So you know you need to be able to accept credit cards if you want your business to be a successful one and to do this you realize you will need a merchant account. You may even know that in order to get one you need to find yourself a decent merchant service provider (MSP). Maybe you’ve heard of a Merchant Service Provider or maybe you’ve only heard them called credit card processors, but you might be wondering what exactly does a merchant service provider do (and not do) and how do I find a decent one?
Today we’re going to go over the real services that your MSP should be providing you and also touch on a few things that just are not in the job description, so to speak. This will help you, as a merchant and business owner, know exactly what you should be getting as well as the additional services you will need to secure from outside sources.
What is a Merchant Service Provider?
‘Merchant Service Provider’ is the term given to the provider in the industry who is tasked with giving merchants access to the transaction network, through the merchant account they build the bridge between the purchase and the funding as well as provide the hardware and software products that support those transactions. So before we get into exactly what it is they do for merchants, let’s talk about the Merchant Account itself.
What exactly is a Merchant Account?
A lot of merchants think of their credit card processing as just another chore or task they have to do get to so they can open for business and begin selling. Many don’t realize a Merchant Account is something you have to apply for and be approved for. It’s not like calling up and setting up an internet connection. It’s important to think about your Merchant Account as a type of business bank account, subject to oversight and underwriting requirements.
Through your merchant account, you will be processing and settling credit card transactions that act a bit like taking out a daily short term loan. Your merchant account is where funds from the transactions processed are deposited before your processor transfers them to the business banking account of your choice. Which brings us to your MSP, or Merchant Service Provider, and what they do for you.
It is through your MSP, or processor, that you will gain access to the transaction network, your merchant account and the avenue by which funds are transferred from the card issuing banks to your business bank account. The first thing Bankcard Brokers will assist you with is your application for your merchant account including advising you as to the complete list of supporting documents for underwriting to help facilitate a quick approval.
Your MSP is not only your conduit to transaction processes but also your go-to guy for the software and hardware to facilitate those transactions.
They will thoroughly assess your individual business needs to determine exactly what type of tools you need for complete transaction success, even including supporting tools such as inventory management, accounting, and online reporting services.
Depending on the type of business you are running, there will be various hardware and/or software needs to complete the transaction process. Whether you just need a countertop terminal, multiple terminals or mobile terminals that’ll go anywhere, a Point of Sale System or virtual terminal/payment gateway for your Ecommerce business your MSP is there for you. Terminals require a software download installed with the proper account information before you are able to start processing transactions. A good MSP will make sure this is done before terminals are shipped or given to the merchant.
Bankcard Brokers even goes so far as supporting their merchants with products such as Merchant Cash Advances and Small Business Loans. These are products that are designed to provide merchants with more options for funding their business during growth or upgrades. A lot of merchants don’t realize these are services that an experienced Merchant Service Provider can help with and that are not forced to go the bank looking for a high interest loan.
There are some things your Merchant Service Provider does not provide!
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also touch on and clarify a couple of things the MSP is not responsible for.
At Bankcard Brokers we are always being asked to do things for our clients that we just can’t do. While we are known for our stellar customer service, there are just some things that are not in our wheelhouse! As a Merchant Service Provider, we do not do software installations. Depending on the type of developer that was used to create a merchant’s website, or existing POS systems installed, integrations could require a software developer. Your POS provider is tasked with POS system integration. We provide Ecommerce merchants with the credentials or license for the payment gateway to access the transaction network so they can begin accepting credit cards online through the shopping cart of their choice. While we do not choose the shopping cart for our merchants, we do however integrate with thousands of them.
Unfortunately, your MSP cannot do your PCI Compliance for you- PCI Data Security Standard (DDS) refers to the rules and regulations established to ensure that merchants are processing their customers’ payments with the utmost security. Bankcard Brokers takes security seriously. We make sure to always provide our clients with any new information regarding required security updates and notifications reminding our clients to complete their PCI Compliance to help keep them ahead of the game protecting their customers as well as their business.
The key to finding a great merchant service provider is through their customer service. You thought it was the pricing? The fact is that each and every payment processor has the same base cost! Of course, you want to make sure you are using a processor who is transparent about their fees and at Bankcard Brokers we believe that the only transparent and fair pricing model is Interchange Plus pricing.
But more important is the fact that we understand that you and your business are our valued customer. What sets an exemplary MSP apart from the others, besides how much they charge for their services is how much knowledge and experienced they have in the payments industry, the reliability of their network, and the level of customer service they provide. At Bankcard Brokers we pride ourselves on exemplary customer service and know that when a merchant has a problem with a transaction or even just a terminal all they want is to have someone who can make it right so they can get back to their business.
As a Merchant Service Provider, Bankcard Brokers is an integral part of creating a successful business model. Our main goal is to provide you a service that is intended to not only help you satisfy your customer’s needs, but also stay relevant in the marketplace and grow your business.