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Why Tailoring Payment Processing Solutions to Support Rural and Small-Town Businesses is Just Good Business Financial institutions have avoided - or failed - to offer sustainable services to support rural and small-town businesses. However, overlooking this market is a gross oversight as it presents an enormous and largely untapped opportunity to create new jobs and generate economic development.

By Austin Mac Nab Edited by Maria Bailey

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small and rural towns are the backbone of America and are essential to the country's economic growth. In 2020, 46 million U.S. residents were living in rural areas, making up 14% of the U.S. population.

These areas are home to many of the nation's 32.5 million small businesses, which employ 46.8% of the private workforce. Small businesses are the lifeblood of their local economies and the engine that helps drive the U.S. economy. Yet, many of these businesses are neglected or under-supported when it comes to accessing resources to help them succeed.

This is particularly true when it comes to merchant services. Small towns are often ignored by major players in payment processing, as big companies focus on densely populated metropolitan areas. Neglected small business owners are therefore forced to enter unfavorable contracts and saddled with technology that is not well-suited to them or their needs.

With small business comprising 99.9% of all U.S. businesses, there is a critical need for payment processing solutions tailored to small-town businesses. As the CEO of a payment processing company working to serve small businesses in small towns and rural areas, it is clear there is a market gap here that needs to be filled. To fill this gap and help businesses thrive, payment processing solutions should be tailored to small businesses. That means solutions that provide complete transparency, that are economical, customizable and easy to use — designed to drive growth and provide a community presence.

Completely transparent

In a perfect world, all payment processors would list fees and costs on their websites to make it easy for small businesses to select a provider that best meets their needs and budget. Unfortunately, that's not the way most major players do it.

Instead, payment processing fees are just plain confusing and hard to understand. That's a major headache for small business owners who don't have the time or in-house CFOs to help them make sense of complex contracts and rapidly changing fees.

This complexity often results in small business owners getting themselves into programs they don't fully understand and bills with surprising payment processing fees that are higher than expected.

The small business market needs payment processing solutions that are easy for small business owners to navigate and understand. That requires a fair and transparent fee platform that eliminates unpredictable fees and allows small businesses to take control of credit card processing.

In other words, a credit card processing solution provider breaks down fees — line by line — and shows a comparison table detailing how fees stack up against the competition.

Related: Say Hello to the Next Business Hub: Small Towns

Economical and easy to use

Today's small business owner is looking for cost-effective payment solutions to help drive business forward and make their lives easier. When it comes to payment processing technology, business owners want efficiency at a reasonable cost and don't want to read an encyclopedia on how to use it.

They also don't want to be required to purchase costly point of sale (POS) stations which require monthly software subscriptions, and they don't want payment technology with tons of features that they never use even though they are paying for them.

A single, comprehensive provider that can reduce complexity, simplify and consolidate solutions would be a perfect fit for small businesses. We're talking about an integrated payment processing technology to consolidate all payment processing functions under a single platform, making the payment processing experience faster, simpler and more cost-effective. This technology should also include advanced analytics and convenient data-driven insights enabling owners to streamline business processes.

Equally important are solutions to save small business owners money, allowing them to realize more profit and reinvest in their businesses. A Cash Discount Program (CDP) is a budget-friendly payment processing option allowing owners to pay a low, flat monthly subscription for unlimited credit card processing that eliminates up to 100% of monthly processing fees, pain points of variable fees and inconsistency.

Related: 5 Steps You Can Take to Start a Small Town Business

Drive growth

In today's digital-first environment, it is essential for small businesses to embed payment processing technology into operations to stay relevant and competitive.

This technology, which provides the ability to offer multiple payment acceptance options, including mobile payments to convenience-minded consumers, is vital for every small business. By providing a range of payment options, small business owners are able to attract more customers and significantly increase sales volume.

Another way this technology can help drive continued growth is through a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP builds the cost of processing into pricing so small businesses can maintain the same profit margin on every sale regardless of payment type.

Related: Lessons In Entrepreneurship From a Small Town Startup

Provide a community presence

When it comes to sales and service of processing solutions, most companies don't have boots on the ground in small and rural towns. Instead, solution providers rely on remote sales and support to service small-town customers. The fact is, these locals need and deserve high levels of service and engagement just as much as businesses located in major metro areas.

To better serve businesses in small and rural markets, payment processing providers should build out customer service and sales capabilities by hiring agents in these communities. This allows providers to conduct sales outreach on a personal level to build relationships with small business owners and ensures that a representative is always close by to help with installations and any issues in person.

Access to resources is vital for small businesses in small towns and rural areas to succeed. So, overlooking these areas is just bad business. Closing the payment processing market gap that currently exists in small and rural towns will require merchant services and payment processing technology tailored to small businesses. Supporting and elevating small businesses with these services and technology helps stimulate local economies and creates needed employment opportunities. That's just good business.

Austin Mac Nab

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

CEO, Co-Founder and Executive Leader

Mac Nab is CEO, co-founder and executive leader of VizyPay, a West Des Moines, Iowa-based provider of payment technology solutions. Mac Nab is an expert in the payment processing, bank card and retail industries. He's responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy & day-to-day business operations

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