The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 24, 2009 • Issue 09:08:02
Merchant management minus tech troubles
ISOs generally have two options for managing their computer-based merchant profiles, on which the assorted data of their various merchants are stored and updated. One is to assume the task themselves; the other is to outsource it to a processor.
According to Nicolas Alezeau, Business Development Manager for payment technology provider POS Portal Inc., both avenues have significant drawbacks.
ISOs that outsource the work of profile management surrender a high degree of control, face considerable delays to modifying merchant data and run the risk of errors from botched communication.
Those that manage their own profiles bear the high costs of technology implementation and the associated information technology work.
"Generally ISOs, when they grow to a certain size, they start wanting to have more control of their merchant base and the ability to modify those profiles," Alezeau said.
"On occasion, they may have a merchant that's just taking Visa and MasterCard, and they'd like them to be able to accept American Express and Discover - and that requires a change at the point-of-sale terminal and at the profile level. For them to submit that request [to a processor], that can take up to 24 to 48 hours if they outsource it to the processor."
A new product from POS Portal called Hosted Download Management Service provides a separate alternative. According to Alezeau, the service allows ISOs to manage their profiles in real time but relieves them of the technology burden that merchant oversight normally entails.
Rather, POS Portal hosts the technology necessary to create and modify merchant profiles - requiring ISOs only to register and create accounts but allowing them to modify those accounts as quickly and easily as if the technology were their own.
"It's kind of like real estate," he said. "You have your account, or your space in your system ... and you can build your space with your applications that you want, and we host the infrastructure and we give you support."
Different terminal, different download
Making profile management even more difficult is the fact that terminals issued by different companies require entirely separate programs, Alezeau noted. For example, ISOs that oversee one merchant with a Hypercom Corp. terminal and another with a Verifone terminal typically need to download two separate programs. No single download is compatible with both.
Whereas the Hosted Download Management Service contains programs supporting all the different terminals. For an ISO that signs in, "you go to one Web site, and it looks the same every time," Alezeau said. "You have a drop-down list where you select Verifone or Hypercom or Nurit, and then it's the same Web page. It's easy training one of our clients."
Lastly, the service gives ISOs an upsell opportunity to other ISOs seeking control of their own portions of merchant accounts.
"[ISOs] pay a user account fee, but they can use that as an enabler to make additional revenue on their side, depending on their business model," Alezeau said. "They can give their sales agent or a smaller ISO the capability to say, 'Hey, do you want to be able to build your own downloaded profiles? It'll cost you x.' We're not able to partition that out, but it's still under the umbrella."
POS Portal Inc.
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