Credit Card Processing Equipment
Getting a merchant account is just the first step. Now find out what kind of equipment you'll need to process credit card payments.
Q: Iwant to accept credit cards online and by telephone as payment formy products. What kind of equipment do I need?
A: Tocompete in an online environment, you need a fast, securetransaction processor you can trust. To process your transactionssafely, securely, quickly and affordably, you need the virtual(i.e., not physical) equivalents of point-of-sale hardware andsoftware to process credit card and check transactions in anon-face-to-face environment, such as in cyberspace or over thetelephone.
You need to be sure your transaction processor provides you withthe right products and services to conduct business online:
- A secure payment gateway enables you to accept creditcards, purchasing cards and checks electronically, safely andsecurely and translates the information from your Web site into aformat that can be read by an electronic processing system. Be sureyour transaction processor offers a secure, fast and reliablee-commerce software package. A secure payment gateway supports allyour sales, returns, real-time authorizations, captures, batchsettlement processing and refunds. State-of-the-art technologyprovides you with numerous benefits, including fraud screening ofevery transaction you submit and real-time reporting via your Webbrowser.
- A virtual terminal enables you to process transactionsfrom any Internet-ready PC. It eliminates the need forpoint-of-sale hardware at your site, and it provides you with aconvenient, easy-to-use Web-payment interface.
There are other payment-posting tools for more sophisticated Websites to enable them to conduct e-commerce. These tools integratequickly and easily into your Web site, with a full range of paymentoptions and compliance elements (i.e., to help you comply withMasterCard and Visa rules and regulations).
- A shopping cart or the ability to integrate with anonline shopping cart allows customers to shop on your Web siteelectronically, usually with an online catalog or listed productchoices. Items selected are gathered into a shopping cart-which isactually a temporary database-where the costs are collected andtabulated. The virtual shopping cart is an electronic form of thephysical shopping cart found in a grocery store.
Options found in various types of shopping carts may let yourcustomers review:
- All the items in his or her cart
- The quantities in the order
- The calculation of shipping, handling, currency exchanges andsales tax that are handled automatically at checkout time
- Customer support 24/7, preferably in multiple languages,provides the ability to serve diverse merchants and businesses. Besure to look for a transaction processor that offers you bothtelephone and e-mail support. Many secure payment gateways offeronly e-mail support. A gateway such as the LinkPoint Secure PaymentGateway offers all its merchants 24/7 telephone and e-mailsupport.
- Secure encryption technology ensures the safety of yourtransactions. Look for a processor that supports card verificationand validation-CVV2/CVC2 are applications that protect MasterCardand Visa transactions-and provides address verification for furthersecurity. Today's sophisticated encryption technology providessafe, convenient, cost-effective and rapid payments betweenconsumers, merchants and their banks over the Internet. Be sureyour processor uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a protocol designedby Netscape Communications that allows encrypted, authenticatedcommunications to travel across the Internet. Web site addressesthat begin with https indicate that an SSL connection will be used.SSL provides you with three important elements: privacy,authentication and message integrity.
- Virtual check capabilities allow you to accept checkselectronically over the Internet as a payment option for yourcustomers' purchases.
- Wireless terminals provide mobile merchants, such astaxi drivers, transportation and delivery services and merchantswho sell at trade shows, sporting events, swap meets or othermobile venues with a mobile commerce payment solution. Be sure yourtransaction processor offers merchants on the go secure, reliabletransaction processing with a top-quality wireless point-of-saleterminal or specialized payment software used with a PDA or otherhandheld device.
You will find that setting up an online or mobile businessoffers exciting opportunities. For more information aboutestablishing a merchant account for an Internet, mobile or atraditional business, please e-mail me or visit the Cardservice International Web siteand click on "Online Inquiry."
Tim Miller is COO of Cardservice International and hasmore than 15 years of experience in the credit card processingindustry.
The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.