Know Your Merchant Processor - Transparency is Key

Know Your Merchant Processor - Transparency is Key

When I was a boy, I remember my abuela telling me that I should enjoy and make the most of my life because when I got older, time would fly by, just like the pages in the flipbooks I used to play with. She was right because, believe it or not, it is March already! I guess it’s finally time to put away the Christmas lights and get serious about those New Year’s resolutions. It is also an excellent time to review your merchant processing setup to make sure you have the best system in place for your business. Knowing what your merchant processor offers (or does not offer, in some cases) is key to stress-free payment management.

Since I [hopefully] have your attention by now, I would like to remind you once again that as a merchant processor, we realize that many circumstances may cause you to require more than one processor to enable you to conduct business globally. Many gateways and processors tout a 99.9% uptime, but what happens if you fall into that 0.1%? As the adage goes, “Two is one, and one is none.” Truth be told, I frequently suggest establishing multiple processors and gateway providers so that you can implement a cascading billing option and build redundancies. So, whether you are looking to get your first merchant processing account or setting up cascading billing, here are a few suggestions to consider when researching your options.

Transparency is a keyword that is used a lot these days, no matter if you are talking about a social media platform or a politician’s policies. When it comes to choosing a processor, transparency is essential. It is vital that you know what bank(s) the processor uses. I am not going to mention any names. Still, this industry has seen numerous instances of institutions affiliates relied on being in dire straits because the bank they depended on suddenly became unavailable for one reason or another.

You also want to be clear on what services they provide and, just as importantly, how much assistance will they be providing after setting you up. Personally, I prefer everything under one roof, soup to nuts, with a single point of contact. There’s nothing more tedious than trying to explain your situation more than once every time you get a new customer service agent on the phone. Support is a huge factor to take into consideration when contracting any service provider. Will you end up needing to hire someone just to handle the integration of your website’s platform to that of your new merchant processor, or will the processor be available to answer your questions and help you later? Having the option to be as hands-on (or off!) as much as you want is invaluable.

One of the best-known facts about payment processors is that there is no shortage of us. Business owners, managers, and decision-makers are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a merchant services provider, which is what allows for secondary and even tertiary backup options. Without getting too technical (a.k.a. boring), there are only a handful of sponsor banks that allow adult content, and our options for the front and back-end processors are limited, which is why it’s essential to know the following: what system is requesting the authorization? What system is settling that authorization? Who is depositing your money? How long does it take? Who can I call after hours if I need support? Unfortunately for some, the only time these questions are brought up is when something is broken, and the business is left without a way to conduct sales. Still, it’s essential to know who’s doing what when designing and implementing your redundancies. It doesn’t matter if you sign up with three different merchant service providers if they’re all using the same front-end (for example) because if that front-end goes down and stays down for any amount of time, you’ll still be stuck without being able to conduct sales.

Another critical aspect to consider is security and privacy. It goes without saying that keeping your data safe providing tools to improve fraud detection and prevention to protect your business’s reputation and your bottom line are equally important to you, which makes it essential to us.

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