Entries tagged with “Merchants”.

Finding the right payment processor for your small business can be challenging. There are a lot of great options on the market, but not every option is a good fit for every type of small business. Here are some tips for how to begin the process of finding the right payment processor for your small business:

- Research the company’s history: You want to choose a payment processor provider who has a proven track record. Find out how long the provider has been in service and how many customers they currently have. Check with the Better Business Bureau for their evaluation. Ask other business owners for their opinions on providers. Getting a feel for which companies are proven to be good providers is a good way to start narrowing down your field of options. There’s no need to waste your time (or money) on a new provider or one who has proven to have a history of unhappy customers.

- Customer service and support: Once you’ve started narrowing your options, look at the providers’ customer service and support options. Do they have a toll free number that’s available 24/7, or are they only available during normal business hours? Can you call them on a weekend? What kind of training do they offer? Will they provide you with a hard copy of your billing transactions or just a digital copy? What is their client satisfaction rating? You want to make sure the provider will be there to help you and keep you and your customers satisfied long after you’ve signed on to an agreement with them.

- Fees: Now it’s time to talk money. Keep in mind that the least expensive option isn’t always the best option. Get a list of all the possible fees and associated rates for each provider you’re considering. Pay particular attention to any provider who has suspiciously lower rates than its competitors, as this often signals that there are hidden fees elsewhere in the contract. Remember that payment processing is never free. If a provider tells you it’s free, they’re hiding that payment somewhere else by building it in to another service term or fee.

- Timing: Knowing when deposits will be made into your account is crucial and can be the determining factor in which provider you choose. Usually the time between your transaction and the deposit into your account is around 72 hours. Some providers, however, can take up to 2 weeks to make deposits, which can be a big hit on your small business.

- Security: Another important factor for your small business is how the provider handles security and fraud. Is the provider PCI compliant? Are fraud detection services included in the pricing or is there an extra charge for this service? Know what the process is if, and when, fraud is detected and whether or not you’ll be charged if it happens.

Finding the right payment processor for your small business will take in a lot of factors. Start by narrowing down the field to legitimate providers who have a good reputation, then compare their fees and other features to determine which one is right for you and your business. For more information on how to choose the right payment processor, contact us.

Using a payment processor can be vital for your small business, but choosing the right one can be a challenge. Each payment processor is different, and each company has a different way of charging you. Keep these tips in mind in order to protect yourself from hidden fees from payment processors:

-Annual Fees: Annual fees are quite common among payment processors but many aren’t upfront about them.  Many payment processor companies hide the annual fee within their litany of paperwork, making it so you don’t know about it when you sign the agreement.  If your processor doesn’t make you aware of the annual fee in the beginning, make sure to read your agreement carefully so you understand the costs involved and aren’t surprised later on.

-Read user reviews: Particularly the negative ones. If you see patterns emerging among the reviewers, go on to the next option. Reviews are a place where users will vent their frustrations and try to steer other potential customers away from a product or company that has mistreated them. Hidden fees or extra costs that weren’t anticipated will be at the top of the list of frustrations.

-Ask around: Ask other business owners which payment processors they use and which ones they have heard of that include hidden fees or extra costs.

-Cancellation fees: Changing your mind about using a particular payment processor can end up being costly if the company has a cancellation policy that includes a hefty fine. Try to find a company that doesn’t have a cancellation fee. At the very least, be aware of exactly what you’ll pay if you choose to cancel, and get it in writing.

-Find out when fees are taken out: It’s not uncommon for payment processors to charge a fee whenever there is a transaction. Make sure to be aware of any additional charges or fees having to do with transferring of money to the appropriate accounts after transactions are completed.  It’s better to find out in the beginning rather than be unaware that you’re being additionally charged later on.

Contact us for more information about how you can protect yourself and your business from unnecessary payment processing fees.

Industry players within handmade marketplaces provide easy to use venues for crafting small businesses to get their products out to the world. As you grow your crafting business, you may get frustrated with the limitations put in place by these marketplaces. You get full control over your design, content, and presentation when you go it on your own with a website. When you market your site, you don’t have to worry about visitors checking out someone else’s store. There’s one barrier to entry that gives some crafters pause, however: payment processing.

Payment processing services handle transactions conducted through your website. It’s possible for you to handle your own payment processing, but the industry has strict regulations in place to protect customer credit card information and other data. You get several benefits when you choose a payment processor instead of cobbling together your own solution.

The major benefit is having user-friendly credit card processing available through your site. Many customers seek the convenience of using credit cards over other electronic payment methods, expanding your customer base. The security benefits are also significant, as payment processors do this as their sole business. They have security standards that meet industry regulations, high powered servers available, and support if you aren’t as technically minded as you wish you were. Finally, some payment processors replace the need for a point of sale system at craft shows. They offer a small card reader or payment processing app that works with your smartphone or tablet. Instead of shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for cumbersome equipment to take to a show, you get an unobtrusive option.

Contact us for any questions you have about payment processing services.

New Harris Poll released last week led some insights into consumer views on mobile payments.  Among the highlights of the poll is that more than 60% of respondents believe that smartphone payments will eventually replace cash and card payments.  This number is very high when compared with the number of respondents that have actually made (4%), or even witnessed (8%), a smartphone payment.  What’s more, far fewer respondents believe that this transition will occur within the next five years.  Contrast this with the media “Year of Mobile” pronouncements (that have occurred for the last two years, at least) and one would rightly ask where the disconnect is.  Media keeps saying mobile payments are imminent, while consumers seem to be hesitant.

One of the major variables for most consumers in using smartphone payments is the question of security.  According to the Harris Poll, “Among those who indicate being either not very or not at all interested in being able to make smartphone payments, security is a clear, if predictable, factor: half (51%) say they don’t want to store sensitive information on their phone, and four in ten (40%) don’t want to transmit sensitive information to a merchant’s device.” (Here is should be noted that there are mobile payment products that allow payments to be made without (1) storing payment data on the consumers phone or (2) transmitting sensitive data to the merchant’s device.)  Another significant portion weren’t interested in making smartphone payments simply because they did not own a smartphone.

So I put it to you, reader.  What do you think about smartphone payments?  Have you made one? Would you make one?  What factors or criteria are necessary for you to adopt this new technology?  Or are you just waiting for it to reach critical mass  so that it’s available in places that you frequent?

Recent reports indicate that small businesses tend to overlook the threat of a data security breach.  Controlscan, a company that specializes in assisting small and medium sized businesses with PCI compliance issues, recently completed a study in cooperation with Merchant Warehouse.  The findings indicate that close to 80% of the surveyed merchants felt that they had little to no risk of a breach.  What’s more, according to ControlScan’s CEO Joan Herbig, close to half of the merchants surveyed hadn’t even heard of the PCI DSS.  These findings indicate a serious lack of communication between ISOs and Acquirers and their small merchants.

Since 2006, all organizations that store, process, or transmit cardholder data have been required to comply with the data security requirements contained within the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.  In fact, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council has even created a microsite dedicated to educating small merchants on the PCI DSS and their obligations under that standard.  The ramifications of non-compliance are many and can be overwhelming even for large merchants.  Should a breach occur, the fines, fees, and penalties can quickly add up and in many cases have put companies out of business.

This post could easily take on an alarmist tone.  Some might say that it already has.  Regardless, though, small merchants must comply with the same set of standards to which large companies are beholden.  How can one do that with comparatively limited resources?  By trying to limit the places in the merchant system that store, process, and transmit cardholder data.  Using a solution that processes payment card transactions using point to point encryption (P2PE) and tokenization can serve two objectives – making the data more secure, and reducing the burden of complying with the PCI DSS.

If you are a small merchant and you haven’t heard about PCI DSS or aren’t sure what you should do, reach out to your ISO or Acquirer.  They can explain what the standard requires and how you can achieve compliance.