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A Thing

Wanted: A solution for all-in-one merchants

By Ben Goretsky

A new year has begun and already my team is talking with reps from different merchant banks to request the latest and greatest for their merchant customers. In these discussions, a recurring issue concerning all-in-one merchants continues to arise because a real solution for them has yet to be found: an all-in-one merchant account.

What are all-in-one merchants? They are merchants with one business who accept credit cards for payment through multiple channels, or industry "types" (e.g., a retail brick-and-mortar location, mail order/telephone order, Web site) and want to process these transactions using a single merchant account.

How can one merchant use one account for multiple industry types? Usually in today's market, if merchants need to swipe cards, they set up a retail merchant account. Online merchants set up an Internet merchant account, and mail order merchants set up a MO/TO account for their processing needs.

Unfortunately, no real solution exists for merchants who use all these channels yet want only one merchant account.

Half-baked set up

A prime example is a bakery. The bakery operates a retail store with walk-in traffic and accepts credit cards for payment. It also has an online store that takes credit card orders, and it takes orders over the phone for non-Internet sales. We can even go one step further and say the merchant also makes local deliveries and accepts credit cards using wireless POS equipment.

With the current interchange model, this merchant would need to have at least two merchant accounts: one for swipes at the retail location and on deliveries and another account for the Internet and mail order (non-swipe) transactions.

Selling one account to merchants is hard enough; selling two is that much worse. Also, why sell two accounts when today's gateway systems enable merchants to run their Internet sales through a gateway, mail orders through a virtual terminal, retail store swipes through an Internet protocol-POS terminal or software, and wireless payments through a device such as a PDA or cellular phone that also connects to the gateway?

Since such merchants exist, why is there no specific "type" or "category" for them, especially in regard to interchange?

Currently these merchants have two options: 1) use one merchant account, with which they pay the nonswipe rate for transactions across the board (they must do this even if cards are swiped because they use the same account for their Internet and mail order transactions) or, 2) use two merchant accounts, meaning they must manage and pay for each account separately.

I believe that in our industry, with evolving technology and merchant environments, we have the means to develop a better account solution for all-in-one merchants.

Since technology exists for all-in-one merchants to use one account for different environments, it is now up to the card Associations to better interface with the technology that is available in their own industry.

Ben Goretsky is the Chief Executive Officer and head of IT Development at USA ePay. He has been working with his brother Alex since they started the company in 1998. E-mail him at or call him at 866 872 3729, ext. 350.

Article published in issue number 060201

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