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What Are Mastering MOTO Payments?

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, staying ahead means offering flexible payment solutions that cater to the evolving needs of customers. 

MOTO payments, short for Mail Order Telephone Order payments, have emerged as a versatile and indispensable tool for businesses looking to accept payments remotely. 

What Are MOTO Payments?

MOTO payments represent a category of virtual transactions that allow businesses to accept payments without the physical presence of the customer. These transactions occur via telephone, email, fax, or even traditional postal mail. 

Unlike in-store purchases or online transactions, where customers use their cards directly, MOTO payments require merchants to manually enter card details into a virtual terminal, payment gateway, or card machine. 

This flexibility makes MOTO payments an attractive option for businesses in various industries, especially those with customers who prefer not to or cannot visit a physical location.

How MOTO Payments Work: The Role of Virtual Terminals

Virtual Terminals

Central to the MOTO payment process is the virtual terminal, a secure web-based application that acts as a virtual card machine. Merchants use this platform to manually input customer card details and initiate transactions. Virtual terminals offer ease of use, accessibility from any internet-enabled device, and security features like Address Verification System (AVS) to confirm the cardholder’s identity.

Transaction Process

To complete a MOTO payment, merchants log into their virtual terminal and enter the customer’s card information, including the card number, billing address, and expiration date. This data is securely transmitted to the customer’s bank for authorization. Once approved, both the merchant and customer receive transaction confirmations, with funds typically reaching the merchant in accordance with their settlement agreement.

Payment Gateways and Card Machines

While virtual terminals are the primary tool for MOTO payments, businesses can also process such transactions through payment gateways on their websites or by using card machines. These methods offer additional flexibility for merchants.

Benefits of MOTO Payments

MOTO payments offer a range of advantages for both businesses and customers:


MOTO payments provide a fast, secure, and convenient payment method for customers without requiring physical card presence.

Ease of Setup

Setting up a MOTO payment system is straightforward and typically involves minimal initial costs, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.


Streamlining payment processing systems allows business owners to allocate more time and resources to other critical aspects of their operations.

Multi-User Access

Virtual terminals can be configured for multi-user access, enabling authorized employees to process payments from multiple locations 24/7.

Wider Customer Reach

Accepting card payments over the phone, via email, or in writing broadens the customer base, attracting a more diverse audience.

Saved Payment Details

MOTO systems securely save customer card details for future transactions, expediting the payment process and enhancing convenience for both parties.

Split Payments

Integrated payment processing systems support various payment methods, including eGift cards, and allow customers to split transaction costs effortlessly.

Prompt Fund Transfer

Each payment undergoes authorization by the customer’s bank, ensuring fund availability, and merchants typically receive funds quickly.

Understanding MOTO Payment Costs

While MOTO payment fees can vary, transparency is key. Providers like Square offer clear fee structures, encompassing components like interchange fees, assessment fees, risk, and PCI compliance fees. The overall fee depends on the transaction’s risk level, with lower-risk transactions incurring lower costs. As an example, Square charges a competitive rate of 2.5% per MOTO transaction.

Setting Up MOTO Payments

Setting up MOTO payments is a straightforward process, accessible to businesses with no initial costs and no monthly fees. Square’s virtual terminal, for instance, offers a user-friendly interface that any staff member can use. 

Customers receive automatic receipts via email, and transaction data is securely stored in the dashboard for convenience. Square also offers card-present payments through wireless terminals, enhancing flexibility.

Adapting to Changing Times: The Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the business landscape, emphasizing the importance of contactless and remote payment solutions. With consumers hesitant to visit physical stores, small businesses have had to adapt rapidly. 

MOTO payments have become a lifeline, allowing businesses to continue operations while meeting the evolving needs of their customers. 

This transition was already underway before the pandemic, as consumers increasingly sought convenient payment methods, and businesses must now expand their payment horizons to remain competitive.

Is MOTO Right for Your Business?

The suitability of MOTO payments for your business depends on your customer base and their payment preferences. 

Market research and consultation with your payment service provider can help you determine whether MOTO payments align with your target audience’s needs. 

Additionally, consider the convenience and security MOTO payments offer and how they can benefit your business model.

How to Start Accepting MOTO Payments

Virtual Terminals

Providers like Square, emerchantpay, and others offer easy-to-use virtual terminals that require no upfront costs. These terminals provide real-time reports and can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.

Payment Gateways

For online businesses, integrating payment gateways into websites allows customers to make MOTO payments seamlessly.

Card Machines

Some providers offer card machines that can process transactions remotely, providing an additional option for businesses.

Customized Pricing

Many providers offer tailored pricing packages to accommodate the unique needs of each business.

The Role of 3D Secure Authentication in MOTO Payments

MOTO payments, while convenient, can be vulnerable to fraud. Common types of fraud associated with MOTO payments include identity theft, unauthorized transactions, and card-not-present (CNP) fraud. This is where 3D Secure authentication steps in as a crucial security measure.

Understanding 3D Secure Authentication

3D Secure is an authentication protocol designed to enhance the security of online and remote card transactions, including MOTO payments. It adds an additional layer of security by requiring cardholders to undergo an authentication process, typically through a one-time password (OTP) or biometric verification.


MOTO payments are a versatile solution for businesses looking to accept payments remotely, offering convenience and accessibility to a broader customer base. However, their security is paramount. 

Implementing 3D Secure authentication, complying with PCI standards, and selecting a reliable payment service provider are essential steps to ensure secure MOTO transactions. 

By mastering MOTO payments and enhancing their security, businesses can adapt to changing times and thrive in the evolving payments landscape.

About the author

Jack Reuben Fletcher

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