When a business owner hears the term "merchant services," they generally think of a general idea that involves processing credit and debit card transactions. While not entirely wrong, it simply overlooks the entirety of merchant services and how they can help a business grow and prosper. See more about what is cash discount merchant services.

Any company that accepts credit and debit card payments must use commercial services. This is especially true if they want to expand into other areas of payment processing, such as online or mobile. To do this, a merchant will need to use a credible merchant service provider to utilize new technologies and gain new revenue opportunities.

However, a business merchant service provider must know that each business is unique. For example, an e-commerce based business may have different needs than a body shop. Although security can be of the utmost importance for every establishment, the e-commerce business will have higher security measures than the auto body shop. Also, the auto body shop will most likely need a physical payment processor to process payments in person, while the e-commerce business will simply need a virtual one.

So how does payment processing work? It begins with a merchant establishing a merchant services account with a vendor. Once this is done, payments can begin to be accepted.

When a merchant swipes a debit card, the payment processor simply acts as a traffic cop between the customer, the merchant, the credit card networks, and the banks. The card swiped through the payment processor sends a message to the bank requesting to accept or reject this transaction. To do this, it checks the cardholder's account to determine if there are sufficient funds to cover the transaction. If so, the bank sends an authorization code to the processor, who then passes it on to the merchant to process the payment and print a receipt with the customer's signature (if necessary).

However, because a merchant is dealing with sensitive financial information, it is important to have security protocols in place to prevent fraud. In the merchant services industry, there is a specific protocol called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or PCI for short. Everyone from the merchant to processors to banks must adhere to these security protocols to minimize and prevent fraud where possible. This helps protect everyone involved in the event of a data breach or fraud. If a merchant fails to comply with the rules and a violation occurs, he could face fines and penalties. In addition, they could lose their business services account, which will have an immediate impact on their income due to the inability to process credit and debit card payments. Also, they could gain a bad reputation with your customers, which could cause them to lose even more business.

If your business is ready to select a business service provider, where do you start? Typically, a merchant can turn to the Internet for a very simple online search using sites like Google. Usually, this will tell the merchant the type and quality of companies offering trading services. Visit their websites and even read reviews from sites like the Better Business Bureau to find the best service providers. Additionally, a merchant can ask other businesses who they use and recommend as a merchant service provider. Other companies often have a lot to say about a business service provider, whether it comes from a large association or horrible experiences. Also, feel free to contact business service companies and speak with a representative to learn more about their product and service tiers. Since this is a technology-driven industry, your service provider must be on the cutting edge so that you have access to the latest technologies that you can use to lower your costs and increase your profits.

The service doesn't just end once the contract is signed and you have your payment processing terminals. It is important to know the level and type of customer service that is provided once you register with a merchant service provider. If a need or emergency arises, you will need to know how and when a merchant service provider will address your concerns.

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