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When payment processors come calling, here’s what you should ask

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It’s tempting to say yes when a new salesperson shows up at your business offering what seems to be a sweet deal to handle your payment processing needs. Those salespeople count on that face-to-face meeting to put you at ease and in a mindset to sign on the spot.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best deal for your business, but make sure you’re asking the right questions so you can determine if what’s being offered is right for you. Our bank has partnered with Elavon, one of the world’s leading payment processors with more than 25 years of industry experience, to offer complete solutions for any size business. We want you to ask us the same questions because we think you’ll like the answers.

What am I signing up for?

This is the most important question. Some processors will offer teaser rates up front that sound great, until you realize your fees go up after six months and you’re locked into a three-year contract at those higher rates. Some companies tack on fees if you cancel early.

The best companies, like Elavon, offer pay-as-you-go programs and remove any cancellation fees. These are the companies that understand building a long-term relationship with a client is more important than locking in a minimum amount of fees.

What type of client and technical support is available?

If your point-of-sale system goes down, you have questions about how a system works, or a card reader is on the fritz, you want help right away so you can get back to business. Some companies only offer email or social media support, and that isn’t ideal for every situation. Elavon offers a 24/7/365 client support call center located in the United States.

You also receive additional support through our bank because our cash management professionals have access to Elavon’s specialized service line. It’s a personal touch other companies don’t offer and can be a way to quickly solve issues that might require more experienced Elavon associates.

Elavon also offers an onboarding concierge program. Every business receives a client account manager who can assist in activating the equipment, help ensure owners are following Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS) compliance, and explain anything in the Elavon statement.

When will I receive my funds?

Three-quarters of consumers use credit or debit cards instead of cash to make purchases, and that can adversely affect your business cash flow if those funds don’t process quickly. It’s common for payment companies to take two to five days to deposit your funds. You have bills to pay and inventory to replenish – it’s your money, and you shouldn’t be forced to wait for it.

With Elavon, you get your money the next day as long as your sales are settled by 10 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, excluding bank holidays.

How can you help me keep my customer data safe?

Businesses that accept payment cards have to meet the PCI DSS – a set of requirements and best practices needed to keep customer payment card data protected during a transaction. If a business fails to follow the standards and fraud occurs, the business could incur thousands of dollars in fines and assessments levied by the involved card brands and be liable for the fraud losses.

The compliance burden and liability exposure can be reduced based on the processing equipment and software a business uses in their payment acceptance. EMV chip-card readers with a token solution – which is the global standard for credit cards that use computer chips to authenticate and secure chip- card transactions – never store a customer’s card information in the system, replacing that card data with a random digital number, or token value. Certain smart terminals also have this tokenization capability.

Elavon is one of the only processing companies to offer point-to-point encryption compatible with its EMV readers that encrypts payment card data at the point of sale. These additional security technologies ensure your point-of-sale system never accepts or retains customer cardholder data at any point in the transaction process. The encrypted data is rendered unreadable during transit for authorization and settlement.

With this capability, the PCI DSS compliance process can often be reduced to a simple 10-question self- assessment and quarterly network scans to ensure there are no detectable system vulnerabilities. Businesses that forego the encryption and tokenization solutions to protect payment card data have a more rigorous compliance process that could include a longer questionnaire and extra monthly fees. These businesses without EMV card acceptance capability also are more vulnerable to chargebacks, which occur when cardholders dispute charges because of error or card fraud.

Even the best technology can’t guarantee payment card data is always secure when the merchant processing systems are constantly under threat. The recent Equifax breach showed how aggressive and successful hackers can be. Elavon sets itself apart from other processors by offering data breach assistance for merchants whose card acceptance systems have been compromised. As part of their monthly fees, clients can receive up to $100,000 of breach assistance in the case of a payment data breach. Be sure to ask the salesperson if their company does too.

Your business deserves the best when it comes to keeping things running smoothly. At Century National Bank we know there has to be a cost-benefit balance. All payment processors are not created equal, so carefully assess how each company can serve your business. At the end of the day, you’re investing in more than just terminals and equipment.

Want to learn more about how we serve you?

Talk to one of our Cash Management specialists today at 740.455.7213 to learn more about payment processing and what might be right for you.

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