07. 12. 2014

When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, the obvious next step is to get started online. However, it can be difficult to start up right if you don’t know all the ins and outs of online business, not the least of which is credit card processing.

If you intend to open a digital storefront, online credit card payment isn’t a feature—it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, unless you have a great deal of past experience in eCommerce, it may not appear to be a simple one. To accept payments online you need certain features and certification; without them, your store isn’t just impossible to shop, it could actually be illegal. Thankfully, there are platforms like Shopify to get what you need to get up and running fast as long as you know what to look for.

Payment Gateways and Processing

The first thing you need if you intend to process credit card payments online is a trusted payment gateway. This is the service that authorizes payments via credit card, processes them, and makes sure everything is 100 percent secure in the process.

Here are a few of the best payment gateways today, according to

  1. Flagship Merchant Services
  2. net
  3. CyberSource
  4. Chase Paymentech
  5. PayPal Website Payments

There are more, of course, but these five are the most recognized and some of the easiest to use. Merchant services like these operate differently based on your business needs, so be sure to shop around before you make a final decision. PayPal tends to be inexpensive, but is more internationally trusted, and Flagship offers more features than both. Before you choose a payment gateway, you need to establish what type of cards you want to accept, estimate the average ticket on your credit card transactions, and your projected monthly credit card purchase volume. All of these aspects, along with whether you want to use the same merchant service online as offline—which is generally recommended for ease of bookkeeping—are important aspects to understand before you make a decision.

When you sign on with a given merchant service provider, they’ll assign you a merchant ID—according to IT World, this will generally serve as your merchant account information. The actual account, however, needs to be set up with our bank as a business checking account into which your payment gateway and processor will deposit funds with each sale.

PCI DSS Compliance

If you’re already operating a brick and mortar storefront, you already know what PCI DSS compliance is. If you’re just starting up for the first time, however, and have chosen online as your first venue, this particular abbreviation may not sound familiar. PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard; basically, it’s a set of core requirements and performance standards to be sure that your business, and all businesses that accept credit cards, processes payment in a secure environment.

To be sure that your business is meeting all necessary standards, you can obtain a checklist from sites like 1 Stop PCI Scan, and then a self-assessment from the PCI Security Standards website. The requirements are simple enough—using a firewall and keep it updated, utilizing encryption in protection of cardholder data, monitoring network access—but the process can be long and a bit arduous if you haven’t done it before.

If you opt to utilize an online retail solution service like Shopify to get your shop online, the service itself offers built-in PCI DSS compliance, taking the stress and the responsibility off you and your business. If you’re just starting out, this is a great way to make sure you’re taking all the right steps to protect your customers.

Security is Key

Regardless of how you choose to process payments, from merchant services to compliance, the most important thing is to keep your customers’ data safe. It doesn’t matter how easy to remember your merchant ID is if you can’t promise that you’re doing all in your power to keep your customers from being victims of identity theft.

However, it’s important to remember that as a vendor, you have access to a great deal of excellent services to protect both yourself and your clientele, from your bank to your payment gateway, and that staying PCI DSS compliant goes a long way toward keeping your shoppers’ information safe. Make sure that the payment gateway you choose is trusted, works well with your business, and that your eCommerce solution does as well—this includes your shopping cart and storefront, there are plenty of services designed to help you get this up and running. As stated earlier, some solutions even offer built-in compliance, easy payment gateway linking and more. Find a solution that works for you and start accepting credit card payments online the right way.



18. 07. 2014

Have you ever heard of the term “PPI”? Whether you have heard of it or not, chances are that you are paying it! The most common form of PPI (payment protection insurance, also referred to as PMI – payment mortgage insurance) is on a home loan. If you make a down-payment of less than 20% of your home value, then the bank will almost certainly require you to agree to PPI payments each month. These payments are a sort of insurance policy for the bank. Your extra payments are padding their pockets in the event that you default on your loan and the house is no longer valued at the amount it once was. From their viewpoint, they hope that the additional payments will insure that they will not lose money on your loan. While these payments are often not all that large (typically £100 or less), they sure can add up over the course of a few years.

So How Can You Get Rid of These Additional Payments?

Not only are you making interest payments on your loans, but the bank has you paying these PPI payments as well, which is causing you to stay broke. In order to keep your cash in your own pocket you must learn to eliminate these senseless fees. The easiest way to eliminate the PPI is to pay off 20% of your loan. At this point, you can call your bank and ask them to kindly remove the additional PPI payments from your monthly loan amount.

The second way to remove the PPI payments on your home is to get it reappraised. If the value of your home increases, then you have just increased your equity in that home. If the equity amount is large enough, the bank may just remove the PPI payments.

What If You Have Been Making PPI Payments in Error?

It happens all too often that the bank somehow forgets to remove your PPI payments from your loan, or that they have you making those additional payments when you never needed to in the first place! If you suspect that you are making PPI payments out of error, contact a PPI claims company and they can assist you in recouping your lost money (plus interest at times). The below infographic may assist you in your discovery of your accidental PPI payments.



15. 07. 2014

There was a time when the only way to borrow money without some form of security was by taking out a personal loan or applying for a credit card with a traditional financial institution such as a bank. But that has all changed, as there are now hundreds of options on the market including online peer-to-peer lending platforms, which means you can take your time and choose the option that best meets your needs. However, it’s important to remember that committing to regular personal loan repayments is a big step, so a few precautions and a little preparation are necessary before you sign on the dotted line.

1. Take a look at your credit rating

Too many people wade into loan applications without first checking the status of their credit history. The UK’s record of loan repayments and debt levels not only has a direct impact on our ability to obtain credit, but it is often a critical factor in determining the interest rate you will be offered by lenders.

Now, it’s important to understand that credit files are only as accurate as the information supplied to them. If your credit file is inaccurate or out of date in any way, it will probably remain that way until you do something about it. Look for inaccuracies in your credit report, and work with one of the major credit reference agencies to have them removed. Then, when you apply for credit, you can be reasonably certain that you’ll be offered the best possible rate of interest for your circumstances.

2. Don’t borrow for longer than you need to

The facts in this regard are simple: the longer the loan term, the more you’ll pay in interest. Taking out a loan for the funds you need over a shorter length of time will inevitably lead to higher monthly repayments. But it is still important to look at the long-term picture in terms of how expensive your loan will be. Work out what you can comfortably afford to repay every month, and choose the shortest loan term that is within your monthly budget.

3. Do a little interest rate digging

During your search for a loan, you will undoubtedly come across representative APRs which are used to demonstrate what the typical rate of interest for a loan product is. This is the rate that at least 51 percent of borrowers will end up paying, but you should be aware that the actual rate you are offered could be significantly higher. Read the small print of any loan agreements you receive before signing anything. If you plan to borrow money online, use loan calculators to work out how much borrowing will cost you each month. Depending on your individual circumstances – job, salary and credit history, you may end up paying a rate much higher than the headline APR.