance refers to a set of standards established in 2006 to ensure the security of all customer payment information that is sent and received online
  • Some of the practices that will help ensure your business remains PCI compliant include:
    • Use only PCI-validated payment gateway software
    • Don’t store any sensitive cardholder data
    • Use a firewall on your network and computers
    • Never use default passwords
    • Check that your wireless router is password-protected and uses encryption
    • Check your terminals, PIN pads, and computers to ensure that no one has installed rogue software or “skimming” devices
    • Educate your employees about security and protecting cardholder data

If you don’t take the steps necessary to protect your customers’ credit card information properly, you could easily suffer a data breach that puts your customers’ finances at risk — a development which would not reflect well on your business and lead to a general loss of trust in your enterprise.

Accepting Over-The-Phone Payments

Businesses in certain industries are more likely than others to be familiar with the ins and outs of taking payments over the phone. For instance, restaurants often use POS systems that include a feature for taking orders remotely and processing remote payments.

Alternatively, many businesses may find that a virtual terminal is their best option for accepting payments over the phone. For those who don’t know, a virtual terminal is a means of accepting credit card payments without the credit card being physically present. They are typically web-based and involve you entering your customers’ credit card information into a secure web page for processing.

Many POS systems and virtual terminals have a vault feature that keeps your customers’ information stored on file for later use. This allows your customers to simply direct you to charge their card on file when making a purchase. Note that this is acceptable from a security standpoint because the information is not stored on your site or your devices. Instead, it is all encrypted and stored with the processor.

Accepting Online Payments

Paying for goods and services online has become commonplace over the last few decades — although your business may not have experience with how it all works. In this section, we’re going to run through some common scenarios and let you know how to accept online payments in each instance.

Online Restaurant Orders

Most modern restaurant POS software will include online ordering and delivery functionality (along with payment processing, of course). If you have such a system and you haven’t taken advantage of these features yet, contact your POS provider and ask about how you can implement these features.

Retail eCommerce

If you’re running a brick-and-mortar establishment and you’re setting up eCommerce for the first time, your existing credit card processor should be able to help you set up your online eCommerce system.

Invoices & Online Payment Forms

If you’re trying to further reduce the need for in-person exchanges of payment, you can use invoices and payment forms to send custom links to your customers that allow them to enter their credit card information remotely. This has the benefit of being both safer and faster/more efficient than the use of old-fashioned paper invoices and checks

Is Now Really The Time To Switch My Payment Setup?

Clearly, a global pandemic is not an ideal time for any business to be trying to switch up their payment processing system in order to save a few bucks. However, as the established ways of doing business are being upended at a dizzying pace, businesses everywhere will have to adapt in order to both remain viable and protect the health and safety of employees and customers alike.


For more information on switching to online or phone payments, contact your Sales Agent.