Grow your small business by accepting contactless card payments #CashLessSociety #COVID-19

31 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Business News

COUPON CODE/DISCOUNT CODE: Click here to order a SumUp card machine

Cash is king used to be a mantra in business, but things have changed quickly

“Oh” exclaimed the lady in the Pharmacy when I produced a banknote “We accept card only”. I was stumped. Not since I visited an ultra-trendy Scandinavian style cafe in a New York Metro station had my hard-earned cash been refused by a retailer.

The Pharmacy I was visiting in a suburb of Cork was now cashless, and it’s not unique. The arrival of the coronavirus has led many people to think about hand hygiene in a way that used to be the preserve of surgeons and those suffering from OCD such as the TV detective ‘Monk’ , who used to avoid handshakes and who carried wipes in his top pocket.

Times have changed and today COVID-19 can be anywhere. The virus is equally at home resting on a door handles or a banknotes, so handwashing for 20 seconds using soap is now recommended.

Not only have retailers chosen to go cashless, they are also encouraging shoppers to avoid Chip and PIN and to instead use contactless payments. Such is the takeup of this that contactless payment limits are increasing to €50 in Ireland tomorrow, and £45 in the UK.

It’s interesting to note that World Health Organisation has not recommended against the use of cash per se but it has simply advised that minimising the touching of all public surfaces is wise.

Some individual countries have taken formal steps to remove cash from society. South Korea – whose government has been remarkably successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 – has quarantined banknotes.

Let’s look at this from the retailers perspective

Cash has long been a headache for bricks and mortar retailers. A till must be established each day with a float. The till needs to be emptied regularly during trading. Typically €50 notes must be put into a floor safe during the day lest the till be robbed. Meanwhile, coins and smaller notes must be replenished as change is given out during the day. When the shutters come down the backoffice must count the cash, which should match the tills transaction records. The cash must then be stored overnight typically in a floor safe. The next morning a member of staff must travel – at great personal risk – to a bank to make a lodgement. As if this wasn’t bad enough it may be news to you that banks charge businesses lodgement fees per item. Businesses typically do not enjoy free banking.

In summary; accepting cash exposes a business to the risk of infidelity or embezzlement from employees, and theft from thieves! It also takes time, and attracts bank fees.

It would be much easier for a business to accept cards only. Retailers (known as ‘merchants’ in card parlance) are typically charged an acceptance fee, but this fee possibly is less than the cost and risk of cash.

Civil liberties

Here in Ireland. the Revenue Commissioners must be delighted that Ireland is finally making a move away from a cash economy to a digital one, as it creates a paper trail and stops the under declaration of income by retailers. It also assists with lifestyle investigations where individuals who are ‘living beyond their means’ or engaging in ‘high living’ can be more easily identified.

How can businesses adjust to this new norm of accepting cards only?

If you run a business then you have to start accepting cards now. You will need to make sure your provider allows you to accept contactless payments, and you should make sure you can also process ‘cardholder not present’ transactions if you are taking phone orders.

We can highly recommend SumUp. It is a German company who provide a standalone card reader, and access to their website dashboard. SumUp allows you to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner’s Club, and even the little known Japanese JCB Card!

If you click this link you can enjoy a discount on the purchase of a new SumUp card reader

What do the SumUp card readers look like?

SumUp provide what they call a ‘3G reader’. It’s a great standalone device that establishes it’s own data connection using a roaming data SIM (this means it can use data on all Irish phone networks, making it more likely it will get a signal than your single network smartphone. Failing it can also connect to WiFi)

Pros of using SumUp to accept cards

  • No standing charge
  • Quality looking card reader
  • No monthly minimums
  • No additional fees for foreign cards
  • Virtual terminal included also, for cardholder not present payments
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Chip & Pin, NFC
  • Accepts Visa, MasterCard, and…. American Express and Diner’s Club (which almost no one in Ireland does!)
  • No contract
  • In-app invoicing recently became available via the App and website interface


  • Works ‘online’ only, so you must have a working internet connection to take a payment (whereas some bank card readers will allow offline chip and PIN transactions below a floor limit)
  • Fee for debit card transactions is the same as credit cards, whereas for terminals from merchant banks debit cards are typically cheaper for large transactions
  • 2.75% transaction fee (which is higher in Ireland than the UK, although in practice many older accounts enjoy 1.75%)
  • No ability to add a boilerplate message to email receipts (so customers routinely contact us asking whether or not VAT was included)

Accepted Cards
Accept any credit or debit card (including international cards) that displays the following logos:

  • Visa Credit & Debit
  • MasterCard Credit & Debit
  • American Express
  • Diner’s Club

Our thoughts

To enjoy a discount of about €20 on the cost of the reader click on this link to

Who SumUp won’t accept

The following high-risk businesses will need to seek special approval before using the SumUp card reader. We have highlighted the ones that are unusual to see on such a list:

  • Future business: where the delay between processing a card transaction and handing out the product/service is longer than 7 days.
  • Adult entertainment / Pornography
  • Airlines
    Business seminars – like real estate seminars, investment programs, business opportunities/strategies, self-help books, etc.
  • Collection agencies, refinancing of debt / factoring, mortgage, brokers/reduction services/refinancing, Payday loans
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Non-licensed Counselling centres (for example: debt and financial counselling, marriage and family counselling, alcohol and drug abuse counselling, and other personal counselling)
  • Detective agencies, protective agencies, security services including armoured cars, guard dogs
  • Door-to-door sales
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Employment agencies, temporary help services
  • Escort services
  • File sharing services
  • Fortune tellers
  • Gambling
  • Guns, firearms, munitions sale & distribution
  • Illegal or legally questionable businesses or products
  • Investor services/investment clubs. Sale of stocks, securities, options, binary options, Forex, and other investments
  • Male/Female enhancers
  • Membership fees: this is problematic as many clubs would benefit from the use of a card reader
  • Modelling/talent agencies
  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • Pawn shops
  • Political organisations
  • Products with doubtful efficiency: may include but not limited to weight loss products, hair growth products, products to boost, physical performance.
  • Protection services: protection, insurance, or registration, service against things such as identity theft, Internet, fraud, credit card theft or fraud, etc.
  • Pyramid sales/multi-level marketing
  • Religious organisations & goods stores
  • Sexual encounter firms
  • Stamp and coin stores
  • Telecommunication services including but not limited to prepaid phone services and recurring phone services
  • Used cars: this suggests SumUp do not like seeing transactions measured in thousands of euro

COUPON CODE/DISCOUNT CODE: Click here to order a SumUp card machine

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