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Key Questions to Ask of Merchant Services Firms When Comparing Providers

When it comes to accepting payments in business, it is important theseshopping-online days to provide customers with a variety of options, particularly the ability to pay with credit and debit cards, since these are the most popular choice of payment for consumers in most countries.

No matter the type of business you’re in, whether you’re taking payments online or in person, you want to select a payment processing provider which is not only economical, but which also ensures that every transaction is handled quickly and securely.

Happily, financial technology, or fintech, has made this possible. Fintech developments have changed the way we do business and now make it easier and cheaper than ever to find the perfect merchant services firm to accept payments on traditional eftpos machines, on mobile card readers, smartphones, tablets, and the like.

With so many different firms providing such services today though, it can be tricky trying to work out which one to sign up with. If you’d like to make sure you find the best company for your needs, read on for some key questions you should ask merchant services firms when you’re comparing providers.

What Is the Payment Structure?

The main question that you will want to ask a payment processing provider is what charges will be involved if you select them. Keep in mind that different firms have different ways of structuring their fees, so you need to carefully compare costs as a result.

As an example, while some companies charge a setup fee in order to create your merchant account or integrate their system with the one you use, others don’t. Similarly, some firms will want to lock you into a contract while others just have a pay-by-the-month arrangement.

Transaction Fees

When you’re taking a look at costs, you should examine the transaction fees which are charged.

  • Some firms use a flat-fee-per-transaction payment structure, whereby you will be charged a set percentage cost on each transaction that is processed.
  • Others have a minimum monthly fee that they charge for their service, then some additional costs per transaction on top.
  • On the other hand, other companies have a range of different payment plans on offer which you can choose from, with the per-transaction fee getting lower the more the sales volume grows.

Transaction Process Time

As you compare the various providers you have shortlisted, don’t forget to ask them about how long funds take to clear as well. While at first glance some firms may seem cheaper than others when you look at their transaction fees, when you factor in them holding onto funds for much longer than their competitors, this can quickly change the overall results. You will need to compare all the costs in order to figure out which choice is best for you.

Hidden Fees

It is important, too, to know if there are any potential “hidden” fees or extra charges that could be incurred which aren’t obvious straight away. Ask each provider if they will charge you for things like:

  • Withdrawal fees every time balances are transferred to your bank account
  • Extra costs for accepting particular types of payments such as American Express credit cards or PayPal transactions
  • Additional charges to gain access to customer support when required
  • Cancellation fees involved if you cancel a contract

What Security Do You Provide?

online-securitySecurity is another very important matter, particularly in this day and age when more and more hackers are finding ways to break into websites and get access to point-of-sale and other sensitive information. When you take transactions online or on smartphones and other equipment, you must ensure that your customers’ details are kept safe from prying eyes at all times. Choosing a security-conscious merchant services firm is a key element of this.

When comparing providers, look for those which have multiple security protocols in place to safeguard data. Secure firms typically:

  • Provide support for the top-level SSL certificates
  • Have complex data encryption on each and every transaction
  • Incorporate CVV2 verification
  • Protect the billing addresses of each customer
  • Place stringent restrictions on how information is sent and stored via the internet

What Is Your Customer Support Like?

While you always hope that you will never have any issues with the service provided by a payment processing firm, and that each transaction runs smoothly, this does not always happen. As such, it’s vital that you select a merchant services provider that has customer support available whenever you may need it.

The best firms in this regard will provide customer assistance 365 days of the year, 24 hours per day. They will also make it easy for you to contact the customer service team in multiple ways, such as via the phone, via email, and through online live support.


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