Monday, November 20, 2017

Publix Credit Cards: Slow!!!

I've had a fascinating week with credit card readers. I went to Publix several time. I use an Amex card with a chip.  The Publix experience takes about 25 seconds. I mean once the cashier is finished, I put in my Amex card in the slot and have to wait 25 seconds for it to get processed.

This was really annoying at first since that's a long time to stand there when there's a line. But we got use to the new slower technology.

This week however I started shopping at Fresh Market. It's about half a mile from the Publix. Note that this is in Ft Lauderdale on US1 between Oakland Blvd and Commercial Blvd.

the Fresh Market processing of the same Amex card takes less than a second. Less than a second. That feels fast. It's like using Apple Pay.

What possible reason is there for Publix's processing to be that slow? IS it just lousy lousy lousy IT and programming? Probably.

Could it be that they are doing a financial check that the other stores aren't? I doubt it but possible.

Publix? Care to comment?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Speed of Chip Readers for Credit Cards

I am shocked that when I go to Publix, the credit cards with a chip seem to take about 30-40 seconds to process.  This might not seem like a long time but since it holds the line still, it is a long long time. Basically, after the checkout process, the payment leaves the cashier sitting around idle waiting for the credit card to process.

What's weird is that in other super markets like the Whole Earth Store, it seems to be almost instantaneous, definitely less then 3 seconds.  Why can't Publix, with all their scale and resources, manage to accelerate the process.

Could it be that they are doing a credit check and getting approval in a way that other supermarkets skip?

On another note, I'd like to see whether blogger does trackbacks the way the wordpress sites do.  Seen the post on studying stem with bicycles?

Friday, December 23, 2016

K12 School Purchasing, Credit Cards, School P Cards, Procurement Cards

I run an edtech business, one part of which sells to schools and teachers. Most of that revenue (65%) comes in from credit cards, 35% from purchase orders.

Problem number one. You probably read that last sentence and thought it was the whole story. I wish it were. I use to think it was. It turns that there are lots of schools who purchase through a PO but when it comes time to pay, they pay with a credit card. So in fact, some purchase are purchase order AND credit card.  Sure messed up our accounting until we figured it out and learned to account for it.

Question number one. Q1. Of the 65% of the revenue that comes in from credit cards, is there a way to distinguish on our side between personal credit cards and school Pcards?  It would be really interesting to know.

Second question. Of the teachers paying with their personal credit card, should we start asking them whether they are being reimbursed by their school for it?

Fintech is a hot area as in school fintech with company such as Class Wallet and others looking at possibilities for improvement through technology to help education.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Startup Advice - Merchant Accounts is where you make your money

Here's what I learned over the last decade about setting up credit card merchant account for my online business in which we sell an intangible good with card not present.

1. Like it or not, you are in the credit card business. It's where your revenue actually comes from and it's a few percentage points of your cost structure. It can also go horribly wrong. Learn the basics and pay attention to it.

2. Using Paypal as your merchant account vendor is not the worst thing in the world. Nor is it the best in the world. Their reports sort of suck but their support is reasonable. As far as I know, they are not real good at subscription service processing but I've never really tried it with them.

3. Be careful that any merchant account contract that you sign has a clear way to get out of it. Note,  if you are a subscription site, there are two levels of getting out of it: 1. Switching to a new vendor to start processing new subscription orders. 2. Getting existing subscribers credit card info switched to a new credit card vendor. In my experience, the latter is impossible. You just have to add a new vendor for new subscribers and then over time, as users login, get them to update their credit card info and in doing so, switch it to a new processor.

4. Costs. The pricing for credit card fees to you is weird. As far as I know, there are three systems:
- one where each credit card has its own fee structure and you pay them
- a tired system where your process puts the cards in tiers and charge you by the band. By tiers I mean, debit cards vs credit cards. Credit cards with special benefits (miles, money back, free massages) vs credit cards without benefits.
- a fixed price system which Paypal seems to use.
The fees are a mix of monthly fees (for no reason), start up fees, % of bill fees, and a fixed per item processing fee. There are also fees for credit card verification, refunds, and other chargeback disputes.

5. Security. Keep your website secure. Update your CMS (ie Wordpress) at each update as well as your coding languages (ie php), and your tools. Run your PCI vulnerability scan every month. Screen your employees.  When they talk about security needs, listen!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Credit Card Processing Changing at Retail

I often eat breakfast at a low end very nice diner which I like because of location, food, and they have a nifty high tech looking cash register. It's basically a tablet mounted on a little stand. It integrates credit card processing presumably as an and probably has sorts of other useful apps on it.

Square Retail Credit Card Processing
Square Retail Credit Card Processing

When I take a closer look at it and ask some questions, I hear that it's the Square Credit Card system.  The stand has a magnetic strip reader built into it. The attached little white thing is the chip reader. And it also takes Apply Pay.  I asked about fees, payment schedule, and reports. She's nto entirely sure about the fees today but thinks that they are rising to 2.75%. She loves the daily reports. She's a little vague on when she gets her money into her account. I asked about the tablet for credit cards and she says it's an ordinary iPad and she's thinking of adding the Square app for payroll on it too.

Square Credit Card Reader, Chip Reader, Screen
Square Credit Card Reader, Chip Reader, Screen

What's funny is from this little restaurant, I can also see another recent innovation in credit card processing. There is a retail store peddling credit card processing equipment and presumably processing services.  Notice the retail sign below for Ignite Payments and FirstData?

Retail Vendor of Credit Card Processing Services & Equipment
Retail Vendor of Credit Card Processing Services & Equipment

And while I don't yet have a picture, there are also parking meters nearby which are the new variety incorporating credit card payments.  In the credit card processing world, the times they are a changing...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Apple Pay on the Rise: Credit Cards Doomed?

I think the use of Apple Pay will quickly and greatly expand at retail, I think the credit card industry will, after its decades of poor management, be totally shaken up.

As a consumer, I just tried using Apply Pay at retail. It was fast and efficient. In contrast, the use of the new chip technology on credit cards in the US is incredibly messed up. It's slow, inconvenient, and does not greatly increase security.  The chip would have been a big step forward if it was implemented with additional security, say a PIN. But instead, the great expense of switching to chip-based technologies does not make sense there are not enough increases in security.

What's wrong with the US credit card system?

The the US credit card system keep relying on signatures. It's an expensive technology (all those touch screens etc) and does not really improve security. A credit card system in which your picture is taken for large pictures would help crack down on fraud.  A credit card system with a PIN would greatly increase security. And while the chip is a step forward over the magnetic stripes, they didn't require (as they do in Europe) a switch to mobile terminals so that customers are never separated from their credit card.

The US credit card system keeps getting more expensive. Of course, the consumer pays these costs but does not see them.  Seen all those ads about credit cards giving you 1%, 2%, even 5% and 10% back? Who do you think pays for this? The credit card companies just charge the increased fees to the merchants who, in turn, have to increase costs to cover the transaction costs of these credit cards.

The use of an Apply Pay-like system greatly increases security and at this point, the costs to merchants are lower and the convenience to consumers is lower.

"Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service by AppleInc. that lets users make payments using the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and later, Apple Watch-compatible devices (iPhone 5 and later models), iPad Air 2, iPad Pro and iPad Mini 3 and later."

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Style Payment Page With Direct Bank Billing

Today I was ordering a book online and I saw a new style online payment page. It suggests as the first type of payment, pick your bank! I guess the idea is to bypass merchant accounts and credit cards and online payment systems and do a direct debit

The online payment page is marked: Powered by PayPal". While the idea really caught by eye, I predict that this will FAIL in the mark place.

Why do I predict this direct bank withdrawal  not take off in the market place as a payment system. Because it  primarily addresses the vendor's issues. For a vendor, it probably reduces the fees from credit card processing. It probably speeds up payment. It might also cut down on chargebacks but all of these issues matter only the vendor.

From a consumer's point of view, I'm less likely to share my bank details than my credit card details. Also, I don't carry my bank details around with me whereas I do have my credit cards in my wallet.

Heh PayPal, do you have any views on this?  Am I missing the point?

Online Pay with Online Bank Account
Online Pay with Online Bank Account

In contrast, I paid for my lunch today with ApplePay. WOW, that was fast and easy!