If you run a business, you know how important it is to have a secure payment processing system. Even if you run a brick and mortar shop and do not do any business over the internet, almost none of your clients carry cash; most of your compensation will be received via credit card. In order to stay afloat, using a payment processing service that is reliable and secure is not optional. When looking for secure payment solutions, here are a few important factors to look for:
There is no greater buzzkill for a client who is trying to give you their good, spendable money than to be told your payment system is down. Even though it is not your fault that your payment system is unreliable, it is a reflection of your business. There is a good chance that your potential customer who gets turned away because you can’t accept their money will lose faith in the product or service you provide and will not return.
When scoping out a payment processing solution, it’s a good idea to investigate any complaints you find from other businesses about downtime. Sometimes technical issues are inevitable, but when you see a recurring theme with a provider, you should probably put them in the “no” pile.
- Customer Service
A majority of the income that flows through your business is going to come via a credit or debit card. It is inevitable that once or twice you’ll stumble upon a real conundrum that you need support with. When you are trying to straighten out a payment issue while your client is standing in front of you, you do not want to be stuck sending an email that you will get a response from in two to three business days. Before signing up for a payment processing service, make sure you have a direct line to a customer support representative. Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to ensure that customer support is available after-hours as well — technical issues don’t only occur during business hours.
- Cost structure
Every credit card processing service has its own system of charging fees. Some services charge a flat fee for each transaction you process, some services charge a percentage of the total payments you receive, and some services charge a monthly fee and a certain amount for each transaction. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer here; it mostly depends on the nature of your business. If you have a few, large transactions (perhaps you sell pianos), you might be best off with a payment service that charges a flat rate for each transaction. On the other hand, if you sell sticks of bubble gum, paying a few dollars every time you swipe a card would quickly put you in the red.
While we’re on the subject, it’s important to consider all of the fees involved while comparing payment processing services. Some services charge a rental fee for their card swiping equipment. Others charge additional fees if your transactions exceed a certain threshold. The only way to accurately calculate which service is the least expensive is to make sure you understand all of the charges you’ll be responsible for.
This is absolutely priority numero uno. Businesses much bigger than yours (think: Sony and Target) have been crippled by cyber attacks. There are federal standards for credit card security called “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards” (or “PCI” for short), however mind blowingly it is not a requirement for all independent credit card processing services to be PCI compliant. The real take-away here is, before you sign the dotted line, ask your credit card processing company how they handle cyber security, and look for the term “PCI compliant” in the answer you get.
You might not be a security expert, or understand all the ins and outs of cyber security, but if you know that your customers’ sensitive financial information is in the hands of a processing service who follows the federal guidelines for cyber security, you’ll know that you’re making a responsible choice.