Credit Card Processing

What is PIN on Glass for Debit Card Processing?

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Businesses that accept debit cards but don’t have a PIN pad for customers to enter PINs may soon have a way around it: PIN on glass. The technology would allow for secure PIN entry on consumer mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of PIN on glass and what you need to know if you’re considering using for PIN debit card acceptance at your business.


What is PIN on glass?

It’s basically what it sounds like – a way for customers to enter their PINs on a screen (such as your tablet or smartphone screen) as opposed to using a dedicated PIN pad. PIN on glass makes it possible for your business to take advantage of the added security and possible lower costs of PIN debit transactions.

It’s designed to work with commercially available “off the shelf” consumer electronics, such as standard smartphones and tablets. However, PIN on glass is still subject to security requirements, which include PIN-specific PCI compliance.

Pros and Cons

There are more pros for PIN on glass than cons, but a few cons do exist.

In the “pros” column, PIN on glass allows businesses to accept PIN debit cards without any additional PIN entry equipment. A consumer can enter their PIN directly on the business’ smartphone or tablet screen.

Authorizing debit cards with PINs is more secure and often costs less than accepting debit cards without PINs. (However, there are exceptions. Be sure to check out our article, “Which is Cheaper: Pin Debit or Signature Debit?” for more info.

The primary “con” is subjective – some customers may not feel comfortable entering their PIN into any smartphone/tablet. However, if you run into that situation, you could simply run the card “as credit” to bypass PIN entry requirements.

Who is PIN on glass good for?

Primarily, PIN on glass will appeal to businesses that accept payments on the go (using a smartphone reader or mobile app) or those that use a tablet-based POS system. While there are smartphone readers that offer PIN entry (such as this reader available for PayPal Here), smartphone and tablet card acceptance methods are the least likely to have an option for PIN entry with current devices.

When customers use a debit card and don’t have the option to enter a PIN, the transaction is authorized by signature and may be more expensive for a business to accept.

PIN on glass offers the ability to allow customers to enter their PIN directly on the screen of the smartphone or tablet rather than requiring a separate device.

Remember, though, that PINs in the US are typically used for debit cards, not credit cards. As of 2018, most US credit cards don’t have PINs for purchases. If you take a lot of debit cards at your business and don’t have a PIN entry device, PIN on glass could be a good option for you.

Saving Money with PIN Debit

One thing to note is that PIN on glass by itself may not help you save money on your processing fees. If you use a flat rate service, you will not see cost reduction on your rate by accepting PINs. (Instead, the flat rate processor will receive more profit.)

Additionally, for some businesses, signature debit is actually lower cost than PIN debit. As a rough rule of thumb, PIN debit is cheaper for businesses with larger average transactions. Signature debit is cheaper if you process smaller average transactions.

If you process mostly larger transactions and could benefit from PIN debit fees instead of signature debit fees, you’ll need to work with an interchange plus processor in order to see the savings from accepting PIN debit transactions.

You can see actual pricing for your business by using a free quote comparison tool, available here.

Alternatives to PIN on Glass

If you (or your customers) aren’t comfortable with entering PINs on your smartphone or tablet, you have other options. You could skip the smartphone or tablet entirely and look into a wireless credit card machine, which allows for portability. Wireless machines are more expensive than smartphone/tablet card readers, but can project a professional image.

You can also connect a dedicated PIN pad to some tablet-based POS systems, allowing customers to enter their PIN that way. PIN pads are smaller and less expensive than full countertop terminals.

If using a smartphone or tablet on the go is a must, there are some companies that offer PIN-capable readers. The Anywhere Commerce Nomad reader series includes an integrated PIN pad and connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. Ingenico and PayPal Here also offer PIN-capable readers designed for use with mobile devices.

Get the full details on EMV card acceptance in our article on taking chip cards with mobile devices.

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Ellen Cunningham

BY Ellen Cunningham

Ellen has a degree in English, which she puts to work every day researching and writing articles, processor reviews, and social media posts. She enjoys the challenge of explaining complex topics - making her a perfect fit for credit card processing - and strongly believes in CardFellow's mission of empowering business owners through education.When she's not busy following the latest industry news, Ellen can be found cycling the beautiful trails of southern New England, narrowly losing at pub quizzes, or practicing her trapeze skills in aerial circus class.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. from Edin, on March 23, 2018 22:32:25

    I am currently paying interchange plus .13 for my processing with BofA.
    I process about $7,000,000.00 per year (It’s a wholesale b2b)
    I was under the impression that I was paying a good rate but I have someone coming from a company saying that they can give me flat 2.30% rate. When I calculate my overall rate now it ends up being around 2.59 since almost all of the transactions are card not present.
    Are they jut pulling a fast one? How can someone guarantee 2.30% on all cards and make money???

    • from Ellen Cunningham, on March 26, 2018 08:48:14

      Hi Edin,
      Some cards cost less to process than other cards, which means the flat rate processor makes more money at your expense. In the case of B2B, it may or may not work out like that. Flat rate is typically only a good option for businesses with very small average transactions (~$10 or less) or that only take a few thousand per month in cards. Interchange plus .13 could be good pricing, if that’s all you’re actually paying. Unfortunately, sometimes BofA uses some misleading practices, such as labeling some of its own fees as interchange. We talk about it in depth here: https://www.cardfellow.com/credit-card-processors/bank-of-america-merchant-services#cardfellowexperience

      Additionally, as a B2B company, you’d want to ensure you’re passing level 2 and level 3 data to get the lowest possible interchange rates for the cards you’re taking. If BofA isn’t helping you with that, you’re probably overpaying. Here’s an article specifically about B2B transaction processing: https://www.cardfellow.com/blog/b2b-transactions-level-2-3-credit-card-processing/

      I’d strongly suggest using CardFellow’s free quote comparison tool to see what you could be paying. Our tool will give baseline numbers for B2C businesses, but if you shoot us a message we can help you adjust them for B2B transactions. That form is here: https://www.cardfellow.com/sign-up