What is a PDQ Machine? How Did the Term Evolve Over Time?

Definition and Origin

You might have heard the term “PDQ machine,” but what does it mean? Let’s explain:

PDQ stands for “Process Data Quickly.” A PDQ machine is a card payment machine that processes debit and credit cards electronically.

Evolution of the Term

Today, people rarely use the term PDQ machine. Instead, they say card machine, card terminal, chip and PIN machine, POS machine, card reader, or card payment machine.

Origins of the Name

The term PDQ machine became popular when electronic card machines first appeared because they processed payments quickly. Before these machines, cashiers had to manually process each card payment, which took a long time. They used manual credit card imprinters, got signatures, made phone authorizations, and took the slips to the bank.

The first PDQ machines, introduced in 1979, read magnetic stripe cards. They checked the cardholder’s details with the bank via a landline to see if there were enough funds. The machine then printed a receipt showing if the transaction was accepted or rejected. If accepted, the customer signed the receipt, and the cashier compared the signature with the one on the card.

Transition to Chip and PIN Technology

In the UK, swipe terminals were replaced by chip and PIN machines in 2004. This new technology made payments faster and more secure. Instead of signing, customers entered a 4-digit PIN. Later, card readers could also accept contactless payments using NFC technology. This made payments even faster for small amounts.

Modern Use of the Term

The term “PDQ machine” originally referred to the first swipe card terminals, but it’s still relevant today with fast contactless payments.

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Types of PDQ Machines

When people talk about PDQ terminals today, they mean any card machine that reads and verifies credit and debit cards electronically. Here are the main types:

Traditional Terminals:

  • Stationary, portable, and mobile card machines with a push-button PIN pad.
  • Popular models are made by Ingenico and Verifone, used by big retailers and supermarkets.

Smart POS Terminals:

  • Portable and mobile card machines with a touchscreen interface.
  • Usually Android-based with apps to add POS features.
  • Popular brands include PAX and Clover.

Card Readers with Apps:

  • These work with a smartphone or tablet app via Bluetooth.
  • They can be used on the go with the mobile device’s 4G or WiFi.
  • Popular brands include Zettle, SumUp, and Square.

Ready to upgrade your payment system? Explore the different types of PDQ machines and find the one that fits your business best. Make your payments faster and more secure with the right card machine today!