5 Secure Payment Methods to Accept Credit Cards at Your Business
Credit cards continue to be an important payment for both consumers and businesses when they conduct transactions in a physical location, online, or through a mobile device.
As a business owner, one of many challenges is that you want to be able to offer credit card acceptance in order to attract as many customers as possible that may prefer this payment method. However, in being aware of the growing environment for fraud and increasing chargebacks, it’s critical that you know the most secure way to accept credit cards while also finding a solution that helps you get paid quickly.
Here are five secure methods of payment to consider:
#1 Merchant Account
A merchant account will let you accept credit cards online, in-store, and mobile, offering a way to help your business if you have an omnichannel presence. The merchant account services provider is essentially a middleman that takes care of the entire process, offering the tools, equipment, and software necessary to handle credit card transactions. The equipment includes items for in-person credit card processing like POS terminals, PIN-pad terminals, wireless terminals, EVM acceptance, etc. This assistance typically includes numerous security features, which vary between merchant account providers so it’s important to know what is available and what each offers you. Make sure you partner with a company that offers you the most security features and provides you with a way to stay PCI-compliant and EMV-compliant.
The advantages are that a merchant account can cover all aspects of your credit card acceptance needs as an all-in-one solution. And, you don’t have to pay exorbitant fees to get all that so ensure to do your research and shop around.
#2 Mobile Payment Processor
This method for credit card acceptance is a secure way to process cards anytime, anywhere. If your business is a brick-and-mortar store or you are a street vendor or operate a food truck and doesn’t rely on a cash register or other equipment, then this could be your ideal solution. Similar to a merchant account provider, a mobile payment processor creates a merchant account to receive credit card payments but does so wirelessly. Equipment includes a smartphone or tablet along with a card reader that can plug into a mobile device. Security is very similar to a merchant account provider in terms of PCI compliance as well as encryption keys, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and other measures designed to kick in should a device used to process the credit cards be lost or stolen.
The benefit is using a secure credit card payment method that travels with you no matter where you are, but it is important to review mobile processing companies to assess which one offers the most competitive fee schedule and list of features.
#3 Point-of-Sale System
Also known as a POS system, this option for securely accepting credit cards combines a merchant account with software and equipment as well as provides a way for a retailer to manage customers and inventory, generate sales reports, and cover many operational aspects of the business. It can be a stationary or mobile system and is ideal for retailers, restaurants, and service companies that have a physical location. To use this method, you will again most likely be required to have a merchant account, but some POS system providers are known as payment aggregators process through payment gateways and deposit the funds directly into your bank account. Equipment and fees come with this credit card acceptance method, but security is also assured through PCI compliance, encryption, SSL, password protection, data backups and remote wiping for when and if any of the devices or equipment is stolen.
The main benefit of this method is that it is an all-in-one solution that covers so many aspects of your business beyond just processing payments. However, some cons include the time it takes for equipment set-up and training as well as long-term contracts and significant fees unless you can negotiate those lower.
#4 Online Payment Gateway
Any business that wants to do business on the Internet, whether they have a physical location or not can use this method for processing credit cards. This is a good method particularly for businesses that don’t have high credit card volume as well as those that may be in what are considered high-risk businesses. Costs to use this service seem to vary greatly from company to company, so it’s good to do research on what is charged and whether any of the fees are negotiable. Because it’s strictly an online credit card processing method, security typically is maxed out, using multiple layers to stop hacking and data breaches. There is no need to get merchant services approval to use an online payment gateway and is easy to set-up and use. However, it can be expensive, especially in a high-risk business.
#5 Software and Payment APIs
For those businesses that may prefer a software package and more control over the process, there are solutions that you can purchase to enable credit card payments, but you will still have to form some type of relationship with your bank in order to do the actual processing. Additionally, there are APIs, which are tools for developers that provide a way to customize any type of payment processing methods for your online credit card processing. This includes having the payment platform integrate with other software that runs different aspects of your business or that enables a greater level of personalization and security. Both these options are recommended for a business that has some technical prowess or a team of experts on board or at the ready to assist with this process. Otherwise, it’s best for you to go with one of the other options on this list.
Do you need a solution that integrates and syncs all your data together, including Customer Relationship Management, inventory, sales, payroll and payments information? Do you want a solution that you can work with no matter where you are or can you work with a payment processing system just within a physical store location?
These are decisions you will need to make along with spending considerable time ensuring you have a trustworthy credit card processing partner that keeps your business and customer information safe.
About the Author:
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a Blogging Expert by Time. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.