Key Payment Trend for 2017: Growing Use of Mobile Payments, What Business Owners Need to Know

Read through any payment trends list for the new year and you’re sure to find this: mobile payments will continue to rise throughout 2017.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Consumers go everywhere with their smartphones. It’s only logical that they’d use their mobile devices to pay on the go too.

What’s a Mobile Payment?

A mobile payment is the buying of products and services through wireless devices such as smartphones, tablets and smartwatches. Instead of paying with cash, check or credit cards, a consumer uses their mobile device to pay.

You can see mobile payments in action at many retail stores.

Take Starbucks® for instance. The majority of their loyal customers have the Starbucks® app on their Android or iPhone.

Each day, thousands of faithful patrons line up with their phone to pay for their coffee. The app is cleverly tied in to Starbucks® customer loyalty program, so app users collect stars and earn free drinks and food. The Starbucks® app is connected to the customer’s debit card or credit card, or a mobile payment app like Apple Pay.

Using the app to pay is quick … a customer taps a few buttons on the app, a bar code appears, the barista scans the phone with a reader. Done! There are endless opportunities for Constellation Payments software partners to utilize in-app payment processing. Gym owners could allow prospective members to purchase trial programs, or allow active members to purchase personal training sessions. Hotels could allow guests to book a spa appointment and pay right from the spa’s app.

But mobile payments don’t happen through apps alone. They also occur through mobile-optimized webpages. A few taps on your phone or tablet allows you to add products and services to your shopping cart, enter your payment info and complete purchases on the go.

What’s Spurring Mobile Payment Growth?

It’s important to know that digital wallet payments are becoming the norm – especially among millennials. People want their purchases to be quick and seamless wherever they go. Users are willingly switching to digital wallet payments because of the speed and convenience it provides compared to using traditional credit cards.

And, as we’ve seen with the advent of EMV in the U.S., consumers often times consider inserting a chip card into an EMV terminal to be more time-consuming. Plus, the majority of EMV terminals also support contactless payment methods like Apple Pay and Android Pay. That alone may propel consumers to move past using their chip cards and be more likely to pay with their mobile device.

How Business Owners Can Leverage the Growing Use of Mobile Payments

1. Contactless Payments

If you’re a Constellation Payments customer and use an integrated payment terminal, you’re set. Our integrated terminals have contactless payment functionality built in. Customers who have either an iPhone or Android phone can make purchases by holding their phone in close proximity to your terminal reader.  Again, if you serve millennials, this functionality is key. It’s expected.

Note that your provider may need to activate your terminal’s contactless payments functionality for you depending on the software you use.

2. Mobile-Optimized Browser Payments

If you run an online store through your software or operate an ecommerce site, you’re going to want to make sure it’s mobile-optimized. That means going through the site and checkout process to make sure there are zero barriers to making a purchase – and that the transaction process is smooth, easy and secure.

3. In-App Payments

You may also want to consider an app for your business. Being able to not only take payments, but also perform key functions with a smartphone, like check in to a class or book an appointment, are becoming increasingly common.

At Constellation Payments, we have a module that can be used for in-app iOS transactions as a standalone or integrated solution via our API. Support for Android devices will be available April this year. In both cases, some development is required for any software company that wishes to use this functionality.

Giving Your Customers a Fast, Convenient Way to Pay

Now’s the time to embrace mobile payment technology. We can help. Our integrated payment terminals will give you immediate contactless payment functionality. Run an ecommerce site? We can build a mobile-optimized hosted payment page — enabling your business to sell online securely while taking your business out of PCI scope.

For additional guidance, send an email to or call us at 888.244.2160.

Second in-post image courtesy of Pixabay.

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4 Facts that Prove Software-Integrated Terminals are Better for Business

Why should a business use an integrated terminal provided by Constellation Payments when the same brand and model of terminal can be found online for the same – and sometimes lower – price?

It’s a legitimate question we’re often asked.

An integrated terminal provided by Constellation Payments is configured specifically to process transactions that flow through POS modules contained in larger software platforms for different verticals, like salon management software, gym management software, and government agency management software.

The key difference comes from the enhanced features and ongoing support provided by a team of IT and payment security experts. Terminals are marketed in many places for very low prices … even free! You should know too that many processors “low ball” terminal pricing and then make up the difference with higher processing fees which continue for years – therefore cancelling out the perceived up-front savings on the hardware.

But let’s get more in-depth. Let’s look specifically at the key facts, features and benefits of using a software-integrated terminal compared to an off-the-shelf, non-integrated terminal.

1. Software-Integrated Terminals Save Time

Integrated terminals are customized to work exclusively with your business management software tools. Our partners who produce that software have specifically endorsed Constellation Payments as a preferred provider of integrated payment processing.

Non-integrated terminals, on the other hand, are NOT configured to work with a specific point of sale or business management software product. That also means that there’s no point of sale data synchronization. Front desk employees will have to manually enter payment details into the terminal, and then manually enter the data into the point of sale software in order to have accurate bookkeeping.

2. Software-Integrated Terminals Deliver the Ultimate in Data Security

Off-the-shelf non-integrated terminals are only installed with the minimum required security software.

Conversely, Constellation Payments integrated terminals have been upgraded to include not only the manufacturer’s default security protocols, but also include our own proprietary code, including point-to-point (P2P) encryption and tokenization.

3. Continuous Updates Happen Automatically with Software-Integrated Terminals

With a non-integrated terminal, it’s the merchant’s responsibility to be aware of security software updates and update their terminals accordingly. Who has time for that?

With Constellation Payments’ software-integrated terminals, the terminals are periodically updated overnight to include the latest security software, including upgrades from Constellation Payments protocol, as well as manufacturer updates and patches.

4. Software-Integrated Terminals Reduce PCI Scope

Merchants that use a stand-alone, off-the-shelf, non-integrated terminal must pass rigorous PCI scope analysis by processors before being permitted to use the terminal.

Constellation Payments’ integrated terminals, on the other hand, are configured to communicate directly with the processor by a dedicated Internet connection. This means that no customer card data is passed through the POS software, which isolates a business from PCI scope and allows the terminal to be used immediately upon activation.

Let Us Help …

At Constellation Payments, we offer an array of integrated terminals to meet every budget with choice to buy or rent.

For additional guidance on choosing a terminal, call 888.244.2160 or send us an email at

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How Payments Are Done: The Most Popular Posts of 2016

If you’re going to read any articles from the How Payments Are Done blog, these five are it. Some clear up the confusion around specific payment processing jargon and technical complexities like “What’s the difference between a surcharge and a convenience fee? Who can charge what?”.

Other articles cover critical, need-to-know payment challenges like how to reduce the chance of chargebacks from occurring.

Check out the most popular posts of the year … share them … then let us know which one’s your favorite by commenting below.

Take Charge(back)! How to Proactively Prevent Credit Card Chargebacks [Infographic]

If you accept credit cards at your business, it’s nearly impossible to rid yourself of chargebacks. The good news? There are steps you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of chargebacks from happening.

Check out this handy infographic for seven proactive pointers — perfect for sharing on your social pages, with colleagues and at your next team meeting.

8 Elements Every Great Business Partnership Must Have

“Great partnerships just don’t happen.” Research shows there are elements that are essential for creating great alliances.

In this article, Constellation Payments CEO, Steve Pinado, outlines the eight components of effective partnering as identified in the book, “Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life” by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, Ph.D.

What better time than now to measure your partnerships against these components and see how they stack up?

Convenience Fees & Surcharges: What’s the Difference? What’s Permitted? What’s Not?

How does a convenience fee differ from a surcharge? What if you’re a government agency, a school, college or university? What’s allowed?

This post spells out the differences between the two fee types, the rules around each and what businesses are allowed to charge extra — a great primer providing clarity around what can be a very confusing topic.

Understanding Credit Card Processing Charges? A Look at Interchange, Tiered and Flat Rate Pricing

Trouble reading your statements or evaluating rates? This article explains — in simple terms — the different pricing options and methods of billing available for merchant processing services through Constellation Payments.

Glossary of Payment Processing Terms

That payment processing jargon I spoke of earlier? Here’s a great go-to resource worth bookmarking. This glossary defines the most commonly-used payment processing terms in simple, easy-to-understand language.

So, what do you think? What’s your favorite article? Have a topic you want to see covered? Comment below and let us know.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the How Payments Are Done blog and look forward to sharing more payment education, strategies and insights in 2017.

Kristen Campbell is the Marketing Brand Manager at Constellation Payments.

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What’s the Gateway Integration Process Look Like from Beginning to End?

In a recent blog post, Selecting the Right Payment Technology Partner for Your Software Business, we included a list of essential components to look for when choosing a payment technology partner.

One of those key pieces is a well-thought-out, comprehensive integration plan.

As with any endeavor, you need to know what is involved and what is needed before committing to that project and getting started.

So what’s involved in the gateway integration process at Constellation Payments?

Here’s an overview of the process and phases when integrating with our gateway — from “Kick-off” to “Go Live”:

1. Integration Guide

At Constellation Payments, we first provide a thorough Integration Guide, as well as online access to API information and guides that merchants and channel partners use for processing transactions, analyzing previous transactions, dealing with chargebacks and more. The Integration Guide clearly spells out API specifications and supported operations.

2. Kick-off Meeting

After necessary support documentation has been provided to the channel partner, the Constellation Payments Channel Partner Project Manager meets with your team to discuss use cases, integration types, the integration process and next steps. The meeting typically takes an hour.

If applicable, a demo of your current environment is requested to help define project scope and requirements.

3. Finalize Project Scope

The scope will be identified during the kickoff meeting. The next step is to complete an integration form to validate the integration strategy. The Constellation Payments Integration team will use the details from the form to build your test account in our test environment.

4. Test Environment Set-Up

The next step is to confirm your test environment access with the account credentials provided. If your project includes terminal integration, you are asked to complete a Development Terminal Order Form.

5. Complete Development

A standard implementation is spread throughout a 4-week development phase. The Constellation Payments Integration team is available for any questions your team may have during your development. Also, during this time, there is a weekly development status meeting to review open issues and guide you through the completion of the development.

6. Perform Testing

A test plan is provided based on your implementation type (Real Time, Batch, Terminal). Testing includes transactions with various approvals and declines for each transaction type, card types and various payment options. The Constellation Payments Integration team will certify that your transactions contain the appropriate parameters.

This phase starts with a test kickoff meeting and includes weekly testing status.

7. Production Set-Up

At this point, the production environment is set up with access for your team. The Constellation Payments Channel Partner Project Manager will coordinate with the Constellation Payments Sales team for merchant onboarding.

8. Production Go Live

A production readiness review will confirm all testing and production set-up is complete to ensure you are ready to go live. Initial transactions will be monitored by the Constellation Payments Integration team.

At this point, you are integrated with Constellation Payments!

If you’re looking to integrate with Constellation Payments’ gateway, or have any implementation or gateway questions, feel free to contact us at 888.248.7060.

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What’s a Cloud-Based Terminal Solution? What’s the Advantage Compared to a Traditional Terminal Set-Up?

Did you know Constellation Payments is one of the first in the payments industry to offer a cloud-based terminal solution?

A cloud-based terminal solution is where merchants simply connect their terminal to the Internet to make payments that are initiated from their software application.

Traditional Terminal Solution vs. Cloud-Based Terminal Solution

With the cloud-based solution, the gateway is in the middle of the process flow with a direct connection to the terminal. This is a shift from the traditional terminal solution where the software would be in the middle of the process flow and interact with the terminal directly.

To get a bit more specific … say a merchant, a gym owner, processes a transaction through one of our channel partner’s software, EZFacility. The EZFacility software sends that request to the Constellation Payments transaction gateway. The gateway will then interact with the terminal until the transaction is complete. Once completed, the transaction details are sent to the software application.

The Process Flow of a Cloud-Based Terminal Solution

*Note that initially the terminal needs to be connected to the gateway prior to this process taking place.

  1. Merchant initiates the transaction in their software application and the software sends a request to the Constellation Payments gateway.
  2. The Constellation Payments gateway connects to the terminal, prompting the cardholder through the transaction. The transaction processes and forwards the response to the gateway.
  3. The completed transaction response is sent to the software application.

>> Click here to view the full-size Flow Chart


Why Go with a Cloud-Based Terminal Solution?

Many merchants don’t have an on-site IT team to assist with the set-up connections. They don’t have an IT team to install drivers or web services to allow communications over a USB to connect via the traditional terminal approach.

That said, the main benefit is that the cloud-based terminal solution reduces the IT set-up and maintenance involved. With the cloud-based terminal solution, the terminal simply needs an Internet connection to connect to the cloud.

Our cloud terminal solution is versatile, supporting both on-premise and web applications. In December 2016, we are releasing a mobile option for our cloud terminal solution for card present transactions!

In all cases, the application just needs to have the terminal identified when initiating the sale transaction for the Constellation Payments gateway to connect to the terminal.

If you are looking for ways to simplify your terminal solution, or have any questions about our terminal solution set, feel free to reach out to our integration team at

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Selecting the Right Payment Technology Partner for Your Software Business [SlideShare]

The SaaS marketplace. It’s crowded. Fiercely competitive.

To stay in the game — and remain relevant — you MUST provide valued solutions that prevent your software users from seeking an alternative option.

Integrated payment technology can be one of those unique differentiators that sets your software apart from the rest, increases customer loyalty, and boosts retention.

But finding the right payment technology partner can be an extremely arduous task. Where do you even begin? What should you look for in a payment technology partner?

Start with This Slide Deck

This visual shortlist of must-haves is a great starting point to get you on your way to finding the right payment technology partner for your software business.

Take a look and share it with others. Comment below.


As always, if you have any questions about selecting a payment technology partner — or how Constellation Payments can assist you as a single-source provider for all your software-integrated payment processing needs — call 888.248.7060 or email


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Help! I Want to Switch to Constellation Payments But Already Have a Relationship with My Bank. What Do I Do?

I use a software application that’s integrated with your platform. I’ve heard good things about your customer service and I’m excited about the potential cost-savings. The problem is I already have a relationship with my bank.”


We understand that a lot of businesses have relationships with their bank.

When you first open up a business, you often get a new checking account and you may use other services with your bank. It seems like the natural thing to do is to set up a merchant account with the bank you’re working with.

However, in order to get the best service and payment processing power added to the software you’re using, you’ll want your merchant account to come from Constellation Payments.

Having a merchant account with us makes payment processing secure and fluid … ultimately a lot easier for you because our payment processing platform and scalable technology is already integrated with the software you’re using.

Instead of having to exit your software application and run some other program to process payments, you’ll be able to process payments directly within your software and benefit from other software-integrated solutions Constellation Payments provides such as tokenization and recurring billing (depending on the software you use).

So what do you do? We don’t advise ending your relationship with your bank. In fact, we encourage you to continue working with your bank for your checking account, savings account and other services. But we also advise having your merchant account with Constellation Payments, so that you benefit from the robust payment processing capabilities that integrate with your software – and make your business life a lot easier at the same time.


Have a question of your own? We’re here to help! If have any questions regarding the merchant account sign-up process, or how Constellation Payments can assist your business with payment processing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 888.244.2160 or send an email to

Angela Summa is the Vice President of Constellation Payments. She is responsible for business development, implementation, channel partner support, and merchant support. Her goal is to ensure businesses offer the highest level of payment processing security and ease of processing to customers. You can reach Angela by sending an email to

Image courtesy of Pixabay.


Get Our Best Advice Sent to Your Inbox!

Subscribe to our blog, How Payments Are Done, to receive continual guidance on important payment topics.

Enter your email address into the Subscribe box above and we’ll send you our latest posts as soon as they’re published!

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Improving Your Bottom Line with a Single-Source Payment Technology Partner [Infographic]

I have a merchant services provider. Why should I switch to Constellation Payments?

While cost-savings is certainly a plus, there are other big-picture advantages for merchants that move to Constellation Payments for their payment processing and merchant services.

Having an all-in-one payment processing solution — one point of contact for gateway services, the merchant account and software-integrated payment solutions — streamlines support, eliminates multiple implementations and gives merchants overall greater control.

We’ve put together an infographic to illustrate this point. The infographic shows the process flow WITHOUT Constellation Payments and WITH Constellation Payments.

Ultimately, a single point of contact will save merchants time and money, which leads to increased output and growth.

CLICK HERE to view the full-size infographic

soConnect with Constellation Payments

There are lots of ways to connect with us. Connecting through your favorite social media is a great way to get updates on our company, along with recent blog posts and relevant news.

>> Follow us on LinkedIn
>> Like us on Facebook
>> Follow us on Twitter

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Best Practices When Using an EMV Chip-Enabled Payment Terminal

It may seem like a small, insignificant change — going from swiping a credit/debit card to inserting one into a payment terminal. But let me assure you, the chip card change has caused LOTS of confusion — and it’s created longer lines at the register throughout thousands of stores in the U.S.

Knowing that, it’s definitely worth taking proactive measures to guide your customers and staff on using the new payment terminals. Doing so will ensure you keep the checkout process quick and efficient.

Simple Ways to Notify Customers

One of the best things you can do is to utilize all channels — in-store and online — to inform customers that you have a terminal that accepts chip cards. Here are two quick and easy ways:

1. Add a notice in your customer newsletters, emails, social posts (in as many communication spots as possible) to let customers know you now accept chip cards. That way they’ll be prepared prior to making their way to the register.

2. Add a sticker or small sign to your terminal that says: Chip card-ready! Doing so can save time at the register and eliminate the question: “Should I swipe or insert?”

Pointers for Customer-Facing Staff

No one likes change and customers will likely need guidance throughout the process — especially if this is the first time they are using their chip card with a chip-enabled terminal. Make sure your staff is ready to coach customers in need of assistance.

Hold a brief meeting where you verbally review the steps below with customer-facing staff that will be at the register. Print out the pointers and keep them at the register as a reference.

Step #1:

Determine if the card has a chip by asking the customer: “Are you using a chip card today?”

– If they DO NOT have a chip card, instruct them to swipe through the magnetic stripe reader.

– Note: if they DO have a chip card, and it is swiped through the magnetic stripe reader, the chip card contains data that will prompt the cardholder to insert the card into the chip reader.

Step #2:

If the customer has a chip card, prompt the customer to insert their card into the chip card slot. The chip card slot if typically located at the bottom of the payment terminal. Their card should be facing up with the chip closest to the terminal. Remind customers that their chip card should be left in the terminal during the transaction.

Step #3:

Cardholders will be prompted to provide a signature or a PIN, or both. Some transactions may not require either method. This all depends on your specific terminal. Follow your terminal instructions carefully.

Step #4:

The customer should then follow the on-screen prompts and remove the card when prompted to do so by the terminal. Remind customers to remove their chip cards from the terminal and take their card with them.

As your staff goes through the checkout process, ask that they communicate with you regarding any common use case scenarios that haven’t been addressed in training so that they can be included in future training sessions and/or updates.


In Case You Missed It

Constellation Payments has achieved EMV terminal certification with Elavon and Vantiv. That means our channel partners’ software customers can accept chip cards at their business through a completely integrated, EMV-compliant payment terminal. Each terminal is enhanced to directly interface with our partners’ software.

See our integrated terminal solution set here. Not sure which terminal is best for your business? See our article: Help! Which EMV Payment Terminal Should I Use in My Business?

If you have any questions about our terminal solution set, or need assistance on choosing the right terminal for you business, feel free to give us a call at 888.248.7060 or send an email to

Angie Clarke is the Director of Product Integration at Constellation Payments. She works with Constellation Payments’ channel partners throughout the software integration process including testing, production, platform integration and support. Angie also manages the Constellation Payments’ platform enhancement plan. You can reach Angie by sending an email to


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Get continual educational guidance and strategies on important payment topics including: data protection, tokenization, EMV, and more.

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Convenience Fees & Surcharges: What’s the Difference? What’s Permitted? What’s Not?

“What’s a convenience fee?” … “Who can charge one?” … “How does it differ from a surcharge? …What if I’m a government agency, a school, college or university? What’s allowed?”

Understanding the two types of fees — what they are, what’s permitted, and who can charge them — is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

That said, this article is written to shed some light on the subject and hopefully provide clarity around what can be a very confusing topic. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to send us an email or call 888.248.7060.

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