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Using Software to Gain New Business

By Michelle Graff

Businesses of all types and sizes, from small merchants with POS systems, to large enterprises with multiple access points, will benefit from using payment software solutions. If you target any one of the following business types, offer a payment software application as part of your product portfolio:

Retail locations with PC-based POS systems; call center environments; fulfillment houses; government agencies; utility companies; mail order/telephone order (MO/TO) businesses; group doctor and dental practices; property management companies; and multi-location businesses.

Unlike a one-dimensional terminal product, merchants can integrate software-based payment solutions into their existing accounting, order-entry and billing systems, which creates a beneficial tool for their enterprises.

Adding a value-added service such as electronic check conversion to a face-to-face or mail-in/drop box environment simply requires installing a check-imaging device on the PC. Let's take a closer look at how software is often the right solution for certain types of businesses.

A Real Utility for Emerging Markets

Insurance companies, utilities, educational organizations and municipalities open up new opportunities for selling and deploying transaction processing software applications. Software provides great advantages to businesses that might never have considered accepting credit cards or even using a POS terminal.

Government agencies are a great target for software products. For example, municipalities have numerous departments that can benefit from card acceptance. These offices, whether the local library, police traffic department or senior center, all accept payments for a variety of services in various ways.

Some receive payments from walk-in traffic, some accept payments for fines or fees by phone, and some accept payments through their Web sites. The municipality would need only one software application to process transactions for all these channels. Plus, once you have "broken down the wall" by successfully placing transaction software within one municipal department, you can help the municipality extend the service to other departments much more easily.

When one department sees how simple it is for another to accept card payments, the department is eager to be added to the system. If all departments are on the same network, solutions such as NOVA Information Systems' viaWARP, which supports multi-MID capabilities, face-to-face payments and MO/TO sales, make expansion a breeze. Government agencies serve as good customers, too. Their financial data are public, and they have a good collection record, which makes it easy to get their applications through underwriting.

The Perfect Prescription for Healthcare

Empire Health Services operates two hospitals in the Spokane, Wash. area and now accepts credit cards for deductibles and co-payments. Empire previously used a single POS terminal to run card transactions for patient co-payments and deductibles at each site.

Staff members from all departments had to leave their computers to swipe a card at a common terminal and manually add paper card slips to billing records.

Empire needed a solution to improve its patient billing process. The company selected a software solution that accommodates up to 150 users; Empire can also integrate the solution into most of its back-office systems.

"NOVA's viaWARP solution lets us support multiple users while conducting billing and posting payments using the same merchant ID number," said Rebecca Marsh, Empire's Manager of Revenue Cycle Compliance and Internal Audit. "Integration with our other systems means that registrars can remain at their stations. This improves customer service and speeds registration."

It's User Friendly

Empire fitted registrars' computer terminals at its two facilities with card readers. After enrolling patients, registrars swipe the credit cards, and Empire bills patients for the amount of their co-payment or deductible.

The registrars then enter patients' payment information into the hospital's computerized registration form, which makes all billing and payment data automatically accessible to the billing department. The process is simpler and less prone to error than attaching card slips to patient documents and manually submitting them.

"Patients are paying more by card," Marsh said. "Since we prefer not to take cash or have cash on hand to make change, we now have a system that makes it easier for us to accept cards."

Marsh said that Empire considered purchasing separate credit card terminals for each registration site at the two facilities. The company decided not to because it would have to register each terminal separately with its acquiring bank. The terminals would also have to be assigned their own merchant identification number.

Empire officials thought the process might create compliance issues, which would make posting payments difficult or force a revamping of its entire card acceptance system.


Empire has benefited from using the software solution because it eliminates the need for single-function terminals and dedicated phone lines. Since the solution leverages Empire's Internet connections, it can process transactions in 2 to 4 seconds.

Once Empire initiates a payment transaction, all authorized transaction data are captured and submitted in a batch for processing. Additionally, in a networked environment such as Empire's, the software resides on a host system and each terminal accesses it through a Web browser.

The Web-based technology makes it easier for Empire's billing department to post payment of co-pays and deductibles to patient accounts prior to patients' release, since all transaction data are submitted and stored electronically.

Employing the solution, Empire easily customizes reports using comma-separated values (CSV) for integration with other enterprise systems, or even programs like Microsoft Excel. Best of all, data can be consolidated from multiple operations for executive-level reports.

Michelle Graff is Vice President of Marketing for NOVA Information Systems. E-mail her at

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