National Merchants Association, launched as an advocacy group for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in 2004, is dedicated to working on behalf of businesses to eliminate or reduce the costs associated with accepting credit cards. NMA has accomplished this goal by optimizing processing contracts to ensure SMBs are paying reasonable interchange, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance, statement, customer service and other related fees.
Over time NMA has expanded through an international network and now considers itself a self-sustaining, risk-holding acquirer with in-house underwriting and risk management services for merchants and channel partners.
A key differentiator for NMA has been its proprietary account optimization software. "One of NMA's account experts, who are all Certified Payments Professionals, will review the account and the account processing history, and see what fees can be reduced," said Heather Petersen, founder and Chief Executive Officer of NMA. "NMA's experts not only work to keep merchants' rates low, but they also educate merchants on ways to keep costs down."
This optimization process apparently takes place across the board. "Between the account experts handling fee reductions, the risk analysts monitoring accounts to mitigate risk exposure, and customer service representatives handling any merchant issues and dilemmas, all of the experts at National Merchants Association work for you,” Petersen noted.
The association stated its internal chargeback control platform allows customer service representatives to intercept inbound transaction disputes before they become chargebacks. In addition to traditional merchant offerings such as free POS systems, next-day funding and international processing, NMA also provides a subscription-based membership program. With this program, merchants can choose the basic, plus or premium service, and receive tiered benefits including, for example, discounted shipping rates, gift and loyalty cards, quarterly account reviews, text message, and social media marketing. With the quarterly analysis, merchants can assess where further savings might be attainable.
Petersen's personal commitment to the payments industry includes serving as Chairperson for the Electronic Transactions Association's Education Committee, where she and other industry professionals created the ETA Guidelines on Merchant and ISO Underwriting and Risk Monitoring, a 114-page document released in March 2014.
In addition to implementing the ETA's procedural guidelines at NMA, Petersen also encourages agents and employees to earn the ETA Certified Payments Professional credential. Alexis King, who serves as Director of Sales Support for NMA has been a CPP since 2013. A CPP herself, Petersen is also MicroBilt certified, having completed the ComplyTraq Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) Certification Program. The company now services a number of hard to place merchants who have had difficulty establishing processing relationships elsewhere. Because NMA strictly follows the ETA’s and FTC’s Best Practices, they are able to manage these merchants accordingly, and ensure that they are properly conducting business. They even help advise these merchants on the best practices, allowing them to build solid processing history.
In early 2014, NMA introduced the ProAgent Partner Program, a revenue-generating model it hopes will fuel portfolio expansion for its ISO and merchant level salesperson partners. The association also stated it recently added the 100% Residual Incentive program, which pays 100 percent residuals on low-risk, brick-and-mortar, card-present and domestic merchants boarded through NMA.
"This incentive allows National Merchants Association to balance out its portfolio with low risk accounts," Petersen said, adding that with NMA's in-house risk and underwriting process it is able to approve merchants rapidly. NMA boasts a 99.8 percent approval rate.
NMA also noted that it provides competitive splits, real-time portal access, built-in chargeback mitigation/interception, and ongoing education and training as part of its partner package. For merchants who prefer to give back, NMA offers a Give-it-Back program through which it will donate up to 50 percent of the profit on merchant fees to the merchant's charity of choice.
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