Five Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Payment Processor
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By Kristen Gramigna, Chief Marketing Officer, BluePay Processing, LLC
How many days does it take for your business to collect money after a sale has been made? If you mail your invoices, it could be 30, 60, 90+ days before customers send checks. Then you have to bring the checks to the bank and wait for them to clear.
By accepting credit cards or eCheck/ACH payments, you can begin to collect immediately, reducing your DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) and increasing cash flow so that you can reinvest in your business.
Have you decided to accept credit card and eCheck/ACH payments, or are you considering a switch to a new payment gateway provider? Consider the benefits of an all-in-one payment processor that offers the following.
1. PCI Compliance
The best way to instill confidence in clients is to follow and comply with the strict standards and regulations of a quality management organization. By electing to accept payments, your business must adhere to and comply with the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), created and updated annually by the PCI Security Council.
The Council provides an actionable framework for developing a robust payment card data security process – including prevention, detection, and appropriate reaction to security incidents. At a minimum, all merchants are required to complete an annual SAQ (Self-Assessment Questionnaire) to determine if they are PCI DSS compliant.
A PCI-compliant processor has already taken the steps to employ the highest levels of data security to ensure that your confidential business information is secure. A reliable merchant account provider should offer to assist you in completing the SAQ to verify your compliance and guide you in taking the right steps to increase protection and improve business.
With the advancements in payment technology, having the freedom to pay anywhere, any time, on any device comes with consequences – including an increase in your responsibility to protect and secure your customers’ sensitive payment data, along with your confidential business information.
To shield against fraudulent activity, trusted payment processors use tokenization technology and P2PE (Point-to-Point Encryption). Tokenization is the process of substituting a customer’s PAN (Primary Account Number) with a “token” – information that is useless to a hacker.
You, as the merchant, will store the token in your system in place of the sensitive payment information. P2PE is a secure way to transmit data between two parties that helps protect the sensitive information obtained and sent on electronic transactions.
With P2PE, credit card data is encrypted from the moment the card is swiped, while the data is in transit, all the way to authorization; preventing a merchant’s system from ever seeing or touching the sensitive PAN data. Together, these two security measures drastically reduce your PCI compliance scope and costs.
3. eCheck (ACH) Payments
Similar to the paper check process, eCheck/ACH payments transmitting a customer’s bank routing number or checking account number electronically through the ACH system provides a more immediate transfer.
Businesses often use ACH payment processing to offer direct deposit options for employees; allow for direct payments on loans, rent, mortgage, or other bills; simplify business-to-business transactions, and even make e-commerce payments.
By saving time and cutting costs associated with traditional check payments, you can save money while improving customer service and increasing profits.
Whether you accept payments through one channel or many, having robust, detailed reporting in one centralized location is essential to your business.
Only a select group of payment processors allow you to track your transactions from inception to settlement because they are the payment gateway provider and processor all in one.
A payment gateway sends credit card transactions to the credit card payment networks for processing. Processors that offer reporting application programming interfaces (APIs) will allow you to see whatever information is passed through on any transaction and can be customized for your specific needs.
5. Integrated Payments
Do you use a specific accounting, ERP (enterprise resource planning), or CRM (customer relationship management) software system to manage your practice?
Payment processors may offer plugins or APIs to seamlessly integrate payment processing into your software. By processing from one single interface, you will save time and money, reduce double-data entry errors, and simplify the reconciliation process.
As you can see, there are several factors to consider when choosing a payment processor for a merchant account. Be sure to research each of the above items before entering into a relationship with a new processor or renewing the agreement with your current provider.
Doing your homework will ensure that you receive the lowest rates, the most secure, reliable system, and the integrated, robust reporting needed to keep your business on track and make your life easier.
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