7 Tips for Evaluating a Payment Processing Partner

If you’re ready to partner with a payment processing company, first know who you’re dealing with, their solution’s features, their areas of expertise, and their billing practices.

payment processing partner

It’s a smart strategy to provide all the IT solutions and services your clients need to run their businesses — including payment processing. Limiting the services you provide not only leaves money on the table, but it also creates an opportunity for another managed services provider to get a foot in the door with your client.

Dan Viscount, Senior VP and Co-General Manager, IPOS Division for EVO Payments, says most MSPs are taking an “omni-approach” to services: “You need to ask what you can do to create stickiness and loyalty with your customer. The more tentacles you have into that customer, the more revenue you’re going to have.”

Subsequently, the next time you see a credit card machine sitting on a counter or notice that your client accepts online payments, you need to ask some questions. Whether your client is capturing payments at the point of sale, online, or through an accounting or ERP system, the right payment processing partner will enable you to provide your customer with a solution that meets all of their needs — and move your business closer to the status of a true, total solutions provider.

Before you partner with a payment processor, however, it’s vital that you do your due diligence to make sure the partnership will result in the greatest value for your client and your business. Here are seven tips that can help you narrow the field and find the best payment processor partner for your MSP.

Tips for Selecting the Right Payment Processing Company

1Know the difference between a payment processing company and an affiliate.

Viscount explains that there are hundreds of independent sales organizations (ISOs) selling payment processing, and their sales reps constantly bombard businesses. The challenge, however, is that the payments industry hasn’t yet mandated training or certification for ISOs, so partnering with one of these companies may mean they won’t be able to provide you with the support and expertise that a larger, more accredited payment processor can. Viscount says it’s vital that you research whether a company has solid payment technology — or they’re just selling someone else’s solution.  

2Use reliable sources for research.

Any time you are considering a business partnership you need to check references. Ask your prospective payment processing partner for references and talk to peers about how easy the company is to do business with and how they bill. Viscount says it can also be helpful to research the company online, checking their Net Promoter Score and Better Business Bureau rating. He cautions MSPs, however, that there are several websites that rate payment processing companies, but accept money to increase a company’s ranking. Make sure you understand the basis for the company’s rating before you allow it to influence your decision.

3If you’re just a case number on hold in a phone queue, hang up.

Insist that the payment processing company you’re considering as a partner assigns you a dedicated account representative. Viscount says, “I’m big on relationships, so in this day and age, being able to pick up a phone and reach someone that has a longstanding relationship with the company and answer my questions is essential.” He also points out support isn’t just for the merchant. Although your client may be the source of the payment company’s revenue, your business is referring clients to them — so they need to provide you with support and assistance as well.

4Make sure the payments company has experience in your vertical market

Payment card processing isn’t handled the same way for every type of business. Viscount says, for example, B2B companies require Level 2 and Level 3 processing that entails capturing specific data: “If you don’t understand it, it will cost that merchant a ton of money.” He adds that gasoline stations, grocery stores, local governments, healthcare providers also have specific needs. Your payment processing partner should have a channel support team with experience providing services to clients in the vertical markets you serve.

5Thoroughly understand fees

Before partnering with a payments company, make sure you know what you and your client are agreeing to — after you sign a contract and set up clients with a payment processor, it may be too late. Viscount says, “No one talks about a cancellation fee when they’re signing a new customer, but they can be subjective.” He says some companies are subjective when charging “liquidated damages,” deciding how much money they would have received if the contract wasn’t canceled. “They could decide it’s $4,000 — then it becomes a penalty. If service was poor or the company didn’t offer something, the customer should have the right to leave,” he comments.

The bill from a payment processor may remind you of your cell phone bill — with a fee for the service and then a number of fees tacked on. Viscount advises asking for an explanation of each charge and then comparing bills from three companies to make sure they align. Viscount comments, “The U.S. market is so competitive. Everybody is going to the bottom with pricing to acquire the customer, and some companies are looking for other ways to get more profit and revenue back on the merchant.”

6Stay PCI compliant

All payments companies are required to comply with the criteria established by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), and they’re audited throughout the year to meet or exceed those standards. They also use payment system hardware that’s been certified as well.  “Our industry is really tight on this,” says Viscount. “The last thing you need is to be a multi-billion dollar company and have a press release go out that you’ve been breached.”

Enixa Franceschi, Compliance Analyst, PCI DSS for EVO Payments, says there is a PCISSC QIR certification program for integrators and resellers. “We assist our resellers with the documentation they need and help them register with PCISSC and the card brands where applicable,” she says.

Viscount adds that developing expertise in this area will help keep payment card data and your clients’ systems safe. “There are many businesses that aren’t aware that they’re at risk,” he says. “It’s definitely a door-opener for MSPs.”

7Think of a payments company as a utility knife

The final thing Viscount advises is to compare a prospective payment processing partner to a penknife with multiple blades and tools. Does the company you’re considering have all the tools you need, including the right technology, the right platform, and the right resources?

“If they only have one of the five things you need,” he says, “there may be another company out there that has it, as well as the other four.”