January 9, 2017

Merchant Accounts for Small Business: What You Need to Know

Maybe you’re operating a medical practice, a wellness retailer, running your own business as a personal trainer, or you’ve just opened your city’s latest rock climbing studio. Your goal is to help people get healthy, but to get there, you need reliable payment solutions—enter merchant accounts for small business.

A merchant account allows your business to accept credit cards, debit cards, and new “touchless” pay systems, such as Apple Pay. By establishing a merchant account, you’re establishing a deal with an organization that, in turn, has deals with the major companies that process credit card transactions. Processors act as the technological middleman between big credit card companies and businesses like your own.

What types of payment does the merchant account allow?

A merchant account should offer the gamut of standard options, since many companies are moving beyond the traditional credit card processing systems. Many prefer mobile payments, which allows owners to take payments on the go via smartphones and a simple reader. As services like Apple Pay and Android Pay gain in popularity, many businesses will want to give their customers the option to pay with their NFC-enabled smartphone instead.

What about point of sale (POS) systems? The merchant account should allow businesses to get a comprehensive payments, transactions, and customer data solution, if they want one. For those doing e-commerce, whether solely or on top of a physical location as well, a merchant account can include two separate systems that integrate and ensure consistency throughout the entire payment landscape.

Will you be EMV-ready?

As of October 1, 2015, credit card transactions in the U.S. are meant to be processed using EMV (Europay, Mastercard, and Visa) technology based on small computer chips, rather than magnetic stripes. What does this mean for merchant accounts? If you don’t accept the new chip system, you could be held liable for processing transactions with fraudulent, stolen, or compromised credit cards. Small businesses, in particular, need to be ready for the new generation of credit card transactions. Ensure that any merchant account you pursue is ready to protect both you and your customers from fraud.

Payments are important

You’ve made the sale, and the customer’s card has been successfully processed—so, when will you see your money? While researching merchant accounts, ensure that the processor fully explains the funding workflow. You don’t want to be waiting for your hard-earned money, particularly when your business is growing rapidly and costs are high.

Getting your money quickly is great, but it’s also important to ensure that you won’t run into any issues if you have a particularly good month, with high sales volumes and record-setting revenue. Check on monthly sales caps, and if there might be any fees associated with them.

Does the company understand my business?

Some payment processors want volume alone. This gives them excellent economies of scale, but doesn’t give them the opportunity to actually understand different industries and the particular challenges each of them face. Researching a merchant account before taking the plunge can mean the difference between one that understands your unique needs (such as HIPAA compliance) and one that leaves your business without its cash and at the mercy of a regulatory body.

This goes hand-in-hand with feeling as though you can grow your business alongside your payment processor. At Beacon, we’re familiar with health and wellness companies of all types, and we understand the growing pains and needs that these companies undergo as they transition from a dozen to a hundred employees, or from one mobile card reader to a complex network of POS systems in retail operations.

Beacon’s tailored merchant accounts and focus on health and wellness companies mean we’re there for you, every step of the way. Get in touch for a custom assessment about how we can partner together to help you achieve your goal of making people healthier and happier.

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