Merchant Services: What Your Business Needs To Know

When a business owner hears the term “merchant services” they typically think of a generalized idea involved processing credit and debit card transactions. While not entirely wrong, it simply misses the entirety of what merchant services are as well as how they can hep a business grow and prosper.

Any business that accepts credit and debit card payments will need to use merchant services. This is especially so if they want to expand into other payment processing areas such as online or mobile. To do this, a merchant will need to utilize a credible merchant services provider to utilize new technologies and realize new revenue opportunities.

However, it’s important for a merchant services provider to know that each business is unique. For example, an eCommerce-based business may have different needs than a body shop. Even though security may be of paramount importance for each establishment, the eCommerce business will have higher security measures versus the body shop. In addition, the body shop will more than likely need a physical payment processor to process payments in person whereas the eCommerce business will simply need a virtual-based one.

So how does payment processing work? It begins with a merchant establishing a merchant services account with a provider. Once this is done then payments can start to be accepted.

When a merchant swipes a debit card, the payment processor simply acts as the traffic cop between the customer, merchant, credit card networks, and banks. The swiped card through the payment processor sends a message to the bank asking to either accept or decline this transaction. It does this by checking the account of the cardholder to determine if their is enough funds to cover the transaction. If so, the bank sends an authorization code to the processor who then passes it along to the merchant to process the payment and print out a receipt gathering the customer’s signature (if needed).

However, if the transaction is denied then the processor is notified who then lets the merchant know who informs the customer. The merchant can then ask the customer for another form of payment to complete the transaction.

At the end of the business day, the merchant will send all the authorization codes they’ve received on that day to the processor. The processor will then send them all in one batch to the appropriate banks for settlement. This process is called batching or batch settlement.

However, because a merchant is dealing with sensitive financial information, it is important to have security protocols in place to prevent fraud. In the merchant services industry, their is a specific protocol called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or PCI for short. Everyone from the merchant to processors to banks have to adhere to these security protocols in order to minimize and prevent fraud when possible. This helps protect everyone involved should a breach of data or fraud occur. Should a merchant not be compliant and a breach occurs then they could face fines and penalties. In addition, they could lose their merchant services account which will have immediate impact on their revenues due to the inability to process credit and debit card payments. As well, they could gain a bad reputation with their customers causing them to lose even more business.

If your business is ready to select a merchant services provider, then where do you begin? A merchant can usually turn to the Internet to do a very simple online search using sites like Google. This will usually tell a merchant of the type and quality of companies that offer merchant services. Visit their websites and even read reviews from sites like the Better Business Bureau to find the best service providers. In addition, a merchant can ask other businesses who they use and recommend as a merchant services provider. Other businesses will usually have quite a bit to say about a merchant services provider whether it comes from a great partnership or awful experiences. In addition, feel free to reach out to the merchant services companies and speak to a rep to learn more about their levels of products and services. Since this is a technology-based industry, it’s important for your service provider to be on the leading edge so you have access to the latest technologies you can use to decrease your costs while increasing profits.

Service doesn’t simply end once the contract is signed and you have your payment processing terminals. It’s important to know the level and kind of customer service given once you sign up with a merchant services provider. Should a need or an emergency arise, you will need to how and when a merchant services provider will address your concerns.

It’s important that you know what rates and fees will be applied to your merchant services account. For example, some merchant services providers may tout the benefits of a free terminal which may sound good to a prospective merchant. However, many times their are higher than usual rates and fees associated with these “free” terminals so beware when you hear this.

In conclusion, these services may seem like something businesses might not need to know that much about. However, a properly educated merchant can use merchant services to help them reduce their business operating costs while increasing profits.

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American Express Merchant Services

In case you are questioning whether to take American Express cards and establish up American Express merchant account services, take into account the benefits and drawbacks. Today, roughly 10% of US consumers use AmEx, a sizable enough figure for any business owner to contemplate.

Plus points:
Many businesses use AmEx with regard to their staff providing your business the opportunity to get company travelers who prefer to charge their expenses to their AmEx due to the positive aspects (e.g. air miles, cash back, and so on. Some AmEx card holders will not enter a store or use a website that does not exhibit the company logo indicating that they have American Express merchant services put in place. These card holders spend around 20% extra for every purchase compared to those working with a different card type.

The Negatives:
American Express merchant account services fails to always pay the merchant as soon as alternative card types. These accounts possess higher rate components, which suggests businesses spend a little more for every transfer within their AmEx merchant services account.

It is essential that you simply determine the following thoughts and currently being aware about the details of your business design can help you make the most efficient selection whether or not to use these merchant account services.

Must you take each and every form of charge card?

Do you need a new processing account for AmEx merchant account services?

Will you eliminate a number of shoppers if you don’t arrange American Express merchant services?

Has it been necessary for the prosperity of your business to set up American Express merchant account services?

To Accept: While choosing whether to establish AmEx merchant account services, you might want to determine whether or not you should recognize each individual kind of card. Is agreeing to AmEx going to affect your bottom-line gains? Can it be seriously worth offending an individual who employs American Express?

To Not Acknowledge: Many individuals who hold an AmEx corporate card, also have various other card companies that they might use if asked to do so. Bear this in mind in the event you truly feel the costs to maintain their merchant services are too high relative to the true fees involving processing various card versions.

The Conclusion: You will most certainly conclude that including additional options to customers is never going to hurt your business. Quite often, the decision to use these merchant services helps your small business develop. Many vendors do not have AmEx merchant services as a result of larger discount price charged in an attempt to spend less, however in actuality, this selection is not always cost-effective. It’s reported that the choice to set up American Express merchant services can easily improve business because of the following:

Impulse ordering. The greater number of selections you offer your clients the more likely they are to order. It would definitely end up being a pity for a competitor to take your business simply because they had AmEx and you did not.

You might eliminate a new recurring purchaser. Declining a purchase because it costs slightly more doesn’t save you money. The purchaser may no longer buy from you, he may be buying from an opponent who has put in place AmEx.

Greater Spending. Research indicates that these card holders spent 2.6 times as much on retail Internet buying in the past half a year swiping an AmEx Card.

Provided that your profit margins are actually higher than the fees, you should always acknowledge as many forms of payment as you possibly can. New customers will result in your decision to add these merchant account services. AmEx stands out as the third most favored bank card in America. Subject to who your potential customers will be, putting off such a merchant services account might be an inadequate business decision.

Below is a percentage within the type of credit card usage in accordance with the industry. Even though 10% with regard to AmEx inside retail industry is not a large number, 25% in the B2B segment where businesses market within places where there are tons of business people or appeal to other businesses is an important percent.

You don’t want to postpone opening an American Express merchant services account if businesses are your principal supply of income want to pay making use of their American Express credit card. It’s the same for choosing office products, equipment, computer systems, paper,etc. If you don’t have this merchant services, people planning to utilize their AmEx credit card will seek out a company that does.

If you decide to begin this merchant services, you’d first need to fill out an application for a credit card merchant account. Nearly all businesses will discover it cost-effective to receive all major credit cards. Your company doesn’t need to needlessly suffer a loss of clients

Contrary to popular belief there are still people who only have an AmEx cards. Declining one of these potential customers because you haven’t created an American Express merchant services account is avoidable. Allowing the credit card processor set up your merchant account is free (ordinarily) uncomplicated. The processor you decide on for your Visa and MasterCard merchant account has the option to set up an American Express merchant services and Discover merchant accounts free of cost. These do not charge a fee to get a new merchant account. Your merchant service provider should provide this particular service at no cost. If they have a cost for setting up an AmEx merchant services and/or Discover merchant account, you should request the actual way it benefits your business. At times upfront fees, counterbalance increased fees each month, therefore with regards to the overall arrangement, it might be the better choice.

You could get rid of the service at anytime. There won’t be any long term contracts connected with an American Express Merchant Account. This means you don’t have anything to lose by simply giving them a shot for a short time to see if there is an interest in American Express. You won’t need to publicize that you accept one card or a counterpart. If American Express merchant services premiums are not really something you’d like to promote, just recognize the credit card each time a consumer has no other way of payment to you.

Choosing From Among the Many Merchant Services

Being able to offer your customers as many payment options as possible can make your business grow in a huge way. By giving them the ability to pay for merchandise with their credit cards, especially if you are an online business owner, you give them an ease and flexibility of shopping that will have them returning time and again to make purchases from you. And with the popularity of online shopping higher than it has ever been, the demands to make your business better are just as great. The vast majority of shoppers prefer to pay for their orders with credit cards, so it makes good business sense that you would offer that option to them. By opening a merchant account with one of the many merchant services available to business owners, your customers will enjoy the simplicity and speed of paying by credit card, and you will see your profits soar.

Merchant service firms provide merchant accounts to business owners. A merchant account allows a business to accept credit cards as a form of payment from customers. A merchant account is not the same as a bank account. Rather, a merchant service works to make sure the credit card is verified and that the funds are transferred from the customer you’re your business bank account. It used to be that merchant services were only available through banks and providers to retail establishments that were located in a physical location, like a mall. But the demands of online shopping have caused many merchant account providers to begin to provide merchant services to online business owners. There are many online merchant account providers that offer reliable and secure services particularly to merchants that sell their products on the Internet. Because there are so many merchant service providers available, it is important to be familiar with all characteristics of merchant services, especially the potentially high costs, so that you don’t lose your profits. It is also important to find a merchant account provider that is dependable, trustworthy, and offers secure services for you and your customers.

If you open a merchant account for your online business, the type of payment processing usually offered by a merchant account service is real-time processing. Real-time processing is the best solution for online business owners since the charge from the customer’s credit card is promptly processed when an order is placed. The customer receives an email notification that the order has been processed and the fund transfer is approved by the credit card company, upon verification and approval of the credit card. You will see the profits from the sale in your bank account within a few days.

The potential fees put upon you for merchant services can be numerous. Since not all of the fees are necessary, and not all merchant service providers change them, check around with different providers until you find one with reasonable fees and monthly charges. Some of these fees include an application fee, a monthly statement fee, a discount rate and transaction fee (these are deducted with each and every sale you make), an annual fee, and a refund fee. There are also other miscellaneous fees that individual merchant service providers might charge you. There are many potential costs associated with opening an account with a merchant service provider. Try to compare services before you make a decision. It’s also a good idea to try to estimate the monthly costs by using your current sales figures to project expenses.

Your relationship with your merchant service provider should last the duration of your business, if possible. You should trust your provider implicitly. Your merchant service provider should offer quick and secure processing of your credit card sales, and they should offer additional services to offer your customers even more payment options. Not only should they accept several types of credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, among others), but they should also provide your customers with added payment alternatives, like PayPal. Your merchant service provider should have a good reputation for having excellent service and reliability, as well as having a name for excellent customer relations. They should be equipped to deal with any issues or problems discreetly and quickly. The merchant services provider you choose to make a relationship with can make or break your business between its fees and service. Make sure you know the facts about merchant services and the providers so that you don’t lose your dream of being a successful business owner.

Learn the essential information for picking the right merchant account services. Merchant Services [http://www.merchants-account-services.com]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mark_Woodcock

What Constitutes Business Law?

Running a business or being involved in a corporation can be a very complicated and stressful experience. One component of this is the fact that there are numerous laws and legal restrictions you must abide by. Many of these regulations fall under the term “business law”. By better understanding what business law entails you are better able to take measures for the legal advancement of your organization.

The following are aspects of business that can fall under legal restrictions, making them important components of business law:

Exporting and Importing: If you will be working with customs and international business law in the United States and throughout the world it is important you understand the legal restrictions surrounding this practice.

Carrying products over land and sea: If you will be shipping or transporting good across the country it is important you are doing so with an understanding of how transfer laws can negatively and positively impact your methods.

Distributing consumer goods: There are many laws surrounding who you may sell and market to depending on the specific products you manufacture. If you are not practicing with an awareness of these restrictions you could lose your business.

Manufacturing consumer goods: Depending on your product there can be many laws determining what materials you use, how your goods must be made, and more.

Hiring and employment practices: Employment law is strictly enforced; from non-discrimination in hiring to proper compensation for workplace injury, there are many factors of employment law that significantly influence your business.

Operations of corporations: Because corporations are public entities they have a unique set of restrictions and obligations to follow from that of other business types.

Partnerships and mergers: Partnerships and mergers require legally binding agreements to be reached by multiple parties, usually in the form of contractual decisions.

If you are a business leader it is important you seek the assistance of a legal professional who will help you with the above endeavors while also helping you work towards your business goals and interests.

Business Laws: What You Need to Know

There are a myriad of things you must think about when opening any type of business whether it is a small business or a large corporation and one of those is how business law may affect you. Failure to pay attention to business and corporate law can land you in a world of trouble-both legal and financial. The good news is that you do not necessarily need to be a graduate of a fancy business law college or have a business law major to brush up on the basic ideas of small business law and corporate business law.

If you’ve paid attention to the headlines lately, you probably know that employment law for business is one of the number one areas where you can get into trouble if you aren’t up on all the employment laws and regulations. There are numerous laws that govern the employment of both regular employees and contract employees. Just for a broad overview, take a look at all the employment business laws you must meet:

· Civil Rights Act of 1966

· The Equal Pay Act of 1963

· Americans with Disabilities Act

· The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

· The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

· The Equal Employment Opportunity Act

· The Bankruptcy Act

· The Occupational Safety and Health Act

· FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act

· Employee Polygraph Protection Act Labor Law

· FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act

And that’s not even counting the various state employment business laws that might apply to your business! If you aren’t sure of whether you are meeting all the regulations, it’s a good idea to get a checkup for your HR department.

Do you happen to work in the international arena? If you have anything at all to do with international business, then you should be aware of the many ways in which international business law can affect you, your business and your bottom line. At a minimum, you need to make sure that you meet general international business laws, specialized export laws, import laws and any laws of the foreign country in which your business operates.

And what about the business law scene at home? Were you aware that in addition to Federal business law and international business law, you are probably required to meet State business law regulations? Do you know whether you need a business permit or license? Failure to obtain one can result in the shutdown of your business and hefty fines and penalties. This is just one of the ways that state business law, such as California business law, can affect the health of your business if you aren’t careful to stay on top of things.

Finally, what about Internet and online business laws? Were you even aware that there was such a thing? The Internet has exploded so much in the last decade that the government has found it necessary to institute Internet compliance laws. If you operate a website of any kind and do not meet the compliance regulations, that site could be shut down and you could face criminal prosecution and hefty fines.

Of course, no one should ever attempt to navigate the complexities of any type of business law alone and the best course of action is to always seek the qualified professional advice of a business law firm, but hopefully these tips will help you to understand a little bit more about business law requirements.

Summary: When operating a business, regardless of whether it is a small business or a large corporation, you need to be on top of business law compliance. Even if you hire a business law firm, it’s still a good idea to understand what regulations you must meet.

The Necessity of Business Law

Business in general is the backbone of a functioning capitalistic society. Business transactions, contracts and the building of corporations are what makes the United Sates tick. But imagine a world in which business was done, as usual, but without any sort of oversight. There would be no contracts, because there would be no entity that was in place to uphold contracts and force people to abide by their word. There would be massive corruption and scandal as every transaction that occurred would be without repercussion. It is a sad fact that, when left to their own devices, most people take advantage of no only the system in place but of each other. This is why business law exists.

Business law, also known as commercial law, it the body of law the governs business and commercial transactions and is considered to be a branch of civil law. It deals with business issues affecting both the private and public sector.

What Business Law Includes

This type of law has a wide range of practice areas within its umbrella. There are certain, serious breaches concerning business that are criminal-these are known as white collar crimes-and would be tried in a criminal court rather than a civil court. Laws, such as those against insider trading, that affect the core of the economy on a huge level, would not be tried under regular business law. The following things are routinely a part of commercial law lawsuits:

• Corporate contracts-contract law is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, facet of business law. Lawyers in this field will draw up contracts, supervise their signing and then file lawsuits on behalf of a client if a contract is breached. And now days, it seems as if just about everything involves a contract from renting a video to buying a major corporate building.

• Hiring practices-hiring is a tricky issue. There are tons of areas of government reregulation that can get an employer in serious trouble if he or she fails to abide strictly by them. There are also many legal issues involved with letting employees go.

• Manufacture and sales of consumer goods-there are many, many things that go into getting a product placed on the market. There are tests and contracts and codes that all must be put into action.

What Is Business Law?

In today’s society, many people are starting new businesses and they need to legally register their company. If a business is not registered, the owners may be breaking the law as they would be accused of running the business illegally. When a company wants to merge with another firm, they should have a written contract which both parties need to sign. These agreements should be drafted by a business lawyer who should guide the firms during the process. Business law covers a wide branch of knowledge across a variety of disciplines.

Business law covers all aspects of trade from the registration of a business to hiring employees and selling goods across the globe. A business may need a lawyer to help with the relevant terms of agreement and sales and present them to the other parties. When a company wants to bid for tender or have a project, the lawyer needs to come up with various proposals to present to the other parties. At times, disputes arise and when there was no binding agreement, the business suffers a huge loss.

There are some companies that do not keep in mind the terms and codes of trade especially within their intentional market. Failing to comply with the law is a serious offense and the company may end up folding as a result. A company should look to hire a lawyer who is aware of the business laws set by the Department of Trade and the lawyer ought to find out how the company performs in their industry without bypassing federal laws.

Business law also covers the partnership aspect of the company. At times, the companies who want to merge but they may still want to maintain their rights and recognition within their market. A good contract should be put in place and both parties should agree to work within the laid down rules and regulations in the contract. Many partnerships have landed in court simply because some codes were not met or the other party had more benefits than the other party did. Some aspects like profits, shares, and investments need to be addressed fully before signing a partnership agreement.

Before someone starts any business, they need to know the codes, laws, and terms of reference. Business law applies to all types of businesses whether it is a corporation, a sole proprietorship, or a company. The law requires that all companies and businesses need to be registered and trade within the law. When someone trades in illegal goods, they are required by the law to stand trial. The codes of trade need to be enforced fully and that every businessman understands what they mean. Business law terms are difficult to understand hence there is sometimes a need to hire a lawyer to interpret the message and ensure that the client know what each business documents entail. At times, some businesses may want to trade with other companies and need advice from their lawyers and other business professionals on the proposed plan. Business law can also cover issues such as privacy, copyright and issues involving tax.

All in all, business law ensures that a company practices in the correct way and that the business runs smoothly and that all the parties involved in the various commerce sectors understand the codes of operation.

The Best Business Law Books

Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee or a business major in college, you will encounter various aspects of commercial law in your daily life. Commercial law is one of the most important things that every businessman out there needs to know about, and it constantly changes. Consequently, you are going to read some business law books to keep yourself updated.

Theories can be boring, especially if reading through dozens of business cases is not your idea of a good time. C. E. Bagly and C. E. Dauchy’s The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law may just be the perfect book for you. It is very easy to read, especially for those that do not have any prior knowledge about the topic. This book is good to start with so that you can understand all about business law. For some people, it may be the only book they need.

R. A. Mann and B. S. Roberts’s Smith and Roberson’s Business Law is more appropriate for academic purposes. If you are a college student who wants to gain a strong understanding of this subject, then this is the book for you. The good thing about this book is that it is regularly updated. It’s the perfect book for law students or students who are taking business law classes. Another book that is suitable for college students is Cengage Advantage Books: Business Law: Text and Exercises by R. L. Miller and W. E. Hollowel. The book is clearly written and is very concise; it uses the least complicated ways possible to explain a very complex topic. This will be the right book for those who have been facing difficulties in understanding most of the ideas that are written in thick, complicated textbooks.

Business Law by Robert W. Emerson is a compulsory read for those who are taking college level examination program (CLEP). Despite that, this book is also recommended for those who want to gain more knowledge about the topic. The book is relatively easy to read and it covers most of the important aspects of business law.

Different countries have different laws, and commercial law is not an exception, of course. West’s Business Law: Text and Cases by K. W. Clarkson, R. L. Miller, G.A. Jentz, and F. B. Cross integrates global themes as well as a vast assortment of cases. It is a good book for college students as well as business practitioners, and like any other textbooks, the content of the book is updated regularly.

One of the most popular books on this subject is R. L. Miller and G. A. Jentz’s Business Law Today. Many readers agree that this book provides cases that are relevant to the issues that many businessmen of today face when starting or running their businesses. This book illustrates the topic in the most interesting way possible and it does not have any unnecessary information, avoiding any possible confusion over a certain area of business law. This book is a good reference book even if you are not an academic or a student.

Business Laws For Small Businesses

Talking about business laws in microscopic detail would need a couple of months of your time! There is indeed a plethora of legislation that governs small businesses, ranging from state to county laws. Some are relevant to your business even today whereas others are outdated and have not been enforced since the early part of the last century!

It is not possible for any single entity, including your local law enforcement department to know them all. Yet, it is vital that you are familiar with at least the most important laws that pertain to your business. As usual we’re here to help.

Business laws fall into certain categories as listed below:

o Business formation laws – these laws pertain to the structure of the business. For example a sole proprietorship is regulated very differently from a corporation.

o Tax laws comprise laws pertaining to all taxation issues, whether it is the filing of returns or the payment of sales tax, corporate tax and other similar levies.

o Employment laws – these govern recruitment and retrenchment of employees, wages & workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, workers’ rights and related issues.

o Trademark and patent laws – these laws pertaining to ownership of intellectual property such as inventions, trademarks and patents.

o Environmental laws – Companies engaged in the recycling of material and the discharge of hazardous waste must comply with environmental regulations.

o Consumer protection laws – these protect the consumer from fraud or unfair business or advertising practices.

Headache, already? Here are a few tips to help you deal with it.

One size doesn’t fit all. We just talked about some of the important legal categories under which you will find regulations that affect most businesses. In addition, specific laws may apply depending on the type of activity involved. If, for example, you are selling company stocks you will need to adhere to the Securities Law, but for a medical practice, there’s an entirely different set of rules that come into play. State laws may also dictate how contracts and legal documents are to be written and enforced.

Start at the beginning. Just as you craft a business plan in stages, look at the whole legal puzzle bit by bit. Begin with the laws pertaining to the basics of starting a business. Do you need a business license or a special permit? Are you planning to hire employees or will you go it alone? If your business sells goods, it will need to pay sales tax. Look at each business aspect carefully to understand which category of laws apply to it.

Know only what you need to. If you are in business by yourself, for example, you won’t need to bother with laws governing workers and staff until you are ready to hire additional people. Likewise, if you are in a service business, you typically won’t need to bother yourself with removal of hazardous waste.

See the bigger picture. As your business grows, so will the number of applicable laws. Always examine the legal angle when you plan new projects and initiatives. Also, discuss all potential significant legal matters with your advisor.

Ensure compliance. Be unafraid to ask questions of your legal advisor and do not assume something is legal just because it is a common trade practice. Also talk to the local Chamber of Commerce or other business owners to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Make amends. Finally, should you find that you’ve contravened a law without intending to, take remedial measures. The law is quite lenient with first time offenders – of course, it also depends on the nature of the violation.

Business Laws Unveiled

Each and every person in this world must have at least once thought about opening some sort of business to increase his or her income. No matter if you are thinking about opening a small family business or a larger company, you cannot do anything but obey the business laws! If you don’t, you and your business can get into serious trouble!

In case you are under the impression that you need to be a graduate of a business law college or have a business law major in order to understand and use some of the basic ideas of small business law and corporate business law, you are making a very big mistake. Perhaps you have heard form the news and the headlines that employment law for business is one of the most dangerous fields, as a person can easily break the business laws and regulations.

The least any business man should know is that he or she must meet the general international business laws. You must also consider the export laws, import laws and but, by all means, one must obey to the specific laws of the country in which your business is situated.

Should you own a company that operates in your home country, then you must get to understand the business laws there. If you cannot manage to get a business permit or license, you can find yourself in a great amount of trouble, as your business can get shut down. Not to speak about the inconveniences due to business and hefty fines and penalties!

If you thought that Internet and online businesses do not need to take these rules seriously, then you can have the unpleasant surprise of getting serious problems. Of course these types of business need to obey the business laws, but they are called Internet compliance laws. Therefore, should you be operating a website of any kind and do not care about all these rules and regulations, criminal prosecution and hefty fines are waiting for you right across the corner.

Well, if all these bad things have made you fear doing business of any kind, you must know that no one expects you to be able to navigate the complexities of any type of business law by yourself! The best option for you is asking for help from a qualified professional of a business law firm. This way you will never get into trouble of any kind!