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Picking the industry's top players

A website called topcreditcardprocessors.com evaluates and ranks payments industry companies as a means of driving traffic and sales leads to its clients' sites. Merchants who are looking for card services see the ratings and contact the payment firms, said Joshua Moody, topcreditcardprocessors.com's President.

When rating the payment companies, topcreditcardprocessors.com considers background, reputation and experience. Its team checks rates, reliability and customer feedback. It scours reports, the Better Business Bureau site and the Ripoff Report site for red flags. Site users on topcreditcardprocessors.com can pan or praise the companies on the site. Payment companies can attempt to improve their rankings by submitting information to the site.

Yet despite all that homework, achieving the top rank in a category doesn't necessarily mean a company's the best in the business, Moody noted. "This is our opinion, based on what we know about them," he said. "We're looking for somebody who's going to be able to service our audience" of merchants and agents.

Payment companies that don't fit topcreditcardprocessors.com's criteria don't make the ratings. And companies that qualify are ranked if they pay a fee to the site, he said. Currently, the fees vary but generally come to about $1,000 a month per category and can run higher, he noted, adding that payment companies "want to make a return" on the money they invest in the rankings.

The site's 30 categories include credit card processing, high-risk processing, merchant cash advance, small-business loans and retail processing. Companies can choose to pay the fee to become eligible in more than one category.

Topcreditcardprocessors.com bases the price for appearing in a category on the value the listing provides, Moody said. Companies listed higher in the rankings generally pay more because they receive more value. "It depends on traffic numbers, what position they're in, how many categories they're in and what categories they're in," he said of the fees. A merchant cash advance listing brings in more revenue per deal than an automated clearing house listing could generate, and topcreditcardprocessors.com prices the categories accordingly, he said.

Planning participation in the rankings

Topcreditcardprocessors.com's representatives meet with payment providers at industry conferences and tradeshows to plan their participation. The site views its services as a customized marketing campaign for the payment company. Clients number in the "hundreds," according to Moody. Staff members at topcreditcardprocessors.com help clients promote their brands by writing material that runs on Marketwired, a Toronto-based press-release distribution service, he said. A typical release might list the Top 10 card processors for a certain month or provide highlights of a particular company.

"Agents can take that press release and go out and hit the streets or get on the phone and talk about how they're rated as one of the best companies out there," Moody suggested.

Merchants also learn about the service through topcreditcardprocessors.com's participation in retailer tradeshows, while merchant level salespeople (MLSs) often find out about it at their industry gatherings.

The company also does some pay-per-click advertising, mostly for new categories that have yet to gain traction. Much of the rankings' public exposure, however, comes from Internet searches that merchants or MLSs launch when they're seeking card processing services. Search engine optimization helps assure the site comes out on top or at least on the first page for numerous searches. Merchants account for about 80 percent of the site's traffic, the company noted.

Directory offers free listings

The site also includes a directory of industry companies with free listings. "There's no evaluation process with that," Moody said. "It's merely a listing on the site."

The company has been studying and ranking payments industry companies for nearly five years and employs a 10-person staff, he said. Its parent company, e-ventures Worldwide LLC, has been performing similar functions for 13 years for other industries. The e-ventures website lists 67 industries that it covers, ranging from airlines to web security.

Headquarters for topcreditcardprocessors.com and e-ventures is in Naples, Fla., and the payments industry work occurs in Naples. end of article

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