How Card Payments Can Help Grow Your Business

Gert Scholts - Director, First Data Merchant SolutionsGert Scholts, Director of First Data Merchant Solutions, gives valuable business advice on how card payments can help to grow your small business.

Key to the success of any business is accepting payments for goods and services, however choosing the right card acceptance provider can be both confusing and time consuming.

A recent survey [1] conducted by First Data Merchant Solutions highlighted this by asking budding entrepreneurs and small business owners what fears and reservations they had around accepting card payments:

  • Of those surveyed 83% had given some or significant consideration to accepting card payments in their business.
  • However 77% admitted that they had little or no understanding of how card processing works.
  • 81% of respondents were concerned about the associated cost and risk of credit card fraud when considering whether or not to accept card payments.

Despite these reservations the business case for accepting card payments is strong. The volume of card transactions in the UK doubled from 4.3 billion in 2001 to 8.6 billion in 2010 and the value of transactions doubled from £187 billion in 2001 to £430 billion in 2010 [2]. With this in mind here are my top five tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners who are considering accepting card payments:

Choose the right provider

As with any service there are a multitude of card acceptance providers offering payment processing for businesses, however, choosing the right match for you is crucial. There is a well versed myth that business owners need to use payment services from their business banking provider, however, this is not necessarily the best option. Independent card acceptance providers can often offer unique terms based on their specialist knowledge. Make sure you do your research and contact providers directly, the more questions they ask about your business and your future plans the more likely they are to come up with the right deal for you.

Know where you stand

Cash flow is the life blood to any business and knowing how much you have in the kitty at any given time is imperative. With this in mind the ability to view your statements and transaction history online 24/7 needs to be a priority. Reporting resources offered by card acceptance provider can not only give you a digestible overview of transactions but also a back history, so you can track how your business is fairing today compared to the previous year, month or week.

Make sure you are protected

However you trade, every card transaction you process involves sensitive cardholder information which has to be stored and transmitted securely. All businesses who process card payments are required to be PCI DSS compliant to make sure both you and your customers are protected. In order to ensure that you achieve and maintain your compliance chose a card acceptance provider which offers a PCI DSS Compliance Programme as this will take you step by step through the process.

Think international

Whether your business accepts payments online or face to face it is worth considering your international customers who might want to use foreign cards.  Dynamic Currency Conversion services offered by card acceptance providers allow international customers to select the currency they wish to use at the point-of-sale with the funds transferred in sterling to your bank account. This gives the customer the reassurance of instantly seeing a familiar currency while giving you a precise and reliable way to process your international sales.

Get ready for contactless

With major high street banks increasingly introducing contactless technology as a standard feature on debit cards and mobile wallets, such as Google Wallet, launching left, right and centre forward thinking businesses should future proof themselves and plan for supporting contactless payments. For businesses accepting face to face card payments make sure the Point of Sale terminal you chose includes contactless capability for quick processing of small value transactions.

  1. ^ Survey: conducted at the Business StartUp Show, London, 17-18 May 2012. Statistics based on sample of 70 attendees.
  2. ^ Source: Merchant Acquiring in Europe 2012 report

This business advice article How Card Payments Can Help Grow Your Business provided by Gert Scholts, Director of First Data Merchant Solutions

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