Selecting the right partner to process payments is key for any organization taking payments directly from consumers. While it might be tempting to choose the provider offering the lowest cost, it won’t guarantee getting the best value for money. The short-term gains from saving a little money can risk longer term business revenue and future clients. Here, Dave Yohe, VP of Marketing at BillingTree identifies the key questions to ask when selecting a payment partner.
Certifications & compliance – If they’re not sharing, they’re not caring
When it comes to payments, ensuring that data is secure and that there is a minimal risk of breaches is key. Checking the ratings and certifications of potential partners demonstrates their ability to keep data secure. If there’s no sign of a rating or certification it’s highly likely the provider you are looking at doesn’t have them, or at best, aren’t a very good standard. The ones you want to check for are PCI certification, SSAE, HIPPA and BBB rating.
Compliance requirements are becoming more demanding year by year with the influence of the CFPB. Requirements across industries aren’t always the same, so partnering with a payment processor with a Chief Compliance Officer overseeing a compliance and risk team can help put you mind at rest with the knowledge that they are committed to remaining compliant no matter what industry you operate in.
What to ask:
o Does the processor offer its clients compliant merchant services and payment technology to help them navigate regulatory change?
o Do they offer complimentary training and ongoing education to ensure your company is getting the most value from their service or products?
o How has the partner dealt with the increasingly demanding compliance requirements? Can the processor’s technology provide the full level of reporting legally required?
o Does the processor have experience and a vested interest in compliance challenges in your industry?
Reliability – If they go down so do you
Paying for things doesn’t tend to be something people enjoy, and it becomes even more frustrating if you go to hand over your money and you can’t. A reliable service ensures your customers can make payments – remember if the system is down, there’s no payments coming your way. If a partner has an in-house gateway or relationships with multiple payment gateways it gives them the control over system uptime and they aren’t reliant on a single 3rd party when issues occur and things need fixing.
Some banks have a better reputation than others. Knowing which banks the partner does and doesn’t have relationships with can give you a better understanding of how important and reliable their banking network is likely to be. A processor with a wide banking network means if one bank goes down you won’t be left unbanked.
What to ask:
o Does your payment partner have multiple options when it comes to payment technology to ensure your stability – and propose alternatives?
o How many sponsor banks does the partner use?
Fees – additional fees for additional services
You’ve signed a contract and everything appears to be going great, then the first month’s bill arrives and is the cost is greater than anticipated. Having a full break down of what services are included in the cost and any restrictions they impose on minimums can stop you getting hit somewhere down the line. It also allows you to work out if the rate is still good value once all the fees are added in.
What to ask:
o What exactly do the fees cover? (authorization fees, gateway fees, PCI compliance fees, return/refund fees, monthly minimums)
o Can the partner tailor your fees so the coverage meets the needs of your organization?
Technology – change won’t stop here
Having a full suite of payment offerings may not be something your business has a current need for, however businesses grow and evolve over time. Having a payment partner with the capabilities to meet your changing needs can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run if you later decide to integrate additional payment options for your customers, such as mobile payments or virtual negotiation.
It’s not just business needs that change. Customer preferences are changing as technology develops and consumers – especially millennials – become even more attached to their electronic and smart devices. Ensuring that your partner is invested in new technology is key for you to keep up with new trends. Continuous industry research can help payment partners benchmark trends, pain points and operations giving them valuable insights into payment preferences across different industries.
What to ask:
o How is the partner investing in future technology? As your business grows and develops, do they have the capabilities to meet your – and your customer’s - changing needs?
o Can the technology help manage your business? For example, developing reports that can answer KPI queries and customer payment history
o What have they done to actively push for positive change of industry oversight?
Safeguard your payments
A payment technology partner that is invested in your needs will help improve current client relationships while preparing you to accept new business. Great value comes when your payment partner is more than just an ISO with little control over what’s behind your business. Full service payment partners go above and beyond to ensure you get the processing, compliance, reliability and technology you need for success.
Dave Yohe is VP of BillingTree.