Securing an Internet Merchant Account (IMA) is often the first step to getting onto the e-commerce ladder.
Although your business bank seems like the most obvious place to obtain your IMA, it is often worthwhile shopping around with online payment service providers. They usually have relationships with a number of acquiring banking partners that they can leverage in your favour to secure more competitive rates.
Shopping around for your IMA can often be a daunting process. If you are new to e-commerce, here are six questions that you should ask to ensure that you get the best possible deal.
“What are your acquiring rates and fees?”
The most obvious question to ask is around pricing and rates. Typically, an acquiring bank will charge you a monthly fee for your Merchant ID. You will also pay an acquiring fee, which is a percentage of the transaction value, and a flat authorisation fee per transaction. Additional fees may be levied for refunds and chargebacks. The rates of all fees may vary between credit and debit cards.
“When can you review my acquiring rate?”
If you are a start-up, have no trading history, or the nature of your business is deemed high-risk, your acquiring rates may be higher. If this is the case, ask your merchant account provider to review your rates at a 6, 12 or 18 month mark as, if your business is performing well, they may be more inclined to give you more competitive rates.
“What are your terms & conditions?”
Terms and conditions of merchant accounts vary. This can affect many factors, from the duration of your contract and frequency of usage to what is shown on your website. If in doubt, contact the merchant account provider for guidance.
“What documentation do I need to apply for your merchant account?”
The merchant account provider will need to see a range of documents, such as your business registration documents, confirmation of domain ownership and any supplier agreements, in order to ensure that your business is compliant with their requirements. Have the acquiring bank send you a list of documents so that you can compile them in order to speed up the application process.
“What are your settlement terms?”
Settlement terms affect how often funds will be settled from your merchant account to your business bank account. Settlement terms can vary from 3 days to 4 weeks. Acquiring banks will often hold funds in your merchant account for a period of time after a transaction has been made if there is a risk of chargeback so it is worthwhile finding out how settlement terms will affect your business model before you apply.
“What are your security requirements?”
One of the reasons an Internet Merchant Account can be difficult to obtain is the higher potential risk of fraud associated with an online transaction. Card schemes, such as Visa and Mastercard, should be able to provide you with updated security guidelines and minimum requirements for your ecommerce website.
One of the technical requirements of the Visa and Mastercard card schemes is that your payment network is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant. If you are not PCI compliant, the fines that card schemes can levy for a non-compliant merchant are high. If you then experience a security breach on your own systems (where you are maintaining your own payment pages) daily fines can be levied and your ability to process card payments can be removed.
Are you looking for an Internet Merchant Account? Contact us and we’ll look forward to helping you trade online.