The Future of Virtual Reality Commerce

man-in-vr-commerce-experience

Despite the increasingly user-friendly, effective, intuitive, and affordable virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) platforms, they’re still occasionally dismissed as technological novelties. People who have used VR technology are generally not among those who dismiss it. Those who have experienced what VR is capable of tend to agree that it’s a technology in the infancy of its eventual larger cultural influence. It’s an opinion shared by a large portion of the tech community and those who invest in it.

That investment and adoption of VR technology has increased every year, and there’s no reason to think it won’t continue to trend that direction. There is a handy basis for comparison that VR proponents often cite to VR skeptics: the smartphone. There was a smartphone-averse population when the handheld smart devices and mini tablets, that would become smartphones, were introduced. They were expensive, and a minority of the population were the excited early adopters who owned them. Now, of course, they’re ubiquitous. And with any tech trend of this size and influence (like mobile payment processing for smartphones), there’s the inevitable question of monetization and commerce.

 VR Advertising

The implications for advertising aren’t hard to imagine. A business could preview their product’s or service’s features, functions, selling points – and even how the product would look in your home – all of which could be investigated in living color, in 3D, and comprehensively. It’s a dream come true for real-time consumer engagement and experiential ads. In addition, there’s the prospect of general ad improvement, such as the option to take the consumer virtually under the sea or down into a volcano. Interactive product placement in video games and other VR entertainment is likewise piquing the interest of marketing executives.

 VR Shopping and Payment Processing

Along with the opportunity to examine a product or service, ecommerce futurists foresee a shopping dynamic in which customers could browse virtual grocery or clothing stores, examine products, compare them, and purchase them from the comfort of home. Of course, that same dynamic is going to require a new class of payment processing technology to accommodate the medium. The considerable financial potential of VR commerce has actually already yielded a VR commerce app from payment processing firm Payscout.

 VR Non Profit and Charity Giving

As necessary and beneficial as commerce is for every society, there’s an admirably altruistic portion of the business community who insist on an even more selfless brand of commerce. They are the entrepreneurs and humanitarians who have founded non profits and charities. The potential for VR to introduce possible donors, supporters, members, and customers to the realities of the issue a charity or non profit is attempting to publicize or mitigate is huge. Unfortunately, even the traditional charity and non profit operations and fundraising can be complex, frustrating, and discouraging when being undertaken in actual reality. The last thing they need is a difficult payment process to add friction to the experience. Fortunately, Payscout offers a modern and secure non profit payment processing solution that can help non profits manage one-off and recurring donations with ease.

About Payscout

Payscout has consistently been recognized as one of the most innovative, trusted, and dynamic payment processing providers in the industry. By facilitating sound, secure, convenient payment processing solutions across the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and the E.U., Payscout links merchants and their customers with their debit, credit, ATM, mobile, and alternative payment systems. Payscout makes it easy to manage payments, both on-site and for mobile and online platforms. Additionally, Payscout can integrate with over a dozen software payment processing applications, while specializing in healthcare payment processing, utility payment processing, and non profit payment processing. Payscout can accommodate any payment requirement, and they’ll do so with safe, secure, speedy, friendly, and convenient service.

Discover everything Payscout’s payment processing solutions can do for you, at www.payscout.com

Payscout Partners with Accenture Interactive and Elastic Path to Bring an Immersive Donation Experience to SXSW

SXSW VR Activation

At South by Southwest Interactive this year, Payscout is demoing a ground-breaking virtual reality experience for the Peregrine Fund that takes the user on a flight with a California Condor and lets them donate frictionlessly to the fund via Pay-by-Gaze technology.

Payscout is showcasing a technology experience at SXSW with Accenture Interactive and Elastic Path that represents the future of how brands will engage with consumers (and optimize conversions) in immersive environments.

Elastic Path and Payscout have partnered with Accenture Interactive to create a 360-degree experience for the Peregrine Fund that showcases how conservation efforts have benefited birds of prey like the California Condor.

After experiencing the majesty of the Condor in 360-degrees, the user can make a frictionless donation to support the Peregrine Funds’ conservation efforts via an all-new Pay-by-Gaze technology that is being debuted at SXSW.

As an unrivaled example of how businesses will tell stories and optimize conversions in a mixed-reality world,  the location-based virtual reality experience features Oculus Go headset experience of a 360-degree story about the California Condor, which is followed by a “virtual store” for gazing and initiating a donation to the Fund.

“We are thrilled to debut this groundbreaking technology with Accenture Interactive and Elastic Path,” said Payscout COO Juan Sotelo. “This kind of technological solution and platform integration represents the future of how brands will leverage immersive technology to drive optimized outcomes among their ideal customers.”

The virtual reality experience can be found at Accenture’s Demos @ the Experience Cantina, in the XR Lab Space 4, March 8-12 at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. For additional details, please click here.

Accenture Interactive was named Elastic Path Partner of the Year for two years running: https://www.elasticpath.com/resources/elastic-path-names-accenture-interactive-partner-year

Free eBook: 5 Ways an Online Payment Portal Will Streamline Your Business and Increase Revenue

Why Every Business Owner Should Read Payscout’s Payment Portal eBook
Every Business Owner Should Read Payscout’s Payment Portal eBook

As a result of the innovations in global mobile payment processing and other facets of the payment industry, Payscout is one of the most well-respected and successful payment processing organizations in the industry. Payscout consistently ranks among the top 30 companies in the financial services industry, and has ranked in the top 20 for medium-sized businesses on Entrepreneur’s list of Top Company Cultures. As such, when payments industry professionals from Payscout talk, the financial industry service industry listens.

Which means that any business hoping to increase their efficiency, growth, and profit might want to consider doing the same. Thankfully for them, Payscout has a commitment to education and transparency that’s resulted in the publishing of an eBook entitled “5 Ways an Online Payment Portal Will Streamline Your Business and Increase Revenue.” The following is a brief overview of topics covered in its five chapters, but shouldn’t be considered an alternative to reading it in its entirety, as this eBook is a must-read for anyone interested in their business profiting. The free eBook is available for download directly from Payscout’s website.

 Customer Convenience

The demographics of the American and global marketplaces are changing. There will soon be more millennials involved in commerce than baby boomers, and they have billions to spend. Having largely grown up with the internet and proficient in the use of devices, for millennials, convenient, comprehensive payment options for everything from entertainment streaming to utility payment processing is now expected. Disregarding that reality can prove devastating for a business.

 Flexibility

In the same vein, traditional bill paying, chiefly by cash and check, continues to decrease in popularity. At the same time, automated bill payment featuring credit and debit cards has increased. Modern customers are simply choosing plastic over paper, and every business should at least allow the option to accommodate that preference.

 Efficiency

Efficiency is an asset to any business, but a good example is accounts receivable and collections. Repeatedly mailing bill reminders and making calls not only doesn’t work, but also wastes the time of the collector and the debtor, wastes resources, and loses money better spent elsewhere. Setting up an automated, intuitive, reasonable process for reminders and a user-friendly payment portal through accounts receivable collections software will save a company money and is more likely to actually result in money being collected.

 Security

Hacking and malicious intrusions into a company’s network can result in customer information being compromised, fraudulent charges, and a loss of millions in revenue. It can cost both current and future customers by permanently damaging a company’s reputation, literally overnight. That’s why it’s so important to choose a payment processor that is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant. And when choosing a payment processing company, be sure to ask about their data encryption algorithm and their tokenization technology.

 Brand Building

A non profit may be doing everything right marketing-wise by running an efficient and ethical business, advertising in the right places, and using branding to spread the word about their organization and contributions to altruism. However, if their non-profit payment processing platform only accepts one-off payments in the form of cash and checks, they’re going to be faced with less donations and fewer recurring donors. While many want to support the causes they believe in, the reality is that some people are simply not interested in (or seemingly too busy to) physically deliver cash or mail checks. Fortunately, a secure non-profit payment processing solution can streamline the process, making it easy to drive consistent, recurring donations from different payment options to your organization.

 Optimize the success and continued growth of your business or non profit with the industry’s best payment processing solutions, at www.payscout.com

Streamline and Secure Your Business’s Payment Processing with Payscout’s Virtual Terminal

Online Shopping on laptop with credit card

From the complexity of healthcare payment processing to the relative simplicity of buying and selling a product, the modern marketplace is far more dynamic than it’s ever been. For the vast majority of human history, most basic transactional commerce involved a customer purchasing a product or service from a vendor. The point of sale (POS) was a static, physical exchange of currency for the product or service, usually at the business of the merchant or vendor. At the risk of stating the obvious, the internet has changed that dynamic for good. Trillions of dollars are now spent online and any reasonable business with a product that can be sold, advertised, or promoted on the internet, does so—or at least should.

Failing to do so risks, if not guarantees, that their business will suffer (or possibly fail). However, this profitable new paradigm is accompanied by perils and vulnerabilities. When an internet vendor doesn’t interact face-to-face with any of their clients, they are put in a position where they have to trust that a consumer is who they say they are and actually has the funds they’re accessing with their credit or debit card. Fortunately, there are solutions for mitigating or eliminating the risk of things such as consumer fraud, insufficient funds, stolen cards, or payment processing that isn’t fully secure. When dealing with digital, remote, and international payment processing, businesses can protect themselves and increase their efficiency (and in turn, profits) by leveraging Payscout’s virtual terminal.

Benefits and Services of the Virtual Terminal

There are two primary ways in which Payscout’s virtual terminal aids any company doing business online: guaranteeing the money that a consumer is spending is actually there, and then ensuring a secure transfer of those funds. Payscout has managed this by deploying the most secure, advanced technology to ensure that the customer has sufficient funds in their merchant bank to cover the price of the purchase on any major credit card. That allows merchants to accept or decline transactions as necessary, and that means fewer chargebacks. Those features are available at both physical POS terminals and online sales.

 Security Features

Every feature of modern commerce requires security. That reality informs every product and service Payscout offers, from accounts receivable collections software to innovations in data tokenization. The security solutions for the Virtual Terminal are based on Payscout’s development of proprietary ecommerce tools and developer APIs to protect all consumer data sent between a business’ website and the merchant service bank. Additional security features include Advanced Fraud protection technology, Visa 3D Secure, MasterCard Secure Code, and PCI compliance. All of that advanced, reliable safeguarding provides the security every business needs to thrive in the internet age.

Optimize your business’s profit potential and growth with the industry’s best payment processing solutions, at www.payscout.com

How to Streamline Your Online Business Payment Processing

How to Streamline Your Online Business Payment Processing

There are so many considerations, concerns, complicated details, and unforeseen hurdles accompanying the running of a business that it can be easy to overlook features that could either help or hinder your business’s success. In this case, that feature is payment processing. A user-friendly, streamlined payment processing infrastructure can prove to be a revenue driver by increasing conversions, while a poorly managed system can turn off and drive away consumers, leaving your business with a lot of missed opportunities and abandoned shopping carts.

 Don’t Exclude Payment Methods or Processing Options

Consumers have become so accustomed to having multiple payment options that any business with a payment processing solution that does not support multiple sources of payment could suffer. To maximize conversions, incorporate both domestic and international payment processing. Credit and debit cards are obviously a must, but some consumers prefer additional payment alternatives. Those include online payment systems, app-centric payment options, direct payment services, account-based payments and merchant accounts, as well as the ability to accept (and possibly offer) coupons and gift cards.

 Allow Guest Checkout

Customers establishing accounts with online businesses are generally a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s certainly mutually beneficial when the customers are happy and willing to do it. These accounts make it easier for customers to reorder from you and increases the likelihood they will do so, which in turn increases trust and brand loyalty.

Unfortunately, account-averse customers complicate that relationship. It’s not necessarily the result of arbitrary account-antagonism or consumers being too impatient to sign up. Sometimes people are in a rush, and some consumers are just wary of sharing additional personal information on the internet. Instead of having to create an account or forgo the purchase, allow the option to purchase as a guest to ensure you don’t miss out on potential business. Generally, requests for information should be tiered, from the bare minimum required to complete a purchase to the information necessary to establish an account, to whatever additional information would contribute to your sales metrics that customers are willing to provide.

Invest in Security and Let People Know

From the often labyrinthine world of healthcare payment processing to stocking, selling, and shipping T-shirts, customers don’t just want a secure payment processing option—they demand it. Due to the spate of high-profile data hacks, network intrusions of major corporations, and the ubiquity of identity theft issues that remain a threat, consumers are even more leery of ecommerce. To assuage those concerns, invest in tight security and a protected, encrypted secure payment portal. Once it’s been employed, be sure that it’s mentioned where consumers will see it so they can rest assured you’re taking responsible actions to minimize risk.

 A Clear, Intuitive Purchase Process

It’s a bit surprising that providing this information is still necessary, but there are still sites with vague purchase and payment processes. The entirety of the purchase process should include very clear calls to action and additional options. Consumers want to be both aware of the status of a potential purchase throughout the process, while having the option to continue browsing without the risk of backing out of an order or doubling up on one. As such, each button should identify exactly what clicking it is going to accomplish. Which is why vague buttons like “Go Ahead,” “Continue,” “Apply,” “Order” or “Checkout” are worth reconsidering. Those can mean an order overview or the actual purchasing of whatever’s in their cart. Stick with “Add to Cart,” “Go to Checkout,” and “Buy Now” or “Place your Order” for the utmost clarity. And always provide the opportunity to both edit the cart and continue shopping.

 About Payscout

Payscout has consistently been recognized as one of the most innovative, trusted, and dynamic payment processing providers in the industry. By facilitating sound, secure, convenient payment processing solutions across the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and the E.U., Payscout links merchants and their customers with their debit, credit, ATM, mobile, and alternative payment systems. Payscout makes it easy to manage payments, both on-site and for mobile and online platforms. Additionally, Payscout can integrate with over a dozen software payment processing applications, while specializing in accounts receivable collections software, utility payment processing, and non profit payment processing. Payscout can accommodate any payment requirement confidently with safe, secure, speedy, friendly, and convenient service.

Discover everything Payscout’s payment processing solutions can do for you, at www.payscout.com

Business Security Tips for Safer Commerce

female business owner on rooftop with tablet

As the internet hosts financial enterprises from utility payment processing for major cities to the buying and selling of corporations, the hundreds of billions of dollars transferred, earned, and spent online represent a tremendous opportunity. Big opportunities, however, are often accompanied by great risk. Some of that risk is simply the unavoidable and unforeseeable, chaotic, esoteric fluctuations of global markets.

Some of that risk – fraud and theft – is also more malicious but, thankfully, addressable. Anyone doing business online (and offline) faces both of these risks, but addressing their vulnerability to hackers, identity thieves, credit and debit card scammers, etc. requires trustworthy partners and some prudent safeguards. Payscout is the perfect partner for smart and secure payment processing that—along with some best practices below—can make your business safer and more secure.

Restrict the Number of Allowable Transaction Attempts

Significant developments in the security of physical point of sale (POS) and mobile payment processing by companies like Payscout mean that scammers are focusing more on card-not-present scams. This trend has given birth to an online marketplace of stolen payment card numbers that thieves can buy individually or in bulk. Some of those numbers have been rendered useless by reporting or have incomplete information, but scammers will often try a series of card numbers until one works. Restricting the number of allowable transaction attempts can thwart that sort of “brute force” attempt at fraud.

 Keep Track of Suspicious Card Numbers

Retain a log of suspicious card numbers. Most payment card processing companies allow vendors to review attempted transactions, successful or not. Recording and perusing those daily transactions can help identify the sort of attempt described above – if one of the cards went through before the daily transaction limit had been reached.

 Keep Your Digital Fortress in Good Repair

Payscout provides vast, dependable security measures (such as encryption and tokenization services) to protect all financial information in a merchant’s database, fraud-protection and security specialists that handle automated screening and manual review, and a variety of check and card protection and verification services. Payscout also offers services ranging from local non profit payment processing to global payment processing from multinational corporations. But their expertise and resources can only help so much if your firewall, anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware, etc. protection is lapsed, lax, or not present.

 Don’t Mix Business with Personal

There are a number of good reasons for having separate, dedicated hardware, software, and devices for business and personal use. For one, using one device and/or system for your business and personal computing can result in frustrating confusion—particularly if your personal computing includes personal finances. But more importantly, if you have everything in one place and do get hacked, you risk losing everything. Be safe!

Protect your business’s future and secure its continuing growth and success at www.payscout.com.

 

Tips for Protecting Your Online Business From Debit and Credit Card Fraud

 

Man using mobile phone and laptop for shopping online by credit card. Pays for purchase.online shopping, online payment,buy and sell products .

In 2017, online shoppers spent $453.46 billion in the United States alone. With profit potential that great, every business with a product or service that can be offered online is either doing so or risking being left behind. Wherever there’s money to be made, however, there are people rushing to learn how best to steal it.

The ubiquity of plastic as the payment method of choice online has resulted in a thriving underworld industry of debit and credit card fraud. And unfortunately for online vendors, one of the most common forms of card fraud is “card not present” theft. Online vendors don’t have the luxury of checking ID to be sure the names match. That being said, there are a number of relatively simple steps that e-merchants can take to mitigate the risk of online card fraud.

 Tokenization

One of the best ways in general to reduce fraud risk is to contract with a trusted, established payment processing institution. An experienced payment processing firm should be able to handle everything from accounts receivable collections software for accounting to tokenization. Tokenization is a process that replaces sensitive data, like payment card numbers, with a “token.”

The token is a unique identifier that stands in for the actual card information (which is stored off-network in an ultra-secure data vault). The token can be effectively used by the business as necessary but is meaningless and useless to any hacker who breaches a less-secure local database, network, or payment application.

Emails, Addresses, and Overseas

Sometimes, security measures are relatively low-tech, requiring good old-fashioned risk management. In this case, keeping an eye out for details like the validity of an email address. It’s obviously not a sure-fire sign of larcenous intent, but if an email address appears to be a random string of characters at a free email domain, be wary.

The same goes for orders in which the billing and shipping address differ. There are countless legitimate reasons for that, but it can be a red flag, particularly if expedited shipping is requested. Overseas sales can be tricky. Obviously, the entirety of the planet beyond your borders is a great market, but it’s also a bit of a risk. Make sure the aforementioned payment processing firm you contract with has a solid foundation in international payment processing to help mitigate risks.

Always Require the CVV Code

This one may seem obvious, but a surprising number of online businesses still allow card transactions without requesting the card verification value (CVV) code. The CVV is a three- or four-digit code on the back of a credit or debit card. When hackers, identity thieves, and scammers get their hands on payment card numbers online the CVV is very often not present with that information. Requiring the CVV is therefore a small step that significantly mitigates the risk of fraud.

About Payscout

Payscout has worked to establish the company as one of the most trusted payment processing providers. Facilitating safe and convenient payment solutions across six continents, Payscout has been linking merchants and consumers with credit, debit, mobile, ATM, and alternative payment solutions. Managing payments, whether on-site or across mobile and online media, is easy with Payscout. Payscout integrates with more than a dozen software applications and also offers healthcare payment processing as well as specialization in non profit payment processing. Whatever your specific payment needs, Payscout can accommodate you with quick, convenient, friendly, and secure service.

Learn more about Payscout’s payment processing solutions at www.payscout.com

The Financial Challenges of Running a Non Profit and How Payscout Can Help

Young woman stands addressing colleagues at a meeting

Running a non profit can be an incredibly challenging calling. Non profits deal with nearly all of the challenges for-profit businesses do while concurrently having to fundraise; operate on a shoestring budget (which generally necessitates a small staff); and navigate compliance applying for grants, etc.

And once you’ve built your donor or supporter base and you’re ready to start accepting donations, providing a modern, secure payment-acceptance model results in an entirely new set of challenges.

Keeping track of donation amounts, the payment method used, whether or not the donations are recurring or one-time, ensuring PCI-compliance for payments, and all of the other challenges involved in payment processing can make the entire process seem overwhelming. While some of these challenges are simply part of the tough (but often rewarding) undertaking that is running a non profit, Payscout can take the hassle out of managing your payment processing model. And with specializations in financial arenas as complex as healthcare payment processing, they’re up to the challenge.

 The Relevant Challenges

As mentioned, it’s a great feeling when money starts coming in to your non profit. It’s a less than great feeling when the complexities of managing it become difficult to navigate. For instance, without a unified non profit payment processing platform, a non profit can find itself struggling to juggle contributions from credit cards, debit cards, checks, or donors requesting electronic payments, as well as from local and international sources.

To further complicate matters, those contributions can come from one-time donors, members with recurring donations, grants, or fundraising events; and in some cases, alternate sources of income non profits can establish. When the donation is from an international source, international payment processing and everything it entails becomes necessary to sort out. Additionally, as the staffs of non profits are often operating on a tight budget, losing staff members familiar with this sort of financial organization can create chaos.

 What Payscout Can Do for You as a Payment Processor

Payscout has established a reputation as one of the world’s premier payment processing providers by establishing expertise in every facet of the industry, from proprietary accounts receivable collections software to virtual reality commerce. And that level of comprehensive expertise and experience is important for ensuring that a non profit’s payment processing platform is as secure as possible while providing ease of use for both staff and donors.

Payscout provides PCI-compliant hosted payment forms that allow donation via debit and credit cards and checks, including user-friendly options for automatic recurring payments, which help ensure consistent, ongoing support. That the platform is PCI-compliant serves as a guarantee that donations are always going to be secure and safe to make. Payscout also works with every non profit individually to establish a payment processing dynamic that’s especially suited for their size and needs.

 Take the financial potential of your non profit to the next level, at www.payscout.com

The Most Common Debit and Credit Card Fraud Risks for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

Store merchant taking cc for payment

Ecommerce has emerged as a monumental market presence, and along with it, the vast, destructive shadow world of hacking and digital fraud has evolved equally as rapidly. Neither of these trends should be overlooked by brick-and-mortar business owners, whose very livelihoods depend on addressing potential threats to their businesses. Unfortunately, it’s often the proprietors and managers of brick-and-mortar businesses themselves overlooking said vulnerabilities. And in an age of mobile payment processing and dynamic points of sale, it can be an expensive oversight.

But it’s not that these entrepreneurs are necessarily lax or indifferent about security. It’s not uncommon for a location’s management and even risk-management policymakers to invest in robust loss-prevention strategies and institute strict check-vetting and acceptance, while overlooking one of the most common, insidious, and expensive security vulnerabilities: debit and credit card fraud. Fortunately, there are some practical steps businesses can take to greatly reduce their fraud vulnerability.

 ID Checks for Stolen Cards

Stolen credit cards are one of the most common manifestations of credit card fraud. Rather than somehow electronically intercepting card information, or stealing someone’s identity (usually), the thief has come into physical possession of the card. While thieves will often use stolen cards to make card-not-present purchases online or over the phone, many will also attempt to use them for physical purchases. Generally, this is one of the easiest forms of fraud to prevent by requiring that the clerk check the ID of the purchaser.

 Dummy Card Fraud

There are two variations of dummy card fraud featuring similar scams: doctored cards and counterfeit cards. Doctored cards are popular with scammers who have actual credit card numbers but don’t have the equipment to rewrite counterfeit cards. Doctored cards are real credit cards, usually printed rather than embossed, that have had their information changed. The magnetic strip on the card is then either altered or erased so when the merchant scans the card it then fails to read it, resulting in the scammer asking that the information be entered manually.

Counterfeit cards are a variation of doctored cards. Oftentimes, if the scammer has access to the technology necessary for actually printing and encoding the magnetic strip of a credit card, they will produce new credit cards written with the stolen card number.

Brick-and-mortar business owners can curb dummy card fraud by ensuring their POS equipment is EMV (chip) compatible, as chip technology is much harder to counterfeit than its magnetic-stripe-based counterpart.

How to Protect Your Business

Technology may seem like the logical place to start when it comes to protecting your business from fraud, but the reality is, successful fraud-prevention starts with people. Employee training is key. Employees are usually both the first line of defense against fraudsters and those targeted by them. Often, just a basic level of training on spotting and avoiding fraud is sufficient to significantly reduce it. The balance most businesses struggle with for card security is being as vigilant as possible without alienating the customer. No one wants to have to share their birth certificate and utility payment processing documentation to confirm their address to buy a new electronic device. But a little security can go a long way. Simply requiring customers to show an ID that matches the card and calling a manager for any card that has to be entered manually can be enough to both prevent incidences of fraud and deter future scammers.

 About Payscout

Payscout has worked to establish the company as one of the most trusted payment processing providers in the world. Facilitating safe and convenient payment solutions across six continents, Payscout has been linking merchants and consumers with credit, debit, mobile, ATM, and alternative payment solutions. Managing payments, whether on-site or across mobile and online media, is easy with Payscout. Payscout integrates with more than a dozen software applications and also offers healthcare payment processing as well as specialization in non profit payment processing. Whatever your specific payment needs, Payscout can accommodate you with quick, convenient, friendly, and secure service.

Learn more about Payscout’s payment processing solutions at www.payscout.com

The Convenience Fee Conundrum

Working with laptop in office
Convenience Fees are an attractive solution for boosting your bottom line, but if you’re not careful, they can cost you your ability to accept payments altogether.

In the accounts receivable management (ARM) world, convenience-fee payment models are growing in popularity, and for good reason: When applied correctly, they have the ability to reduce a merchant’s payment processing costs significantly by charging the consumer or debtor a flat fee for the convenience of accepting payments online or over the phone (depending on the consumer’s/debtor’s State of residence).

What many collection agencies may not realize is that convenience-fee solutions are the subject of serious scrutiny from compliance experts (and enforcers), and if they’re not properly applied, they can cost the merchant their ability to accept payments altogether. Having their merchant accounts closed, being blacklisted, and being cut off from their banks are just a few of the potential hazards for a merchant who deploys this model without doing their due diligence.

Convenience Fees and Compliance

There are three layers of compliance that a merchant must consider if they are using a convenience-fee model:

FDCPA Guidelines

FDCPA guidelines prohibit “the collection of any amount (including any interest, fee, charge, or expense incidental to the principal obligation) unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law,” 15 U.S.C. 1692f(1). However, a third-party vendor, in most cases a payment processor, can charge the fee because that vendor is not subject to FDCPA, which only applies to third-party debt collectors.

State Requirements

The second leg of compliance is the state requirements or restrictions. Abiding by these rules is not as simple as just keeping a list of restricted states, as case law is constantly changing. Due to the dynamic nature of state requirements, it is crucial to monitor these changes and work with partners who stay up to date on statutes and can handle the differences in their technology.

Most of the payment processors who offer convenience fees are doing so in compliance with FDCPA and state requirements. From the card-brand perspective, however, there is a set of very specific rules pertaining to added charges such as convenience fees, Visa’s being the most restrictive, and many popular solutions are not in compliance with these rules.

Visa Card-Brand Rules

Visa defines three main types of fees: Surcharges, Convenience Fees, and Service Fees, each with their own set of restrictions. In the US, a Merchant that charges a Convenience Fee must ensure that the fee is assessed as follows:

1)  Charged for a bona fide convenience in the form of an alternative payment channel outside the Merchant’s customary payment channels and not charged solely for the acceptance of a Card

2)  Added only to a Transaction completed in a Card-Absent Environment

3)  Not charged if the Merchant operates exclusively in a Card-Absent Environment

4)  Charged only by the Merchant that provides goods or services to the Cardholder

5)  Applicable to all forms of payment accepted in the payment channel

6)  Disclosed clearly to the Cardholder:

– As a charge for the alternative payment channel convenience

– Before the completion of the Transaction the Cardholder must be given the opportunity to cancel.

7)  A flat or fixed amount, regardless of the value of the payment due

8)  Included as part of the total amount of the Transaction and not collected separately

9)  Not charged in addition to a surcharge

10) Not charged on a Recurring Transaction or an Installment Transaction

It’s the fourth and eighth items in this list that can, together, compromise a merchant account quickly: Convenience fees have to appear (and be processed and authorized) as a single transaction by the merchant of record.

As you are reading this, if you’re currently deploying or considering a convenience fee model that involves running the fee as a separate transaction, you may be at risk of losing your merchant processing account.

Fully compliant programs do exist that can minimize your business risk while reducing your payment acceptance costs.

Click here to learn more.