Abstract: A customer operated counter-top terminal system activates various debit card transactions, provides secure communications with a host computer database, and issues a decrypted authorization code to the customer. The system consists of a main terminal unit with an alphanumeric display. The main terminal unit carries a CPU, memory, and all interface devices, including a keypad for the entry of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN), plus programmable function keys and a swipe reader for reading various cards. The main terminal unit further includes a printer for printing receipts for use by a customer and retailer. The system also includes a remote hand-held keyboard having a keyboard display, typically to be held by a clerk for providing a level of privacy desirable to the customer.