Credit Card Processing in a Power Outage – Disaster Planning

Power outages have begun as a result of Blizzard Juno. While merchants and consumers should be home at this time, when the snow is done and people emerge to shop again, how will businesses manage accepting credit cards? The critical issues are power, telephone and internet access. Small to medium, and local retail businesses may especially lack the proper preparation.

“Sometimes a disaster is not the physical environment, but POS systems themselves,” according to Christine Speedy, a payments professional based in Florida. “A couple months ago, a client called because their 3rd party POS system went down and they were told it would be four hours before someone could bring a part to them. Luckily they had a plan B, which was to use our CenPOS mobile app with swiper that I’d recommended for hurricane season.

Backup internet access is critical:  Having multiple internet access methods is optimal so if one is down, there’s another option. For example, phone service may be down, but high speed cable internet up, or vice versa. It’s rare that phone, wireless phone and cable internet are all down at the same time.

Backup power:  How will you power devices, computers, lighting? A separate battery backup for computers can Power to recharge devices as well as power the store lights etc

Separate Point of Sale System (POS) from payments. If you can’t power your POS system, at least make sure you can accept credit card payments. Here’s some options to accept payments in a critical outage:

  • Call to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone key enter transactions into a virtual terminal. Have duplicate receipts ready for signature, and enter authorization code instead of imprinting card numbers.
  • Swipe on a mobile device
  • Call to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone send an einvoice to click and pay.
  • Text amount due and cell phone number of buyer to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone send an einvoice to click and pay.
  • Have an online pay page ready that you can refer customers to.

There’s lots of ways to be prepared, from keeping P2P encrypted card readers on hand to holding drills during slow times to test systems and readiness.

Paper backup plan: A backup plan in a computer is not very helpful if no one can turn the computer on to see the plan. Store the backup plan in notebooks in multiple locations, including off site.

Need a mobile reader as a backup? Ask about our P2P readers to ensure they’re safe and secure until you need them.