Payment Processing Changes and How They Effect Small Businesses

Posted: September 27, 2011 | Updated: September 27, 2011

It used to be one of the big decisions a small business had to make was whether or not to accept credit cards. But with E-commerce booming and consumers continually reaching for plastic instead of paper for their transactions, that decision has pretty much been made for small businesses. They have to accept some form of card payment as fewer people carry cash. However, the technology for payment processing is advancing at a high rate right now. And many studies predict mobile payments are on the verge of transforming the way people pay for things even more than before. The future of payment processing is ripe for change.

The Current Payment Processing Landscape At A Glance

Merchant Services, by its very nature, is an industry that for the most part seeks to work unnoticed by the consumer. The companies performing this service, which can be explained here in this Host Merchant Services infographic, tend to make their money off of percentages of a penny. Transaction by transaction those percentages grow into pennies, and as volume increases even further those pennies increase into dollars.

A lot of small business owners have horror stories about their payment processors because a really common practice that companies in the industry started to do to each other to compete better, was to boost the expenses from those transactions, and those percentages of pennies, with hidden fees and contractual obligations.

It got so bad that federal legislation, in the form of the Durbin Amendment, was passed as a way to combat debit card swipe fees. Host Merchant Services is already tracking the effects of those changes in a series right here on the Official Merchant Services Blog.

Changing the Game

But that’s not the only way the game is changing. Some companies, like Host Merchant Services, see the opportunity being created by the old standard. So HMS shines light on hidden fees, cuts away the fat from these agreements and HMS even goes so far as to not hold its merchants to contracts or termination fees.  Many of the features you find at Host Merchant Services are designed specifically to appeal to small business owners. A service oriented Merchant Services solution that lets the merchant know exactly what they are paying on their statement.

Technology Adds its Own Wrinkle

Beyond just what Host Merchant Services is doing to change the model for Merchant Services Providers, the industry is being shaped by advances in technology, specifically the potential for profits from mobile payments. Small Business Owners are starting to find the convenience of being able to process a payment anywhere can give them more flexibility to reach their customers. And so the companies developing the technology for these mobile payments are racing to reach the market with their ideas and advances.

Square Up  –  In 2009 the Co-Founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, introduced a breakthrough device that allows both individuals and businesses to swipe and process credit cards directly on their iPhone or Android phone. While Square was not the first company to do this, what set them apart was their fee structure and their lack of a contract. Square has no contract, does not have any monthly fees and only charges when a card is swiped or keyed in. They currently charge 2.75% of the transaction for each swiped card. This is their big selling point because Square lets small businesses that did not have the resources prior to begin accepting credit cards. This is appealing to small businesses with low or inconsistent volume that would normally be burdened by the heavy costs associated with setting up a merchant account.

Google Wallet  – On the other side of the payment world there is Google, who partnered with Citibank to create a new product called Google Wallet. This new mobile payment technology allows consumers to attach a credit card number to an embedded near-field communications (NFC) chip in their Android phone. This in turn gives that person the ability to make payments by swiping their mobile phone next to a chip reader.

NFC technology has been around for about a decade, and is still being tested in target market areas. Google Wallet will be tested first in New York City and Google hopes to roll it out for the rest of the country in 2012. Host Merchant Services noted this previously in an article.

HMSPay  – Host Merchant Services offers its own mobile payment solution, HMSPay. This is similar to Square in that it’s a device that attaches to an iPhone. And its big selling point is that it adheres to HMS’ standards of service and savings. Merchants who use it are able to get ultra-competitive rates that let small businesses take credit cards without being overwhelmed by hidden fees and other excesses found in the Merchant Services industry.



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