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PCI compliance

As a small business owner, ensuring the protection of your revenue is an essential part of accepting credit cards.  The best way to safeguard these payments is to establish a merchant account with a merchant services provider that is PCI-compliant.  Outsourcing to a PCI-compliant service provider is one of the best ways business owners can help reduce their PCI obligations and risk of a data breach.  As a business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are partnering with the right service providers to remain in PCI compliance.  Unfortunately, approaching these third-party relationships is rarely taught, or even discussed.  This blog entry is to advise business owners on how to evaluate a merchant services provider and ensure they are reputable and will dutifully safeguard your customers’ credit card information.
 

PCI Compliance: Asking the Right Questions

 

Who qualifies as a merchant services provider?

 
First and foremost, it is important to know which entities store, process, or transmit cardholder data (CHD) on your behalf or have the potential of impacting the security of your customers’ card data.  Many small business owners are not aware of the players involved and, as a result, have no idea if these providers are taking the right steps to protect their customers’ private information and ultimately their business.  To define a merchant services provider, it is an business entity that is directly involved in the processing, storage, or transmission of cardholder data.  Some common examples of merchant services providers include:

  • Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs)
  • Transaction processors
  • Payment gateways
  • Hosting companies
  • Managed security services providers (MSSP)
  • Third party marketing firms
  • Vendors that perform POS maintenance

 

How do I choose a merchant services provider?

 
Business owners should have a set process for choosing a merchant services provider (for example, verify PCI compliance status, research the company’s track record for any breach events, review documented customer complaints, etc.). You can check on the compliance state of a service provider by accessing the Visa and MasterCard registry lists, or by contacting the service provider directly. If the service provider is not on a registry list and has opted to “self-assess” their compliance, it is important to ask for proof of PCI compliance from provider. If the service provider cannot provide formal documentation proving their compliance, it is recommended that you select a provider that has completed a Level 1, on-site audit conducted by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA).  This is a necessary step in ensuring your merchant services provider is meeting the PCI compliance standards.
 

What questions should I ask potential service providers to validate their PCI-compliance status and procedures?

 

  • What is included in their incidence response plans?
  • Have they experienced any data breaches?
  • How many years have they been in service?
  • Are there available client recommendations?
  • Do they run background checks on employees? (This is required for PCI Compliance.)
  • Are there any complaints found through the Better Business Bureau?

 

Once I identify my service providers, how should I proceed?

 
Next, you should maintain a list of your service providers and check PCI status at least quarterly; and most importantly, ensure that there are written agreements in place acknowledging data security responsibility even down to which PCI requirements they are handling. You should also assure that the liabilities and responsibilities of the service provider are clearly stated and agreed in writing in case of a breach.
 

What if I am an ecommerce merchant?

 
Ecommerce merchants that do not have in-house expertise or resources should consider fully outsourcing their payment-card processing operations to a PCI compliant merchant services provider. By using a fully outsourced service provider, you are not storing, processing or transmitting cardholder data in electronic format on your systems. This option also greatly reduces your PCI DSS validation requirements.
 
 

trade shows

Cut Merchant Fees is always looking for new places to network and promote our friendly, technology-based brand image.  Coming up at the end of this year, Cut Merchant Fees will visit a handful of different trade shows that we regularly attend, and some new ones that we are excited to be at for the first time.  We will be setting up a booth at three (for now) different shows in October and November.  We have not yet decided on a few new shows, but we are always open to meeting new and exciting people to expand our network and develop trusting relationships.  The following three shows are specific to the limousine industry, as this is where we have a significant presence.  We will be there to exhibit our credit card payment solutions and merchant services specific to the industry and meet new and old friends.

The first show on our tour list is the LCT East Show in Atlantic City at the Trump Taj Mahal from October 26th to the 29th.  This next generation LCT East Show will offer the limousine industry a complete marketplace, networking forum, and educational sessions ideal for limousine operators nationwide and based on the east coast.  This is one of those “don’t miss this one” shows that we are ecstatic to attend, yet again.

The next show will also be held at the beautiful Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on November 3rd through the 6th, but this time Chauffeur Driven will be our host.  Chauffeur Driven is advertising this as the “must-attend event of the fall”.  This will be a similar show to the LCT East Show as it is directed towards the limousine and transportation industry.  This show will feature an innovative educational program packed with real-world take-home value, unparalleled networking opportunities, and ground-breaking sessions.  All of the industry’s top manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers will be in attendance.  This will be an inclusive environment that fosters an overall feeling of industry camaraderie.  Chauffeur Driven always delivers with an excellent show and we are proud to be in attendance for another year.

The third event on our list is the 2013 SEMA Show held in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  This is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world.  It attracts all of the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place.  This show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities, and more.  This is another show that we frequently display our exhibit at.  Needless to say, we are eager to board the plane that takes us to McCarron International Airport for this event.

This is the roundup of the three shows that Cut Merchant Fees will be in attendance at.  Again, we are always in the market for new venues that we can expand and grow our brand awareness.  These three shows are staples to our yearly tour list because we find it to be essential to stay tuned in to what the limousine and transportation industry is dealing with, what changes are coming, and what exciting new developments have impacted our merchants.  Keeping a pulse on the industry is the best way for us to attend to the needs of our clients and partners.  We also enjoy catching up with old friends who attend these shows!

If anyone would like to inform us of any great shows that we need to be a part of, please feel free to send us message at marketing@centurybizsolutions.com with the details of the show.  Again, we are always interested to hear about exciting new ways to connect with our merchants and stay current on the verticals that we are a part of.

transportation industryCut Merchant Fees has taken a leading role as a merchant services provider in the transportation industry.  In fact, we are the preferred merchant services provider for organizations such as the NLA.  For this reason, we find it very important to stay plugged into the current issues and hot topics that our limo and town car merchants are concerned with.  We feel that it is important to get a clear diagnosis on what is affecting reservation-based business owners in order to stay ahead of our competition and provide the service that really delivers on a wide variety of levels.  With that being said, we would like to touch base on a few of the big concerns in the industry and how Cut Merchant Fees is well equipped to help tackle the biggest scares in the industry.

There are a few big changes occurring in the transportation space.  A large contributor to these changes is the introduction of mobile app reservation companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar.  These companies have created a business model that has been quite successful since their inception, and have caused some turbulence in the limo/town car/transportation space.  For those of you who are unaware of these companies, they are mobile apps that provide a driver near your area at a low cost.  These companies employ drivers at minimal cost as long as they pass the background checks and have a reliable vehicle.

These companies operate at an extremely low cost in comparison to the traditional ride-reservation company with multiple cars in their fleets.  They don’t have the typical overhead cost associated with maintaining their fleet and managing multiple reservations and drivers.  The lack of high overhead costs have made it possible for them to bring their reservations down to a minimal and highly competitive rate.   So what can you do to compete with companies like this?

Cut Merchant Fees has a great way to keep your payments on track and your merchant fees as low as possible.  We have developed software integrations to platforms like FASTTRAK CLOUD, Limo Anywhere, RBS, and others, that pass important information at the point of sale that qualifies cards at the lowest possible interchange rates.  In other words, we can get you better pricing when it comes to Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express fees.

Not only that, but these integrations store information like the ride, passenger, pick up/drop off, the amount of passengers, driver name, reservation number, etc. in order to help you fight chargebacks.  This method has been remarkably successful in aiding our merchants with the troubles that come along with chargebacks.  Our Chargeback Management Team is with you every step of the way when you need help most.  We will notify you immediately of the chargeback, help you file a rebuttal, and remind you before the expiration date comes to pass.  In the end, we fight to help you keep the money that you earned!

The NLA has trusted Cut Merchant Fees with their merchant account because they know that we really care about our merchants, regardless of the industry.  However, our tenure and involvement with reservation companies makes us a prime asset to the success of your business.

EBizChargEMV

Cut Merchant Fees is recognized as one of the top credit card processing companies in the United States. Because they are technology based, they are transitioning towards adopting a gateway in which the latest technology in credit cards can be utilized – EMV.

Cut Merchant Fees is proud to announce the addition of our EBizChargEMV payment gateway. With this new highly-integrated online virtual gateway, Cut Merchant Fees will be able to process credit card payments for businesses throughout Canada. EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chips are currently adopted in Canada and are slowly making their way over to the United States— with credit card companies hoping to have EMV chip adoption by 2015.

Canada has completely moved to chip cards, so all POS systems that run in Canada are required to support Customer Facing Chip card terminals. The complexity involved in interfacing to this terminal and to the host is significant. The Canadian EMV certification component is three to five times more complex, including certifications separately with Visa, MasterCard and Interac. In addition, the cost of simulators and test cards can get very expensive. This is not cheap or easy. To complete a direct certification in less than 6 months, a very skilled team is required. Most will take much, much longer. The best solution is to use a PCI compliant payment gateway such as EBizChargEMV, which Cut Merchant Fees currently offers as a technology-based credit card processor

Cut Merchant Fees is a technology-based, merchant processor located in Irvine, CA which specializes in providing electronic payment solutions to small, medium, and large businesses throughout the United States and Canada. Throughout the past few years, Cut Merchant Fees has experienced tremendous growth. For years, Cut Merchant Fees has set the bar high – creating integrated accounting and shopping cart solutions (ERP systems) while providing merchants with low rates and superior support.

Cut Merchant Fees continues to be progressive by adapting to industry demand and creating new integrations, offering mobile apps and mobile payment solutions for credit card acceptance on the go. Whether in need of a new credit card processor, lower rates, superior support, or just a simpler way to streamline the workflow, Cut Merchant Fees can help.

For more information or to request a demo, visit: http://www.centurybizsolutions.com

About Cut Merchant Fees:
Cut Merchant Fees was founded by a management team of payment industry experts whose philosophy is to provide the cutting edge payment processing technologies and the highest level of service to merchants nationwide. Largely due to its own unique processing cost reduction solutions and its conviction to embracing the emerging new technologies in the industry, Cut Merchant Fees has experienced a sustained rapid growth in the most recent years. Cut Merchant Fees is committed to understanding our merchants’ business and providing the technology to ensure the greatest efficiencies in terms of both cost and time. Our Relationship Managers work to determine sources of cost reduction and revenue realization for merchants.

 

Payment ProcessingWhen owning a small business, maintaining a close watch on your bottom line while cutting costs wherever possible is crucial to your success. One expense that gets overlooked by business owners is credit card processing. Often, business owners will sign up with the first payment processing company they find and continue to use their services. What these owners do not realize is that they could save money by taking their business elsewhere.  Follow these four tips to find out how to save money for your business every year:

1. Use the Competition to Your Advantage

If you already have a payment processor, don’t assume that the rates and fees you pay now are set in stone. The same goes for a business owner preparing to sign up for services for the same time.

You need to first understand how much you could be paying with another company first, which means getting quotes from other companies based on your typical transactions. The best way to do this is to show a few other payment processing companies your most recent statement and asking them what they would charge for the same thing.

2. Avoid Long Contracts with Hidden Fees

Companies within the credit card processing industry lock you into a long contract and with a cancellation fee that may cost your business around $1,000. These long-term contracts are nothing more than a way for the company to overcharge you, provide poor service, and penalize you for wanting to go elsewhere.

The average contract length in the United States for payment processing is 3 to 5 years. The solution to this problem is finding a credit card processing company that offers month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees. While this is not the norm, the truly best processing companies will offer this, while providing unbeatable rates.

3. Understand Interchange Fees

If you don’t know how interchange fees work, you could be in a position to be taken advantage of. These fees are charged and determined by credit card companies, and are split between credit card networks and the banks that issue credit cards. Interchange Unfortunately, most small business owners don’t know the true interchange rate their transactions qualify for as their payment processing company gives them just one discount rate. This rate includes the true interchange rate and a per-transaction fee, although as a business owner you do not know how much of what you pay goes toward the Interchange rate and how much your merchant account provider is actually making from you.

4. Buy your Payment Processing Equipment

Are you currently leasing your credit card terminal? Did you know most terminals cost around $200 to $300, while a monthly lease fee can be up to $45? Terminals are not nearly as expensive as most business owners believe although the cost of that lease can add up quickly. In an extreme example, a business owner paid over $2,100 over his lease period for a basic terminal that retails for only $90. To top it off, he didn’t even own the equipment when the lease ran out! When you own your terminal, you also have the freedom to change to another payment processing company without switching out your equipment.

 

mobile payment solutionsIt was only three years ago when point of sale (POS) mobile payment solutions were beginning to hit the market. Quickly, the new portable, efficient, effective, and easy solution for accepting credit cards on the go became a success due to market demand. Merchants fell in love with the idea of being able to use something they already had (such as a smartphone or tablet) and turn it into a credit card processing terminal to accept credit cards. Not only did businesses with field agents find this technology practical, but smaller businesses with tight funds also found this mobile payment solution to be far more cost efficient than renting or purchasing a POS terminal. This newer form of credit card acceptance has proven to contribute to the increase in total credit and debit transactions as well as an increase in consumer spending.

According to a report by Javelin Strategy and Research, mobile point of sale transactions could account for $1.1 trillion in new card payments every year! Yes, you read that right…that’s “trillion” with a “t.” The study goes on to mention that mobile POS could expand the existing market for card payment networks by as much as 20 million merchants. With that said, it seems that mobile technologies will be even more relevant in the years to come due to other mobile payment solution technologies that are slowly emerging worldwide. In order to stay competitive in their industries, some merchants will have to add mobile card acceptance solutions or replace their current POS terminals altogether if it makes sense for their business. Companies with field agents such as rescue-rooter, will need to collect payment for pluming services once the job at a customer’s house is completed. This is where mobile payment solutions can be effective and ideal. If your company doesn’t have field agents, but has fluctuating store traffic, mobile payment solutions can be helpful and make your business more efficient by giving your sales team the ability to checkout customers anywhere in the store if they are ready to buy.

For credit card processing companies like Cut Merchant Fees, this means progressive change to adapt new technologies and move with market demand and trends. Mary Monahan, EVP and research director for mobile at Javelin Strategy & Research stated “the new mobile POS players pose a threat to the traditional POS terminal and acquiring businesses, which must adapt, invest, or acquire.” Cut Merchant Fees has adapted by integrating their virtual gateway, EBizCharge, to work with the most popular accounting softwares, online shopping carts, and PaySaber mobile payment solutions so that merchants can collect credit card payments anywhere, anytime.