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What is a PDQ machine and how does it work? A brief guide on Process Data Quick machines

Standing for “Process Data Quick”, PDQ machines are the precursors to card machines as we know them today. It’s not an often-used term anymore but these devices are your typical credit card, Chip, and PIN machines. 

But what are their origins, how do they work, what types of machines are out there and what are their advantages? We look at these questions and much more.

What are the origins of PDQ machines?

Before Chip&PIN was introduced to consumers and businesses in the UK in 2006, merchants made use of the so-called PDQ machine. Unfortunately, the process was tedious as sales staff would have to swipe the customer’s card, wait for the receipt to be printed, and check that the signature on the back of the card matched that on the physical receipt. 

This caused a high likelihood of fraud as fraudsters with an illicitly gained card could simply replicate the signature without easy detection. It’s been estimated that between 2004 and 2014, over 81.9 million GBP has been saved in credit card fraud losses because of these machines as they require the customer to enter their card in the machine, followed by entering their secret PIN, known only to them. Credit card readers are the newer, more secure version of the old Process Data Quick machines.

How does a PDQ machine work?

There is little that differentiates PDQ machines from credit card machines in terms of payment acceptance. In fact, the process can be narrowed down to 4 steps, which are:

  1. The customer enters their debit or credit card into the
    PDQ machine after they have entered the payment amount for the purchase in question, say a cup of coffee.
  2. A request for authorisation is sent to the card issuer through the PDQ machine or the customer’s bank.
  3. If there are sufficient funds in the customer’s account, authorisation is granted.
  4. Finally, the funds are transferred from the account of the customer to the merchant’s account. While in most cases, this can take days, there are some providers, like myPOS, which provide an instant settlement of funds.

What types of PDQ machines are there?

The world of PDQs is quite broad and you, as a merchant, can make an informed choice about these machines. Let’s take a closer look at the various options they come in:

Traditional devices

Traditional PDQ or card payment devices usually have a keypad to enter amounts in and while some offer paper receipts, others are paper-free and have the option to send the customer a receipt via email or SMS.

Smart devices

Android-powered debit and credit card machines are another noteworthy investment for merchants who are looking for a more sophisticated solution to their payment needs.

Such devices usually have an amazing touchscreen that can be connected to various apps, making payment acceptance much more seamless. They also offer paper and digital receipts, depending on the customer’s needs.

Smart apps

Innovation in the world’s payment landscape is that merchants can now take payments through their Android smartphones through an app called myPOS Glass.

With this app, which requires no additional cables, dongles, or hardware, both merchants and customers can have a seamless payment experience. Payments are processed immediately, so this solution is ideal for merchants on the go who can accept payments anytime, anywhere.   

How much does a PDQ machine cost?

Regardless of whether traditional or smart PDQ machine, more options mean more costs. The Android smart devices offer excellent applications for inventory management, QR scanning, durable batteries, and much more.

All in all, what amount does a PDQ machine cost? This will rely upon whether you’re purchasing or leasing. The beauty of PDQ machines is that they are affordable and can go from as little as 29 GBP and reach a price as high as 249 GBP! Buying a PDQ machine from myPOS comes also with a 1-year free warranty.

Advantages of PDQ machines

Most merchants these days opt for PDQ machines simply because consumer trends indicate that they would like to pay in a safer and more convenient way.

Here are some of the advantages of PDQ machines for merchants:


PDQ machines comply with the highest industry standards, eliminating and minimising any potential for fraudulent transactions. 


Merchants can take advantage of affordable traditional PDQs, going from as little as 29 GBP. 

Fewer cash-related errors

The likelihood of errors and ultimately theft and fraud related to cash acceptance is significantly reduced. 

Instant settlement of funds

Payment service providers such as myPOS offer merchants instant settlement of funds into a free online merchant account with a free IBAN and free Standard Visa business card. 

Accepts all types of payments

PDQ machines in today’s age accept different types of payments ranging from contactless to NFC, Chip&PIN, and magstripe.

Meets customers’ expectations

Customers today are looking for a secure, hassle-free payment experience, and paying with their cards is becoming the norm in many European societies. 

What is a PDQ payment?

PDQ payment is a payment that is made with a customer’s prepaid, debit or credit card on a card reader/POS device, which will extract the information from the card and communicate with the relevant parties involved in the payment acceptance process.

Payment extraction happens either when a customer swipes their card’s magnetic strip on the POS device, enters their card’s chip in the specially designed slot for this purpose, followed by their Personal Identification Number (PIN) or taps/hovers their card above the terminal to ensure that a contactless payment is processed.

A PDQ payment, therefore, is one that accepts a customer’s magnetic stripe, Chip&PIN, or contactless card to process the payment.

In closing…

Although it’s not a very common term, PDQ or credit card machines are a very popular way of accepting payments. Whether you choose a traditional or Smart device to help you run your business, keep in mind that an increasing number of customers are turning to card payments across Europe. Their popularity in the wake of COVID-19 is only set to grow because we consider them safer and more hygienic ways to pay.

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