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Setting up a “Chip and Pin” Service in the Practice

Setting up a “Chip and Pin” Service in the Practice

During February 2007 First Practice Management carried out a survey of practice managers on the Discussion Forum and thanks are expressed to those managers who responded. From the information provided and following a number of other enquiries we do not feel that this is the type of service that we could offer through the FPM Buying Club.

The survey revealed that an average non-dispensing medical practice probably accepts in the region of 10 to 15 cheques a week and a number of cash payments. Depending on the tariff which practices have agreed with their bank, the cost of paying individual cheques into a bank account is between zero and 98p and deposits of cash can cost from zero up to £5.00 per £100.

Most banks as well as card bureaux offer chip and pin services to their clients and the costing of these is very much dependent on the customer, the expected card turnover and the average cost of a transaction.

Another consideration is that a chip and pin service will require easy access to a telephone line although this does not need to be exclusive use. There are different types of chip and pin machines depending on whether you require a portable one, like in restaurants, or a fixed one on the front counter and if you have a glass screen you will also need a keypad outside the screen while the machine itself sits inside reception. Other considerations include security of the machine and the possible need for a separate system in a dispensary or in branch surgeries.

Charges often include a set-up fee and a monthly rental charge for the unit depending on the type required and there are also charges for each transaction. Look carefully at the overall package being offered.

Examples of Chip & Pin providers

Please note, the prices shown below were correct at the time of writing but may have changed in the interim

1. Streamline Merchant Services (www.streamline.co.uk) claim to provide 50% of chip and pin transactions in the UK. The amount each business pays depends on a number of factors including card turnover and average transaction value. Because businesses tend to have varying requirements, each customer needs to discuss charges with the Streamline team direct. There is a Lite user tariff which would appear to be ideal for most practices (annual card turnover of up to £30,000). An example of charges is a set-up fee of £175 + VAT and a monthly rental of £5.00 + VAT. Each credit card transaction would cost up to 3.75% (depending on the card provider) and each debit card transaction up to 60p.

2. Barclays Bank - example charges are £14.95 to £20.00 a month, plus between 1.85% and 1.95% for credit cards and between 29p and 1.95% for debit cards – there were no set-up fees in these examples.

3. CardSave (www.cardsave.net) - example charges are £23.95 a month, plus 2.5% on credit card and 35p on debit card transactions - no set-up fees.

Hopefully this gives an idea of the types of charges that companies will make to provide a chip and pin service and will enable managers to calculate current charges for cheque and cash transactions and decide if a move to chip and pin is worthwhile and cost efficient for the practice.

It must be emphasised that all of the charges listed above are examples only and are provided to give some idea of what it could cost your practice to use these services.

If you are considering a chip and pin service talk to your bank first and if their charges appear to be more than those of Streamline Merchant Services ask Streamline for a quote. Streamline Merchant Services are part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

First Practice Management

March 2007