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A Guide to Chip and Pin

A Guide to Chip and Pin


Abdullah Abdelkafi


18 Aug 2021

Read time

5 Minutes



It is unlikely that there are many people in the UK who don’t use a Chip and PIN machine on a regular basis. Chip and PIN technology allows your card machine to take payments from your customer’s credit or debit cards securely and quickly.

What Is Chip and PIN?

Chip and PIN technology was introduced as a scheme to establish a global system for accepting credit and debit card payments that were more secure, faster to process and easier to use. The term Chip and Pin is actually a brand name, and it was officially called EMV Cards or EMV Chip Cards. The scheme was developed as a joint venture by the three leading credit card service providers, Europay, Mastercard and Visa, which is what gave the scheme its name (EMV).

Why Was Chip and PIN Introduced?

Chip and PIN was introduced in the UK in 2006 as a replacement for the older magnetic swipe method. This involved physically swiping a credit or debit card through the machine and then asking the customer to sign the receipt after it had printed. You would then have to compare the signature against the one on the back of the debit or credit card to ensure they matched.

Now some readers might not be old enough to remember such an archaic payment method, but the magnetic swipe method was an incredibly slow procedure and would often cause long queues to form. In addition, it was also insecure and a customer’s signature could easily be forged to make fraudulent payments if they lost their card or if it was stolen.

It was with increased security in mind that Chip and PIN cards were introduced. The Chip and PIN system was designed with the aim of making card transactions more secure for both cardholders and retailers. In fact, since Chip and PIN payments have been introduced there has been a reduction in card payment fraud, with annual counterfeit card fraud losses down £81.9 million (about $118.2 million) between 2004 and 2014.

How Does a Chip and PIN Machine Work?

As the name would suggest, in addition to a magnetic stripe, all Chip and PIN cards have a microchip inside of them which securely holds the cardholder’s payment information. In addition, the cardholder will be issued with a 4-digit PIN (personal identification number), which will be unique and known only to them.

When a customer is ready to pay, they simply insert their card into the Chip and PIN card reader and enter their PIN number as authentication. This allows the chip and PIN machine to access the card’s chip and process the payment.

The chip and PIN card machine will then send the encrypted transaction data to your business’ merchant account, where it is held and checked before being approved by the customer’s bank. Once it has been authorised the amount will be transferred to your account.

Chip and PIN cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM the same way. The best part about a Chip and Pin payment system is that it is all done automatically for you in just a few seconds. Allowing you to take card payments quickly and securely.

The Different Types of Chip and PIN Machines

A Chip and PIN card machine or card reader are different names for any kind of debit or credit card processing machine. They were first introduced as a PDQ machine in the UK, which stood for “process Data Quickly”.

No matter what you call it, a debit and credit card machine allows you to process card payments in your business quickly, easily and securely. There are a few different types of card machines available to you, allowing you to find the right one to suit your business.


A countertop card machine is one of the most common types of card readers and is usually found at the main point of sale (pos) or checkout.

A countertop card reader will need to be connected to the mains, which limits its functionality and range of use. In addition, it will also need to be connected to your WiFi or phone line to work.

Countertop card machines are the perfect way for local shops or small businesses to take debit or credit card payments at a fixed payment terminal that is used to serve customers.


Portable card readers are extremely common in restaurants, bars or cafes. Portable card readers give you greater functionality, allowing you to take card payments anywhere in your business, making them the perfect payment solution for those in the hospitality businesses.
Portable card readers come in two main parts, the Chip and PIN card reader and a base unit. The card machine makes use of Bluetooth to connect to the base to take payments, giving you a range to take payments.


Mobile Chip and PIN machines are perfect for those business owners who are constantly on the move. These machines make use of a built-in SIM card and 3G connection to process card payments, meaning there are no cables or wires to worry about.

Mobile Chip and PIN machines allow you to take mobile payments from anywhere with a signal, which is essential to some businesses, such as taxis or caterers. Whether you are a large or small business, mobile card readers give you the freedom to keep your business on the move.

The Rise of Contactless Payments

In addition to Chip and PIN, many debit and credit cards now also come with a contactless payment option. With contactless cards, shoppers only need to tap their card on a contactless-enabled card reader and make payments up to £30.

The popularity of contactless payments has risen in recent years. In fact, contactless payments grew to an all-time high in the UK in 2020 with 64% of all debit card transactions being contactless. This is due to a number of factors, including speed of transactions and added functionality and convenience.

Many modern card readers allow you to take both Chip and PIN and contactless payments, as well as Apple pay or Android Pay. As businesses in the UK continue to move towards cashless transactions, the use of Chip and PIN and contactless payments will only increase.

Start Accepting Credit, Debit and Contactless Payments

Whether you’re new to card payments, or are looking to switch providers, we can help. At Total Processing, our team will work with you to find you the perfect card machine solution to meet your needs. So, whether you run the latest boutique shop, the street’s new food truck or prepare artisanal coffee, we can help you make your passion pay.

With our low rate promise, no setup fees and 24/7 UK customer support, there has never been a better time to get a new card reader provider. Visit our Point Of Sale service page for more information on our card reader options or to get started.

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