Whether you own a small, medium or large-sized business, the element of payment convenience is key to success. Customers now have an increasing number of payment options, and successful businesses strive to offer their clients an array of payment forms to choose from. One of the most popular (and convenient) methods of payment is the use of credit/debit cards, which introduces business owners to the world of credit card processing.
For most people, using a credit or debit card only entails a swipe of a card. Money is then debited to the customer (credit), or deducted from an account (debit or bank card). The process is designed for ease-of use for the customer. For the businessman, a slightly different transaction takes place.
In the world of credit card processing, there are four different entities. Every business (or business owner) is considered a “Merchant”, and must have a merchant account with his or her own bank, known as the “Acquiring Bank”, which provides the transaction processes. The Customer uses a card, issued by their bank (also known as the “Issuing Bank”). The process is fairly simple: The Customer slides a card through the Merchant’s electronic equipment, which is read by the Acquiring Bank. The bank then processes the payment, which is simultaneously debited to the Customer’s account at the Issuing Bank. The customer is then provided goods and/or services, completing the transaction. Interchange fees (the fee the Issuing Bank receives) and discount rates (the fee the Acquiring Bank receives) are usually expressed in percentages of the sale. Occasionally, a single flat-rate may apply for the charge. In either case, all funds (minus fee deductions) are deposited into the Merchant Account.
What many business owners need to understand is the difference between a regular Business Account and a Merchant Account. Business accounts allow business owners to deposit and write checks, deposit money, accept loans, as well as a variety of other banking options. However, most Business Accounts with an Acquiring Bank do not perform credit card processing. Instead, the business owner must also obtain a Merchant Account through the Acquiring Bank. This allows the business owner’s bank to process credit card payments via electronic devices (such as the VeriFone Omni 3750) and transfer funds.
Although the business-side of this process may appear to be a little more complex than what the customer experiences, having the ability to accept credit and debit cards is an absolute must for every organization. Credit card payments have become an economic trend that continues to grow, and the ability to accept this form of payment form has become a standard.