Simple pointers to speeding up your IMA application
If you want to process payments online, you will need an Internet Merchant Account (IMA). You can accept online payments into your IMA, process refunds from it to your customers and, by arrangement with your bank, settle funds out of it to your business bank account.
The application process for an Internet Merchant Account is more rigorous than a mail order/telephone order merchant account because of the higher security risks in taking card numbers online. Sometimes, the application process can become long and unnecessarily drawn out, costing you money in lost trading days.
Your application will be assessed by the Risk Team from the high street bank or online payment service provider through which you make your IMA application. We spoke to the in-house Risk Team at Pay360 about the factors that can hold up your application’s process. Here are five steps you can take to speed up your Internet Merchant Account application.
Own your domain
Risk Teams often check the WHOIS database for the registered owner of the domain through which you would like to process payments. If your domain registrar uses their details to register your domain to secure your privacy, you may need a signed letter from them giving you consent to trade using that domain in addition to any receipts pertaining to the purchase of the domain. The same may apply to any domains that redirect to your main site, so check with the payment service provider and secure any documentation from your domain registrar before you submit your application.
Ensure your website is compliant and accessible to the Risk Team
Each payment service provider has a list of information that needs to be displayed on your website to ensure that it is compliant with the merchant bank’s policies. This compliance list typically includes clear product pricing, terms and conditions, refund and exchange policies, delivery information and offline contact details.
Obtain your payment service provider’s website compliance policy and ensure that your website has all the required information on it ready for the Risk Team to assess. If your website is in a test area or on a test domain, ensure that the Risk Team has any login information they need to access the site.
Simplify your business model
Complicated business models usually delay an application, especially if you rely on other businesses to drive leads to your business. This is because the onus is on the third company to prove that the potential customer has solicited the call. Similarly, cold calling is also a big no-no.
You will need to demonstrate how you plan to attract customers, so gather any marketing materials e.g. leaflets, flyers or screenshots of banner ads to support your application.
Ensure you have consistent access to your email
This may seem like an obvious point; however, a small but significant number of merchants sign up for their merchant account at a friend or relative’s computer, or at an internet café, and are subsequently unable to respond to emails from the Risk Team until they have access to the terminal again. You may be sent template documents to complete or documentation to verify, so waiting until you are next able to access the internet significantly delays the process.
If you have limited access to your email, inform your Risk Team that it may be more convenient to be contacted by phone. If a document requires your attention, let them know when you can return it and stick to your deadline so that they can update the bank and any other parties about your application accordingly.
The number one cause of a delayed application is a merchant being unavailable. It is not uncommon for a prospective merchant to submit their application then go on holiday, leaving the Risk Team to speak to their web developer, who has no authorisation to release what limited financial information they may have on the ecommerce store, and expecting the application to be completed by the time they get back.
Ensure that you have access to your email and a phone line so that you can promptly respond to any queries from the Risk Team, and that you know where to find a printer and courier service so that you can download, print, sign and return any documents, including your contract, as soon as possible.
Following these simple steps will expedite your application for an Internet Merchant Account and have you trading online as soon as possible.