Merchant Services: What Your Business Needs To Know

When a business owner hears the term “merchant services” they typically think of a generalized idea involved processing credit and debit card transactions. While not entirely wrong, it simply misses the entirety of what merchant services are as well as how they can hep a business grow and prosper. Any business that accepts credit and … Continue reading “Merchant Services: What Your Business Needs To Know”

When a business owner hears the term “merchant services” they typically think of a generalized idea involved processing credit and debit card transactions. While not entirely wrong, it simply misses the entirety of what merchant services are as well as how they can hep a business grow and prosper.

Any business that accepts credit and debit card payments will need to use merchant services. This is especially so if they want to expand into other payment processing areas such as online or mobile. To do this, a merchant will need to utilize a credible merchant services provider to utilize new technologies and realize new revenue opportunities.

However, it’s important for a merchant services provider to know that each business is unique. For example, an eCommerce-based business may have different needs than a body shop. Even though security may be of paramount importance for each establishment, the eCommerce business will have higher security measures versus the body shop. In addition, the body shop will more than likely need a physical payment processor to process payments in person whereas the eCommerce business will simply need a virtual-based one.

So how does payment processing work? It begins with a merchant establishing a merchant services account with a provider. Once this is done then payments can start to be accepted.

When a merchant swipes a debit card, the payment processor simply acts as the traffic cop between the customer, merchant, credit card networks, and banks. The swiped card through the payment processor sends a message to the bank asking to either accept or decline this transaction. It does this by checking the account of the cardholder to determine if their is enough funds to cover the transaction. If so, the bank sends an authorization code to the processor who then passes it along to the merchant to process the payment and print out a receipt gathering the customer’s signature (if needed).

However, if the transaction is denied then the processor is notified who then lets the merchant know who informs the customer. The merchant can then ask the customer for another form of payment to complete the transaction.

At the end of the business day, the merchant will send all the authorization codes they’ve received on that day to the processor. The processor will then send them all in one batch to the appropriate banks for settlement. This process is called batching or batch settlement.

However, because a merchant is dealing with sensitive financial information, it is important to have security protocols in place to prevent fraud. In the merchant services industry, their is a specific protocol called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or PCI for short. Everyone from the merchant to processors to banks have to adhere to these security protocols in order to minimize and prevent fraud when possible. This helps protect everyone involved should a breach of data or fraud occur. Should a merchant not be compliant and a breach occurs then they could face fines and penalties. In addition, they could lose their merchant services account which will have immediate impact on their revenues due to the inability to process credit and debit card payments. As well, they could gain a bad reputation with their customers causing them to lose even more business.

If your business is ready to select a merchant services provider, then where do you begin? A merchant can usually turn to the Internet to do a very simple online search using sites like Google. This will usually tell a merchant of the type and quality of companies that offer merchant services. Visit their websites and even read reviews from sites like the Better Business Bureau to find the best service providers. In addition, a merchant can ask other businesses who they use and recommend as a merchant services provider. Other businesses will usually have quite a bit to say about a merchant services provider whether it comes from a great partnership or awful experiences. In addition, feel free to reach out to the merchant services companies and speak to a rep to learn more about their levels of products and services. Since this is a technology-based industry, it’s important for your service provider to be on the leading edge so you have access to the latest technologies you can use to decrease your costs while increasing profits.

Service doesn’t simply end once the contract is signed and you have your payment processing terminals. It’s important to know the level and kind of customer service given once you sign up with a merchant services provider. Should a need or an emergency arise, you will need to how and when a merchant services provider will address your concerns.

It’s important that you know what rates and fees will be applied to your merchant services account. For example, some merchant services providers may tout the benefits of a free terminal which may sound good to a prospective merchant. However, many times their are higher than usual rates and fees associated with these “free” terminals so beware when you hear this.

In conclusion, these services may seem like something businesses might not need to know that much about. However, a properly educated merchant can use merchant services to help them reduce their business operating costs while increasing profits.

Steve Odom is CEO of Datalink Bankcard Services which is a payment processing company. Established in 1989, Datalink Bankcard Services provides processing services and a wide range of other products. To learn more, please visit


6 Direct Questions for Selecting Merchant Services

Payment processing is a crucial requirement for almost all small businesses. To find the best deal on your merchant account, you need to understand how these services can affect your profit. Given below are six direct questions that can help you make a well informed decision while selecting a merchant service provider. Have a look!

Q1. What are merchant account services?
Merchant services enable businesses to effectively handle payment processing. A merchant account is required to handle transactions with your customer’s bank to help direct payments into your bank account.

Q2. Who provides merchant services?
Merchant services are offered by specialized companies, referred to as merchant account providers. There are various financial institutions, independent sales organizations and local banks that offer payment processing services. There are some companies that handle a variety of payment processing requirements, while others specialize into a specific type of business.

A good example of a generalist is Merchant Services Direct, a Spokane-based company that offers payment processing services including credit card processing, debit card processing, check services, cash advance, ATM services etc. Likewise, you will find several other merchant account companies that will specialize in only credit/ debit card processing.

Q3. Which type of company suits your business best?
Which type of merchant services company will suit you best depends on the nature and size of your business. If you have a home-based business, merchant companies and independent sales organizations will serve the purpose. Banks may turn down services to a home-based business. Many businesses would like to hire the services of a local bank while others may like to go with a credit card processor that offers affordable rates. Select a direct merchant services provider that matches your business requirements.

Q4. Do I really need to accept credit cards?
Yes! Credit card processors will charge a small percentage of each of the payments that you receive. Having a merchant account in today’s economy is a no brainer. It adds professionalism to your business and statistics show that accepting credit and debit cards increase your businesses income. The small fee you pay to accept electronic payments will be worth the additional business and convenience you offer to your customers.

Q5. What do I need to for online payment processing?
A website, shopping cart and a merchant service company that can directly link your shopping cart to their secure payment gateway. This sounds confusing but as long as you work with a good merchant service provider they can easily guide you through this process headache free.

Q6. Should I look for a local company or does it really matter?
In short YES! With merchant services being a competitive industry there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a good deal along with local service. Most business owners feel more comfortable doing business face to face and there is definitely something to be said about having a local office to go to with any issues or needs.

Google Search Tip: Once you have narrowed down the list of merchant companies to choose from, you can conduct online research to read the company’s profile on other sites, aside from visiting the company’s own website. This helps you find out about the online reputation of a company. Search term examples include “merchant services direct” or “merchant services direct, spokane”. Adding location (Spokane) to the company name (Merchant Services Direct) filters your search results. Other useful search term examples may include “merchant services direct review” and “merchant services direct profile”.

Headquartered in Spokane, Washington, Merchant Services Direct [] is a leading full service payment processing company. Regardless of the type and size of businesses, the merchant account company caters to a wide variety of clients. Whether it’s about financial payment processing or customer support, the service provider is continuously setting new standards for the merchant industry to follow.


Exploring the World of Merchant Services – The Boon for Start Ups

How you handle your business finances as a merchant greatly determines the success of your business. Whether you own a small, newly established business enterprise or you’ve been heading a large corporation for years now, finance is the fuel that keeps your business running.

So, how do you manage your finances? Have you hired a merchant service company or do you handle your finances independently? Did you know that your business could greatly benefit with assistance from a merchant processing provider, especially if you’re a start up?

Let’s explore how beneficial this is to your business enterprise.

What are Merchant Services?

The term ‘merchant services’ is used widely in the United States to refer to a broad category of financial services used by businesses, both big and small. It specifically refer to credit card processing and the handling of electronic payment transactions for merchants. They enable businesses to accept payments through secure channels with the use of the customer’s debit, credit or gift card. It also enables merchants to accept payments via mobile and online banking transactions.

A Provider is an individual or a company that provides services to oversee the monetary transactions of a merchant’s business

What Does A Merchant Service Provider’s Work Encompass?

• Credit, debit and gift card payment processing
• Obtain sales information from the merchant
• Obtain authorization for financial transactions
• Collect funds from the financial institution or bank which issued the card to the customer
• Ensure that the merchant receives the payment
• Provide check conversions and check drafting services
• Oversee payment gateways and point of sale systems
• Process online and mobile transactions
• Assist with merchant cash advances

To obtain access to any of the above services, a merchant account needs to be established with a bank. A merchant account is simply a bank account which enables a merchant to accept payments made by the client’s credit, debit or gift card or any other mode of electronic payment.

How Can a Merchant Service Provider Benefit Your Business?

When you are a start up business enterprise, you will need all the help you can get. Acquiring help from experienced hands is especially beneficial to your business. A service provider with years of experience in the industry can help you manage the financial transactions of your business.

Suppose you’re selling a product and / or service to a potential customer and you have convinced him to make a purchase. He’s ready to pay, but he suddenly realizes he’s not carrying enough cash. He reaches out his credit card to you; however, you do not have a merchant account or a credit card processing machine to accept the customer’s payment. Unfortunately, you lose out on a sale.

In the above scenario, if you had the power of a merchant account, you would have benefited.

Additionally, your business will not have to face problems which come with customers’ bad checks when you have a service provider looking after the financial transactions of your business. Eventually, your business will succeed with an increase in sales through electronic modes.

Establishing a merchant account and hiring a merchant service provider or merchant processing services is beneficial to your business because you won’t lose out on the many customers who do not carry cash around.


The Lowdown on Small Business Merchant Services Applications

Small business merchant services are both similar to and different from the usual merchant service. They are similar because they both allow a merchant to process credit card payments. However, they are also different because the merchants in these two are classified differently, even if they happen to be involved in the same industry, for instance. In a nutshell, processors see small businesses as risks. And when a financial institution deals with risks, they use different, more stringent standards.

Application for this type of service is also more or less the same. It is similar to the regular merchant service in concept, but different due to how processors see small business owners. A smaller business has more to prove in terms of their operation’s financial viability.

Therefore, the owner of the small business needs to consider that the processor is assessing the operation’s capacity to make money when applying for small business merchant services.

First, the business needs to prepare the necessary papers and statements. This, of course, includes the application form as well as the application’s valid ID (such as a valid driver’s license).

Bank and financial details for merchant service applications are not very stringent. However, in small business merchant services applications, it helps to be thorough. It would help immensely if you can provide the bank statements of your business (for the last three or so months, consecutively), the business’ federal tax returns for the past two years and the business’ balance sheets and income statements. Normally, applications would only require the business income statements and at least a year’s worth of tax returns.

Also, personal bank statement would also be helpful as well for small business owners. In a regular application, the processor will not consider the personal finances of the application. But since the processor needs proof that the applicant is financially sound (in case the credit card processing service encounters an enormous amount of chargeback fees), this is a good back-up.

Lastly, a thorough and detailed description of the business and its services and goods is essential not only for small business merchant services applications. However, it is in the interest of the applicant to make sure that the business looks financially sound and extremely profitable.

Send In Statements [] provides an opportunity for business owners to become their own credit card processing Agent and earn a commission on their own account – and every account they refer. The Agent opportunity is also open to anyone in the USA who would like to earn a monthly residual income. To learn more, go to: [].