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A Thing

Swat the swipe-rate squeeze with an ace acquirer

By Marcelo Paladini

La crème de la crème of acquirers
Assuming most major acquirers offer similar basic products - credit and debit card processing, electronic check guarantee, gift cards and loyalty cards - here are some products and services that are likely to set industry leaders apart:

  • Both PIN-based and signature-based debit card processing
  • E-commerce applications that execute transactions in real time, utilizing the industry's best technology to provide advanced fraud monitoring and control
  • Cardholder data that's protected by state-of-the-art technology
  • Real-time access to transaction data
  • Easy to understand, comprehensive reporting systems that put layers of real-time information at your fingertips within minutes, including every deduction and deposit, with details like type of card, authorization code and chargebacks
  • Merchant loan programs that advance customers up to $150,000 against their future credit card transactions for a small, fixed percentage
  • Loan programs that allow you to borrow funds against your current residuals, without selling them off
  • A marketing program that provides you with tools designed to enhance your selling strategies, increase productivity and better generate interest from merchants
  • Integrated management software that automates online merchant applications, pricing and merchant equipment orders; organizes front-end and back-end operations, reporting, problem-solving and profit calculation; and provides status reports twice a day
  • Customer service that goes beyond the now-standard promise of 24/7 support: service that ensures your merchants' problems will immediately be routed to the most qualified service rep available
  • An automated e-mail system that lets you know when a merchant has a problem and updates you on its resolution every step of the way.

If the days of simply selling the best swipe rate aren't over, they should be. Why? Because today's ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) have the opportunity to offer prospective merchants a full portfolio of business solutions. That is, if they have an ace acquirer up their sleeves.

Many of you have lived through our industry's maturation process; you know the critical nature of partnering with the right processor.

You work too hard to recruit and retain accounts just to have merchants take their business elsewhere due to multiple errors, down time, slow deposits, poor customer support and hidden rates.

The challenge is to sort through the ever-growing field of acquirers and find an integrated business partner, not just a service provider.

Do the research

When selecting an acquirer, look for dependability, credibility and rate transparency. Without those qualities, you have nothing of value.

But if you're interested in significantly growing your business, you must also look at the breadth of products and services offered by the industry's best and brightest stars. These are the acquirers that can provide a comprehensive program of business solutions for your customers.

Ask merchants why they left their last processing company and who they are with now. Chances are you will hear plenty about the shortcomings of competing processing companies, along with the strengths of some good potential acquirers worth exploring.

Perhaps the most important question of all: Is there a single acquirer that can provide everything you want to represent?

Focus on service

A good customer service operation is invaluable. Most merchants would prefer to have their credit card processing happen without having to pay attention after initial sign-up. However, there are times when they need assistance.

Are you confident the processor you have your eye on will be enthusiastic about helping you or your merchants at any time, day or night?

Will its representatives be knowledgeable about specific equipment along with some alternatives if need be? Will the reps communicate in a way that educates merchants about processing and enables them to understand the causes and solutions for problems?

Consider all of these questions when selecting a processor. Most merchants are willing to pay a little more for good service, flexibility and customization.

Turn to technology

Tomorrow's higher residuals are contingent upon using today's newest products and services. If you want to be known as the most knowledgeable ISO or MLS in your region or vertical market - the one with the most comprehensive portfolio of trusted business solutions - it's essential that you choose an acquirer that is a leader in technology development.

From new technologies that automate front-end and back-end business operations to groundbreaking customer service management tools and support programs, today's solutions are about saving your merchants time and money. And they come from the same acquirers that deliver better reporting mechanisms, real-time updates and, ultimately, peace of mind.

Lead them to loans

Most merchants know about the basic services a processor can provide, i.e., credit and debit card processing. But many don't know that you can also offer them gift card, loyalty, and check authorization or conversion programs. Another little-known service is providing loans against future projected credit card sales.

Cynergy Data, for example, is affiliated with Merchant Cash & Capital, which advances cash to merchants based on their past credit card receipts. Look for this kind of value-added affiliation. As a merchant uses the borrowed cash to fuel growth, the ISO generates greater and greater residuals. It's a win-win situation for merchants and ISOs.

Mind that marketing support

What level of marketing support is available from your prospective acquirer? Does it offer a customizable portfolio full of marketing collateral material that you can easily access from its Internet or intranet site?

Custom-made post cards, direct mail pieces, sales brochures, etc., should all be available via the Internet. Web-based marketing support tools will add great value to your ability to reach a wider range of potential merchant accounts.

Keep on learning

Remember, you can't sell what you don't know. Do your homework. Once you represent an acquirer with value-added products, educate yourself first. Then educate your merchant customers.

Focus on how each group of services can free up their time to do what they do best - run their businesses. This offers you the opportunity to present yourself as a good listener who responds with valuable solutions. You can lead in with price, cash, or reporting - whichever you feel is most valued on a merchant-specific basis. This will make your sell more powerful on an individual level.

Take time to understand each merchant's business. That way, you are positioned to present sound solutions to a host of problems and challenges. For example, do merchants take very large checks or a good number of out-of-state checks, as a car maintenance or repair shop might? Then talk to them about how electronic check service would improve their cash flow and reduce their risk of check loss.

And poof, you're an instant hero: You sell more services upfront, boost your residual revenue and significantly improve merchant satisfaction. This ultimately translates into retention.

At the end of the day, it's all about creating and keeping customers. Armed with a comprehensive portfolio of products and services by a proven, industry-leading acquirer, you can approach current and prospective merchants with the confidence that you truly have the best solutions to the challenges they face every day. This will pay off in the residuals and retention you once might only have dreamed possible.

Marcelo Paladini is the Chief Executive Officer for Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that distinguishes itself by relying on creativity and technology to maximize service. Cynergy offers its ISOs: Vimas, cutting edge back-office management software; Vimas Tracking, a ticketing system that makes responses to customers fast, accurate and efficient; Brand Central Station, a Web site of free marketing tools; plus state-of-the-art training, products, services and value-added programs, all designed to take its ISO partners way beyond where they are. For more information on Cynergy, e-mail Mike Grossman at

Article published in issue number 060901

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