Came the query, from Mary Clark (Mary’s Sweet Memories, Hinckley, Leicestershire): “Can you advise, please? We run a traditional sweet shop so most of the year we only sell low-cost items. At times such as Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s we do higher priced gifts. At the moment we are purely cash, but a card machine would be handy for our peak times. However, we have heard horror stories about the costs involved and the admin they entail. Have you any suggestions?”

Oo-er, don’t know, I replied, but I’ll have a scout around.

First port of call, the Association of Convenience Stores. Good choice. Chris in the press office said, I don’t know either, but I’ll have a scout around. In less than an hour he came back with SumUp. It’s a mobile POS service which lets small businesses take card payments using their phone. The company offers free card readers in exchange for 2.75% transaction fee. Merchants are provided with an app which allows them to take payments, but also to function as a normal cash register, with products, prices, and transaction history. SumUp only came onto the UK market a few months ago, but has already expanded to seven European countries.

ACS’ lead led me to further research this market and, wow, it is exploding with companies offering similar solutions.

I found Pay Pal Here, iZettle, mPowa, Payleven, Square (it’s American, though), and Intuit’s Go Payment. They are all similar. Almost all charge 2.75% per transaction (although mPowa is 2.95%) but the apps are free.

And one other. Payatrader has a system whereby you process payment via your laptop. But it too is moving on - to Chip and PIN. Their terminal looks like an ordinary reader and the charge is 2.9% per transaction.

It all adds up to another finger up to the banks.