What to Look for in a Merchant Account Provider

When you are building your collections agency you will need a merchant account. As you will find out when you examine the offerings, there are a lot of them on the market, all claiming that they can help you. The question is: how do you know if they can work well with your business? Can you trust them to manage data, work with your systems and avoid problems that can seriously impact your business? In some instances the answer to this question is ‘no’.

One of the first problems you will encounter with selecting a merchant account is that a lot of vendors do not want to give you one. A collection agency is in what is known as a “high risk” category. This is due to the fact that agencies experience a lot of chargebacks. Many merchant accounts do not want the uncertainty of such erratic money flow through their systems. But when you find several merchant account providers that will provide you with an account, here are some areas to examine to help you narrow down your selection.

Security. The number one priority for any system is that it is secure. Whether you are processing payments via credit cards, online, through Automated Clearing House (ACH) or any other system, you must have a system that is secure to Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. This is a requirement; all payment systems must be compliant with PCI standards.

The merchant account provider must be able to prove that they are PCI compliant. When discussing the possibility of setting up an account, ask to see the latest auditing and certification of their system security to the latest PCI standards. Financial transaction companies are required to be re-certified annually, so the company you are considering should be able to produce the certification to prove that they are compliant.

Integration. In today’s high-technology environment, it is impossible for a collection agency to develop their own system that will be PCI compliant and be able to interact successfully with the myriad of computer systems in the financial services industry. This is why systems from vendors that can successfully integrate with both your system and various banks and other financial institutions are advantageous to your agency. They are able to smoothly install into your operating system and accept payments in a timely manner.

It is important that you inquire about the external systems that the merchant account can interface with as well as discussing how well their product can integrate with your system. When the integration process is started, you want it to happen with as little interruption as possible.

Speed and Flexibility. As an agency you want to be able to process payments as quickly as you possibly can. To do that you need a system that offers speed and flexibility. Depending on the technology backing up the software, different payment systems can exhibit a wide variance in speed and usability. In addition, the system must be flexible enough that it can interface and work with whatever system you have and can also be adapted for your particular needs. No two agencies are alike in their needs, so a customizable system is an important consideration.

Experience. Much of the technology in the accounts receivable industry is either new or subject to changes on a fairly regular basis. This is why it is important that the vendor you are considering working with has a significant amount of experience in the industry. Rules and regulations change, different states impose different laws that impact the business and technology shifts every now and then in ways that impact the transactions.

Because of all this it is important that you work with a company that has been involved in the industry for many years. Ask how much experience they have with the industry and how long have they been involved. Do they stay current in the technologies and how do they stay on top of changes in regulations that could impact you such as PCI and any rulings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). There are plenty of vendors who will offer you their products, but not all of them have the experience necessary to ensure that they can help you to be profitable in the long run.

So before you enter into a contract for a merchant account, make sure you have thoroughly examined the vendor and that they match what you need. To learn how BillingTree can help you integrate payment services and solutions into your business that are simple, reliable, compliant and effective, contact us today or call us at 877-424-5587.