PIN-debit vs. Signature-debit
The same debit card can process in two different ways - with a PIN authorization, or via a signature authorization, like a credit card.
When processing a PIN debit sale, the card communicates through one of the PIN-debit networks. There are many PIN networks - pull out a debit card, turn it over, and read the back - you'll likely see either Pulse, Shazam, Maestro, or NYCE. These are examples of a few PIN networks, and they're entirely separate from the credit networks. As such - there are different fee structures, rules, and guidelines for PIN-debit sales. A PIN-debit transaction results in the funds being immediately removed from your customer's account. You can't "void" a PIN-debit transaction like you can with credit, since the sale happens in real-time. PIN numbers drastically reduce fraud, so interchange rates are lower for PIN-debit, and you also don't have to pay the network fees associated with Visa/MasterCard - typically about 0.13% and 2¢ per sale. That can add up.
Alternatively, when processing a signature-debit transaction, the same debit card is simply using the credit networks to communicate with the issuing bank. As such, the transaction will be subject to interchange fees that have been set by Visa and MasterCard. For a regulated debit card from a big bank, that's no big deal - interchange rates will be identical. But, those network fees are always charged for signature-debit sales, and consumers will have more abilities to dispute a transaction via chargeback through the credit networks.
Our recommendation: If you see a lot of debit cards in your establishment, PIN numbers can help keep costs lower, and reduce your fraud exposure. They carry a few up-front equipment costs, so you need to ensure that your business accepts enough debit to make it a worthwhile investment.
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