Total Merchants, Merchant Account Reviews, Credit Card Processing Companies

Total-Merchant-Services

October 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Total Merchant Services is a leading merchant account provider for small, medium and large businesses that accept credit card payments. Guaranteed to offer the lowest rates in the industry, Total Merchant Services is also well-known for offering dedicated point of contact merchant support, a variety of equipment options, cutting-edge technology and customer satisfaction.

Total Merchant Services offers a complete line of payment solutions that allows businesses to expand customers’ payment options, simplify business operations and increase revenue. Businesses can apply for a retail storefront merchant account, Internet page or wireless page without having to worry about hidden fees or costs. In addition, Total Merchant Services enable businesses to accept electronic checks, gift cards, wireless credit card processing and other payment options.

When it comes to in-house merchant support to its customers, Total Merchant Services offers help from dedicated merchant consultants 24 hours a day seven days a week. Dedicated merchant consultants can provide clients with a customized rate quote that is tailored to their specific business. Customers experience safe, reliable, fast and accurate transaction processing of major credit cards, electronic checks, gift cards and PIN-based debit cards.

Whether you need to open a new retail merchant account other payment solution, Total Merchant Services offer exceptional merchant services at affordable prices.

A New Approach to Growing Your Merchant Processing Business

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

In the past five years, the business climate for merchant processing has changed significantly. Profit margins are continuing to shrink and consolidation within the industry is at an all-time high. According to Mark Abbey, a partner with First Annapolis and a guest speaker at the recent Electronic Transaction Association’s Strategic Leadership conference, the top 10 acquirers have 40 percent more of the market share today than 10 years ago. Collin Rouse, a senior partner with GTCR, a major investor in the transaction processing industry, also stated at the conference that this growing trend in consolidation is no reason for small to medium-size entities involved in merchant processing to succumb to the large processors.

During the regeneration of the payment processing industry over the past 10 years, the small to medium-size companies are in fact thriving and producing a profit because they understand the need and are more equipped to deliver value added products and services to their customers. This same parallel exists today in banking. In today’s competitive landscape, banks must produce more volume in order to realize the same profit margins they experienced just two years ago. The good news is that, today, small to medium-size financial institutions have the opportunity to increase their profits and market share by delivering value-added products and services to their existing and potential customer-base. These value added products and services allow banks to equip their merchant customers with the tools they need to fuel growth and remain competitive, which in turn strengthens the bank’s relationship with the merchant customer and increases the opportunity for customer retention.

To grow their merchant account portfolio, banks must first stop concentrating solely on delivering merchant processing of Visa and MasterCard. Banks need to expand their merchant processing capabilities to include American Express, Discover, JCB, check services, and pre-paid products such as gift and stored-value cards. By offering many payment processing options on one terminal, PC software or Web product, banks are creating value for their merchant customers by offering them a full-suite of products and services from which to choose.

A key ingredient to ensuring that a bank’s suite of products and services is not only complete, but also first rate is to select a payment processing provider that understands price and value are not the same. Just as banks must understand the needs of their merchant customers, a payment processor must understand the market challenges and strong competition today’s financial institutions face and provide them with the products they need to retain their current customer base, increase business and elevate their bottom line. Not only should a bank’s payment processing partner offer the latest and greatest products and services, but they should also help the bank stay abreast of the newest technology and emerging trends in the payment processing industry. By doing so, this will allow the bank to keep their customers up-to-speed on expanded payment processing options, and provide the bank with additional opportunities to further their customer relationships.

Over the past few years, the types of payment processing products and services available have changed dramatically. For example, stored-value or pre-paid cards have evolved into a true payment form and are estimated to become a $347 billion business as soon as 2007. Visa estimates that the total number of transactions in 2003 that involved some type of pre-paid card totaled $2.1 trillion. Pre-paid card users cut across the spectrum. Government entities use them to disburse social security, veterans and child support benefits. Businesses use them for payroll, incentive/bonus plans, flexible spending accounts, insurance claims, workers’ compensation, promotions and rebates and customer service. Some companies also use pre-paid cards to cover such things as petty cash, relocation, private and government purchasing and various other corporate expenditures.

Consumers use pre-paid cards for things such as online shopping, travel, gifts and teen spending, as well as numerous other general purposes. Customers understand they provide convenience and security. Retailers offer pre-paid cards to gain customer loyalty and promote future sales. In 2003, 97 million Americans paid more than $43 billion for gift cards and two thirds of the users spent more than the card’s value upon redemption. These are just a few examples of the numerous opportunities that banks have readily available to expand their product and service offerings and add real value to merchant customers. As the industry continues to evolve and become even more competitive, banks must be open to new ideas and solutions that can help them stay ahead of the competition and enable them to increase their merchant account business profit margins and market share.

Merchant Bank Card Processing

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you have customers going to your competitor for services your customer doesn’t realize you provide?

With all the bank products and services necessary for today’s business customer, it may be a challenge to remember to offer everything a business needs on the first pass. This may leave your business customers vulnerable to a competitor’s call with an offer your bank should have made. Many businesses consider banking service as a relationship, a “One Stop Shop”. It is convenient for a business to transact all financial business in one place. Therefore, the financial institution that can meet all the banking needs of its customer is more likely to have a loyal customer that sticks around longer than a customer with just one or two products at the bank. Credit card processing, also known as Merchant Processing, is a financial product that your bank must offer to your customers to be competitive.

Merchant Processing is not only offered by your competitors in banking, but also by hordes of independent sales representatives not associated with a bank. A merchant account for your bank can strengthen the relationship with a business customer that results in increased deposits. The funds from the credit card sales will be deposited into your bank. Having that relationship means it is more difficult for a business to change their primary DDA to another financial institution – they will also have to change a merchant account. Offering merchant services to your customers in the beginning of the relationship will help keep your customers loyal to your bank. If a new business customer walks out of your bank without a merchant processing option, they will be a prime target for your competitor’s overtures. By offering a merchant account to the business, the bank will also win the primary deposit relationship.

It’s never too late to get your customers back! TransFirst, the endorsed Agent Bank Merchant Processor of the KBA, offers marketing programs to get that merchant relationship on the front end, and programs to go back to your existing business accounts that are not using your bank’s merchant services. Our successful and very popular Hidden Assets Discovery(TM) program is a marketing program that is easy to administer, proven, and will result in winning another piece of business from your current customers to strengthen your bank’s relationship. TransFirst provides merchant processing programs for over 750 community banks. TransFirst understands there is no “one-size fits all” program, and offers several programs to meet the needs of all sizes of community banks. Programs range from a hands-off referral program to a processing program for banks with experience and staff to manage the merchant program in- house.

Choose Electronic Merchant Account Vendor Wisely

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Setting up the ability to process electronic transactions is easier than you may think. Merchants can establish credit- and debit-card capabilities through any bank or credit union, or through private companies represented by larger financial institutions. Terminals can be purchased or leased, and the company helps with setup. Check verification and other electronic transaction processing fees vary depending on the business, the average sale prices and quantity of sales, and whether the card is taken in person, over the phone or the Internet, and other factors. Fees could become negotiable if there are changes in the sales criteria. The sales amounts collected are automatically deposited in the merchant’s account, less the fees. Other financial services companies bill themselves as one-size- fits-all merchant account providers who also handle e-commerce and Internet transactions.

Luana Yokom , Idaho senior account executive for Atlanta , Ga.- based RBS Lynk, said her firm is a single-source provider of electronic payment processing services including credit, debit, customer loyalty cards, checks and more. We process all forms of electronic payment transactions from merchant point-of-sale terminals, websites and ATM machines, she said, from small business to regional chain locations.

For small business, the configurations for getting set up to accept electronic payments are as varied as business itself, with different kinds of terminals (including the old-fashioned knuckle- buster manual slide machines) available. But this kind of service provider should handle everything from the point of sale to the cash settlement of the transaction. Harry Young, who owns Frame Works frame shops in Boise and Eagle, cautioned against choosing a merchant account vendor based solely on percentage fees. Some processors charge lots of hidden fees and, when you add them up, it comes to a higher percentage, he said, noting that the best way to shop is to consider the bottom-line charges.

You have to make sure these (providers) give you the money, said Young. If they make a lot of mistakes, you don’t come out ahead. It’s like getting a bad check. But competition among providers is stiff, according to Mark Hansen, who owns Blue Sky Bagels in downtown Boise with partner Scott Lung. We are dealing with our second merchant account and are always comparing prices, said Hansen. The process is quite easy and we usually get two or three solicitations from processing companies a month. Because of the variables in payment processing services, whether a business runs an online shop along with a brick-and-mortar presence, and the types of payments accepted, merchants should do their homework when selecting the service that meets both their customers’ demands and their budgets.

Merchant Bank Card Processing

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you have customers going to your competitor for services your customer doesn’t realize you provide?

With all the bank products and services necessary for today’s business customer, it may be a challenge to remember to offer everything a business needs on the first pass. This may leave your business customers vulnerable to a competitor’s call with an offer your bank should have made.
Many businesses consider banking service as a relationship, a “One Stop Shop”. It is convenient for a business to transact all financial business in one place. Therefore, the financial institution that can meet all the banking needs of its customer is more likely to have a loyal customer that sticks around longer than a customer with just one or two products at the bank.

Credit card processing, also known as Merchant Processing, is a financial product that your bank must offer to your customers to be competitive. Merchant Processing is not only offered by your competitors in banking, but also by hordes of independent sales representatives not associated with a bank.

A merchant account for your bank can strengthen the relationship with a business customer that results in increased deposits. The funds from the credit card sales will be deposited into your bank. Having that relationship means it is more difficult for a business to change their primary DDA to another financial institution – they will also have to change a merchant account.

Offering merchant services to your customers in the beginning of the relationship will help keep your customers loyal to your bank. If a new business customer walks out of your bank without a merchant processing option, they will be a prime target for your competitor’s overtures. By offering a merchant account to the business, the bank will also win the primary deposit relationship.

It’s never too late to get your customers back! TransFirst, the endorsed Agent Bank Merchant Processor of the KBA, offers marketing programs to get that merchant relationship on the front end, and programs to go back to your existing business accounts that are not using your bank’s merchant services. Our successful and very popular Hidden Assets Discovery(TM) program is a marketing program that is easy to administer, proven, and will result in winning another piece of business from your current customers to strengthen your bank’s relationship. TransFirst provides merchant processing programs for over 750 community banks. TransFirst understands there is no “one-size fits all” program, and offers several programs to meet the needs of all sizes of community banks. Programs range from a hands-off referral program to a processing program for banks with experience and staff to manage the merchant program in- house.

For more information on how your bank can join the KBA and become a member of the TransFirst family of over 750 financial institutions that enjoy success in growing their business customer relationships, contact Donna Burns, TransFirst Agent Bank Sales, 731.772.1425.

Retailer uses backdoor to beat credit processing fees

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Since Wal-Mart – one of the nation’s largest commercial powers applied for a banking charter, a brouhaha has been brewing over the implications of such an act.

Applying in Utah, which is just one of the five states that issues industrial banking charters, Wal-Mart aims to establish a bank to avoid fees associated with the processing of credit, debit and electronic checks transactions.
A Wal-Mart spokesperson to CNN/Money that a banking charter could ultimately save the company millions of dollars. Passing the savings onto customers through lower prices, Wal-Mart claims that it will operate a “back door” banking operation.

Although it plans a low-key approach to its financial endeavors, many fear that future intentions will change and Wal-Mart will become a physical, consumeroriented banking empire that could offer services in 20 states.

Charlotte Birch, spokesperson for the American Bankers Association, the largest banking trade association in the country that represents community, regional and money center banks, holding companies, savings associations, trust companies and savings banks, said the issue raises a number of concerns, but broadly speaking, many bankers fear that economic power will be concentrated by large companies.

“Commercial companies should not be allowed to own a bank. The law that currently separates bank and commerce should be maintained.”

Although the law currently separates bank and commerce, it has a back door. Commercial companies can receive an industrial loan charter ultimately allowing them to enter the banking industry.

Birch said there might be issues with commercial banks’ regulatory oversight and their ability to make biased or preferential credit decisions. She is advocating that legislators close the door.

“It is true. The current law allows this, so technically as it stands, there is no legal reason why the Wal-Mart application would not be approved; however, bankers have been concerned for a long time about banks that enter the banking world this way. The issue that needs to be addressed in the current law – not Wal-Mart’s application.”

In the past, other commercial entitles such as Target, have used the back door to gain access to the world of banking. Those who support Wal-Mart’s application say denying the application would be discrimination – especially since other commercial entities have been granted such opportunities.

Still, many oppose the Wal-Mart’s application. In a public statement, the Independent Community Bankers of America said that a WalMart Bank would -pose a serious threat to drive community banks out of business, Like they have done to local grocery stores, drug stores and hardware stores.

Although some community bankers may agree, Fred Hickman, president and CEO of North Penn Bank, Scranton, said that he is not that concerned about the possibility of Wal-Mart banking.

“There are so many different corporations that have their own bank now. What is the difference with Wal-Mart? We are competing against different financial entities – State Farm, Merrill Linch, credit unions. I don’t think it is going to directly affect us.”

His rationale surrounds the unique customer service that the bank offers. As a $100 million financial institution, North Penn Bank thrives on developing local relationships, and making financial decisions in a timely matter. Hickman feels that the Scranton bank is appealing for those customers who “are looking for a personal touch,” customers that may not be attracted by a Wal-Mart bank.

According to Hickman, what may be a larger concern for community banks is the competition with credit unionsespecially since credit unions are not subjected to federal income taxes like other lending institutions. In addition, credit unions have developed increasingly lax standards of who can utilize their institutions-broadening the clientele they can serve.

“It is difficult to compete,” stated Hickman. “I am not to worried about Wal-Mart, but there is not a level playing field when you took at credit unions.”

Although he doesn’t see Wal-Mart’s application as a threat, he does label it unfair, since Wal-Mart requested to be exempt from the Community Reinvestment Act.

“I don’t think they should be exempt. That is a pretty onerous compliance issue for banks, and it takes a lot of effort to make sure we service the credit needs of all of the community. I don’t understand why Wal-Mart would want to do this-especially since it has a reputation of coming into an area and undercutting the prices on the locals.”

In the past, Wal-Mart has made an attempt to obtain a charter, but was shot down. The newest application requires the approval of the FDIC and Utah state regulators. The ruling is expected early this year, but until then, the debate will continue.

“It still unclear of the fate of this effort,” stated Birch. “But it is definitely gaining a lot of attention and criticism.”

Merchant Processing Pointers

October 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This article submit by How To Accept Credit Cards Online.

The merchant processing world is tough to ignore if banks want to please their business customers. There’s also the potential for revenues: combined MasterCard and Visa annual transaction volume topped $1.5 trillion in 2004.

There are three types of merchant processors, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency-acquiring banks, agent banks with and without liability, and third-party organizations.
A bank that contracts with merchants for settlement of credit card transactions is an acquiring bank, according to the OCC. Agent banks contract with merchants on behalf of an acquiring bank. Agent banks that only refer banks to participate in an acquiring bank’s program are known as referral banks, which typically do not assume liability for merchant losses.

Community banks usually function as agent banks that do not directly offer merchant processing services to their customers. Third-party organizations include any company the acquiring bank contracts with to provide merchant processing services, according to the OCC.

“Merchant processing activities involve gathering sales information from the merchant, obtaining authorization for the transaction, collecting funds from the card-issuing bank, and reimbursing the merchant,” said the OCC in its December 2001 Merchant Processing: Comptroller’s Handbook.

Some vendors do acquiring and processing, such as First Data Corp., while others, such as Certegy, only do processing.

The merchant acquiring business is concentrated: the top eight merchant acquirers hold 94 percent of the market share in terms of volume, according to The Nilson Report. First Data Corp., including alliances with Chase Merchant Services and Paymentech, controls 50 percent of all MasterCard and Visa transactions.

Other vendors include InfiCorp Holdings, Nova Information Systems, Global Payments. Elan Financial Sen-ices, and Vital Processing. These all offer merchant acquiring services for community banks. Core processors are teaming up with payment vendors to offer banks one-stop shopping. Fiserv Inc. is working with Primax Payment Systems, a credit and debit card transaction processor.

Banks can keep costs down by doing more of the work in-house, with a vendor handling only the processing. Yet, this entails assuming liability and hiring the talent to manage it. Here, the bank has the responsibility to sell services and set up its own pricing scale. The bank retains loss liability for the merchant.

Generally, community banks are better off paying a higher price and shifting liability to a provider, vendors advised. Banks should also make sure their brand is used front and center by the merchant processor.

“Make sure you can align with a partner that can put your name in front of your clients,” said Jan Estep, executive vice president of Elan Financial Services.

When evaluating a merchant acquiring vendor, banks must also make sure they’re working with a secure provider.

“Exposure of cardholder information is a risk area at a merchant processor,” Estep said. “Banks need to partner with a vendor that is totally tied up relative to risk management, regulations and cardholder compliance. All those are things that might put your financial institution at risk,” Estep said.

From a security standpoint, banks need to make sure the merchant processor is properly certified for the MasterCard or Visa network they will use to clear transactions, said Patricia Hewitt, vice president of business development for Fiserv Credit Processing Services. Be sure to ask for standard audits to ensure the processor is financially stable.