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 If it’s not included, don’t be surprised if it’s added later, or if terms are rescinded for a merchant that has a lot of international.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.

 

 

 

Intuit Quickbooks Merchant Services Review

What are the pros and cons of using Quickbooks merchant services by Intuit? What is the real cost of Quickbooks credit card processing?  Like all solutions, the cost is both hard dollars and time.

QUICKBOOKS BENEFITS OVERVIEW

The best advantage of using Quickbooks for credit card processing is that invoices are posted as ‘paid’ once you process a card. This convenience is a significant reason for customer retention for small businesses.

PROS:

  • Eliminates double entry into Intuit QuickBooks
  • Convenience
  • Supports recurring billing
  • Intuit GoPayment for mobile
  • Virtual terminal to charge from computer quickbooks merchant services virtual terminal

 

NEUTRAL:

  • While support is available, there are a lot of complaints about service. This could also be because a lot of users are small or new businesses possibly prone to more misuderstandings.  The online community is huge and a great resource, however, phone service might be spotty.

CONS:

  • The Gopayment service requires multiple steps to bring transactions into Quickbooks. To match sales of GoPayment transactions to customer invoices, the cardholder name must match the account name exactly, or it will create a new customer when transactions are imported.
  • Fees are netted out of each sale, making it more difficult to reconcile; Bank deposits are net of all fees.
  • Heavy surcharges for rewards and corporate cards.
  • Limited

THE REAL COST OF QUICKBOOKS REVIEW:

The costs below are based on July 2013 published rates for KEY ENTERED transactions. This table shows a mix of card types as 50% debit cards, 10% commercial cards and 40% rewards cards, a typical business breakdown. For business to business, debit is typically 5-25%, with commercial and rewards cards increasing significantly, so the fees would be higher. I did not include PCI compliance. For the example, we’ll assume the fee is a comparable for all merchant account choices.

July-2013 QUICKBOOKS volume subtotal
RATE 2.95% $50,000 $1,475.00
transactions $0.30 500 $150.00
surcharges:commercial card
RATE 1.01% $5,000 $50.50
transactions $0.07 50 $3.50
surcharges: rewards
RATE 1.01% $20,000 $202.00
transactions $0.07 200 $14.00
monthly $12.95
total quickbooks fees $1,907.95
Merchant account & gateway
RATE- avg effective rate 2.50% $50,000 $1,250.00
transactions $0.30 500 $150.00
misc fees, gateway, statement included  $70.00
total all fees $1,470.00
monthly savings $437.95
  • month to month vs possible contract with other service
  • no set up or application fee
  • price source: http://payments.intuit.com/price_online_payments/
  • Note: If the average effective rate for merchant services were 3.0%, the savings drops to $187/mth.

ALTERNATIVES TO QUICKBOOKS

A merchant account with payment gateway can provide many benefits including:

  • Broader array of solutions to improve efficiencies and streamline the payment experience for businesses and customers. Do not underestimate this benefit.
  • Fees paid monthly- this increases cashflow, reduces reconcilation headaches and increases transparency for account management insights
  • Lower costs
  • A relationship manager is standard and can help guide a business to the best solutions, plus provide personal ongoing problem solving support. (Varies by vendor.)

Quickbooks Merchant Services Review Summary

For very small businesses with limited staff, efficiencies are crucial and using the integrated merchant services is probably essential.  Other merchants need to weigh choices and look at the complete picture for customer convenience, cost, security, and efficiency. If charges are over $500,000 annually, even with a negotiated rate, merchants should definitely seek alternative credit card processing solutions.

What did you think of this review? Please leave a comment with your business industry.

Phoneswipe by North American Bancard review

Review of Phone Swipe, by North American Bancard (NAB),  a proprietary mobile payment application for merchants using NAB merchant services.

phone swipeFEATURES:

  • Application supports both cash and credit cards
  • Works on Android and Apple iPad, iPhone, Blackberry
  • Tax, tip, and discount options
  • Email or print receipts
  • Add inventory including photos
  • Receipts can be printed directly though AirPrint-enabled printers or Star thermal printers (Apple only) or emailed
  • Can be connected to a compatible cash drawer
  • Multiple readers can be linked to one merchant account

PRICING:

  • Swipe 2.69% flat rate
  • keyed 3.49% plus $.19 per transaction.
  • reader is free.
  • no monthly fees
  • The fine print: There are a ton of rules in the fine print. “Transactions that do not clear as priced are subject to MID or non-qualified surcharges (MID/NQS) that are billed back to you on your monthly statement.” Merchants will likely pay more than the quoted 2.69% on at least half of their transactions.

PROS:

  • Good video tutorials
  • See features

CONS:

  • Merchant cannot search history by cardholder name.
  • Does nothing to help merchants qualify for better rates; high penalties if you don’t.
  • Mobile requires NAB merchant account; if you change processors, the entire operation is impacted
  • NAB merchant account is typically a 3 year agreement with early termination penalties.

North American Bancard is a registered Independent Sales Organization/Merchant Service Provider for HSBC Bank USA, National Association, Buffalo, NY.

EDITOR SPEEDY COMMENTS:

  • I like some of the functionality of this device. If you’re already an NAB user, give it a try.
  • The distinguishing functionality of this app is the cash drawer. If you have limited space, and special needs, then this may be a solution. Note, it has very limited functions so would only be viable for very small businesses.
  • If you’re not an existing customer, then buyer beware. Merchants change processors on average every 2-3 years. It may be very disruptive to business operations when you change processors later since the mobile app is proprietary to North American Bancard. 
  • There are other options for mobile payments, including a different set of merchant benefits without tying you to specific processor.

DISCLAIMER: This review uses publicly available information posted on the product web site as of 5/25/2012. The review does not include the processor, just the product.

Transfirst Transaction Express Gateway vs CenPOS payment cloud

Following the Transfirst review with Transaction Express Gateway,  this article shows a direct comparison of two gateways. Because CenPOS is more than a gateway, and is a complete cloud payment processing platform, the differences are significant when you dig in beyond the surface of accepting credit cards.

When you first look at the chart below, it seems that the gateways are very similar. If you think all gateways are alike, you’re wrong.

For example, if your company is primarily business to business, it’s virtually impossible to qualify transactions correctly for the lowest interchange. Why? Because there are so many rules about how and what data to capture. Some businesses try to deal with that by entering lots of information on every transaction. What a colossal waste of time!

A traditional gateway has some fields that are required and some that are not. You decide what to enter.  All transactions are processed as Retail or MOTO, however  your merchant account was set up.

The CenPOS gateway doesn’t leave decisions up to employees. When the card number is entered, the intelligent gateway identifies all the relevant factors for the merchant and then automatically prompts for just the information needed for that transaction. Nothing more, nothing less. Users do not get to decide what to enter. CenPOS will process as a MOTO or retail transaction based on merchant and system defined rules, not a one-time merchant account set-up.

Payment Gateway Features As Listed on Transfirst 5/25/2012
Payment Gateway TransFirst® Transaction Express CenPOS
Gateway Features Online Retail MOTO Mobile Online Retail MOTO Mobile
Connection methods black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Customer Support black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Support via Phone black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Merchant Interface black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Virtual Terminal/ Batch Upload n/a black checkmark n/a checkmark yes n/a checkmark yes n/a
Security and Compliance black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Shopping cart – supported black checkmark n/a n/a n/a black checkmark n/a n/a n/a
Virtual Point Of Sale black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark n/a checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Mobile App (note 1) n/a ? ? black checkmark n/a checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
VALUE ADDING PRODUCTS
Recurring Billing black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes note 2 checkmark yes note 2
Secure Card Data Storage black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
ACH Check Processing future future future checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Advanced Fraud Protection ? ? ? ? checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
THIRD PARTY SOLUTIONS
API black checkmark black checkmark black checkmark checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Shopping Carts black checkmark n/a n/a n/a checkmark yes n/a n/a n/a
Point of Sale Solutions n/a n/a n/a checkmark yes n/a checkmark yes
Kiosks n/a n/a n/a n/a checkmark yes n/a n/a
Mobile Device integrations n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a checkmark yes
Payment Gateway Features DIFFERENTIATORS
Note 1 1. Are all payment sources integrated to a single hub for Transfirst? That is, can you view all transactions and reports from the virtual terminal?2. If you have a MOTO merchant account, but add a mobile device, will those transactions qualify at retail interchange rates? If you have a Retail merchant account and also set up recurring billing, are your recurring billing transactions presented with the MOTO indicator to qualify for card not present interchange and proper receipt requirements? With CenPOS, the answer is yes.

Note 2

CenPOS empowers merchants to swipe the first transaction, and store the payment data for future card not present needs. All of the payment information needed to qualify the transaction properly for future card not present transactions is automatically collected. The initial transaction will qualify for RETAIL and the subsequent transactions will qualify under MOTO rules. Both are represented properly to mitigate risk of chargebacks from disputes with regard to proper receipt and signature requirements.
“Company” or “Family” contract management for recurring billing checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Electronic Bill Presentment & Payment no no no no checkmark yes
Capture accounting codes at time of payment authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Secure Online Paypage authorize.net no icon checkmark yes
Change installment or recurring pay date after started ? ? checkmark yes checkmark yes
Variable recurring billing- encrypt and tokenize no Tokenize-yes. Method not known. no checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
7 years data storage and retrieval, including signature capture authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Automated email transaction alerts- custom criteria no no no no checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Dashboard and corporate hierarchy reports authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Custom Crystal Reports – actionable data intelligence authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Customer transaction Search by name authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes
Integrated ACH/check processing authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon authorize.net no icon checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes checkmark yes

Companies change processors every 2-3 years on average because they are looking to reduce expenses. What you really need to do is switch to the industry’s only intelligent gateway, which uses a variety of proprietary methods to positively impact EBITDA. Cenpos is the only intelligent gateway to automatically optimize payments for EBITDA improvement. CenPOS removes users from making decisions that can negatively impact profits through a variety of proprietary methods.

Another significant difference is portability. With CenPOS, a merchant can change processors with minimal business disruption. The merchant CenPOS account is updated with the new processor account number.  It won’t impact stored payment data (tokens), reports, 7 years transaction history and insights, online payments, internet integrations etc. Because Transaction Express is proprietary to Transfirst, when you switch processors, you lose not only the data, but you may need to update everything else – equipment in the field, mobile apps, web integrations and more.

 

WHERE TO BUY

Click here to become a CenPOS referral partner.  Click here to become a customer through authorized reseller 3D Merchant services, or call the hotline at the top of this web page.

Transfirst Review

Transfirst Merchants had a .10% increase in their merchant discount rate last month, resulting in an uptick in calls from merchants searching for other options. I have no way to know how widespread the increase is, but thought now would be an appropriate time to write a review.

BACKGROUND:

Founded in 1995, Transfirst is a privately-held direct processor that lists over $15 billion in portfolio additions on their web site through mergers and acquisitions. Their objective is to help merchants with technology and product differentiation.

SALES & PRICING

Like most processors, they use both an internal sales force and independent sales agents. As well, prices are subjectively offered to merchants based on a number of different factors. Transfirst agreements may include a cancellation fee at the end of the term or liquidated damages for early termination. This is not typical in todays market, so merchants should exercise caution.

comment: A merchant educated about interchange, and identifying negotiable and non-negotiable fees,  will always have an advantage negotiating “Schedule A”.  General contract terms are usually not negotiable with any processor and merchants frequently sign ackowledgement that ‘cross outs and deletions’ will be ignored.

TECHNOLOGY

Transfirst launched it’s own gateway in 2011, Transaction Express. The gateway works with multiple end points, including retail, mobile and integrated web services. It supports recurring and tokenization.

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

Merchants often don’t know what they’re missing until they need to use it. Here are some things you should know:

  • Search by or view customer name in settled batch is NOT AVAILABLE.
  • Data is stored for only 13 months.
  • Does not support signature capture for retail.
  • It is unclear how multiple merchant accounts are managed. Does the user choose whether to use the retail or moto account, or does the gateway automatically switch depending on how the transaction is received? This is a SIGNIFICANT since it will impact fees, fraud risk, and ability to defend against disputes.
  • Does not support level III data.
  • The gateway is an integral service with their processing. Merchants who desire to switch processors at any later date will lose all their stored payment data/token capabilities.
  • Their gateway does not currently support ACH, though it will in the future.

CONCLUSION

Transfirst has made a critical step for client retention and growth with Transaction Express, and their mobile app. That puts them ahead of some players in the market and behind some others. In our opinion, there are better options for both merchant services and technology.

DISCLAIMER

Data was obtained almost exclusively from publicly available information on the company web site. If there is an error, your correction is welcome.  This author sells and markets competitive services.