Because the world of merchant processing is continually evolving, thanks to trends like mobile point-of-sale systems, cryptocurrencies, and stricter regulations, it’s never been more important to shop around for a processing company that is innovative, secure, cost-effective, and has the features that your business needs.
That may appear overwhelming at first, but we’ve put together this handy checklist of payment processing needs. This will help your business get started hiring a processing company.
Before a hiring a processing company you should first examine the specific needs for your business since each processor offers a unique set of features and technologies. For instance, if you’re local business that doesn’t have an eCommerce site, then you wouldn’t require a processor that offers an online shopping cart or the ability to process international payments.
Here are some of the most important questions you should answer when considering the features of a processing company:
- Do you already have a merchant account? If not, then you’ll need to find a processor that comes bundled with a merchant account so that you can process payments, store account information, and offer gift cards to loyal customers.
- How quickly do you have access to cash? Some processors take days, even weeks if you’re handling international payments, which can slow down your cash flow. Remember, the sooner you settle a payment, the sooner you can use that to pay your expenses. So, look for a processor that offer rapid transfers funds to merchant’s bank account. Additionally, if you need a cash advance some processors, such as BluePay, offer cash advances, merchant lending, and merchant account lending that you can use to grow your business.
- Do you need to accept omni-channel payments? A traditional POS terminal works if you’re a brick and mortar location, like a restaurant. But, what if your retail business goes online or you travel off-site to trade shows? You’ll need a processor that allows you to process mobile payments and set-up a virtual terminal.
- How easy does the processor integrate with your existing software? The right processor can automate and sync incoming transactions with your current accounting, CRM, and any other software platforms that you use to run your business.
- Do you have repeat customers? If so, then you’ll require a processor that lets you securely store your customer’s payment information, as well as create different subscriptions for customers and being able to send them receipts via email.
- Can the processor handle multiple types of payments? Don’t limit yourself to just accepting credit or debit cards – especially if you’re online or mobile. Look for a processor that allows you to accept ACH, eCash, and even payments via a mobile wallet or social media platform. If you have global customers, does the processor handle cross-border payments?
Additional factors to consider when looking at payment processing services:
- Is there real-time reporting? Do you need to follow your business performance anytime, from anywhere? Do you want the power to export business reports in your preferred file formats? A processor with real-time reporting can help you make more timely business decisions and keep tabs on any fraudulent activity.
- Multiple users? Do you have other employees, associates, or contractors that require access to your customer list or transactions? Do you have someone else in charge of collecting payments for your business? If so, find a processor that supports multiple users.
- Is there dedicated support? Does the processor assist you with any issue, including chargebacks, risk monitoring, or troubleshooting if there’s a technical issue? If so, are they also available 365 days/year?
- What other services does the processor provide? Some processors can equipped with additional services like billing and tax preparation. If you’re a small business or on a tight budget, these services are a necessity if you want to streamline administrative tasks while saving you money.
- Are there any additional perks? Are there perks important to you, such as the processor donating a percentage of profits to a charity that’s important to you?
Another feature that processors should offer is the ability to securely process payments. Because this should be a top priority for businesses of all sizes, this deserve it’s own checklist. The best way to ensure that a processor is secure by verifying that they’re PCI compliant.
Here’s a checklist of the most important security features that the processing company should provide:
- Does the processor install and maintain a firewall?
- Processor regularly updates it’s anti-virus software?
- Does the process encrypt data when it’s transmitted online?
- Is data transmitted through a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection?
- Are there developed and maintained secure systems and applications?
- Is cardholder data access restricted to only those who need-to-know?
- Has a unique ID been assigned to each person that has computer access?
- Is physical access to cardholder restricted?
- Is access to network resources and cardholder data tracked and monitored?
- Are security systems and processes regularly checked?
- Is there a maintained and transparent security policy?
Ultimately, your final decision may come down to how much the processing company is going to charge you each time you process a payment.
- Does the processor charge you an application or cancellation fee?
- Is there an annual fee?
- How much are transaction fees?
- Are there any hidden fees, such as PCI fees, terminal fees, and payment gateway fees?
- Can you rent or have-to purchase the equipment or software needed to process payments?
- How much do they charge for situational fees, such as chargebacks?
- What is the pricing model? Is it Interchange Plus, Interchange Differential, Flat, Tiered and Billback/ERR?
- Do you have to sign a contract?
The Bottom Line
Don’t rush the process when you are hiring a processing company. You need to make sure that you find a processor that has the features that are tailor-fit for your business and that will grow with your business. You also need to make sure that it’s PCI compliant and fits within your budget.