Credit Card Processing in a Power Outage – Disaster Planning

Power outages have begun as a result of Blizzard Juno. While merchants and consumers should be home at this time, when the snow is done and people emerge to shop again, how will businesses manage accepting credit cards? The critical issues are power, telephone and internet access. Small to medium, and local retail businesses may especially lack the proper preparation.

“Sometimes a disaster is not the physical environment, but POS systems themselves,” according to Christine Speedy, a payments professional based in Florida. “A couple months ago, a client called because their 3rd party POS system went down and they were told it would be four hours before someone could bring a part to them. Luckily they had a plan B, which was to use our CenPOS mobile app with swiper that I’d recommended for hurricane season.

Backup internet access is critical:  Having multiple internet access methods is optimal so if one is down, there’s another option. For example, phone service may be down, but high speed cable internet up, or vice versa. It’s rare that phone, wireless phone and cable internet are all down at the same time.

Backup power:  How will you power devices, computers, lighting? A separate battery backup for computers can Power to recharge devices as well as power the store lights etc

Separate Point of Sale System (POS) from payments. If you can’t power your POS system, at least make sure you can accept credit card payments. Here’s some options to accept payments in a critical outage:

  • Call to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone key enter transactions into a virtual terminal. Have duplicate receipts ready for signature, and enter authorization code instead of imprinting card numbers.
  • Swipe on a mobile device
  • Call to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone send an einvoice to click and pay.
  • Text amount due and cell phone number of buyer to a location in an unaffected area, and have someone send an einvoice to click and pay.
  • Have an online pay page ready that you can refer customers to.

There’s lots of ways to be prepared, from keeping P2P encrypted card readers on hand to holding drills during slow times to test systems and readiness.

Paper backup plan: A backup plan in a computer is not very helpful if no one can turn the computer on to see the plan. Store the backup plan in notebooks in multiple locations, including off site.

Need a mobile reader as a backup? Ask about our P2P readers to ensure they’re safe and secure until you need them.

3D Merchant Services Powered by CenPOS
2633 NE 26th Ave Metro South FloridaFL33064 USA 
 • 954-942-0483

Video: Interchange rates impacted by people & payment gateway

Merchant payment gateway choice impacts merchant fees. Managing credit card interchange rate qualification is critical to profits.

Transcript: Rising merchant fees impacting profits? Meet Joe, a CFO. The problem is rate qualifications. The system is too complex.

interchange rules

It’s impossible follow the rules without an automated system.

Employees can influence costs.

interchange rate qualification

The same transaction can process at different rates, depending on which rules you follow.

Until now. Introducing 3D Merchant Services. Cloud payment solutions that work with YOUR financial partners. Here’s how the payment gateway works. Patented solution determines the best way to process. You pay less. Users are required to follow rules. Competitors say it can’t be done. The proof is measureable. It’s quick and easy to use.  Efficient, secure, processor neutral, Level III processing, YES.

Call 3D Merchant Services 954-942-0483 for a demo and free trial.

Author: Christine Speedy. “Managing interchange rate qualification is virtually impossible without a technology solution.  The right payment gateway selection is critical to merchant success and managing fees with any merchant account.”

Expanded information about this subject: Problems with other payment gateways:

Retail swipe

Bob swipes the card on Virtual Terminal A, enters the amount and submits. ALERT: enter sales tax. (type in or enter to skip). If the extra info is entered, the transaction qualifies for Commercial Data Rate II 2.10%, if skipped, it’s 2.65%. (Most virtual terminals CANNOT support level III on swiped transactions.)

Bob swipes the card on Virtual Terminal B, enters the amount and submits. ALERT: Submit level 3 data. (This data has been prefilled with the transaction information and additional data stored in a template.) One click later and the transaction qualifies for Commercial Data Rate III or Large Ticket if a qualified large sale amount.

Moto (mail order / telephone order

Bob key enters a transaction on Virtual Terminal A and submits. After the sale is completed, an ALERT appears. You can lower your rate if you complete the next two steps. Do you think Bob ever skips the next steps because he’s busy or interrupted? You bet.

Bob swipes the card on Virtual Terminal B, enters the amount and submits. ALERT: Submit level 3 data. One click later and the transaction qualifies for Commercial Data Rate III or Large Ticket if a qualified large sale amount.

These are some simple examples. But there are many more complex rules for all sorts of different card types and transaction types. Most virtual terminals have no intelligence to help merchants with interchange rate qualification. Merchant account payment processor reports have also improved with reports for ‘non-qualified’ transactions. They’re not entirely accurate. For example, commercial data rate II is a qualified rate. However, commercial data rate III is better. Will any report tell you if there were transactions that could have processed at an even lower rate? While several of the big ones have improved, they’re still a long way from automating interchange optimization.

If you want peace of mind, instead of pouring over reports, an automated solution for interchange management is critical.

Video: PCI Compliant credit card authorization forms

Token billing solves the problem of storing credit card data for recurring billing customers, but that doesn’t fix the merchant problem of replacing credit card authorization forms.

Video Transcript: Meet Mary.  She manages accounts receivable. The problem is credit card security. Customer approval is needed for accounts on file. Image credit card authorization form. But there’s no secure way to store the authorization without also storing the credit card number and security code.

Until now. Introducing 3D Merchant Services. Cloud payment solutions that work with YOUR financial partners. Here’s how it works. Create a token. Image iphone, computer with virtual terminal screen, batch upload, point of sale, and integrated solutions. Anywhere.  Or have customers create and manage their own. Electronic bill presentment and payment, ecommerce, online payments. And then, for every token created, a prefilled form is automatically created! PCI DSS compliant.

Charge cards in seconds. Rocket blasting. ACH? Ditto. Efficient, secure, processor neutral, Level III processing, YES.

Call 3D Merchant Services 954-942-0483 for a demo and free trial.

Author: Christine Speedy. “PCI compliance is virtually impossible without a technology solution.  The right payment gateway selection is critical to merchant success and reduced PCI burden.”

 

Stone, Marble, automotive Dealer Design of the Future: Impact of Mobile Apps

Design tips for commercial architects and interior planning designers. Mobile applications and other technology applications can impact floor planning. We’ve seen an explosion of automotive dealership renovation or outright new builds. Whether now or later, where and how customers pay their bill is changing. The same applies to large scale facilities like stone, marble, lumber, and other stores that cater to designers.

Trends and Planning Implications for Service Advisors Accepting Payments.

There is an explosion of service advisors accepting payments, in part due to cloud payment options. Some of the designs I’ve seen are not conducive to best practices for payment card industry data security standards (PCI Compliance), or are just not customer friendly. The main types of payment acceptance are:

  • Credit card magnetic stripe reader wedge that attaches to computer screen. Spotted at a newly renovated dealership in Fredericksburg MD- a high top counter that obscures the desk and computers of service advisors. While creating If the computer screen sits below a high top counter, the card will be out of site of the consumer. This presents significant risk to the merchant as the cashier or advisor could quickly photograph the card with a smart device, or swipe it on a secondary device.
  • Signature Capture Terminal. Consider that the consumer must see the terminal screen in order to see messages and sign their name. Unlike grocery stores, most dealers do not mount the terminal onto a permanent bracket which includes a swivel to change the angle of view.  Given that the terminal will be placed on the desktop, 36 inches to 42 inches from floor is a comfortable range to accommodate viewing. Those hightop 50 inch circular customer service desks are too high for customers to see the and sign on the terminal.

Prestashop Simplify Commerce by MasterCard Review

I got an email from Prestashop today with a ‘Staff Pick’ for Simplify Commerce by MasterCard. simplified by mastercard commerceFirst, users of Prestashop probably already know their business model is to give away a little, and then make money with add-on premium services. Prestashop is getting paid for the Simplify Commerce by MasterCard partnership, just like they do for other recommended modules. There’s nothing wrong with that, but merchants should be aware.

With Prestashop 1.6x. installation of modules is a breeze.

Technical requirements:

  • PHP cURL extension must be enabled on your server
  • USD only
  • Server must be PHP 5.3 or greater
  • Set your Simplify Commerce API keys

Users can easily switch from test to live mode. simplify commerce api test mode

 

Capabilities: Outside of the Prestashop plugin, Simplify Commerce supports online payments (beta) and electronic invoicing.  There’s virtually no information about these services other than a couple of lines of text. Same for reporting capabilities for reconciliation. There’s plenty of documentation about integration, but not much else. Because it’s a MasterCard company, that’s likely to change over time.

Financial requirements: Users cannot test until after signing up for a new merchant account. For very small businesses, a bundled rate is easy to understand and can be a good deal. For larger merchants, bundled rates aways equal higher effective rates than unbundled or ‘pass through interchange’ ‘interchange plus’. After any promotions, the costs are 2.85% and $.30 per transaction, similar to Paypal.

  • Average transaction = $100, effective rate = 3.15%
  • Average transaction = $50, effective rate = 3.45%

I did not complete the merchant application process, but I’d be surprised if there’s not a clause somewhere for international transactions, since the hard cost is a hefty .40% and up premium. If it’s not included, don’t be surprised if it’s added later, or if terms are rescinded for a merchant that has a lot of international.

PROS: Easy to implement for Prestashop, simple pricing.

CONS:  $.30 per transaction is expensive for low average ticket merchants. Because the gateway and merchant account are bundled together, it will be more difficult to change later if merchant allows customers to store credit cards. A lot of unknowns about reporting.

Summary: If your only sales channel is ecommerce and you have a small business, this may be a viable option for you. It’s difficult for merchants to compare pricing from offer to offer and this at least simplifies what to expect. Merchants processing $500,000 or more annually should definitely seek alternatives due to the high effective rate.