Cyber Attack Thwarted by Active Agent

During a routine PCI Security Scan, a service that is included with most merchant accounts, we found a device plugged into a merchants network.  After reviewing the scans FAILURE REPORT and making calls to other experts to blindly verify what we had found,  I contacted the merchant to inform them that something was plugged into their network that had the capability of streaming data.  The merchant and I discussed some possibilities until we found an older computer with an old vulnerable operating system on it,  This was causing the merchant to fail the scan.  The computer was then simply unplugged from the network and disaster was potentially avoided.  This is the service that merchants should expect from their agents.  Private agents like Allcard USA are there to assist with Price, Technology, and Service for merchants desiring the very best in the industry.

​A Beginner’s Guide to Omnichannel Retail (and Increasing Revenue)

Dan Geraty |

You’ve probably heard the terms “omnicommerce” or “omnichannel,” but these are more than just buzzwords; they’re terms that represent a shift in customer behavior and expectations. If you remember a time when most of your shopping was done in a single all-day trip around town, you’re probably relieved those days are behind you. Today’s customers expect to shop and pay any time, anywhere — not just in stores, but also online, over the phone, through mobile devices, and even with electronic invoices.

In a study published by Harvard Business Review, a team looked at more than 46,000 customers who made a purchase during the observation period. Of the participants, 7 percent shopped exclusively online, while 20 percent shopped only in brick-and-mortar stores. The remaining 73 percent made use of numerous channels along the way to purchases, and the omnichannel experience had additional effects: These customers were 26 percent more likely to return to retailer locations, and they were also more willing to reach out to their immediate social circles to recommend the brand.

So if you’re new to this concept, where do you begin? How can this newfound omnichannel experience benefit businesses and consumers, and what are some simple ways to pull it off?

Solutions for the Payment Process

Because omnichannel payment processing is still a fairly new platform, it certainly still has its obstacles. Still, the benefits to businesses and their customers are well worth the initial headaches. For customers, the buying process is rarely linear. They might interact with a business on multiple platforms before purchasing, and making it easy for customers to pay whenever and wherever they want — especially on their mobile devices — is essentially the core benefit of offering an omnichannel payment solution. If a customer finally decides on a purchase she’s been researching for weeks and the retail store is closed, it’s important that the business is capable of accepting payments on its website.

By incorporating a number of different payment options, businesses stand to increase sales — in addition to not missing out on them — and improve the overall customer experience. Customers who have a convenient checkout experience on their own terms are more likely to share it with others (who will themselves become customers), thus adding to the steady growth in e-commerce. In spite of a total retail growth of only 2 percent in the first half of 2016, e-commerce grew by 16 percent. Further, continued growth of about 9 percent each year for the next few years is expected. The number of online shoppers is growing, as is the amount they’re spending and the frequency of transactions.



If you’re looking to incorporate omnichannel payment capabilities into your business, you’re off to a good start. Here are a few considerations to minimize headaches and make the process as seamless as possible:

  • Buy buttons are easily added to websites to sell products without having to build in checkout flows or deal with sensitive card data. You can also add buy buttons to your website or embed them in emails to allow customers to pay invoices.Google and YouTube, along with social media sites like Pinterest, include buy buttons for many merchants who advertise with them. These buttons allow customers to make purchases without leaving the platform where the button is located, and they also offer an opportunity for the sites to get a piece of the e-commerce market they’re missing out on.
  • Shopping carts are a critical component of an online store. If your checkout process is prone to errors, customers will most likely take their money and run, making it far more difficult to achieve a sustainable conversion rate.Various cart solutions offer different capabilities. If you only carry a single product, your cart can be more straightforward than one that integrates with your POS system to manage your physical and virtual inventories in tandem. Offering options like international shipping will require a cart that takes into account complicated tax laws and currency exchanges in addition to support for a variety of languages.
  • Storing credit information on hand makes it easier for repeat customers to make additional purchases. But here’s the downside: Storing credit card data will not only subject your business to more stringent PCI standards, but it will also make you a much more attractive target for hackers.Tokenization will allow you to store payment information securely with a third-party vendor so you can retain a nonsensitive token instead. Tokenization will even allow in-store customers to charge credit cards on file, and by 2022, the method is expected to have a market worth more than $2.25 billion.

When you’re not properly set up for it, omnichannel payment capabilities can seem so far off that they’re not even worth striving for. However, the bottom line is that if your competitors haven’t already put a flexible payment solution in place, they’re working on it right now. Doing diligent research on your specific needs and the process that can meet them will put you on the road to doing business 24/7 — whether your retail store is open or not.

Dan Geraty is founder and CEO of Clearent, a full-service payment processor that built its proprietary platform from the ground up. Dan founded Clearent in 2005 in his hometown of St. Louis. Since then, it has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for five straight years and continues to climb the Nilson Report’s list of Top Merchant Acquirers in the U.S.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

8 Things You Should Consider Before Going Live With Your POS Register System.

8 Things You Should Consider Before Going Live With Your POS Register System.

1.) Attend 1 to 2 Demos of the software that you want to buy or lease.

2.) Search the Internet for complaints or pain points that other merchants had

3.) Place sample customer service call

4.) Submit a COMPLETE menu with ALL prices before receiving equipment. View that system, menu items and all prices in the 2nd or a 3rd demo

5.) Always install several weeks prior to opening to allow time for training of all of the functions that you plan to use.


6.) Show system to potential hires during interview process test their proficiently. Try to hire people who have worked on and like your POS system.


7.) Train KEY personnel and then train individuals one on one preferably not during open shifts. Never train KEY personnel in front of or with regular staff. Training is used to expose our weakness and strengthen them, staff should not witness weakness in management.


8.) Never go LIVE on DAY ONE without all menu items and prices in the system, and staff training.

Why The Merchant Services Industry Is Broken

From my new book Merchant Services 101 which will be out soon….

Why The Merchant Services Industry Is Broken.

Unlike so many industries’ salespeople, the merchant service agent does not need to pass a test, or even receive one hour of training before soliciting a merchant for their merchant service account. This to me is the most troubling and unfortunate circumstance, and the reason that the industry is so hated by so many. Because the cost of processing paper checks was so high and the desire for banks to create a behavior pattern for customers to switch to use debit cards, an option that made them money, instead of costing them money. The incentive for banks to hire marketing arms to sell card services to merchants was great. Those marketing arms or ISO’s, in order to grow fast, did and still do mass hiring of anyone willing to try. These hired hands and fingers are far away from the actual product or company that they represent and in many cases don’t know the names and players of the companies processing the actual transactions. These salespeople, in their defense, are selling products that are constantly changing and frequently being reinvented and rebranded. This makes training difficult, too costly and time consuming, thus defeating the purpose of the goal of gaining more and more merchant acceptance accounts. Example, Bob owns a small market and his friend Joe is hired by a company with a fancy “bank like” name First XYZ Merchant’s Processing Company and Joe tells Bob how he is going to increase his business and help him grow. Bob jumps on board and signs a 30 page contract without reading it or having Joe explain it to him. Joe just started last week and doesn’t really know anything other than the fact that he will be paid a few hundred dollars to have Bob sign that paper. Once he does, Bob is turned over to customer support in some other state and Joe is moving to his next victim or in many cases, quits. That is unfortunately a typical scenario for many merchants, until another fast talker promises more than Joe, and the problem repeats itself over and over until someone with knowledge and ethics arrives to actually help the merchant gain the service that they want. To recap, the industry grew too fast, and the players were not required to train or certify the sales agents. It was a disaster waiting to happen. The Electronic Transactions Association is the premier trade association for the Financial Payments industry. Software, Hardware Companies, Financial Institutions, Security Companies all join the ETA to exchange information, network, and attend conferences to make the payments industry better as a whole for everyone. The ETA began a certification program, awarding the designation of Certified Payments Professional to certian indivduals. We will talk more about CPP’s and how to find the right one, but first. Below is a list of things to ask anyone soliciting you for service. My job here is to give you the training to get tough in this area, and arm you with tools to hit back.

Why Merchants Need Certified Payments Professionals More Now Than Ever Before

Insider’s report on payments:
Interchange challenges create need for payments experts

The U.S. Supreme Court decided against weighing in on a multibillion-dollar payout by Mastercard and Visa to settle an anti-trust suit filed by a group of retailers over interchange pricing and anti-steering rules. The High Court’s decision leaves intact a 2016 appeals court ruling that scrapped the settlement after hundreds of companies – including some of the biggest names in retailing – opposed the 2013 agreement. It also leaves open the possibility of an ongoing legal fracas over interchange and related issues.

“If this settlement had been approved, the structure of fees that drive up the prices of everything consumers buy would be cemented into place forever,” Mallory Duncan, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at the National Retail Federation, stated. “Now something can finally be done to bring these fees under control.”

Interchange generates a pile of cash, but it’s a vulnerable pile. An analysis published in 2016 by S&P Global Market Intelligence found credit and debit card interchange generated $32.25 billion in revenues for U.S. financial institutions in 2015. In 2011, the total was $30.58 billion; however, with implementation of Durbin Amendment caps on debit card interchange, revenues fell to $27.97 billion the following year.

Visa and Mastercard have been taking heat over interchange for decades, but the battle intensified in 2006 when a large group of retailers (led by big-box stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., as well as the NRF and other retail trade groups) filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that interchange and rules meant to maximize interchange collections amounted to price-fixing.

Following years of legal maneuvering, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement that included $7.2 billion (later reduced to $5.7 billion) in restitution, which was approved by a U.S. District Court judge. But soon retailers began to balk; many sought to opt out for a variety of reasons, including a provision of the settlement that banned future lawsuits regarding interchange and related rules.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York agreed with the dissenting retailers, writing in a June 2016 opinion that “the class plaintiffs were inadequately represented” and that “the settlement was inadequate and unreasonable.” The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the appeals court decision means the case now can be placed back on the docket at the U.S. District Court in New York, where it was originally.

Duncan said retailers are considering whether to negotiate another settlement or to focus on more recently filed lawsuits over interchange and related issues. And there is no dearth of litigation. In 2016, at least four lawsuits were filed against Visa and/or Mastercard over the EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) mandate. Wal-Mart and The Home Depot Inc. alleged in separate filings that to maximize transaction interchange, the card brands require them to accept signatures instead of other, more secure methods of authorization, like PINs.

There is little doubt interchange has become the boogeyman of card payments. And retailers and their powerful trade groups are determined to eradicate or at least severely handicap it. Their strategy reminds me of lingchi, a method of torture and execution practiced in China from the Dark Ages until the early 20th century that translates as death by a thousand cuts. Only in this situation, it’s more like death by a thousand lawsuits and regulations.

“The Court’s decision ensures that retailers will continue to be able to challenge the card networks’ unfair price fixing of credit card fees,” NACS, the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, said in a statement. “If the justices had come down in favor of the settlement, the card companies would have been insulated from lawsuits challenging improperly set fees.”

It’s not just that interchange is under legal attack. New and emerging technologies are being leveraged to provide merchants with lower-cost alternatives to bankcard acceptance, such as decoupled debit cards, bitcoin payments, and person-to-person (bank-to-bank) networks. And the push for real-time payments is creating more and better options. In addition to better certainty of funds and lower transaction fees, real-time payments offer vast improvements in cash flow management while improving customer service and reducing opportunities for fraud.

Selling payments expertise

To compete successfully in this changing environment, ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) need to remake themselves into payments experts who can provide combinations of payment acceptance options and ancillary services that make sense for individual retailers.

Card acceptance is the go-to option for millions of merchants, but not all. For others, particularly those selling large-ticket items like automobiles, furniture and jewelry, check payments are the preferred option. And the combination of remote check capture and guarantee services can now render checks faster and safer than most any other payment. In fact, many banks and financial technology firms are providing same-day availability on check deposits, for a fee.

As Paul H. Green (founder of The Green Sheet) explained to me many years ago: merchants just want to sell stuff. The method of payment doesn’t matter; they’d accept puka shells if there were sufficient value attached. And this brings me to an important consideration: the value of unified, interoperable payment offerings cannot be ignored.

“What was once an industry based on a simple cash register in the store has now grown to encompass multiple channels, alternative payment options, always-on service and inventory availability, and an extremely well-informed consumer,” Boston Retail Partners wrote in a 2016 report detailing its 17th annual POS/customer engagement survey. The number one priority for merchants: unified commerce, cited by 85 percent of merchants surveyed, BRP said. This far outstripped payment and data security, which was cited as a priority by just 38 percent of respondents.

Payments is just one piece of the retail ecosystem, albeit an important piece. No merchant wants to turn away customers, but by not offering a mix of payment options that meets customer preferences, that’s what merchants may be doing. ISOs and MLSs can and should help merchants implement the right mix of payment options for their customers. Traditional credit and debit cards likely always will be in that mix, but the days of building a book of business by undercutting competitors on interchange pricing, or handing out free terminals, are over. So put on your consultant’s hat and help your customers make the most of the changing payments landscape.

Patti Murphy is Senior Editor of The Green Sheet and President of ProScribes Inc. She is also the founder of InsideMicrofinance.com. Email her at patti@greensheet.com.

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Supreme Court Sides With Merchants On Surcharging Payments

A Supreme Court Decision Favors Merchants in Latest Round in Battle Over Surcharging
March 29, 2017

By John Stewart
@DTPaymentNews

Merchants won a skirmish on Wednesday in their long-simmering battle with the card networks over acceptance costs with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to void a lower-court ruling that upheld a state law banning credit card surcharging.

Image Credit: U.S. Supreme Court

The decision, in which all eight Justices concurred, sends the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for reconsideration. The appeals court had ruled in favor of the state of New York, which argued its ban on credit card surcharges is a price regulation. The merchants in the case, Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman, say the New York law is instead an unlawful restriction on free speech, since it effectively prevents them from advertising the extra cost they incur to accept credit cards. Ten states including New York ban surcharging.

The Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, sympathized with the merchants’ argument and appeared to lay down doctrine concerning whether such statutes go beyond price regulation to violate free-speech rights. “In regulating the communication of prices rather than prices themselves, §518 regulates speech,” Roberts wrote, referring to the New York statute in question. The New York law permits price discounts but, the plaintiffs argue, leaves unclear how they can communicate discounts without the appearance of advertising a surcharge.

While the ultimate outcome of the case remains undecided, merchant groups were quick to cheer Wednesday’s opinion, citing it as an important step toward controlling the costs of accepting credit cards. “Today’s ruling is a clear stand in favor of the free speech protections of the First Amendment,” said Mallory Duncan senior vice president and general counsel for the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, in a statement. “The nation’s highest court has recognized that whether a merchant chooses to communicate credit card fees through a surcharge or through a cash discount is a matter of speech.”

Mastercard Inc. and Visa Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Both networks have long restricted surcharging as prejudicial to their card brands, but in a historic antitrust settlement in 2012 they agreed to allow merchant surcharging where the practice is not restricted by state law. That concession, however, is now shrouded in doubt along with the entire antitrust case. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the card networks and some merchants, sending the case back to a federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., where it was originally decided.

With Wednesday’s ruling, merchants hope they may finally have made progress toward gaining negotiating leverage with the networks and bank card issuers over interchange rates, the key pricing regime in which merchant acquirers pay a fee on each transaction to card issuers and then pass the cost on to their client merchants. “While merchants don’t want to surcharge, having the ability to do so would be an important negotiating tool in convincing the card industry to charge reasonable fees instead of continuing to drive up consumer prices through this skyrocketing hidden tax,” said the NRF’s Duncan in his statement.

Meanwhile, the opinion has also encouraged firms that specialize in technology that calculates card-acceptance costs for merchants and automates service-fee and surcharge policies. “With this result, we’re confident predicting that more opportunity is on the horizon, and the CardX team looks forward to serving additional markets,” said Jonathan Razi, president of CardX, a Chicago-based startup that was founded in 2013. Razi’s statement appeared in a blog post Wednesday after the Supreme Court decision was announced.

Arguments before the high court in Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman were made in January.

 

Honesty Is the BEST Policy

ISOs and Agents, and the Impact of Lies

   January 30, 2017

“How do you tell if a car salesperson is lying? His lips are moving.”

This old joke has been around for decades. Some iterations target lawyers or bankers…and likely merchant level salespeople. And like other jokes of this nature, although said in humor, many believe it paints a true picture of their industry.

Lately I have been thinking about the consequences of lies – specifically for an ISO or for an agent. Although politicians and others can tell falsehoods or “alternative facts” and suffer minimum impact, the impact of lying to merchants and our customers has lasting impact. And in some cases, causes permanent damage to an ISO or agent’s reputation.

For most of us, our livelihood is driven by relationships. Like the life insurance salesperson, the longer we keep the relationship (and the client!) alive, the more we make. Yes, you must sign new merchants to grow your portfolio, but maintaining a trusting relationship means you’re not signing new merchants to just tread water. And since merchants today are bombarded by offers, solicitations, and visits by competitors, that trust must be strong.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make a mistake, or there can’t be an error. Trust allows you to fix the problem, and once fixed, trust remains strong. However, one lie (no matter how small) creates irreparable damage to that trust and often results in the merchant listening to those hundreds of offers.

 

The Types of Lies ISOs and Agents Tell

There are two kinds of lies. First, there is the blatant, intentional lie. These falsehoods are told to intentionally deceive someone. The successful ISO or independent sales agent has no interest in lying, therefore, intentional lies are easy to avoid.

It’s the second kind of lie, however, that has made me consider the consequences of lying: the unintentional lie. There are also two types of unintentional lies.

Misinformation is often shared due to either unknown or undisclosed information. This happens when the ISO or agent has limited knowledge on the topic and translates what they know into an answer. This can be avoided completely. If you are not 100% sure of the answer, simply say, “I am not sure” or “I don’t know.” But follow that with, “but I will find out.” Merchants will respect that answer, and will respect you for your honesty.

The second type of unintentional lie is when the salesperson is unaware of a situation. The most common occurrence is when discussing cost savings. For example, you analyzed a merchant statement, quoted an improvement in price, and signed the merchant. A month later the merchant calls wondering why he is paying more than he did before. He is upset and wants to leave because you said you would reduce his costs. Needless to say, the merchant feels deceived.

You know you did your numbers right, but it appears he is paying more. What you didn’t realize was that your partner padded certain fees, and that difference was more than the savings you promised. And now your merchant is locked into a contract, and is not happy.

This is a clear example of an unintentional lie. Yet, it’s a lie nonetheless. These are the types of lies that hurt the most because you honestly believed you were telling the truth. It’s still a lie though, and one that impacts you greatly, even though you were just passing on what you perceived to be the truth. Regardless of your intentions. you still deceived the merchant.

 

How to Avoid Unintentional Lies

If you want to avoid unintentional lies, you must do your own homework and have a clear understanding of what you are selling. Review your schedules and check your merchant statements. Ask potential ISO partners if they add anything to the number of fees charged. Do your homework first.

As I have said, lying kills relationships. Even the inadvertent lie. But, you can control both by telling the truth, admitting when you don’t know the answer, and fully understanding your offering.

Don’t help perpetuate the joke. Let’s make 2017 the year of honesty…at least in the payments world.

NCR Silver Even Better Now

NCR Silver Gets an Update That Reduces Needed Taps And Eschews the Home Page
January 24, 2017

By Kevin Woodward
@DTPaymentNews

NCR Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a redesigned app for its NCR Silver iPad-based point-of-sale system that eliminates 33 taps from the transaction process and skips the home page in favor of a fly-out menu.

 

Image Credit: NCR Corp.
The fly-out menu in NCR Silver V4 replaced the home page.

Tablet POS systems are viewed by many as the next evolution of the venerable payment terminal, albeit one with more functionality than simply accepting payments. Typically, many such systems enable merchants to view sales data, manage inventory, and administer employee scheduling, among other operational needs. NCR Silver, like many of its competitors, uses cloud-computing technology, which enables merchants to access their data remotely.

This version of NCR Silver, dubbed version 4, updates the design motif, too. Instead of having to tap back to a home screen when the merchant is completing a task on a ticket screen, a swipe on the left edge opens a fly-out menu that houses all of the tasks of the former home page, says Kristin Schoonover, product management director for NCR, tells Digital Transactions News.

“The primary purpose of the redesign was faster navigation and improving access to the most-used features of the point-of-sale,” Schoonover says. The new motif also incorporates a lighter look and larger buttons to tap.

Such updates are necessary because of merchant demand for simpler and faster POS systems, she says. “We have a large portion of our customer base who are quick-serve restaurant owners where they have lines and it’s important to get people through lines quickly.” The retail customer base, by contrast, tends to be more focused on customer service and capturing customer data.