Changing your merchant services bank can be an overwhelming process for campus-based organizations due to the significant number of merchants and locations, and the diverse range of payment processes that have been implemented. Whether you are transitioning to a new bank as part of a larger system or state contract, or you have contemplated shopping around for other options internally, there are several key factors that should be considered as part of your decision.
Nothing is more frustrating than when you feel like your emails are being sent into a black hole with no response in sight. Or, if you are receiving a response, but the representative you contact has no background or understanding of your environment. Having a dedicated individual or team assigned to your account is the best way to ensure that you get a timely response to questions regarding technical difficulties, equipment failures, compliance, changes, and new technologies. Asking for and following up on references, and reaching out to your industry partners can play a huge role in helping you discover the real-world experience with any banks you may be considering.
Obviously this is a big one. Costs for accepting payment cards can vary, so be sure that all fees that could be assessed for your environment are clearly spelled out in the initial proposal and within your contract. Include both interchange rates and processing fees in your analysis, and depending on your situation, you may be able to negotiate lower rates. Outside of processing fees, you should also review any additional fees that may be tacked on for account or equipment set-up, gateway access, monthly statements, and/or the use of applications such as web portals for completing annual compliance attestations. Find out which services are optional and discuss your needs before signing on the dotted line.
Accepted Payment Types
It is fairly safe to assume that most banks accept the well-known credit and debit cards, but it is always best to confirm their process for each one. Understand if they handle American Express the same as the others or if there is an alternate process that must be followed. If your organization also accepts prepaid cards, gift cards, campus cards, etc. then be sure to understand how the new bank handles (and charges for) these payment methods.With the increased demand for contactless payments, you will also want to discuss their ability to accept payment methods like Google Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay, etc. Lastly, you will want to review their ability to handle international payments, recurring payments, refunds, etc.
Review the list of available payment solutions and devices that will be provided from the new merchant services bank, and compare these to what your merchants are currently using. It is important to evaluate how the new devices connect (e.g. analog, cellular, IP) and if this is a change in your current connection type (and, therefore, your eligible SAQ). Review the payment terminals for any looming PTS expiration dates, and ensure they are offering the latest technology that allows you to accept chip/EMV cards. You can also find out if they offer any PCI-listed Point to Point Encryption (P2PE) devices or have relationships with any partners that do provide these solutions.
Discuss how the different payment methods are integrated. As you are likely accepting payments across multiple channels (e.g. online, by the phone, in person, or via point of sales terminals), you will want to understand how each merchant account can be set up and integrated with the technology offered by the merchant services bank. You will need to discern which of the current applications and equipment are able to connect to the new processor, and which will need to be replaced.
Discuss their fraud prevention programs, as well as the requirements they will have for your organization for implementing secure and compliant processes. Will your merchants be required to attest compliance within a specific time frame? Do they want to see SAQs for each merchant account, or do they want one single SAQ?
Selecting the right merchant services bank as your partner can help transform how your organization manages payments and can potentially save you both time and money.
If you are considering or planning a change in your bank, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. You may also want to request CampusGuard’s detailed Checklist for Switching Your Merchant Services Provider for more detailed guidance on steps you should take before, during, and after a bank transition.
Some additional guidance from CampusGuard:
[King]: From a customer standpoint, making a card purchase at a POS terminal or via ecommerce may seem like a simple process. But when the curtain is pulled back, an electronic payment transaction turns out to be a highly complex process involving a maze of vendors, technologies, and regulations. Your payment ecosystem stands as an essential and critical part of operations, so finding the right partner is one of the most critical decisions you will be making.