Is your staff feeling stress from the problem of declined credit cards? Do you feel that the problem may have even escalated over time? If this is the case, then it’s time to do something about it. Whether you realize it or not, the matter of credit card declines has become a growing problem in all types and sizes of business. The end result of credit card decline almost always involves customer aggravation, as well as an increased loss in operational costs.

As a matter of fact, recent studies from the Experian Credit Bureau revealed that 17 percent of all online shoppers have experienced some type of credit decline. The study also pointed out that online merchants combined have lost nearly $40 million due to credit card declines. As a business owner, you simply can’t afford to lose that kind of money.

Digital customers become frustrated when their credit card cannot be processed for some reason. Often times, it isn’t even their fault. In many situations, account numbers are incorrect, the card has expired, or the issuer has simply closed the account. In our world of instant gratification, no one likes to be turned away from a purchase.

If you’re experiencing problems with declined credit card transactions, help is on its way in the form of ProPay’s EnsureBill. The company has a unique way to help you solve any type of credit card problems within your company. Through diligence and follow-up, EnsureBill is designed to update and maintain your customer’s credit card information. Declined credit cards can happen for many reasons, and it usually isn’t the customer’s fault. As a merchant, you can’t really afford to turn away customers due to inaccurate credit card information. That’s where EnsureBill steps in. By working in connection with credit card issuers, the people at ProPay ensure that your stored credit card information is accurate and up-to-date.

It may sound simple, but at the end of the day, your accountants, credit card processors, and most importantly, your customers experience fewer headaches and greater peace of mind.

Chances are you recently paid for a cup of coffee or bought some baked goods at the farmer’s market using an iPhone, iPad, or a similar mobile device.

These days, mobile payments are not only convenient to customers, they’re expected. It’s not a coincidence that food trucks that offer mobile card payments have a much larger line than those that accept cash only. Why not join the trend and make it easy for your clients to pay from any location?

Certainly, there are a number of factors to consider when starting up your mobile services. Need a partner to help make it easy? ProPay provides a robust set of flexible solutions, making it easy for you to accept credit and debit card payments from your customers in a simple, secure, and affordable way.

Our special features can help make the most of your mobile payment processing, offering you additional options that you might not have even known existed! Here are five of the most prized mobile solutions on the market today:

Mobile Card Readers

Mobile card readers make it easy to process credit cards in real time on your iPad, iPhone, or Android devices. Our ProPay JAK Mobile Card Reader is easy to install, especially for existing customers. If you have a ProPay Account, all you have to do is download the ProPay application, attach the reader, and go! Credit and debit cards can be accepted anywhere you have data coverage. Merchants with our card reader can rest easy, as our encryption services make every transaction secure right from the swipe. With ProPay JAK Mobile Card Reader, you’ll enjoy lower competitive swipe rates as well.

2. Mobile Apps

A mobile payment app saved directly on your device is like having a virtual terminal right on your smartphone! With our ProPay app, you can quickly and easily accept credit cards anytime, anywhere. To get started, simply go to the Apple App Store or Google Play and search for “ProPay.” The ProPay app is Free!

3. Card Readers

Card readers are great accessories to mobile payments, allowing merchants to accept credit card payment information even without an Internet connection. With the ProPay FLASH Card Reader, you can process payments and get instant authorization in real time, as long as you’re connected to an Internet-enabled computer. When you’re away from a connection, your payments can still be processed and saved for later. As usual, security is our top priority, and we’re well equipped to handle any potential security threats. FLASH encrypts all of the sensitive payment data from the moment of swipe, meaning that card data is never stored in clear text, protecting both you and your customers from the risk of data theft. If you’re out of data range, don’t fret. FLASH will store up to 71 transactions of payment information when you’re away from your computer, so you can still swipe cards and capture payment data securely. When your connection is restored, the transactions will be processed successfully. For security reasons, the transactions will be immediately deleted from the device, but you can still store the customer’s card data in our secure database for future billing.

4. Mobile Web Interfaces

When accepting mobile payments, it’s always helpful to have an interface that provides a summary of all your important data. Our ProPay Mobile interface enables you to access your ProPay account from any smartphone with our optimized web browser interface. Alongside the ability to process credit and debit cards, you can also view a detailed account summary of all transactions. This includes your account balance, a list of transactions in process, the amount of transactions remaining on the processing limit, and the ability to transfer funds directly to your bank account. The best part of our mobile web interface? If you have a merchant account with us, this service is free for you to use!

5. Phone Processing

The flipside of mobile payment processing is monitoring your progress. Our phone processing allows mobile professionals to process payments with any touch-tone phone. Features include the ability to process card payments, check your account balance, transfer funds, and modify your ProPay account information. As long as you have a Premium or higher ProPay merchant account, Phone Processing is free!

Is April always one long blur for you, full of stress that’s compounded by anxiety and intensified by confusion? Your passion is growing your business. Having to screech to a halt every spring and tend to taxes can range from a minor inconvenience to a major meltdown, depending on how you treat tax prep throughout the other 11 months.

Forbes advises small business owners to consider taxes “an ongoing process that needs attention throughout the year in order to be successful.” Good in theory, right? Here’s how to put it into practice.

1) Spend Quality Time with Your Records Every Week

Whether you’re a freelancing independent contractor or a growing small business with employees, keeping your records up-to-date consistently will become a natural habit the more often you discipline yourself to do it. If it’s any incentive, not doing this on a weekly basis can result in a lot of missed opportunities (read: money) come filing day.

To ensure you’re reducing your taxable income at every step, review and save all expense receipts, go over your payables and receivables for that period and be sure they are logged, and review credit card transactions and cash flow. If you need help, get help! If you’re not prepared to hire an accountant, use accounting software to record everything electronically. And be sure to back up all of your electronic files to a remote location. Many cloud storage services are free.

2) Get in a Deduction State of Mind

Start finding effective ways to increase your expenses now so that you can maximize business tax deductions next April. Do you need new office equipment? Are you making charitable donations throughout the year? Do you need to take a career-oriented class? But don’t overlook the smaller items, such as magazine subscriptions and petty cash purchases.

Keep track of fully deductible state sales tax paid on large purchases like equipment and vehicles. Interest you pay on credit cards, loans, overdue bills, and bank fees can all be deducted, so track, track, track! Automobile costs like tires, oil, insurance, and parking fees also count. Remember that if you work from a home office for which you claim a deduction, any business driving you do from home to another location and back home is deductible mileage. Business News Daily recommends a great free tool called Deductr for simplifying expense tracking.

3) Get Off the Paper and Go Online

Even if you’ve been resistant to moving away from a paper trail and into digital commerce, it’s an extremely efficient way to transact business and access records. Use online banking, online bill pay, online credit card processing, and online accounting.

4) Feather Your Retirement Nest Egg

Have you established a Roth IRA, a SEP, or a Keogh plan? Do you have access to a 401(k)? If not, prioritize this as not only a way to reduce your annual taxable income, but also to get serious about ensuring that you’ve got something waiting for you at the end of your entrepreneurial rainbow.

5) Hire Independent Contractors

There has never been a more lucrative time to be a freelancer! Small business owners can take advantage of this self-managed resource explosion by using freelance workers in nearly every department of their business. Marketing, content writing, social media, direct sales, IT, web design, accounting, and general office support are just a few of the areas in which hiring independent contractors instead of employees can save you big money in payroll taxes and benefits.

Be sure you’re clear about the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, as per the IRS definitions. Caron Beesley at AllBusiness.com distinguishes between the two classifications this way:

Independent Contractor – The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if you, the person for whom the services are performed, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result. Essentially independent contractors are considered to be in business for themselves. They take care of their own tax obligations and benefits.

Employee – Anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

Make 2015 the year in which you resolve to stay on top of your records and tax materials—and stick to your resolution! Your return will be accurate and complete, and you’ll sleep a whole lot better before, during, and after April 2016! Here are some other great helpers recommended by Business News Daily to support you in accomplishing your tax goals.

Sources

https://www.sba.gov/blogs/8-small-business-tax-preparation-mistakes-avoid

https://www.sba.gov/blogs/small-business-tax-preparation-tips-stay-step-ahead-tax-season-today

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7720-small-business-taxes.html

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5919-4-tax-deductions-you-might-forget-about.html

Today’s interconnected society provides consumers with the ability to research and purchase goods with just a couple of mouse clicks. A customer in Florida can have a wheel of authentic Wisconsin cheddar cheese delivered to their doorstep within days. A man in Spain can purchase a genuine Indian-cut diamond for his finance who is studying abroad in South Africa.  Having no borders and working basically anonymously, the internet has become an open playground for counterfeiters and frauds.  The magnetic strip on the back of a traditional debit or credit card contains an unchanging strand of data which can be used over and over once it is obtained.  This makes the process simple and effective for hackers and identity thieves. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a practical way to prevent the information from being transferred without handcuffing the convenience of the card? Well there is.  It’s called Europay, Mastercard, and Visa technology, or EMV. The United States will attempt to fully transition to EMV technology by October 1, 2015.

What is EMV Technology?

EMV technology is designed to protect buyers from the hackers and identity thieves lingering in the darkness. Instead of a magnetic strip, which stores unchanging information that is consistent with every purchase, EMV uses a small, metal chip inserted inside the card. This chip produces a different code for every transaction, limiting the potential amount of funds a thief could obtain when stealing the cardholder’s information.

How Does it Work?

Instead of quickly swiping a card, consumers will perform a process calling “dipping.” The card is placed in a scanning machine that sends and receives data to the bank associated with the card. The dipping process is not as time-efficient as the traditional swipe, but the security benefits of having a unique code with every purchase will ultimately prove to be worth the wait. Developers are currently working on a process called near field communications, which would allow the customer to tap the card against a terminal to complete the transaction. Both of these methods may require either an entered PIN or signed receipt to verify the purchase.

What Does this Mean for My Business?

Certainly, a more secure EMV card means merchants will not have to pay as many charge-backs because there will be less fraud. In addition to this, the Payment Brands are working out the details of a program that will allow businesses to waive the PCI-DSS audit fee if a percentage of their transactions are made with an EMV-implemented system. When the transition to chip technology takes place, business that have not properly prepared for the change could potentially be held liable for fraudulent purchases when a counterfeited card is used on location. In a nutshell, completing the changeover to EMV processing will save you money on a number of different fronts.

How Can I Prepare My Business for EMV Technology Payment Processing?

Though it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the process, these 4 tips will help you with making the transition:

  1. Start learning and training your staff on the product. Though you may not be ready to make the change immediately, early instruction and education on the system and how it operates will make conversion much easier.
  2. Do not procrastinate.  Make your move soon. It is definitely beneficial to be on the pole position with the EMV transition. Don’t wait until customers begin grilling you as to why you haven’t changed. Get out ahead of this thing before the need to convert feels ominous.
  3. Create a plan. Consider cost, weigh your options, and continue research. Know what you are dealing with and how it could affect your expenses, revenues, and time management.
  4. Consult with your merchant process provider. These companies are at the forefront of the EMV wave and have access to the latest updates in technology, procedures, hardware, and procurement options. Maintain a clear line of communication with them and they will make your transition to EMV processing easier and more efficient.

The Future is Here

The United States is among the last of developed countries to convert to EMV processing technology. In today’s fast-paced business market, this is the ground floor of a major change and improvement in battling credit card fraud. While the transition may seem costly and tumultuous, it will prove to be safer, less expensive, and easy to manage in the long run. Learn the product, create a plan, and keep constant communication with your process provider to prepare for the conversion.

With summer just around the corner, the wedding industry is gearing up for their busiest time of year. Preparing for weddings, receptions, and expos takes a lot of resources and energy. Putting careful thought into your approach for these events will pay massive dividends in the end, especially if you can make lots of contacts and get your name out to prospective clients.  It’s a hectic time, but it can also be lucrative and exciting. As wedding season heats up, accelerate your own strategy with these three secrets that every wedding vendor needs to know.

#1 Don’t Head into Crunch Time without a Plan — Tell Your Employees What It Is

Heading into a wedding expo or reception without a game plan will get you nowhere. Whether it’s to check out the competition, get new leads, increase sales, introduce a new product, conduct market research, or simply strengthen your company’s image, prioritize a goal to help focus your efforts and make the most of an event.

Some vendors have a basic plan in mind but fail to articulate it to their employees.  Make sure all your employees are clued-in on your ideas. Take time to train them on how to meet your goals. You may want to come away from an expo with 100 new names for your mailing list, or hand out 20 business cards at each event. But your success will be hit and miss if your employees aren’t on the same page. An effective team is an informed team. Articulating goals to your employees helps narrow in on what you want to accomplish, and they may even provide you with some helpful input.

If you’re relatively new in the wedding space or just launching as a wedding vendor, events and expos can be a great way to gather information and check pricing against other vendors. But there can be so much going on — especially at expos — it’s easy to get distracted and forget the reason you’re there. Do not head into crunch time without a plan.

#2 Image is Everything — Especially to Potential Brides

So much about the wedding industry is based on image. Embrace this! Make sure you and your employees look the part and are well-mannered. Arrive to events early. Stand up and engage potential clients with enthusiasm when they come into your booth at an expo. Brides and grooms (and their families) are incredibly detail-oriented these days, and you should be too. Staff your events and expos with polished employees, and make sure to plan adequate breaks for everyone so they can maintain focus and keep energy high.

Some clients are interested in classic, traditional weddings, but it pays to stay informed about the latest wedding trends and new items being offered so your clients know you have your finger on the pulse of the wedding industry, and can trust you to help them make the best choices. Your clients are planning the event of a lifetime. Match their enthusiasm and show potential customers you care about their wedding as much as they do. Endurance is key. Hang in there until the very last guest leaves the event or the very last bride leaves the expo. Decisions are often made towards the very end of an event. Image is everything!

#3 Always be Prepared — To Get Paid

Take a cue from the Boy Scout motto and always be prepared. In the wedding industry, your next lead could come from anywhere. You might meet an engaged couple at an expo or catch the eye of a future bride at a wedding you’re catering. It’s crucial to be ready with promotional materials, contact information, and mobile methods for taking payment so you can take an order and close a deal wherever you are and, most importantly, wherever your potential clients are.

Using a mobile processor gives you the added benefit of being able to take (and encourage) tips from clients who aren’t carrying cash. This also provides the utmost convenience for parents and relatives — who often foot the bill for weddings — to discretely pay for goods and services. If you’re an independent contractor or wedding planner, you may not be working out of an actual storefront. You can project professionalism wherever you are if your smartphone or tablet is equipped to do business. It’s all about meeting clients on their terms, and in a way that makes them feel the most comfortable. Always be prepared!

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