5 considerations to get the best credit card processing company for your business
What’s best for your business may not be best for another for sure. Yet finding your way around the payments round-about can be a confusing ride. While simplicity is oftentimes built in to your options, you also have many more options to choose from.
Due to a number of factors, the credit card payments processing company you select can greatly affect your business in any number of ways, and the pros and cons can vary greatly.
So, as the owner or manager of a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB), where do you begin? When it comes to payment processors, there are some important signposts to look for. We’ve created a simple, merchant roadmap that includes five important considerations.
1) When a big processor is better for small business
Big isn't always best, but in this case, a large payment processor can help you navigate the landscape of the ever-changing world of credit card payments easier than most. Plus, larger providers typically offer the stability, certainty and reliability you need for your business.That could range from up-time and service support to fully-bundled security solutions that shield you from lots of risk without a lot of work on your part. A larger processor may also offer an array of best available solutions, for example, on the security front, as a result of their own proprietary work or partnerships with strong industry providers. For these reasons and others, take a closer look at the top five.
According to The Nilson Report, a leading publication covering payment systems worldwide, the top 5 payments acquirers based on the number of transactions they handled are: Vantiv, First Data, Chase, Bank of America, and Global.
2016 Nilson Report
Top U.S. Acquirers in 2016, ranked by transaction
- Vantiv with 21.18 billion transactions
- First Data with 19.80 billion
- Chase, 16.88 billion
- Bank of America, 15.28 billion
- Global, 7.16 billion
Putting aside for a minute the sheer scale these card processing leaders hold, look instead at what market leadership often underscores about larger credit card processors:
- Experience, often decades in the making—including years of working with businesses in key industry segments or retail categories. That's the kind of experience, when matched up with your business type, that can benefit your business.
- Breadth and scale of infrastructures—the bigger processors typically have infrastructural scale—of the technology that runs payments, the kinds of features offered through that technology, and the reliability and stability of those infrastructures, to provide you with the best credit card processing experiences. The larger players often offer this advantage without the need for multiple, additional gateways and the like.
- Capabilities and products—with leadership often comes equally important investments in proprietary or partnered payments solutions, like fraud detection and security, data and analytics etc., that can provide great value to your small business. Those can be the same kind of offerings typically made available to the biggest businesses, the biggest retailers.
Of course, there are other payment processing companies out there. Depending on your business, you may be considering offerings from PayPal, Square or any number of others.
2) What comes with the card processing service?
You may very well be able to get a lot bundled into a package deal, which is quite the gift if you need a lot of services. Some credit card processors might also customize a package of hardware, software and payments processing for your particular business.
For instance, if you own or manage a restaurant, you have very specific needs that may differ greatly from, say, a retail boutique. You may have numerous points-of-sale. You may even want your entire waitstaff to have mPOS devices in hand––or you may want that kind of hardware. Your inventory tracking needs may be quite complex, and may need daily updates to make sure you’re stocked up on your popular menu items. You may want to include digital loyalty programs. Your payments processor could help you with all of these solutions.
Some good questions to ask:
• Can your payments processor supply you with the point-of-sale (POS) system that's right for your business (say, versus a one-size-fits-all)?
• Do they have close relationships and partnerships with software developers and hardware suppliers (helping make sure you've got devices and systems that are future-proof)?
• And can their payments processing be integrated within so-called integrated POS systems that marry payments with all of your other business system needs?
For example, several of the largest payment processors were recently examined by Forrester Research, with several being cited for areas of industry leadership. Vantiv––#1 on the Nilson Report list––was cited for the strength in its span of developer relationships and technology integrations, making future-proof POS systems or devices from leading manufacturers such as Ingenico and Verifone through them potentially good solutions for you.
3) Are the payment transactions secure?
Although, it may seem like a given, in today’s world of data breaches, make sure security is “baked-in” to whatever payment processing hardware and software applications you opt for. Again, this is where bundled solutions, including those with an integrated point-of-sale solution, can be extremely helpful. Look for integrated security with terms such as “encryption” and “tokenization,” which make payments extra secure.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or an eCommerce business, solid security gives your customers more confidence when purchasing. Give them another reason to say “yes” at checkout.
4) Does the company have important partners and business relationships?
If you have a small business, you may want to make sure the credit card processing service has some big partners and important relationships, including financial institutions, software developers and merchant accounts. That knowledge can add a level of credibility, strength and certainty to your decision. What sort of financial institutions are they involved with? Who do they partner with to make your and your customers’ experiences seamless?
Larger credit card processing services may have more solutions, more partners, more external relationships, all of which are integrated behind the scenes as a part of a package, customized to your needs. As a merchant, you wouldn’t even know outwardly. An experienced payments processor would make it all happen safely, smoothly, easily, invisibly.
5) What’s the customer experience?
At the end of the day, if you and your customers walk away with an exceptional experience, you’ve made a good choice in payments processors. A payments processing service should supply you with a variety of solutions that make life easier for all involved. Those might include an array of self-service options, as well as online communities that can provide both peer business experiences and access to trends and information about commerce and payments that can support your growth.
Does the payments processing company offer advanced technologies that enhance the usability of the service? Do you go home at the end of a long work day feeling as if you’re getting off the treadmill, rather than back on it?
The best payments processor is the one that’s right for your particular business. Its goal should be more than just enabling you to accept credit and debit card payments. Is should help you grow your business and move you forward on the road to success.
The road to success might be best paved with a provider who offers you broad and open access to the best credit card processing for you. That would include access to smart terminals or fully integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems that give you open-ended access versus locking you into proprietary solutions that may not age as well as the payments world evolves. Also be sure to look for fraud and security solutions that include the best in what's available. The best providers may actually bundle fraud and security solutions designed specifically for your type of business and/or the devices and POS systems that you're using. Finally, look for value-adding features, such as gift and reward programs, recurring-subscription payment programs. Value services like those are ones that can make smaller- and medium-sized businesses mighty matches with larger businesses and retailers in the minds of consumers. Vantiv is the provider that can help with all of these elements, contact us today to learn more.