Payment Services 101 for Property Management Companies

Property management companies provide an important service to businesses by providing physical space for the business to put up a storefront. In order to do this the management company puts together leases for the businesses and then collects the rents/lease payments when they come due. When a property management company is small they may collect the rents in the form of paper checks. As they grow, they may consider using the services of a payment processor because the payment processing software will automate a large number of tasks and ensure speedy collection of rents. Before making a decision on which payment processor to use, here are some important components to consider.

Wide Variety of Payment Options

A good payment processing service gives the tenants a wide selection of methods to pay their bills. Tenants should be given the ability to pay with credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers (ACH transfers) and automated monthly payments. Payment options can range from pay-by-phone to web-accessible portals to taking payments from a mobile device. Online payment options can include payment portals for web payments, virtual terminals for card-not-present payment acceptance and mobile payment solutions for people who prefer to use their mobile device. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) payment solutions for self-service phone payments can also be available for tenants who feel more comfortable making the payment offline and by telephone.

24 Hours-a-Day Uptime

You want payment processing that provides these services 24 hours a day. Payment processors that rely primarily on agents answering the phone will close up at the end of the day, thereby stopping the cash flow. You want the consumers to be able to make their payments when it is convenient for them, no matter what the hour. Not only does this help your bottom line, but it also builds the brand in the minds of the consumers. Paying bills is not fun, but if it is easy the tenants will be more likely to do it in a timely manner.

Regulatory Compliance

A critical element in selecting payment services for property management is regulatory compliance. Since your management company conducts financial transactions (that is, collecting rents and fees) your payment services company must be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant. PCI DSS ensures the technical security of the financial data; in short, it means your financial transaction systems are very hard to hack into. In addition both you and your payment processor must adhere to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) strict rules of how and when to contact the tenant. This is crucial because if the payment processing service behaves in a non-compliant manner, you are held responsible for hiring them and therefore you are subject to penalties and fines.

Security. The security of the payment services is of critical importance. When a business is collecting online payments from credit & debit cards, web portals, mobile devices or any other system, there needs to be assurance that the payment system cannot be broken into or hacked by outsiders. Depending on how consumers pay and what they are paying for, a hacked system can reveal sensitive information such as financial records, bank account numbers and passwords.

What should you look for?  PCI DSS certification. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a proprietary information security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card providers including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Maintaining payment security is required for all entities that store, process or transmit cardholder data. Guidance for maintaining payment security is provided in PCI security standards. These set the technical and operational requirements for organizations accepting or processing payment transactions and for software developers and manufacturers of applications and devices used in those transactions. These standards are upgraded annually, so you want to make sure the payment processor you are working with is certified to the most current standards.

Customer support. Whenever you are dealing with a vendor of any kind, including payment processing service, issues and minor problems will happen. Make sure that the vendor you are considering offers you exceptional customer support. Do they have people available at all times to answer questions and do they provide answers specifically to questions that relate to your account, rather than generic answers? How frequently will they provide updates? If they provide reports to you, are the reports they provide Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16 (SSAE 16) compliant? Great customer support is important to keep your business running.

As you are evaluating payment services for collection agencies, make sure the product offered fits your needs as well as your budget. BillingTree has the latest technology and the best programs in order to help their clients grow their businesses easily, quickly and within full compliance. To learn more about how BillingTree can help you, contact BillingTree or call us at 877-424-5587.