Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PCI Compliance

I just received this:

Dear Merchants,

Due to PCI Compliance, we have had to make a change that removes the option for passwords for Online Merchant Center access to never expire.

All Users IDs with passwords that had previously been set to never expire will be prompted to create a new password when logging in on or after Sept 30, 2008. You will be prompted to create a new password, and will be given immediate access to the Online Merchant Center UI. The new passwords will be set to expire every 90 days. All Users are still able to adjust the time frame for password expiration in the Account Profile menu to select expiration time frames of 30,60,or 90 days.

Customer Service

Monday, September 29, 2008

What do you really need in a merchant account?

I just read a great post about what really really matters in a credit card processing system....

As far as processing goes, what is important?
- It needs to work, period!
- God forbid something does go wrong, it needs to get fixed, fast!
- A “fair” price!
It needs to work!

This could not be more true. At one point, I spoke to my vendor who claimed 24/7 support and complained that the phones were answered 24/7. He set up a system where they could be notified by us 24/7 and since then, I've never really considered changing.

Credit Card Merchant Account Info

Here are the best sources of info that I'm finding:

Infomerchant - Many articles on relevant topics.
Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog by Unibul
The Merchant Account Blog is another incredibly useful blog by Merchantequip.
Top ten credit card processing reviews - Great site
A single article on how to interpret credit card numbers -
Wikipedia has a similar article on credit card number intrepretation.
Taming the Beast has a single article which provides a good intro to the online credit cards.
Lions site has a top vendor review.
100 Best Merchant Accounts

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogs about credit card processing

First, I'd like to say that while this site is currently positioned as a blog, this is only phase 1 of a plan to build an entire website with many resources for those setting up and using credit cards online. If you wish to contribute articles, in exchange for links and bylines, contact us.

As part of the prep, I'm trying to build a list of blogs on similiar topics:

I'll start with two incredibily well-written blogs. Both are written to support a vendor but neither one is heavy-handed or slanted. They both claim to be and seem to be genuninely useful sources of information on a wide ranging array of topics. Neither is taking advertisements or providing full directory services.

Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog supporting Unibul's merchant services. It is a well-written and useful blog which provides useful information on topics such as:
Chargeback monitoring , representation rights for cards not present, and PCI compliance. The blog has been active since May and gets updated on average almost daily. The writing is good and it covers both small and large business topics (the current articles are about credit cards and the airline industry).

The Merchant Account Blog - This is a second really incredibly useful blog. Its also supporting a business services site, Merchant Equipment Store. It's slightly more professional in terms of the blog set-up (it has it's own URL and an apparently custom design although today, the right column is messed up so it appears at the bottom of the page).

More later.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Card Not Present

If you know what "card not present" means, or you are trying to find out, you've come to the right website. Inside the credit card processing world, we can divide transactions into those in which the card is present or is not present.

"Card present" means that the credit card, and the card holder presumably, is present at the cash register, like in a store or restaurant or any other retail-like environment. The card can be physically swiped and looked at by the store personnel. A driver's license or other picture ID can be requested. This part of the credit card world is not what I'm interested in and is not what this website is about. Thanks for visiting but you should go click on some link that will take you elsewhere. I wouldn't complain if you'd click on one of the pay-per-clicks on your way out and left me a nickel tip but please, only do so if the advertisement truly interests you. You probably, being in a "card present" world, don't really understand the significance of me NOT asking you to click frivolously on those PPC ads so you are missing my wit and the massive economic boom that I am part of. Thanks for visiting. Good bye.

For those of you in the "card not present world", I'd divide you into a few groups. There are some of you who are in the mail order and catalog and telemarketing world or those who are in massive corporate operations. You either are not involved in the card processing or you are a complete professional in it. If you are a professional, your expertise dwarfs mine. Please contribute some free articles of interest to us.

If you are only tangentially involved in credit card processing or if you are a small business type (like me) who relies on credit cards for online payments, then you are in exactly the right place. Over the next few months, I am going to build a website with a directory, glossary, reviews, FAQs, and other useful info for those of us who find penetrating the credit card processing merchant services world unnecessarily difficult.

Thanks for visiting. Please book mark me. And come back soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About me & this blog

I run an online educational services company that bills our members credit cards monthly. I have through the years, struggled to find good information about appropriate rates, level of service, and vendor choices. Finally, I have started researching the topic in some detail.

This blog is first of all, a record of my research. However, there are probably many more people like me who "fall" into a credit card relationship without fully understanding their choices and alternatives.

This website is for them. It's also for the vendors who need a way to tell about what distinguishers their gateway and merchant services offering.

If you would like to contribute an article, please contact me via a comment. The basic rule is that I will consider any professionally written article with useful information for publication in this blog. I'll allow a few appropriate links (up to 3) in the articles plus a byline with an overt commercial advertisement and a link.

I'll also accept advertising and advertising articles although I'll insist that if it's a paid submission, I'll make sure that it's clearly marked (I follow a "I disclose" policy).

Articles by websites that wish to review their different vendors will also be accepted.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Credit Card merchant account from all directions

I run a small online company and we take credit cards. In the last month, a few people have offered (mostly thru automated marketing systems) to help me take payment online. It's an impressive list:

My Bank - Bank of America. Also other banks have offered me services.
Paypal - They say they can be my one stop shop. Of course, they can't do subaccounts or categories and, if there's a customer dispute, they'll freeze all my cash until it's resolved.
Quickbooks - Heh, even my accounting software is marketing to me. It's good software too.
My hosting company - I host sites in several different places. Several have sent me marketing emails offering to clear my credit cards for me.
Google - Google has Google Checkout: Process transactions for free when you advertise with Google. Google Checkout is a fast, convenient checkout process that brings you more customers and allows them to buy from you with a single login – and you can process their orders and charge their credit or debit cards for free.
A number of independent sales agents. I guess they would count as ISAs, independent sales agents.
Several friends of friends. I just bought and sold a house and my real estate agent (my new best friend), introduced me to someone in his local business network who sells credit card merchant services. My daughter's friend's mother now works for a large bank as part of a sales team. Her expertise is payroll services but there's a merchant services salesperson as part of the team. In fact, I was at the dentist today and in her family is a little brother who sells merchant services to doctors...

I guess my point is that there is probably a business situation in which you would want to work with each of these different types of approaches. This blog, with it's articles and forums, once I get it fully going, will be a special source of information on how to compare these different choices.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Taking payment online - good info?

I'm looking for quality articles or comparisons between different vendors and approaches to taking payment online. For instance....

What approach to take to processing payments for your website, blog, or online business?
1. When should you set up yourself with your own merchant account?
2. When should you just use Paypal?
3. When you should piggyback on your hosting companies credit card relationships?

If you set up yourself with your merchant account:
1. How do you pick a vendor?
2. Should you do batch processing or not?
3. Where is the best listing of available merchant account vendors and credit card vendors?