A B2B supplier’s guide to optimizing commercial card payments review

Mastercard and The Strawhecker Group released A B2B supplier’s guide
to optimizing commercial card payments. Selecting the right merchant acquirer and payment gateway, and optimizing interchange, can help reduce suppliers’ collection efforts and costs associated with commercial card payments. By Marie Elizabeth Aloisi and Peter Michaud. Christine Speedy, blog author, reviews the guide. In my opinion some elements, present an incomplete picture for merchants, especially the business suppliers accepting commercial payments that is the target of the paper.

The executive summary cites research that suppliers can reduce the cost of collecting funds from customers by 31% if they accept credit cards. I googled to find that commercial credit card research data, and though this is not the referenced Mastercard and Kaiser Associates, Commercial Card Acceptance Cost-Benefit Study, of November 2016, it has similar data:

  • This study estimated card acceptance at the point-of-sale to be 37% less costly than using other payment collections methods – yielding savings of $12 on a $500 transaction
  • Card acceptance provides a similar sized net benefit regardless of the funds transfer tool it replaces – e.g. check vs. ACH vs. wire
  • The bulk of value from commercial card acceptance lies in its use as a pre-payment tool – providing revenue assurance against bad debts

 

I have a problem with the next line in the report, “That’s because getting paid by check—or even ACH or wire—involves many manual steps, onerous costs, and potential errors that are a burden to a supplier’s accounting, finance, and treasury functions.”  Checks are still the most onerous even with a scanner, but with electronic bill presentment and payment, any other payment method can be automated for increased efficiency. Our cloud payment processing solutions, including integrated with ERP, automate all types of payment processing, including check/ACH, wire, credit card, and can update journals etc.

The paper goes on to explain why working with your acquirer is critical. While it mentions suppliers can benefit from advanced gateways, most acquirers offer a limited number of payment gateways to merchants. In fact, they may offer suppliers only one solution – they’re own- and it may not be the best for the supplier, it’s just the only one they offer. Independent payment gateways, like CenPOS that I offer, can provide significant advantages to maximize profits, efficiency and flexibility. For example, fulfilling the need to simplify wire transactions and match to invoices.

The three best practices cited to work with acquirers are to automate payments, optimize interchange and negotiate pricing. 

The devil is in the details not cited. For example, “suppliers can only take advantage of lower interchange rates if the payment gateway is set up to pass Data Rate 3 information along with the transaction.” This is true. But the bigger problem is compliance with all the other rules required to qualify the transaction for Data Rate 3. For example, suppliers often do a preauthorization, which expires before settlement (but can still settle) or is not the same as the final settlement amount. These common transaction types will nullify qualifying for the best interchange rates, including MasterCard Data Rate 3. There are many more rules that make it tough to qualify and if the payment gateway does not automatically manage for suppliers, passing Data Rate 3 info doesn’t matter. The reality is most payment gateways do not have a solution to help suppliers comply.

Again, if the acquirer doesn’t have the best solution, should suppliers rely on their advice? A supplier client of mine went to their acquirer (top 5 in USA) and told them what I was offering. They would keep their acquirer but switch to my payment gateway; they’d use our electronic bill presentment and payment solution to eliminate paper credit card authorization forms and employees getting cardholder data over the phone. Customers would self-manage their payment methods, including storing & tokenizing if they chose to. Their acquirer did not want them to use any solution other than their own.  They offered them a substantially worse solution- the silliest I’ve ever heard. The acquirer would give them a new merchant account with virtual terminal exclusively for one large client that they knew was using a commercial card. What about all the other clients? What about eliminating employee access to cardholder data and storing data on paper? Advising to use substandard solutions happens all the time.

In summary, Mastercard and The Strawhecker Group put out some great research data for suppliers. I’m a huge fan of the people at The Strawhecker Group and their work. Suppliers should look to cloud payment processing solution providers like myself at CenPOS for advice. Suppliers need the best payment gateway because without it, the rest doesn’t matter. Combining a robust payment gateway, business solutions, and the flexibility to change acquirers without business disruption can provide significant advantages.

All comments and statements herein are strictly my personal opinion and do not represent that of any company.

Christine Speedy, CenPOS sales 954-942-0483. CenPOS is a cloud business solutions provider with end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement.

B2B Credit Card Processing Hot Tips

Compliance with credit card processing rules maximizes profits while mitigating risk. This is especially true for business to business companies. But it’s getting harder and harder with the onslaught of new rules, and virtually impossible if not using a sophisticated cloud solution to help manage compliance.

If your B2B company stores credit cards, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not compliant. For example, Visa’s 2017 Stored Credential Transaction framework outlines merchant responsibilities to obtain customer consent as well as storing credit cards, using stored credentials (token), and managing stored tokens. Failure to comply with Authorization rules, for example preauthorization and final settlement do not match, has far-reaching consequences including higher interchange rates (the bulk of credit card processing fees), penalty fees and new chargeback risks. With so many new rules across multiple card brands that vary based on business and transaction type how can a business quickly ascertain if they’re compliant?

Most processing details occur seamlessly behind the scenes so merchants have not had a simple way of knowing whether they’re compliant. Until now.

Quick tips to validate compliance:

  • Is a transaction receipt delivered to customer when a stored credit card credential (token) is created? Compliant answer is yes.
  • Is cardholder authentication with a zero dollar authorization or a purchase transaction performed at the time token is created? (A small charge is not an acceptable practice.) Compliant answer is yes.
  • Does the receipt include “RECURRING” or “REPEAT SALE” for token transactions? Compliant answer is yes.
  • Review merchant statements, usually the last 1-2 pages with the heading “pending interchange” or “fees” section. Do you see EIRF, STANDARD (STD), or DATA RATE I? Compliant answer is no.
  • Can you produce documentation of customer consent to store their card (including with 3rd party service) and how it will be used?

If you’re not in compliance, your payment gateway is the most likely culprit, followed by ERP or other software integration limitation. For a Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365, and other ERP integrated solutions, call 954-942-0483 9-5 ET.

Reference: Card brand links.

Christine Speedy, CenPOS Sales 954-942-0483. CenPOS is a cloud business solutions provider with end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement.

First Data level 3 processing solutions

Need a solution for level 3 processing with your First Data merchant account? A payment gateway that supports level 3 processing is required, but that’s not enough. Payment gateway selection and implementation impact whether a transaction actually qualifies for level 3 rates.

The main requirements to qualify for level III interchange rates are:

  1. Submit required extra order detail. This varies by card brand; for example Ship to/from ZIP code, Destination country code,VA/ tax amount, invoice number, order reference number, Discount amount, Freight/shipping amount, Duty amount, Order date, unit of measure and more.
  2. Valid authorization. For example, the authorization and settlement amount must be the same.
  3. Interchange Rate Special Requirements, which may vary by card, industry etc. For example, here are requirements to qualify for MasterCard Data Rate III
    1. U.S. Merchant
    2. Applicable Electronic Authorization Data must be included and match Settlement Data
    3. Valid Banknet Reference Number and Banknet Date in valid date format MMDD
    4. Settlement within 2 days of transaction
    5. Level II & Level III Corporate Card data (Level II Data includes the entry of customer code, card acceptor type, tax ID and sales tax. Level III Data includes Level II data, line item detail, item description, item quantity, item unit of measure, extended item amount, product code, and debit or credit indicator.)
    6. Non-T&E MCC
    7. Card Acceptor Type and Tax ID must be provided

Visa Stored Credential Framework Impacts Authorization Validity

For business, corporate and purchasing card transactions to qualify for Level 3 interchange rates, a valid authorization is required. New rules change requirements for card not present transactions using stored cards. US businesses must comply with Visa Stored Credential Transaction framework effective October 14, 2017. Without getting into too much detail, payment gateways must update to comply, and merchants will also need to make some changes going forward.

Merchant requirements include:

  • When capturing a stored credential for the first time, complete special requirements, including cardholder authentication as applicable (Managed by payment gateway or integrated solution.)
  • Send correct transaction type on subsequent transactions: Installment Payments, Recurring Payments, or Unscheduled Credential On File. (Managed by payment gateway or integrated solution.)
  • Authorization and settlement amount must match. (Managed by payment gateway or integrated solution.)
  • Obtain cardholder consent and disclosure agreement. (Most likely managed by payment gateway or merchant.)

For years, authorization and settlement amount mismatch has been a common problem for merchants to qualify for level III rates. Even if a gateway solves this problem, an integration may limit the capability. This is easily identified by EIRF, STD/ standard, level I and level II rates present in the “pending interchange” section on merchant statements.

To solve all of the above problems, merchants can use a third party payment gateway with their merchant account, that manages authorization validity and continual changes within the gateway, including integrated solutions. Below image shows before and after interchange rates from actual merchant statements; same merchant account, just changed the payment gateway.level 3 gatewayContact Christine for a level 3 payment gateway that works with your First Data Merchant Account, as well as other acquirers.

Christine Speedy, CenPOS authorized reseller, 954-942-0483 is based out of South Florida and NY. CenPOS is a merchant-centric, end-to-end payments engine that drives enterprise-class solutions for businesses, saving them time and money, while improving their customer engagement. CenPOS secure, cloud-based solution optimizes acceptance for all payment types across multiple channels without disrupting the merchant’s banking relationships.

Dealership Post-Acquisition Standardization Cash Flow & Profits

Car, truck, and ag equipment dealership acquisitions by mega dealers are on a torrid pace. Cash-flow and profits are directly linked to standardization among locales. The right payment processing technology creates instant receivables financial transparency at headquarters regardless of varying dealer management software. heavy duty equipment credit card processingCloud-based payment processing is critical to financial transparency. For example, credit card processing terminals batched out individually means management has to wait for reports. A cloud solution, including payment gateway, can provide real-time insights by dealer location or any other number of data points.

Key payment gateway differences for dealership evaluation:

  • Real-time dashboard with drill down vs export reports to view (additional payment types not shown)dashboard net sales payment gateway report
  • Compliance with complex rules for rentals, preauthorizations, retail and card not present. How many merchant accounts needed to comply?
  • Compliance with Visa October 2017 stored credentials mandates
  • Level 3 processing capabilities for commercial cards
  • EMV chip or EMV chip and pin
  • Push payment requests (collect remote payments before delivery) via text or email
  • Cardholder authentication (3-D Secure) for remote payments
  • Payment methods supported: cash, check, wire, credit card and other methods vs just credit cards provides significantly tighter controls and data insights

Dealers hesitant to replace desktop EMV chip terminals due to prior investments should bite the bullet. Better solutions to improve customer experience and back office efficiency will reduce ROI time for acquisitions.

ABOUT: Christine Speedy is a payment processing expert with deep experience in the multi-department needs of dealerships. Solutions empower CFO’s to achieve common customer satisfaction goals with tight financial controls, risk mitigation, and reduced PCI Compliance burden. Need standardization help? Call 954-942-0483 to learn more about solutions for your business that are quick and easy to adopt, increasing efficiency and growing profits virtually overnight.

 

SaaS Startups: Credit Card Customer Onboarding 2017

Critical rules changes for credit card processing, especially recurring billing, will impact business profits and chargeback risk effective October 2017. Simply copying what other big SaaS businesses are doing successfully is not good enough. Everyone needs to make opt-in updates to comply, and EMV chip card acceptance is a good example of how even big companies can takes months or years to change.

payment gateway SaaS recurring

Critical SaaS recurring billing credit card processing rules past, present and future:

    • To validate a card and create a token for future purchases, perform a Zero Dollar Authorization. There’s a procedure, including using recurring indicator, and a transaction fee for this. If the solution you’re looking at suggests a $1 authorization, that’s because the payment gateway, and or the implementation, are out of date and don’t support current requirements. Run!
    • The sales receipt must include phrase “recurring transaction”, frequency of the charges, and the period of time agreed to.
    • Cardholder opt-in record. Rules may vary by each card brand; following Visa requirements is a good practice. For example, read Visa Stored Credential Transaction Mandates and also Visa Core Rules. One of the new requirements is specifying how the Cardholder will be notified of any changes to the agreement. The significance of new mandates is huge, and non-compliance will result in higher fees, penalties, reduced sale approvals and chargebacks.

Payment gateway selection directly impacts profits, risk, and your customer buying experience. Lots of developers integrate one or two of the oldest payment gateways because they’re “reliable” and familiar. True, but, this could cost your company it’s path to profitability and even existence. Any WordPress developer knows technology and implementation of technology changes. It’s constant. Before selecting a payment gateway for a SaaS startup, ask these questions:

  • How will it help with new Visa Stored Credential Mandates?
  • Does it support 3-D Secure cardholder authentication?
  • How will it help with account updating for expiration and replacement cards?
  • What type of digital record is created at the time of customer opt-in to agreement, how is it retrieved, and how long is it retained?
  • Does it support authorization reversals?
  • Does it level 3 processing for commercial cards (if applicable to business type)?
  • If I change banks or payment processors, how will it affect my customers? My business?

TIP: Most payment gateways are reliable; level 3 processing, and 3-D Secure support are starting points to reduce the list of options. Need help to get compliant? Contact Christine Speedy to learn more about solutions for your business that are quick and easy to adopt, increasing efficiency and growing profits virtually overnight.