Cash is no longer king as debit cards take over

All of which means it is more important than ever for small businesses to enable customers to pay by card. Sure, it's fairly rare now to stock up on a good £30 worth of pretty things in a nice gift shop to find it doesn't take cards, but it does happen. Has happened, in fact, to me in the last year - more than once. And the retailer, who I'd much prefer to shop with than a big high-street name, sadly loses the sale, because the local cash point is too far away to be convenient.

And then we have the £10 card minimum, the nemesis of small-change sales. I don't want to pay £10 when all I need is a £6 bottle of wine. So I take my business elsewhere, feeling a little irked.

Of course, most customers don't understand that retailers have to pay to rent a card machine - but isn't it more worth keeping a customer on-side, so securing repeat sales from them, than irritating them with rules that force them to spend more than they want to?

(Or is it actually better to have no sale than a sale for a couple of pounds that the credit card company levies a charge on you for? Tell us in comments below.)

For those of you not in retail, being able to take card payments on the go is becoming increasingly important too. That's because, long story short, you are trying to make your customers' lives as convenient as possible.

And if that means letting them punch in their pin numbers quickly rather than them having to walk 15 minutes to the hole in the wall, allowing them the easier option leaves them with a much sweeter taste in their mouths. With more and more smartphone apps being developed that allow you to take payments using your phone, this doesn't even need to be a hard for you to implement. Read our guide on taking card payment on the move for more info.

Surviving in business necessitates understanding shifts in consumer habits. So if you don't have a card machine, and if more and more of your customers are choosing debit cards as their preferred method of payment, it's probably a good time to get a card machine and make it as easy as they can to spend their money with you.

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