Credit Card Processing Blog

As a merchant, protecting your customer’s financial data should be a primary concern. If you become slack in this area, you risk compromising your customers’ safety and your reputation as a business. With mobile payments and credit cards becoming increasingly popular ways to pay for goods and services, criminals have come up with new and clever ways to commit fraud.

When it comes to handling your customers’ financial data, you can never be too safe. To protect your business and your customers’ well-being, here are a few things you can do to maximize financial security and reduce the likelihood of fraud.

  1. Carefully choose your employees.

Ensuring your customers’ financial data remains secure starts by making sure you have the right people on your team. While you might be tempted to hire anyone who seems qualified, it’s important that you dutifully screen potential employees before you hire them. Do a background check to make sure candidates don’t have a criminal history of fraud or other financial crimes. You want to be sure that your employees are trustworthy, so make sure you actually contact and speak to their previous employers and follow up with their references.

  1. Conduct proper training.

It doesn’t matter how trustworthy your employees are. If they’re not trained properly, your customers’ financial data is at risk. This not only means training your staff to properly execute financial transactions, but also ensuring that your computers are properly protected against potentially hazardous sites that include malware.

If necessary, create a policy that computers can only be used for business purposes or sites that are pre-approved (for example, stipulate that your employees can’t open attachments from your computers). Staying on top of these things and continually training your staff on new technologies as they emerge should help keep data secure and reduce the risk of fraud.

  1. Only use PCI-compliant software.

When it comes to handling your customers’ credit card information, only use PCI-compliant payment gateways that filter out fraudulent transactions using anti-fraud tools like AVS (Address Verification System). All of the software you use should be PCI-compliant and tested frequently to ensure customers’ financial data remains safe and secure. If you’re storing customers’ credit card information electronically, make sure that it’s properly encrypted. If their info is stored physically, make sure that it’s housed somewhere secure that isn’t easily accessible (for example, a locked filing cabinet or safe).

  1. Beef up your password requirements.

If your business involves an online component, ask customers to create a more complex password that involves multiple special characters. A weak password system puts your business at risk of fraud. If employees are required to use a password to access the system, make sure they change their password every 90 days to ensure security.

  1. Have a security breach plan in place.

Even if you’ve done everything necessary to secure your customer data, sometimes security breaches still happen. To make sure things are handled in a swift and secure manner, it helps to have an emergency plan in place for securing compromised systems. If something goes wrong, make sure your employees know exactly what to do and stay in constant touch with your customers. Remaining transparent and providing follow-up support to your customers will help ensure them that you’re committed to security.

Near Field Communication (NFC) otherwise known as “tap and pay,” is becoming an increasingly popular payment method — and for good reason. NFC allows customers to simply tap or wave their card over your terminal to make a payment. It’s also the technology behind mobile wallets, which allow users to make purchases directly from their smartphones.

Here are a few reasons why you should be excited about tap and pay.

  1. It’s ultra convenient.

No signatures. No pins. No messy receipts to deal with. If a customer is making a payment using their phone, they don’t even need to have their physical wallet because they can use their mobile one. What’s easier than paying with a tap of your smartphone screen? It’s simple and incredibly easy to use.

  1. Faster, easier transactions.

Unlike traditional payments that require a customer to swipe their card and enter a PIN number, with NFC, a customer can simply tap their card and pay, allowing you to service them quickly and reach the next customer faster. It doesn’t get much more convenient than this.

  1. Allows customers to go wallet-free.

Forgot your wallet? Left your credit card at home? As more customers adopt NFC fueled payment options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung pay, these pesky problems will no longer be an issue. Customers will simply be able to pay for goods and services using the mobile wallet on their smartphone.

  1. More secure.

The first time you heard about tap and go payments, you probably thought to yourself, “how could this possibly be secure?” However, the truth is that tap and pay is actually more secure than using a physical credit card for several reasons. In the unfortunate situation where a mobile device is lost or stolen, all credit card information is password protected. Additionally, NFC-enabled payment cards are designed to be more secure than the magnetic strip of a regular credit card. Unlike a physical card where anyone can pick it up and see your credit card information, with tap and go, merchants have no physical access to customers’ credit card information.

  1. It’s versatile.

NFC is very versatile and covers more than just payments. This technology can be used for booking tickets, reserving movie seats, redeeming rewards, coupons and so much more — and this is just the start when it comes to creating a seamless customer experience. NFC has also become popular in academia because it the high level of encryption allows institutions to use it as a security system, by accurately ID-ing students entering and exiting the premises. It’s also used in the workplaces for security purposes and to allow employees to share information amongst themselves.

  1. Awesome customer experience.

Companies that adopt cutting-edge technology are often viewed as progressive and forward thinking. In other words, having NFC gives you major cool points. Customers are always looking for the most hassle-free way to access goods and services, and tap and pay provides just that by allowing people to pay for services with the tap of the wrist. By providing an easy way to do business, you’ll not only retain current customers you’ll also attract new ones.

As a business owner, you may have heard the term Merchant Cash Advances (MCA) thrown around and wondered whether you should take advantage of them.

For starters, Merchant Cash Advances allow merchants to get an advance on their future revenues. Essentially, you’re selling a portion of your future sales in order to get an advance on capital.

These kinds of cash advances work differently from traditional bank loans. In order to qualify for one, a merchant has to accept credit card payments and/or have other income streams that regularly fund the business. After applying, the credit card processing company will then determine risks based on a merchant’s credit card revenue. If it looks like a merchant will easily be able to pay back the advance in a reasonable time, they get approved for the MCA. The advance amount will then be deposited into their bank account.

Merchant cash advances are designed for merchants that may not be able to easily get a traditional business loan. However, with convenience comes a cost. The interest rates on Merchant Cash Advances are typically higher than a traditional business loan. Because of this, it’s important to understand all of the pros and cons, and how they may affect your business before you say yes to an MCA.

  1. The approval process is relatively simple.

Unlike a traditional business loan which typically requires an extensive approval process, your application and approval for a Merchant Cash Advance are based solely on your credit card revenue. Usually, the application process is one or two pages that require crucial information such as your business tax ID and social security number (among other things). Because approval is based on revenue, you will need to provide past payment history including bank statements and credit card transactions.

If your business regularly processes a high number of credit card transactions but has bad credit, an MCA can allow you to access capital quickly in a pinch.

  1. You can get approved quickly.

Perhaps you have an emergency (for example, a key piece of equipment needs to be replaced) or you have the opportunity to take advantage of an offer that will upgrade your entire business (for example, a great deal on new fixtures). Since the approval process for an MCA is done online, you can access funds much faster. Often, the money will be in your account in a day or two.

  1. There’s no interest.

With an MCA, there’s no interest and the amount you owe never changes.

How a merchant pays back the loan depends on the factor rate (the number that sets the total amount the business owner has to pay back for the MCA) and the retrieval rate (the fixed percentage taken out of credit card sales to pay back the advance).

The factor rates generally range between 1.12 and 1.5. For example, if the factor rate is 1:3 and an owner gets an advance of $50,000, this means they’ll have to pay back $65,000 — and so on. Retrieval rates vary between 5% and 15%. So, if the retrieval rate is 10% and the merchant brings in $2000 in credit card sales every day, $200 of that will have to go into paying back the MCA.

  1. It’s expensive.

If you need an influx of cash in a pinch, an MCA may be your best bet. However, that kind of convenience comes with a hefty price. If you do your research, you’ll find that as long as you make your payments on time, it may be much more affordable to get a traditional business loan.

  1. MCA’s aren’t regulated.

MCA’s aren’t loans, therefore they’re not regulated by standard lending and usury laws. This is why lenders can charge the exorbitant fees that they do. The general lack of regulation on MCAs leaves business owners open to the risk of taking an MCA deal with a predatory lender. Before you say yes to an MCA, make sure that you carefully review the terms and the reputation of the provider.

At the end of the day, you need to carefully consider what business goals an MCA will help you accomplish. Will it allow you to invest in an area of your business that will create even more revenue (for example, the purchasing updated equipment) or is it simply to cover overdue bills? When accepting an MCA you want to make sure that the funds are going to help you grow your business and not just provide a band-aid solution to pre-existing problems.

Running a cash-only business simply isn’t realistic. If you’re going to grow your business, you need to be prepared to accept credit and debit cards. (According to a recent study by Intuit, 83% of small businesses that began accepting credit cards saw an increase in sales.) This means choosing a credit card processor.

First thing first: no matter which payment processing company you choose, there’s going to be fees attached — that’s unavoidable. It’s also not an easy task choosing the right credit card processing company. There’s a lot of information to sift through before you can make an educated decision. With that said, there are some essential features you need regardless of which provider you choose.

Here’s a couple of things that you should look for in a credit card processing company.

  1. Accepts all major credit cards.

There’s nothing worse than having to turn a customer away because you don’t accept their payment of choice. Instead, look for a credit card processing company that accepts all major credit and debit cards. Depending on what kind of business you run you may also want to look into a processing company that also can handle gift cards and electronic benefit transfers (EBT).

  1. Supports new payment technologies.

If your business favors tech-savvy customers, you’ll want a processing company with near-field communication (NFC) technology, so you can accept digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay. That way, your customers can easily make a purchase directly from their smartphone or tablet.

  1. Fraud protection.

As a merchant, you’ll want to protect yourself from fraud as much as possible. Always make sure that your credit card processing company offers solid fraud protection services.

  1. PCI compliance.

If you’re planning to accept credit cards, you’ll want to make sure that your processing company is PCI compliant. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard is an information security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card schemes. The PCI Standard is mandated by the card brands and administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. However, PCI compliance is not federally mandated and merchant account providers are not legally required to follow security standards set forth by the credit card industry (yikes!) Check to make sure they’re compliant before you choose a processor.

  1. The ability to process both online and offline payments.

Things change. While you may be a brick and mortar merchant right now, there’s always a chance that you’ll want to take your business online in the future (or vice versa). Look for a processor that can handle both in-person and online payments so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of switching providers when your business evolves.

  1. Helpful customer support.

While it may be tempting to go with the cheapest option possible, it’s worth paying a little extra for helpful customer service. Look for a processing company that includes 24/7 customer support. When you’re running a business, time is money. Having access to helpful and efficient customer service is worth its weight in gold.

It used to be that you’d walk into a small business and admire their iPad POS with a mix of admiration, curiosity, and awe. There’s something about an iPad POS that automatically signals “cool and forward thinking” — and dare I even say, “trendy.” However, iPads have now become an increasingly common POS choice  — especially for small businesses — because they offer advantages that a traditional POS doesn’t.

Here are a few reasons why an iPad POS might be the right choice for your business.

They’re affordable.

Unlike a traditional POS system which can cost a merchant upwards of $20,000, an iPad is much more affordable. You should be able to get set up for around $1000. If you’re a new business, this drastically reduces your startup costs. Also, iPads tend to be really durable and typically last for about 4-5 years. If you do need to replace an iPad, it will only set you back a couple of hundred dollars and you can easily pick one up through Apple or your local electronics store.

They’re flexible.

You’re not tied to one app. When you purchase an iPad for a POS, you’re buying into the entire Apple universe. If you’re not pleased with the POS app you’ve downloaded you can easily switch apps without impacting the flow of your business or your bottom line.

They provide an enhanced customer service experience.

Paying a restaurant bill. Purchasing spa services. Minimizing lineups. These are all customer service experiences that can be enhanced with an iPad POS. There’s nothing worse than having to wait to pay after you’ve had a great experience. Whether they’re on the shop floor, at their table or interacting with your business in another way, with an iPad POS you can provide your customers with the option to pay their bill on the go.

They have powerful integrated features that you can’t find anywhere else.

From inventory tracking and direct ordering for restaurants to shipping integrations, loyalty solutions (for example, the ability to integrate with Mailchimp to send customer emails) and more, an iPad POS offers powerful integrated features that are beneficial to both the merchant and the consumer.

They’re already familiar.

If you cringe at the thought of having to train your staff on how to use a POS, you might want to consider an iPad. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, people are already familiar with how an iPad works, making training very easy and straightforward.

They’re aesthetically pleasing.

When it comes to iPad POS, it’s hard not to mention cool points. For many merchants, the fact that they’re aesthetically pleasing is a huge selling point. Lloyd Swords, owner of the Harper and Madison coffee shop told ShopKeep (an iPad POS system), “The clientele we are going for has a sort of hipness to it and to see the iPad being used as a cash register will be a novel attraction for the café.” If you’re a business that prides itself on being cutting edge and forward thinking, an iPad POS is definitely going to send that message.