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.