While consumers are using more and different ways to pay for goods and services, especially via fast-growing mobile payments, stodgy old credit cards remain the most popular payment method in use today across any channel, whether in physical retail operations or in e-commerce settings. But taking a payment from a customer this way requires any business to route the transaction through a credit card processing service, typically a merchant bank. As competition in this sector has grown, these services have become much more complex and fraught with hidden fees and limitations. Small business owners in particular are often the targets of such practices, and the fact that some predatory salespeople take advantage of new business owners’ lack of knowledge makes things even harder.
Luckily for merchants, fair-minded processors are emerging that offer transparency, fair fees, and good customer service. This is true especially for online “e-tailers,” but also for small brick-and-mortar operations. There are Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, such as Square Point of Sale, and subscription services such as Helcim, and even retailers such as Sam’s Club that are getting involved.
Whether you need credit card payment processing on the street or online, accepting credit cards and processing those payments is still complicated, though. This is due to the sheer number of moving parts inherent in this aspect of merchant services and mobile payment processing. It’s also due to all of the various entities involved. Since rates and contracts vary by customer, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between these providers.