Accepting Credit Card Payments – A Guide For Businesses

Credit card payments

With the majority of business transactions now happening online, on the go and being processed quicker than ever, if you’re not already then you should start accepting credit card payments for your business, whether it’s online or in-store, to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in payment technology.

Accepting credit card payments will enhance your customer’s shopping experience, speed up the transaction process and will enable more opportunities by offering more flexibility to your audience. Discover what’s involved when taking credit card payments with our go-to guide for businesses below.

This go-to guide outlines; why your business should be taking card payments, how to process and take card payments, credit card versus debit card payments, fraud prevention, as well as a glossary of key terms within the card industry. There’s also a wide range of external links in each chapter for some further reading and understanding. So whether you’ve just started accepting credit card payments and need more information or thinking about setting up card payments, then you’ll benefit from this guide.

1

Why Your Business Should Be Taking Credit Card Payments

As well as making the customer experience efficient and easy, accepting credit card payments within your business (whether it’s an online or in-store business) will enhance your professional appearance, implement security processes and increase your customer base. It’s important as a business to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in consumer and online payments, and accepting credit card payments is one of the most easiest and basic things you can do right now to get your business up to speed.

There’s no doubt about it that customers now expect to be able to pay by card, as well as credit card. Eliminate the risk of any lost sales by accepting credit card payments today. They can be more convenient for shoppers, can potentially boost your sales as they encourage more buying (as it’s a quicker and easier process), as well as improving the security of your business by having less cash on your premises.

Take a look at some of the links below for information on the benefits of credit card payments and some useful statistics around taking card payments.

Business payments
2

Processing Credit Card Payments

With everyone now on the go more than ever, not only will you want to start accepting credit cards for your business, you’ll want to accept them both online and in person. To do this, there are two main pieces to the puzzle that are required; a merchant account service and a payment gateway.

A merchant account is a bank account which is used to acquire payments from your clients’ debit and credit cards. The funds are taken from your client’s account and sent directly to your merchant account, where they are held until they are settled into your nominated bank account.

A payment gateway acts as a portal or tunnel between your merchant account and your customer’s bank account. Any business thinking of accepting card payments online will require a portal into every bank in the world in order to retrieve the funds from the cards used by their clients.

Browse through some of the further reading links below for information on payment gateway options and tips, as well as advice on merchant account services.

Processing payments
3

How To Take Credit Card Payments

Depending on your business functionality and the size of your business will depend on the type of payment processes you’re after for accepting card payments. Whether it’s accepting online payments, accepting mobile payments or accepting in-store payments, here’s a list of some of the key properties and equipment that you’ll need to maximise your payment processing.

Accepting Online Payments

  • Payment gateway.
  • Merchant account for your business.
  • Shopping cart or website which is integrated to the payment gateway and merchant provider.

Accepting Mobile Payments

  • Merchant account for your business.
  • Your smartphone or tablet will become the credit card reader.

Accepting In-Store Payments

  • Merchant account for your business.
  • Point-of-sale (POS) system: A complete checkout terminal which includes a credit card swiper, cash register, barcode scanner etc.
  • Credit card terminal: A physical piece of hardware to swipe credit cards anywhere using a smartphone or tablet.

Check out the below links for some further reading on how to accept credit cards online and in-store, as well as some advice for small businesses.

Card payments
4

Credit Card Vs. Debit Card Payments

Debit card and credit cards may look alike and get scanned the same, but they’re very different when it comes to the benefits and financial costs, therefore it’s important to understand them both in detail when putting together the plans for your business.

A debit card is associated with a customer’s bank account. When they make a purchase, that exact amount of money is taken out of their bank account within a few days, which is therefore quite a simple and straightforward process for all parties.

When a customer uses a credit card, the credit card company essentially extends a loan for the amount purchased in the transaction. The total sum of spends in a month is shown on a bill, which the customer is obliged to pay otherwise the credit card company will charge an interest rate. Credit cards are beneficial to your business as they allow consumers to spend more and allow more flexibility, especially when it comes to international spending.

Take a look at some of the links below for information on the differences between accepting and processing credit and debit card payments.

Credit vs debit cards
5

Fraud Prevention And Security

When implementing quicker and easier payment processes into your business, there comes potential fraud and security risks. As long as you’re aware of these though and put into place the right security measures, the benefits will far outweigh the potential negatives.

First off, if your business doesn’t accept any card payments at all yet, then by switching over you’ll reduce the risk of having to hold lots of cash on your premises, which can be an easy target for theft.

To protect your business from card fraud, a number of 3-D Secure authentication products are now available on the market that can be integrated alongside any other security your site has. These include; Address Verification Service (AVS), Card Security Code (CSC), MasterCard SecureCode, Verified by Visa, J/Secure and SafeKey.

Browse through some of the further reading links below for more information on fraud prevention and security when it comes to accepting card payments.

Fraud prevention
6

Glossary - Common Card Industry Terms

To carry out thorough research when it comes to accepting credit card payments for your business, it’s best to familiarise yourself with some of the key terminology used within the card industry. Below is a small list of the most common and also the most basic terms, so that they’re easier to remember.

  • Acquirer – A bank that has a business relationship with merchants, retailers and other service providers to process their plastic card transactions.
  • Authorisation – Authorisations are provided by card issuers and confirm that the card number is valid and that the funds are available at the time of transaction.
  • Merchant Account - A bank account which is used to acquire payments from your clients’ debit and credit cards.
  • Payment Gateway - Acts as a portal or tunnel between your merchant account and your customer’s bank account.
  • Payment Processor – A company (often third party) appointed by a merchant to handle transactions from debit and credit cards for merchant acquiring banks.
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) System – A combination of software and hardware that enables merchants to take transactions. POS systems can come in the traditional format and also a mobile format.
  • Shopping Cart - Both physical and digital shopping carts are a place where customers can collect their items in one place and then process their shopping cart to the checkout.
Card industry