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Best Business Practices: 3 Tips for Effectively Handling Credit Card Chargebacks

If you take credit card payments at your business, you will, inevitably, at one time or another, face a chargeback. And resolving those chargebacks can eat up a huge amount of time and resources — something most small businesses don’t have much of.

The good news: with a little preparation and education, you can put practices in place to make the chargeback process a lot less painful — and way more effective. 

So, you got a chargeback notice. Now what? Follow these best practices:

1. Check the reason code

When you receive a chargeback notice, the very first thing you’ll want to do is check the reason code. The reason code will give you valuable details on the reason why the customer decided to dispute the payment in the first place.

Not only will this help you understand why the customer is disputing the payment, it may provide insight into how to prevent chargebacks for your business going forward.

For instance, one of the most common reasons for a chargeback is that the customer doesn’t recognize the charge on their statement. If that’s the case, you could consider using dynamic descriptors to make sure your charge descriptions are ultra-clear.

Side note: Dynamic descriptors allow a merchant to define what appears on their customer’s credit card statement regarding the purchase. You can include specifics like the product purchased, business name, business location, and contact information. An example of a dynamic descriptor would be: ABC Inc. Annual Membership Renewal 8885551212 versus a static descriptor like: ABC Inc. 8885551212.

2. Make note of important deadlines

After checking the reason code, you’ll want to make note of any important response deadline, since there is a limited timeframe to respond to a chargeback.

The typical timeframe to respond to a chargeback is 120 days; however, in some cases, the timeframe may be longer or shorter depending on the chargeback reason code.

Making note of the deadline to respond is useful in that it helps ensure you don’t miss the window to go to the dispute process, if that is how you decide to proceed.

3. Consider resolving through proactive customer service

Most times, a chargeback request is initiated by a frustrated customer that couldn’t easily recognize where the charge is from.

Before proceeding to the dispute process (a process that involves you, the merchant, having to provide proof that the transaction is valid and can also mean extra processing time and cost to you, and possibly a loss of revenue), consider taking a moment to contact the customer directly to resolve the problem.

Most times, the dispute process can be avoided by contacting the customer. Customers will appreciate that you took the time to proactively contact them and hear them out, and the customer will, most likely, reverse the chargeback by contacting their card issuer.

Again, this proactive contact could go a long way in not just providing stand-out service to your customer, but alerting you to issues that’ll help you prevent chargebacks from happening in the first place.

Chargeback prevention is just as important

While handling chargebacks in the most effective manner is important to your business, it’s also hugely important to put practices in place to prevent a customer from charging back a payment. For chargeback prevention tips, check out our blog article: 7 Ways to Proactively Prevent Credit Card Chargebacks.

If you’d like more information on chargeback prevention, and how Constellation Payments can assist, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 888.244.2160.

Last, but not least, sign up for chargeback alerts

How can you respond to chargebacks if you don’t know a chargeback occurred?!

A great layer of protection for your business is to sign up for chargeback alerts that notify you of any payment disputes posted to your account within 24 hours. You can choose to be notified by fax, or have the chargeback alerts sent by email and online alert. Setting yourself up with chargeback alerts helps ensure you can begin proactively handling chargebacks as soon as they occur.

To sign up for chargeback alerts, contact our Merchant Services Support team at 888.244.2160.

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Help! What Do I Do with Transaction Declines and Blacklisted Transactions?

Declined. Seeing that word flash on your payment terminal, or on a transaction report, is sure to stir up angst in anyone.

But don’t fret.

You’ll be happy to know that with a little education, research, and action, every decline can be resolved. That’s right. Every. One.

Some of the most common declines you’ll see:

  • Authorization revoked
  • No account
  • Card stolen
  • Invalid card number
  • Insufficient funds
  • Card expired
How Should You Handle These Declines?

Some declines are of a softer nature, and are set to detect and prevent fraudulent activity, such as not passing the address verification service (AVS) check.

By collecting needed information, like an updated address or card verification value (CVV), you can simply reattempt the transaction through your software, and most often, the reattempt will be successful.

Other declines may require action by your staff and/or customer. You’ll need to ask your customer to contact their bank to resolve the issue for an authorization revoked decline before the transaction can be retried. For declines such as invalid card number and card expired, you’ll need to ask your customer for an updated card or payment method.

Blacklisted Transaction Report – Make Regular Review Part of Your Business Regimen

It’s important to note that once a transaction is declined, and it isn’t resolved by you or the customer, the transaction can be placed on a blacklist by Constellation Payments’ system.  These transactions are listed as blacklisted transactions and are reported back as such with the return response and the specific action required to update your customer’s account.

This process was created because reattempting transactions on an ACH account that’s blocked due to invalid or incorrect payment details can result in banking fines from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), or you, the merchant, could be charged excessive authorization charges for pushing repeated declined transactions. The Blacklisted Transaction Report helps ensure you aren’t fined for accounts you’re never going to get funds on.

By running and working the Blacklisted Transaction Report, you can be proactive and take the necessary steps to resolve your declines and reduce your decline ratio.  

This report can be retrieved through our reporting API or reported by your batch returns file.

The Big Takeaway

It’s not uncommon for a merchant’s declines to balloon due to repeat attempts on the same payment method.

The best course of action you as a merchant can take is to put more awareness around your declines and use the Blacklisted Transaction Report. By reviewing the reports regularly, and taking actions listed on the Blacklisted Transaction Report, you’ll reduce your declines, and ensure successful processing going forward.

We Can Help

We’re happy to review your declines and Blacklisted Transaction Reports to help create a plan of action for you to reduce your declines. Just give us a call at 888.244.2160 or send an email to sales@csipay.com.

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6 Fun Marketing Ideas to Bring in More Business This Fall

It’s coming. Bright-colored leaves. Cool, crisp air. Pumpkin-flavored everything.

The changing season brings tons of festive fun, and tons of opportunity to raise your customer engagement game, and generate new business.

Not quite sure what promotions to put in place though? Or even where to start?

Here we’ve gathered 6 ideas and some inspiration — from in-store promotions and ecommerce, to selfies on social media:

1. Create ‘Treat Yourself’ Packages

What do a lot of your customers — and prospective customers — have in common? They’re parents. And for many, back to school means back to order and sanity after the Summer.

Show your customers “I get you” by creating Treat Yourself packages to commemorate the start of the school year. 

If you run a salon/spa, consider bundling a manicure, pedicure, massage, and facial. Call it a “Four Hour Vacation”.  

Martial arts studio? Bundle 3 free classes with a personalized assessment. Stress in your marketing message the importance of mom and dad making time for themselves despite their busy schedules.

Treat Yourself packages make great gifts, too. Include the gifting option as part of your promotion. Create simple flyers to pass out and hang around your facility. Send emails to customers and prospects to ensure they’re aware of your new offer. Post on social media.


2. Launch a Fall Photo Contest

People love contests and games; it brings everyone together and provides a sense of accomplishment, while having fun.

No matter what space you operate in — fitness, retail, health/beauty — you can create a fall photo contest. Ask customers/members to post a selfie while at your studio with a designated hashtag. Enter those that post a selfie into a raffle for a prize. Choose a winner weekly and announce it on social media.

You’ll win too — the likes and shares on social media will get your business more exposure, and your customers will come to associate fun with your business.

3. Partner Up

Is your facility part of a shopping mall? Know of a local restaurant, ice cream shop, wine and liquor store, gift shop, or dry cleaning business that might be willing to work with you? One that serves the same community members? Consider reciprocal marketing — where you and another business promote each other’s products and services.

Labor Day weekend is a great time to join forces as people are looking for events and activities to take part in during the holiday. Consider testing the waters with a Labor Day special. Be sure to promote the special with flyers and emails and social media posts.

Just think: if the partnership ends up being successful, you’ll have a great, new marketing channel lined up for the Holiday season and new year.

4. Sponsor a Local Sports Organization

With soccer, football, field hockey, and more Fall sports starting their seasons, sponsoring a youth athletic league, team or club can be a great way to show your support and get your name out in the community.

Many youth athletic associations also hold start-of-the-season and end-of-season ceremonies and tournaments — another opportunity for you and your staff to get out into the community, talk about your products/services, and show your support.


5. Get Your Online Storefront in Tip-Top Shape

It’s not uncommon for business management software to come with ecommerce functionality to run an online store. And even better, when you have a merchant account with Constellation Payments that’s set up to take online and in-person payments, that same payment gateway and account can be used to run and authorize ecommerce orders.

Make sure to take advantage of your software’s capabilities. Active your online storefront. Clean up your product pages and descriptions. Add new products like your new ‘Treat Yourself’ packages (see #1).

Again, create a simple flyer that lets customers know what’s available online for purchase. Send an email to customers and prospects and post about it on social media.

6. Observe Non-Traditional Holidays

Seems like everything under the sun has its own holiday. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to host a themed event of your own — especially if the day, week, or month-long observance relates to the market you serve.

For instance, August is National Wellness Month — a month-long celebration that focuses on self-care and forming healthy routines. You could run a self-care seminar for customers and members with a message that ties into a new Fall promo, a new offering, a new class, or a new service.  

The key is to remember that even if it’s just a one-day holiday, you aren’t limited to just that day. You can celebrate and/or promote awareness of a special cause for days or weeks, depending on what makes sense for your business.

Whatever You Do, Don’t ‘Fall’ Behind

Whatever marketing idea you choose to pursue, remember: You MUST plan ahead in order for your promotion to be effective.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin Franklin
  • Pick a promotion and a date to launch your promotion, then work backwards from that date.
  • At least 2 weeks prior to the launch date, send 2 to 3 emails to your customers and lead list to let them know about the promotion. Note that most business management software comes with built-in email communication tools; some with automated drip campaigns that you could set and run before and during the promotion.
  • Post on social media several times prior to your launch date and during the promotion.
  • Have front-desk staff mention the promotion while checking customers in and out of your facility.
  • Make simple flyers that can be posted around your facility, shared at the front desk, and shared with other businesses.

    Now’s the time. Get planning. Get your staff involved. Get your Fall marketing game down on paper.  The sooner you get your promotion preparation underway, the sooner you bring in new business — and fun — for the Fall season. 

    Have a seasonal marketing idea of your own? Share it below.
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Mid-Year Financial Checkup: 5 Steps Every Business Owner Should Take

CSIPay photo

Remember back in January? Those goals you set for your business?

Like so many of us, your it’s-a-new-year-let’s-crush-it enthusiasm has probably faded a bit. And maybe, now at the halfway point of the year, your business’ fiscal fitness isn’t exactly where you’d like it to be.

Not to worry; mid-year is the perfect time to relax, re-center, and re-focus on those financial goals for a strong year-end finish.  

As a launchpad, we’ve gathered key pointers and considerations for you to add to your checkup to help your business get financially fit — and ready for the second half of the year:

Tip #1: Evaluate costs and ROI

Look at your expenditures and their return on investment. Are you paying a monthly subscription fee for a service, but maybe not getting much out of it? If it isn’t producing a solid return, consider stopping the service and re-purposing those dollars into something else that does more for your business.

Tip #2: Review your cash flow and billing strategy

Do you have cash tied up in unpaid invoices from customers? Many businesses do. And many businesses spend unnecessary time and energy trying to collect those payments.

Instead of repeatedly sending invoices and making phone calls, take a different approach. Consider setting up recurring billing through your business management software to automate invoices, and ensure reliable recurring revenue. This is an especially effective approach for membership-based businesses that have monthly membership fees like fitness clubs, yoga studios, and martial arts schools.

Tip #3: Utilize your software’s financial reporting to gain insight

You’re investing in a business management software, why not use it to its fullest capacity? Most software programs have dashboards and detailed financial reports to help you get a read on key business elements like revenue, sales and value, active members by program, and membership packages.

Utilizing these reports will provide important actionable insights and benchmarks that you can then use to take immediate action and improve business performance.

Tip #4:  Review your online merchant processing statements to get a good read on volume and trends

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with Payments Insider, a new, interactive, online portal that houses all your business’ payment information.

The portal gives you online access to your merchant account credit card statements from the past 13 months. All statements can be filtered by location, statement type, and date range — and you can click on any of the values within the statement for greater detail.

Be sure to pay attention to the tables and graphs provided that break down transactions by sales, returns, chargebacks, card/dollar/transaction amounts and average ticket price. These visual representations of your payment activity can help you quickly identify areas of strength, and those that could use a little help.

Tip #5: Readjust your goals

Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity and a means for guidance and direction. You’ll likely need to readjust your goals based on your past 6-month’s business performance. And that’s OK! Most of us do. The key is to make smart goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound), get them in writing, make an action plan, and stick with them. And be sure to celebrate any and all progress!

Review Your Finances Regularly

Just like taking your car in for regular maintenance checkups, it’s important to take your business into the shoppe on a regular basis. Get under the hood, take a hard look at your business finances, and see what needs to be fine-tuned to improve performance.

Do that, and no doubt, you’ll thank yourself come December 31. You’ll smile hard as you reflect back on the year and how you helped your business achieve peak financial fitness.

Have a success tip of your own? Share it below.
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Suspect Fraud? How and When to Make a Code 10 Authorization Request

It’s another busy Saturday at Barney’s Barbershop. Matt’s scurries to the front desk to ring up Joelle’s last customer. Suddenly, a “Lost / Stolen Card” error message flashes on the terminal. Matt’s heart begins racing. His palms now sweaty. What is he to do?

Though we’ve made significant strides to curb fraudulent activity with new payment technologies like EMV, fraud can, and still does, happen.

The good news is that there are proactive steps you and your staff can take to minimize your risk and effectively manage these situations.  

So, what should Matt do?

If you or a staff member suspect fraud, like Matt, a Code 10 call should be made.

But First, What’s a Code 10 Authorization Request?

A Code 10 Authorization Request is a preventive tool used by merchants to verify additional payment card information, while, at the same time, alerting the card issuer of possible fraudulent activity. 

Think of a Code 10 call as an added layer of prevention for your business that should only be used when suspicious behavior or unusual requests are evident.

Whether you sell products and services face-to-face, like Matt — or over the phone, by mail or online — you can employ a Code 10 Authorization to verify additional information on a suspicious transaction.

In other words, a Code 10 can be used in both card-present and card-not-present transaction environments.

 

When Should a Code 10 Authorization Request be Made?

You should act on your suspicions when the details around a transaction seem unusual.

Examples of suspicious activity in a card-present environment:

  • A customer swipes or inserts their card in the payment terminal, and an error message reading “Pick Up Card” or “Lost / Stolen Card” appears on the payment device.
  • A customer provides a card where the security code or expiration date have been manipulated.
  • The signature on the card and the receipt don’t match.

Examples of suspicious activity in a card-not-present environment:

  • An order is placed by a relay call, an operator-assisted telephone call, typically used by someone who is hearing impaired. While this is a valid service, criminals have been known to use the service to place fraudulent orders.
  • A customer orders a large quantity of the same or similar item. Also, be cautious of large bulk orders with a shipping address of an apartment or self-storage unit.
  • A customer provides multiple card numbers for the same purchase. You should also be leery of multiple card numbers that are only different by the few last numbers.
  • A customer requests overnight delivery, without regard to costs.
  • A customer requests immediate processing of the order and wants the tracking number used for the shipment ASAP.
  • A customer places a phone order, requests immediate processing of the order, and then advises they will have someone come to the store location to pick-up the product.
  • A customer requests delivery to an alternate address, other than the billing address, or the customer requests shipment to a freight forwarder. Criminals are known to use U.S.-based re-shippers to avoid detection of foreign shipments.
  • A customer requests merchandise you do not sell. The most common requests are for cell phones and laptop computers.
How Do You Make a Code 10 Authorization Request?

If you suspect fraud, the very first thing to do is remain calm, then follow these simple instructions:

1. Retain the card in question and let the customer know that you need to make a phone call for additional authorization.

2. Call 1-800-725-1243 and ask to be transferred to the Voice Authorization department.

3. Choose the prompt for ‘Code 10’. You will be transferred to a voice authorization representative who will ask you a series of yes/no questions to verify the cardholder information during your call.

If the cardholder information cannot be verified by the voice authorization representative, the information will then be forwarded to an investigator for further research. You will receive the results of the investigation within 24-72 hours.

4. Follow the representative’s instructions. In some instances, you may be asked to retain the card and call law enforcement. Only proceed if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, process the transaction and contact the card processor as soon as the customer leaves the site.

Your Best Line of Defense

Matt remembered he and his team had recently reviewed the protocol for situations like this. With that, he breathed a sigh of relief, then calmly made a Code 10 call.  Matt answered the representative’s questions in a normal tone and followed their instructions.

Like Matt and his team, it’s important to review these steps with staff, so they manage these situations in the most effective manner. Also, be sure to keep the contact information for reporting fraud easily accessible to all employees.  

It’s worth noting that Code 10 Authorization calls can also serve as part of your chargeback prevention plan. For more tips on preventing fraudulent transactions in card-present and card-not-present environments, see the articles: 7 Ways to Proactively Prevent Credit Card Chargebacks and How to Prevent In-Person & Online Fraudulent Transactions That Can Result in Chargebacks

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Need Your Money Quicker? Standard ACH & Same Day Funding Explained


Few things are more important in business than cash flow.

That’s why it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions we get at Constellation Payments is: “Can I get my funding quicker?”

The short answer is “Yes! We offer same day funding which will speed up your deposits.”

But, before making the leap to same day funding, it’s important to understand the difference between standard ACH and same day funding to ensure you make the right call for your business.

What is standard ACH funding?

When you are set up with a Constellation Payments merchant account, your funds are electronically deposited as an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction into your designated bank deposit account.

With standard ACH funding, you’re funded within 2 business days from when you submit your batch. The cut-off time for batching is 10 pm ET.

For example, if you batch on Monday by 10 pm ET, you’ll receive your funds by Wednesday.

What is same day funding?

For those that need their money quicker, we offer the convenience of same day funding.

Instead of waiting 2 days for funds to be deposited, you’ll receive your funds the same day as long as you batch by 6 am ET.

Here’s an example for context: Say you’re a fitness facility that closes at 9 pm ET Monday night and batches before 10 pm. On the standard ACH funding schedule, your funds will be deposited on Wednesday.

With same day funding, if you batch by 10 pm ET on Monday — or anytime up until 6 am ET Tuesday — you would get your funds by Tuesday. As long as you batch by 6 am that day, you will receive your funding the same day.

Other noteworthy points to consider for same day funding:

  • Same day funding does not fund on the weekends or holidays. Batches that you submit on Saturday or Sunday are funded on Monday.

  • There is a monthly fee for the convenience of same day deposits since your funds are being put into a specialized rail with the Federal Reserve to speed up the normal funding process.

  • There is a batch limit of $25,000 with same day funding.

  • Same day funding is currently not available for all Canadian merchants. Merchants in Canada that bank with one of the following banks, and submit their batches by 6 am ET, can receive same day funding at no additional cost: Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion.
Which funding schedule is right for you?

Of course, accelerating your funding to same day gives you more capital to work with — enabling you to purchase inventory, meet payroll, and make payments on bills and loans more readily.

Consider your business type, its own expenditures, and its unique needs to determine which schedule is right for you. And, if you need some assistance, we are here, as always, to help. Give us a call at 888.244.2160.

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Manage Incoming Payments Like a Pro: 3 Tools to Start Using Today

Ever begin using an app that immediately becomes part of your everyday, leaving you thinking: “How DID I ever get along without this?”   

That’s how you’ll likely come to feel about these three tools.  

Incorporated into your business routine, they’ll quickly become your go-tos — making it far easier to keep your finger on the pulse of your business and its funds. 

Before getting started, you’ll want to sign up for a My Payments Insider account, if you haven’t already. My Payments Insider is your primary source for managing your merchant account, and accessing all your business’ payment information.  

To register, fill out the form here. A confirmation email will be sent to you with instructions to complete your account set-up. 

Now, about those tools 

1. Interactive Online Statements 

How much was deposited to my account last month?” …  “10 months ago?” …  “What did I pay in chargeback fees? 

You can easily get answers to questions like these with My Payments Insider. Within the portal, you have access to statements from the past 13 months that can be viewed online and easily downloaded to PDF, CSV, or XLSX. No more waiting for paper statements to be mailed to you and storing paper documents at your facility. All statements are secure and in one spot for easy access whenever you need them.  

Even better, the statements are interactive, meaning you can: 

  • Filter by business location, statement type, and date range (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and year) 
  • Change views to deposits, fees, chargebacks and adjustment activity 
  • Drill down to batch and transaction level to get greater detail 

2. Funding Alerts  

No doubt cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. And like a monitor records the activity of the heart, you need a tool to keep a pulse on cash flow. Funding alerts are a quick and easy way to do that.  

With funding alerts, you’ll know the moment funds have been settled and processed to your account.  

To sign up, follow the steps below or call our Support Team at 888.244.2160, option 2.  

  1. Click on the ‘Personal Information’ dashboard tile 
  2. Click ‘Notifications’ 
  3. Check the ‘Funding/bank activity’ box 
  4. Enter your mobile phone number  

Select your merchant ID (MID) or all business locations. You’ll receive one text message per MID. 

3. Chargeback Alerts 

Managing chargebacks and retrievals can be a difficult and confusing part of payment processing. And, if you don’t respond to a dispute within the allotted timeframe, the banks will simply process the chargeback. (Typical timeframe is 120 days, however, in some cases, the timeframe may be longer or shorter depending on the chargeback reason code.)  

Chargeback alerts help you stay on top of payment disputes. With this service, you’ll be notified by fax, or by email and online alert, of any payment disputes posted to your account within 24 hours, so you can proactively handle chargebacks as soon as they’re made.  

Also, within the portal, you can set preferences for your alerts whether it’s new chargeback and retrieval cases, status updates, high value amounts, and case aging. My Payments Insider also includes a broad selection of reports to manage your activities and measure your results. 

To enroll for chargeback alerts, contact our Support Team at 888.244.2160, option 2 or open a ticket under the “Request a Change” reason and add notes to sign up for chargeback alerts via email. 

The Tool’s In Your Court 

Like outfitting a gym with essential equipment to train effectively, businesses need to incorporate the right tools to manage money effectively. Start using these three today to keep your finger on the pulse of your business and its funds, and make managing incoming payments a whole lot easier. 

Have a question about the tools listed here? Post your question below or visit our Support Hub Portal.

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Form 1099-K: What Business Owners Need to Know

Receive a 1099-K form? Not sure what it is or what it’s used for? Here’s a brief overview to get you quickly up to speed and in the know this tax season.   

What is a 1099-K? 

Form 1099-K, also called Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, is an IRS information return form that is used to report transactions that are made by a payment settlement entity.   

In other words, if you use a service, like the payment processing provided by Constellation Payments, a third-party processor to process your credit cards and debit cards online, the transactions that were processed by the payment settlement entity are reported on Form 1099-K. 

Who is Issued Form 1099-K? 

Form 1099-K forms are mailed to our customers via USPS and are sent to the same address where monthly statements are sent. 

A copy is simultaneously sent to both the IRS and the merchant.  

It’s important to note that not all business owners who process credit card and debit card payments online are issued a 1099-K. There are minimum reporting thresholds. In most cases, a 1099-K is not issued unless: 

The payment settlement entity processed more than $20,000 worth of payments on behalf of the merchant annually, AND the payment settlement entity processed more than 200 individual transactions on behalf of the merchant annually. 

What Should I Do with My 1099-K? 

Form 1099-K should be used when preparing your annual tax return. According to the IRS, separate reporting of the transactions on Form 1099-K is not required.  Be sure though to add the income that is reported on your 1099-K to your total business income when you file your taxes.  
 
For more information, see the General FAQs on Payment Card and Third Party Transactions from the IRS.   

Have a question regarding Form 1099-K that wasn’t answered here? Post your question below or visit our Support Hub Portal.

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PCI Data Security: The #1 Misconception That Can Harm Your Business and Its Reputation

There’s a common misconception about PCI compliance, that, if not addressed, can seriously harm the very business and professional image you’ve worked so hard to build.

The misconception? That your business does not need to become PCI compliant and renew its certification each year.

It’s easy to see how this misconception could come about. Most small businesses use a business management software, and work with third-party merchant services provider, like Constellation Payments, to help run their business.

Yes, the software provider is PCI-certified, and the merchant services provider is also PCI-certified.

However, working with PCI-certified vendors does not exempt a business from having to show their own compliance. All businesses that participate in the payment transaction process must adhere to PCI compliance standards. The process includes more than running payments through your software.

The payment transaction process includes how credit card and debit card payment information is handled at the front desk in fitness clubs and gyms, at the counter in salons and spas, on a tablet for on-the-go businesses like personal training, at the register in a retail store, and so on.

How Do I Get My Business PCI-Certified?

To become PCI-certified, your business must complete the self-assessment questionnaire annually.

Fortunately, there are many resources to help with PCI certification – ones that make it a relatively pain-free process.

At Constellation Payments, as part of our solution, each merchant is enrolled in the PCI Plus Protection Program that’s provided by well-known Quality Security Assessor, Sysnet.

What’s great about this program is that you get hands-on help. The team at Sysnet will guide you through the entire process to help you complete your self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ). And they’ll confirm all answers.

Once the questionnaire is completed, you’ll be able to download your validation certificate and then send the certificate to your merchant processor to have on file.

What Happens if My Business Isn’t PCI-Certified?

1. You could lose the ability to accept credit cards.

If there are possible breaches of card association regulations, the card brands could revoke your right to process credit cards.

2. You could get hit with a big financial loss.

Non-PCI-compliant merchants can face fines of up to $500,000.00 in the event of a data breach.

In addition, PCI non-compliance can result in penalties ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month by the credit card companies. These penalties depend on the volume of clients, the volume of transactions, the level of PCI-DSS that the company should be on, and the time that the company has been non-compliant. For example, the penalties for a Level 1 company that has not met the requirements for more than 7 months, could reach up to $100,000 monthly.

Merchant level identification is based on the total volume of transactions per year. See VISA’s site for detail on each level and level requirements.

3. You could lose clients and business.

All it takes is one data breach – no matter its size – to damage your business financially and inflict irreparable damage to your business reputation.

4. You’ll be subject to monthly non-compliance fees.

US businesses that have not completed their annual self-assessment questionnaire, and have not demonstrated PCI-DSS compliance, are subject to a $59.99 per month non-compliance fee.

At Constellation Payments, this fee is meant as an incentive to complete your PCI compliance self-assessment questionnaire to ensure you’re handling and processing credit and debit card payments in a safe and secure manner. Once a merchant has completed their questionnaire demonstrating compliance, the fee drops to $0.

The Benefits Beyond Data Security

Being PCI compliant doesn’t just ensure your business is following the rules and regulations. PCI compliance also helps your business growth and reputation. Knowing your systems are secure, consumers can trust you with their sensitive information and have confidence that their information is safe and protected.

Confident customers that trust you are more likely to do business with you again and become loyal, repeat shoppers. They’re also likely to recommend you to their friends.

Another key benefit of compliance: it improves your reputation with acquirers (banks and financial institutions that process credit and debit cards on your behalf).

Compliance also improves your reputation with payment brands such as VISA and MasterCard.

The Small Time Investment to Become PCI Compliant is Well Worth the Big Gains in Consumer Confidence and Peace of Mind

While it does take some time and effort to become PCI-compliant, it’s well worth it to gain customer trust and confidence — and avoid catastrophic data breaches that can destroy your business.

Not PCI compliant? Make today the day you become certified to protect your livelihood.

Or as the PCI Security Standards Council website so aptly states, “You’ve worked hard to build your business — make sure you secure your success by securing your customers’ payment card data.”

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Global Payment Perspectives: Key Considerations that Can Make or Break Your POS Software Global Expansion – Part 2

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Thinking of expanding your POS software into international markets? Great! As a global merchant services company, we can help you do that. We’re able to provide a single gateway integration that allows software companies to enter foreign markets without having to integrate with multiple new banks and acquirers.

But First …

When going into new markets, I always advise my clients to make sure you’ve done your due diligence. In a previous post, I talked about the first step to take before entering international markets. Please check out that post first if you haven’t.

My last post covered specific considerations to take into account before global expansion.

There’s a bit more I wanted to cover, so let’s get into it and complete our list of key considerations.

1. Regional and Cultural Payment Preferences

Payment preferences are very different in different countries. You’ll want to know the common practices in the country you’re expanding into.

For instance, did you know, over 58% of online transactions that occur in Asia Pacific are done with alternative payment methods — not with standard credit cards or even direct debit?

In Asia Pacific, consumers pay with alternative payment methods like PayPal e-wallet services that are specifically geared towards specific regions.

Another example of payment differences: In Europe, especially in Germany, consumers prefer to set up direct debit for any transaction. Whether it’s their cable bill or gym membership, they are not accustomed to payment with a credit card. They prefer to use direct debit.

2. Consumer Behavior from a Consumption Perspective

You’ll want to consider different cultural differences when deciding which regions to expand into. For example, maybe you sell software used by fitness centers and are considering expanding to the Middle East-North African region. If one of those areas is primarily Muslim — which is one of the predominant religions in that region — you’ll want to consider making adaptations to your software to allow for cultural differences that would happen in a health club environment.

An example: you might want to provide the ability for women to have their own spaces or times to exercise without men present, and vice versa. You’ll likely want to account for that somewhere in your software so that the set-up of that software can include specific hours for specific groups that may need their own time.

3. International Fulfillment

If your product is typically sold domestically and you’re selling internationally, you’ll want to make sure your customer understands the logistics of shipping. Communicate the logistics by way of your marketing materials and website. Make sure the communication is clear and concise about what the fulfillment times are going to be, so that you set clear expectations.

4. Regulatory Issues

There are regulatory and legal issues to consider when moving into specific foreign markets. For example, the UK has specific, strict requirements to protect consumers from unauthorized charges. It takes a good while for a bank transfer to be authorized before you can begin debiting someone’s account.

If you want to debit someone’s account on the first of the month, that process needs to start anywhere from 10-14 days prior. There’s a customer mandate which is essentially the customer giving permission for you to debit their account and that must be submitted at some point 10-14 days prior to the day you want to debit their account.

Additionally, if consumers have an issue, you need to make sure everything is compliant. PCI compliance applies in all countries. Specific things about how customers will be charged needs to be communicated. If you are not a native speaker, you may need a website designer that can provide you a native language website and ongoing website support.

5. Legal Partner

It’s strongly recommended you hire legal counsel that can advise you to the nuances associated with moving into new international markets and make sure you’re following local laws of the region.

One international issue in some countries is that if you wish to process payments, you must have a local entity where mail can be sent and meetings can take place face to face with representatives of the company. This is particularly the case in the Middle East.

Yes, there’s a lot to consider before expanding internationally. And while this post and Part 1 of Key Considerations for POS Software Global Expansion give you a good starting point, it is by no means exhaustive.

However, I’m by no means trying to deter you from expanding. There’s much opportunity and business to be had when expanding globally. It’s just in your best interest to take the necessary steps to consider the entire picture along with the opportunity.

Many of Constellation Payments’ partners found integrating with our gateway more preferable than doing it themselves. With a single gateway integration, they were afforded access to multiple foreign markets and gained a partner already familiar with the payments landscape they were preparing to enter.

As always, if you have questions about our global payment capabilities or expanding your business into specific regions, feel free to give us a call at 888.248.7060 or send an email to sales@csipay.com.

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globeGoing Global: How to Successfully Sell Your Software Internationally

Considering expanding to international markets? Request a copy of our 30-minute webinar for more tips and guidance on growing your base outside the U.S.

 

 

 

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