According to officials at Plug'n Pay Technologies Inc., the company's name encapsulates what distinguishes the software provider's gateway. That is, a flexible, open-ended platform that users can "plug into" without having to overhaul or otherwise compromise their original designs. "People have been running online for a while, but people keep on coming up with new ways to slice the bread, and we try to accommodate that," said Plug'n Pay President David Price.
Plug'n Pay Vice President of Sales Randy Ridings added, "Sometimes the ISO wants a product for a specific market, and sometimes a merchant has a specific interest. It can go both ways and we cater to both." Plug'n Pay was founded in 1996, making it "one of the oldest, if not the oldest, payment gateway in existence," Price said, adding that the company's lengthy history and the experience of its staff give it a number of competitive advantages.
Plug'n Pay understands the complicated, evolving needs of merchants and ISOs, and has a programming army with the knowledge and creativity to implement that vision, Price noted. "The theme we like to stress is that, when a merchant wants a customized solution, we work with them to build it," he said. "It's a combination both of having a system that was built to be highly flexible without a core rewrite, and a philosophy that gives us a willingness to do it."
Price mentioned an example of the company's tailored approach. It involved an ISO in the restaurant catering business that wanted to combine swipe payment acceptance and larger gateway functionality on a mobile device. So Plug'n Pay created an "iPad Kiosk" with an attachable swipe device from MagTek Inc. The combination enables delivery personnel to accept swipe payments on a device that also connects to the company's back-end network, allowing the company to record payments into a central database, as well as track deliveries and cash flow.
"It allows swipe data to be embedded, and it's more merchant-centric for use with a business where they have to swipe a card, whether driving around or at a tradeshow," Price said. More generally, Plug n' Pay makes it easy for any merchant business to add a mobile-friendly version of its standard web page and payment platform, Price said.
Another example of customization is the practical customer-facing payment screen, Price pointed out. He recalled that one developer in the Caribbean requested a stripped-down payment authorization page for businesses operating in a region where almost all of its customers were paying on mobile phones. "When you want to make a purchase on your phone, the data entry screen is small, and you really don't want to ask for five pieces of information when you can get by with three," Price said. "And with this particular developer, there wasn't the same need for [address verification service] in a region where it literally might not always be applicable. And why add more than four countries to the payment menu when you're only working with four? These were all specifics we incorporated."
Price provided another example of customization: a la carte fraud prevention that allows merchants and ISOs to decide what fraud prevention mechanisms to employ. Price said merchants wary of losing customers to false positives tend to favor a somewhat more lax approach; those more susceptible to fraud may choose to ramp up their fraud protection.
"We can block by countries, by IP address, we can limit frequencies, and we can limit how many times a card can run," Price said. "Depending on what you're selling, it might not be practical that someone would buy from you more than once that week - or more than once ever."
Plug'n Pay stores customer data in the cloud and facilitates recurring billing transactions to help offload the hassles of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard mandates regarding payment storage, Ridings said. In addition, the company's merchant management program alerts merchants about billing cycle and default updates. That also includes a subscription management feature that informs merchants when subscriptions are close to expiring.
"With membership management, we provide password protection for customers, so if returning buyers wants to access their financial information they enter a username and password instead of [re-entering all of their card data]," Ridings said. "With subscription management, if you want to charge $12 for 24 months, but then the subscription ends, we alert the merchant when that's about to happen.
"Similarly, with installment billing, you can bill $20 for the next 24 months, in which case we will track the decreasing amount that's owed until the debt's paid off. The beauty is that if you have 1,000 people and only one of them burps, you only have to pay attention to that one, because we will automatically and immediately alert you. The other 999 are going to go through without any work on your part." Ridings added that Plug'n Pay uses multiple authorization attempts in the event of a declined payment.
Price noted that Plug'n Pay can provide numbers and analysis of payment data and trends. "Our reporting is geared around merchants who manage their payments," he said. "We can look up trends, show their trends and export their payment information if they want to run marketing reports."
Ridings pointed out that Plug'n Pay runs the order and transactional databases simultaneously. "All the ordering information - name, address, billing address, phone number, URL - is all contained in the order database," he said. "So if you want to collect all the emails you've collected sales from, wanted to gather all the phone numbers, or utilize our shopping cart to collect product information - any additional data the customer wants we collect in our order database, and they can download and order by that."
Price said the company's handling of data for franchises exemplifies its tailored approach. Sometimes franchise outlets are bought and sold, creating satellites that operate under different ownership - even though customers of the franchise will see them as part of a unified whole.
The problem is that customers who shop at multiple locations expect to have their information updated across the board. If they've given their payment data for recurring billing, they expect another location will have the same data; if they've accrued loyalty points at one location, they expect those to accrue across the board.
In such cases, Plug'n Pay accommodates by cataloguing all the different franchisees' payment data into a single database, while keeping the merchant accounts separate. So shoppers who go to multiple outlets operating under different owners are still treated as repeat customers.
"We developed a way that allows Franchisee A to create links and sublinks to a Franchisee B, where he can store his own eggs and also reference data stored at Franchisee B, without having to build an account from scratch. We created a way for ownership to change and when these new groups need to be linked can access card data across the portfolio easily," Price said.
Also, Plug'n Pay operates internationally, and provides both foreign currency conversion and settlement, Ridings said, adding that the company, which services about 25,000 merchants, is ISO-agnostic and includes a white label program for its ISOs.
"They give us their logo, and the word, 'Plug'n Pay', doesn't show up in any form," Ridings said. "We're not an ISO, and it's hard for us to understand how you could have an ISO business and also be a competitor."
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