What exactly is a merchant services account? It is basically a type of bank account which allows different business parties to accept payment via debit and credit cards. These payments take place in two phases: 1) Authorization 2) Settlement.
Authorization is two-way process where firstly; an order is placed by a buyer at the merchant’s store, the payment is sent to a payment processor and an issuing bank. The bank, in turn, verifies the credit card details and if the transaction is approved, they send authorization response to payment processor and authorization is stored on secure server for later processing by merchant! People, as buyer, get confirmation on their payment.
Settlement takes place on daily basis where merchant logs into his merchant account and checks order manager for all the sales for the day. If he does not see any sign of fraud, then he clicks on “Sales” button in the transaction panel which triggers the settlement process. “Sale” is stored in batch which gets submitted each night to payment processor who submits settlement request for their order to the bank/ credit card association on merchant’s behalf. The bank in turn sends the response to the settlement request back to payment processor. Once the request is accepted, their account gets debited with order’s amount. For some reasons, let us say, the settlement process is declined due to one or other reason then, settlement happens between the issuing bank and merchant’s bank.
This credit card processing services seems to be a quite lengthy process but, it happens overnight and people, as buyer, do not even realize that so much of processing was done to get one order done for them. Card merchant processing is the quickest way to manage their day today transactions and it has given new horizon to big business giants. If you have credit card processing, your business will flourish by leaps and bound because most people use credit cards these days.
Merchant Credit Card Processing Services
When it comes to merchant services whether it be online accounts or retail accounts, there are several issues you need to keep in mind when selecting a company that will run your credit card merchant services.
Transfer data security is your primary concern. PCI Security Standards Council has become the standard in the industry when it comes to processing, storing or transmitting payment cardholder data since 2006. All companies whether small or large need to be PCI compliant. PCI is responsible for managing the security standards while each individual payment brands are responsible for managing and enforcing compliance to these standards.
In selecting a merchant services account you must make sure the company will help your organization to get in compliance and stay in compliance, assisting with compliance validation requirements and deadlines as well as compliance reporting requirements. Your company of choice must be able to integrate new systems with PCI DSS securities with your existing business systems to effectively streamline your operations, yet allow you to grow without the worries of a major overhaul down the road. It is essential to work efficiently, yet cost-effectively, in today’s competitive marketplace.
With such varied and competitive marketplace, several payment options are an imperative offering to your customer. Likewise your merchant services provider should supply and support a large spectrum of brand terminals and devices for payment processing. Impeccable customer services and in-house professional technicians that will securely program and encrypt terminals for your specific needs and complex requirements are essential in a merchant services provider. Whether it’s turn-key or custom applications, they should keep you up to speed with secure and reliable products you can depend on merchant services account.
You need to focus on driving your business forward, not your paperwork. Offering payment options to you customer is the norm in this highly competitive marketplace. Your merchant services company should implement state of the art technology to facilitate simplicity through automation and safety of your transactions. Faster processing and fund access, online reporting and 24/7 professional technical support are a must if you want to focus on driving your business not your paperwork.
The Specialized Benefits of Credit Card Processing Services
When you signed up for a credit card processing service for your business, you might have thought the only benefit was being able to process credit card payments. Actually, there are a lot more benefits than that.
There’s no doubt that credit card processing is vital for today’s business. Customers do want to be able to charge their purchases. But there are also benefits for you, the business owner. Check and see if your credit card processing service is matching these offers:
Processing for all major payment processing brands
You can decide what you want to offer - from debit to credit cards to pre-paid cards and loyalty or gift cards. The more choices you offer, the easier it will be for your customers to accept your services or buy your products. And next time around, your customers will remember that dealing with your company was easily accomplished.
Real-time processing and fast authorizations
When you enter a credit card number, you want that transaction processed quickly - in real time. With real time processing, the input and output of information is continual. If information is not processed in real time, it is processed in batches - called batch processing. In this case, transactions are collected and held over a period of time and then the transactions are processed. What you do not want is to have your payments “held over a period of time.” You want your money in “real time.”
Full-time customer support
If anything should happen to your equipment and your credit card terminal goes down, you need to know there is someone to call. You need to know that you have 24/7 customer service support that can get you back online. After all, the sooner you are back online, the sooner you are back in business.
Lifetime equipment warranty
If a terminal malfunctions, you need that machine fixed or replaced ASAP. You need a new machine shipped to you overnight.
Next-day access to funds
When you make a transaction, you most likely want your funds as soon as possible. In some cases - mostly with smaller businesses - you may have to wait weeks for transactions to clear and find the money in your account. No one wants to wait for money that is legally theirs. You won’t have to do that with next-day access to funds. This service sometimes requires an upgrade to your account, but it is worth it. You will find your funds in your account as soon as the next morning.
PCI compliant equipment
Not only is it good business to keep your customers’ credit card information secure, you are legally required to do so. Before you sign on with credit processing company, make sure the equipment being provided is PCI compliant. Doing business with the right credit card processing service helps to ensure you will be PCI compliant.
PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, which sets the standards established by the PCI Security Standards Council, a group founded by credit giants American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa, Inc. As of July 2010, all new merchants must utilize a PCI compliant terminal.
Credit card machines that are PCI compliant meet certain standards that help to ensure customers are protected. For example, credit card machines cannot retain credit card information. (Note: American National Standards Institute and Visa/Mastercard bank associations allow older, non-compliant credit card machines to continue operating until the merchants decide to upgrade or the terminal simply fails due to age.)
Another benefit of credit card processing is the free supplies you can receive, such as space-saving countertop terminals, virtual terminals, wireless terminals, PIN pads and check readers. If one of these machines stops operating, you qualify for free replacement terminals. And to support the equipment, you can receive quarterly free shipping, paper rolls for terminals, sales slips, ribbon cartridges and more.
Because credit card processing companies conduct business with other major firms, they often team up. The result is you can qualify for discounts from today’s business leaders, such as Best Buy, UPS, Sprint, OfficeMax and T-Mobile.
You can receive detailed information on your transactions, via a secure online portal. These reports allow you to look at your business activity over the last 24 hours. You can schedule customized reports to be delivered upon your request. Similarly, you can view statements and billing and deposit information for all card types and transactions.
Making the decision to accept merchant service credit cards can open the doors to entirely new lines of business. It may bring you customers you couldn’t envision, and it may benefit you in ways you have never considered. You need to explore the different services offered by credit card processing firms. Find one that’s right for your business today.
Feature Image Source: Thinkstock/Davizro