Choose Electronic Merchant Account Vendor Wisely

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.

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