The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 23, 2007 • Issue 07:04:02
ISOs' secret interchange weapon
What is the ISO's secret weapon for getting the best processing rates? It just might be acquiring software. The Acquire360 suite from Planet Financial Services provides improved interchange qualified rates, according to Liz Novak, Planet Financial's Vice President of Operations.
"We've set it up so that our clients are receiving better interchange rates than they've ever received before with their current processors," she said. The improvement is "due to our interpretation of the regulations and our ability to apply it to the merchant data."
By running their own back-end settlement systems with the software, ISOs get outsized advantages, said Jay Christiansen, who works in technical sales at the company. The reduction to ISOs' interchange "can be a very large number that they can save or pass on to the merchant," he added.
Acquire360, a payment transaction processing solution, meets the range of needs of ISOs and merchant acquirers, according to the company. Planet Financial Services, a division of Planet Group Inc., offers third-party processors a scalable merchant accounting and settlement system.
The software suite's pricing "scales based on size of the ISO," said Mike Dooley, the company's Director of Sales. ISOs currently using the suite serve from 5,000 to 100,000 merchants, he added.
The software gives ISOs the ability to process card transactions; compute discounts and fees; and produce reports, special forms and statements.
The suite is parameter-driven via a graphical user interface. Additionally, it provides online tools to support clerical and managerial functions.
ISOs may host the system internally or use Planet Financial's back-end settlement system, with billing based on a hosted application-service-provider model.
"ISOs typically tend to focus on the sales development side and outsource the back-end," Dooley said. ISOs that outsource to Planet "get the benefits of their own in-house solution with a service-bureau model."
Key advantages of the software are its flexibility, control and cost reduction, Dooley said. When ISOs switch from a transaction-based variable fee to Planet's fixed cost software, they drive per-transaction costs down as they process more transactions, he added.
The software supports processing of 180 currencies and settles in 20 different currencies, allowing financial institutions to offer customers choices.
Built-in options accommodate fees triggered by external applications, enabling ISOs to bill and issue merchant statements on any user-defined schedule.
The software supports merchant-specific model groups to link processing parameters for specific merchant types, such as restaurants. This makes it easier to set up merchants falling within a given category code, Novak said. Or, setup for an individual merchant can be customized.
Other key features of the software include:
- Multi-institution processing, supporting institution-level reporting and access security
- The ability to specify multiple transaction and settlement currencies per merchant and to support multicurrency merchant structures
- Central and cross-border acquiring, supporting settlement for country-specific clearing
- Settlement options that allow for any required frequency for the settlement of different transaction groups, with net and gross settlement options
- Linked merchant structures, supporting the management and reporting levels for merchants in a hierarchy, such as the merchants of a particular sub-ISO
- Full support for the production of settlement advices and merchant statements
- Flexible definition of transaction-based fees, including flat rate and percentage fees, and the ability to vary fees by transactions type, card type, method of capture and cardholder payment method
- Tiered rebate facility, allowing transaction fee rebates to be calculated based on the level of merchant activity
- A number of service fees, defined for a range of merchant services, including ad hoc maintenance actions, as well as regular charges for items such as POS terminals and hot-list provision exception handling.
The software's flexibility enables ISOs to work within their own software environments, Christiansen said. Acquire360 works with a variety of operating systems.
Planet Financial Services
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