High tech solutions to payment challenges

The explosion in new business technologies has clear implications for the way businesses receive customer payments, secure their data, and control costs. Once-common business tools are heading for the trash heap of obsolescence, joining carbon paper and typewriters.

Here’s a look at some of the changes taking place and how they can affect, and ultimately benefit, your business.

The growth of non-traditional payment options

If your business wants to remain competitive in today’s marketplace, you’ll need to meet buyers at the point where they want to pay.

Cash and cards are being discarded for mobile devices linked to payment services like Google Wallet(TM) (1) or Apple Pay(TM) (2). It’s the growth of omnicommerce – where your customers are able to reach out to your business at anytime, from anywhere, and using any device.

Is your business able to provide a satisfactory customer experience for today’s shopper?

Payment solutions across platforms

There are now thousands of networks, hundreds of different mobile devices and various operating systems (such as iOS and Android) involved in the payment for goods and services. The challenge for your business is which payment solutions to offer so you can cover as much of the global market as you want.

A few payment solutions include:

  • Direct mobile billing – where you charge purchases to your customers’ mobile phone accounts.
  • No-touch mobile payments – where customers can wave an NFC-enabled phone in front of an NFC (near field communication) reader.

NFC technology is based on electromagnetic radio signals. These systems allow customers to securely store account information on their devices and wirelessly pay at the point of sale.

If your business accepts credit, debit, or corporate cards, you’ll need to upgrade to NFC-compatible terminals.

Global information firm IHS predicts that worldwide shipments of cell phones equipped with NFC technology will surge to 1.2 billion units by 2018.

Meeting security standards

If your business accepts, transmits, or stores cardholder data, it will have to comply with rules set by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure the collected information remains secure.

Essentially this means you’ll need to:

  1. Maintain a secure network with robust firewalls.
  2. Protect cardholders’ information such as dates of birth, mother’s maiden names, and social security numbers.
  3. Frequently update anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware software.
  4. Only request cardholder information required to carry out a transaction.
  5. Regularly monitor and test networks for security.
  6. Define, maintain, and follow formal information security policies at all times.

The EMV mandate

In October 2015, the EuroPay/MasterCard®/Visa® (EMV®) compliance mandate took effect in the U.S.(3) Its aim is to reduce payment card fraud by following a model similar to those used in other countries that observe the EMV mandate.

Instead of using the familiar magnetic strip to store user data, EMV payment cards feature cryptographic algorithms embedded in chips that ‘talk’ to EMV-compliant terminals and bank processing systems.

If your business is using a non-EMV-compliant system and you’re accepting transactions made with EMV-compliant cards, you could be liable for counterfeit transactions that fall on them.

If your business uses EMV technology and your customer doesn’t, you’ll win any fraud dispute over that transaction. It’s an incentive for your business to adopt the technology.

Transactions using the former swipe and sign technology will continue to exist while the move to EMV technology takes place.

Data and reporting to pay lower fees

The amount of data that a payment card processor needs for a transaction can be up to 95 percent of the cost of that transaction.

In a B2B situation, your business may secure lower transaction fees by inputting additional information like item quantities and the amount of tax.

But these savings can be erased if you enter insufficient data because of clerical error or you don’t achieve ‘timely settlement’ of a transaction.

Strategic vendors can provide online tools that slice data by card type, specific clerk, or location. These tools will allow your business to:

  • Detect a deterioration in data.
  • Adjust its processes to qualify for the lowest fees.

These same online tools can be used to manage disputes between cardholders and your business. In the past, you would have to get receipts to prove you completed the transaction correctly and then fax those receipts into the processor. That can all be done online now.

Next steps

(1) Google Wallet is a trademark of Google Inc.

(2) Apple Pay is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

(3) EMV is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries, and is an unregistered trademark in other countries, owned by EMVCo. EMV (Europay, Mastercard®, and Visa®). Beginning October 2015, chip technology is required in the United States to better protect merchants and consumers from counterfeit fraud. MasterCard is a registered trademark of MasterCard Worldwide or its subsidiaries in the United States. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association and others in the United States and other countries.

Comerica Bank. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender.

This material has been distributed for general educational/informational purposes only, and should not be considered as accounting, tax or legal advice or recommendations by Comerica Bank, its affiliates or subsidiaries.

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