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How does eftpos work in Australia?

Erin Rooney, Content, Social and Lead Generation Manager
Square

EFTPOS is a widely known term around the world associated with debit and credit card payments. However in Australia, there is actually a subtle difference between EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale), and eftpos (lowercase).

Generally, EFTPOS refers to any card machine that will accept debit and credit card payments - and is a globally recognised term. However, eftpos (lowercase) is a brand in Australia (run by eftpos Payments Australia Ltd), that makes it possible for businesses to receive payments from an Australian customer’s bank account through their debit card, allowing electronic payments at the point of sale.

Whenever you choose to pay through CHQ or SAV on a machine in Australia, you’re paying with eftpos. It is available on all ATM or debit cards issued by Australian banks. eftpos is a domestic payments network that facilitates the transfer of funds electronically when debit or some credit payments cards are used at the point-of-sale. As of recent years, eftpos now also allows NFC technology (tap and go, contactless payments), much like Mastercard and Visa.

It’s important to note that you can only use an eftpos card in a few places outside of Australia, while Mastercard and Visa debit cards can be used overseas.

How can I start accepting eftpos cards for my business?

Businesses that want to accept eftpos payments usually need to enter an agreement with one of the seven proprietary networks that link with one another (eg. the big banks like ANZ, CommBank, nab etc).

However, with Square, this is taken care of for you, and you can easily start accepting eftpos chip enabled cards by starting a Square account and using the Square Reader or Square Terminal hardware. It’s important to note that only eftpos cards with a chip are accepted by Square, due to security reasons - so the older, ‘swipe only’ eftpos cards will not be accepted (however these are mostly phased out now).

As with all contactless and chip card payments in Australia, when customers spend more than $200 they will be required to enter their PIN to complete their purchase (the current limit is temporarily $200 due to COVID-19 — usually it is $100).

If you serve a lot of customers visiting from overseas (and using different cards as a result), Square is also a great option as you can include card acceptance for both eftpos and international card schemes. Square can process most internationally-issued cards with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo, and you can process international cards via manual entry. Learn more about how to accept international cards with Square.

How much does it cost to start accepting eftpos payments?

Traditionally eftpos terminals have been an expensive investment, especially for small businesses, but that is rapidly changing. Banks and traditional providers often charge rental fees, ongoing subscription rates and have additional costs for accepting corporate and international cards.

With Square, you can purchase a card reader for as little as $59 and start taking payments right away. There are no ongoing hardware fees, you simply pay a flat 1.9% fee per payment for all major cards — including American Express.

What hardware should I use to accept eftpos?

Every business has different needs, so it’s important to choose the right hardware for your business. Some considerations might include hardware costs, processing fees, mobile EFTPOS machines, invoicing and virtual terminal, and availability. Check out our more in-depth tips to choose the right EFTPOS machine for your business.

Accepting eftpos payments with Square is easy. For more information, contact our sales team.