Australians have embraced cashless payments as a convenient and reliable way to shop, with more than 2 billion EFTPOS transactions¹ made each year.

EFTPOS machines have become a familiar sight in retail stores, restaurants, pop-up shops – even farmers’ markets. But what are the real costs and benefits of doing business this way?

Here’s a quick guide to costs, benefits and what you should consider when looking at EFTPOS for your business.

What are the costs of EFTPOS?

The EFTPOS machine you choose will depend on your budget, sales volumes, Point of Sale (POS) software, and your merchant account. When shopping for an EFTPOS machine, remember to take into account the overall cost of doing business electronically. This includes the:

  1. EFTPOS machine purchase or rental
  2. Point of Sale (POS) merchant plan
  3. Your data or internet plan
  4. Your business transaction bank account costs or fees 
  5. Any processing fees associated with specific payment networks (like the Visa network or Apple Pay network).

Just like with bank accounts and mobile phone plans, Point of Sale (POS) merchant plans can vary. Some include a joining fee or annual fee. Others calculate a service fee based on your volume of EFTPOS transactions in a month.

To cover the cost of using EFTPOS, you may consider passing on those charges to your customers, or you may set a minimum purchase amount. If you choose to do that, make sure you understand how your customers might feel about the additional costs of purchasing from your business. Find out more about surcharging customers.

At CommBank, we make payments simpler for small business, with competitive flat rates for all in-store and online payment transactions for eligible merchant customers.

Where can you buy an EFTPOS machine?

There are several EFTPOS providers in Australia, including the four major banks. You’ll usually add the purchase or rental of EFTPOS machines to the merchant plan you sign with your provider.

Which type of EFTPOS machine should you choose?

There are several EFTPOS machines on the market. The one you choose depends on how you intend to do business. 

Will you do business on the road or in store?

Some EFTPOS machines require a fixed line broadband connection, which means you can only do business at the point where the machine is installed. Many EFTPOS machines, however, can be used ‘on the road’ using 4G/3G connectivity. Some machines can do both, making use of a data plan when you’re working remotely, or connecting to your Wi-Fi or broadband via Bluetooth connectivity so you can do business anywhere within your store.

Which do you need more, portability or visibility?

The smallest EFTPOS machines are simple contactless card readers. They may offer the best portability, but they don’t include a display screen. Your customers can still view the payment details on a separate screen (such as a mobile device). These EFTPOS machines work well for farmers’ markets and pop-up stores, and are also found in small retail stores.

Other EFTPOS machines do have a display screen, and may allow customers to add a tip. However, you may need to enter the sales total manually into these EFTPOS machines. You’ll often find these EFTPOS machines in restaurants, supermarkets, and large retail chains.

Is the machine compatible with your software?

Finally, make sure that your EFTPOS machine is compatible with your POS software system and that it works with the separate payment networks you plan to use, like Visa, MasterCard®, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay™ and others.

Do you have reliable internet or data access during business hours?

EFTPOS machines and POS software rely on internet connectivity to connect to customer and merchant banks. If you conduct business in an area with unreliable or unavailable internet or data, you may need to consider other ways to take payments, such as cash or cheque.

When might you need to contact technical support?

Depending when you plan to do business, you may want to check the technical support hours for your EFTPOS machine and POS software. CommBank offers 24/7 technical support, so that you’ll be ready to do business whenever your doors open.

What should you consider when choosing your POS merchant plan?

Your options for choosing an EFTPOS machine will usually depend on the POS software and merchant plan that you’ve selected, so here are some things to consider when making those decisions.

Does EFTPOS suit how your customers want to pay?

Make sure you understand whether your EFTPOS machine and POS software are compatible with the ways your customers prefer to pay. For example, do they allow you to receive payments from:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Bank account cards (i.e. direct deposit)
  • Corporate cards
  • International credit cards
  • Mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay ™ using Smart devices, such as phones and watches
  • New ways to pay, like StepPay.

Does your POS merchant plan suit your projected sales volumes?

If you’ve been doing business without EFTPOS before, you may find that your sales volume increases now that you’re giving your customers more options to pay. Take a look at how your sales volumes may change, and choose a POS merchant plan that will be cost efficient for your business. If you’re only expecting a small volume of EFTPOS transactions per month, then a service fee (based on the number of transaction) may be more affordable than an annual fee.

Keep in mind that EFTPOS may generate other financial savings for your business. For a start, it can lower your staff or labour overheads, by automating receipts and record keeping. There’s less of a need for daily tallying, or trips to the bank to deposit cash. Reducing cash transactions at the bank can also minimise any note or coin handling fees you’re charged. Some POS software systems can also automatically monitor inventory and remind you to re-order. This can be another saving for your time and budget. 

Would you benefit from greater transaction security?

Businesses that regularly work with cash need to keep a supply of money in a till or on the premises, and manually transport this money to the bank. With EFTPOS transactions, a business is less likely to require large amounts of cash onsite, reducing its risk of being targeted for theft. Even if your business does still need to perform cash transactions, you could consider using EFTPOS for high-value or ‘on the go’ payments to avoid keeping too much cash on the premises or while on the go.

Will your POS software help you with record keeping?

POS software systems can usually process transactions quickly and provide instant proof of payment for you and your customer, helping to avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes. They can also save time when you need to report on inventory and sales for cash flow management, BAS statements, tax returns, and other regulatory and accounting requirements.

Finally, can your EFTPOS machine and POS software adapt to new ways to pay?

EFTPOS providers are constantly adapting so they can keep up to date with new payment technologies, like tap and go for chip-enabled cards and smart devices. Make sure you know how to upgrade your hardware and software to take advantage of the latest options. 

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Things you should know

1 EFTPOS data

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.