Last month I had one of my long standing clients who owns and operates a number of stores call and wanted to know how they could enable payments at consumer facing trade shows. The simple reason for his question – the payments technology helps tie in all operates of his business including e-commerce. He wanted the same bottom up reporting for trade shows.

As a society we are becoming more conditioned with information and get it with a few taps. Mobile devices are surging and almost 50% of the Internet is now accessed from such devices. Store operators for good reason can keep a pulse on their businesses anywhere and if the right technology is enabled – data is just a few taps away!

Sounds great except so many business operators are running their business on payment technologies that go back 10-20 years! It is simply an amazing stat given we update our computer systems more frequently. When it comes to mobile devices in particular phones, average user upgrades their phone nearly every 2 years.

In the payments industry an array of point of sale devices are available for businesses. The primary one still in use largely because of its historic legacy is the countertop payment terminal. Originally these devices were engineered to handle a transaction via the landline phone. In the last 10 years, the terminal manufacturers have built them to be dual-comm which simply means the ability to communicate either via IP (Ethernet) or Dial (phone). The devices are simple in their operations, handle the day’s transactions, batch out and once that is completed the terminal’s hard drive is empty and ready for the next day’s business. There is no storage of data and no means of pulling down historic reports.

The countertop stand-alone terminal is ideal for single store operations with 1-2 registers. The ideal configuration is one device per store, get into needing more than one you will see multiple batches tied to that store which require a bit more attention on the accounting end.

The payments technology has evolved into using what we call a payments gateway. Basically a gateway has the capability of connecting systems and/or devices to one another. When a store uses a gateway it can serve many aspects of that business and certainly an ideal solution for a business that has scale to it. I will explain the potential business models that should consider a gateway configuration.
Scenario 1:
• One location – multiple registers – at least 3 plus

• 3 card payment devices/1 per register

o The 3 connected via gateway. Transmit and receive data from gateway

o All IP based

• Store might also sell online. Same gateway enables online as in-store

• Via Mobile App – can connect card reader or key transactions. Turn phone/tablet into a payment device

• Can handle managed billing for any commercial accounts as well as recurring if any subscription type accounts.

• One consolidated batch for that store. Detail broken down by which device handled a particular transaction

• Full historic information including in-day activity via online login to virtual terminal for gateway. In some cases the gateways offer native apps so you’re a few taps away from information

Scenario 2:
• Multiple locations – 2 or more. Register setup can vary in count

• Payment devices similar to the above mentioned – connected via gateway

• All the above mentioned applies with the additional reporting in the virtual terminal

o Chained data. Can drop down in virtual terminal and look up particular location data. Intra-day and historic.

Scenario 3 – Manufacturer/Supplier – B2B Sales:
• Virtual Terminal – no payment devices on the counter

o Create customer profiles in virtual terminal

◆ Save payment methods – cards and/or ACH

◆ All data is stored on gateway end. PCI scope shifts onto gateway. Payment data does not reside on merchant end.

◆ Can handle managed billings – accounts receivable

◆ Can support recurring type billings

o Access VT from any PC or Mac.

o Some VTs offer iOS and Android apps

o Restrict user settings – based on employee profile.

o Retrieve data for entire organization or drill down to particular department/location.

o Retrieve Customer Information

◆ Payment History

◆ Payment Method

◆ Sales/Invoice look ups

Scenario 4 – Integrated Operations:
• Businesses that are using software management solutions

• Usually the software vendor has built an integration layer

o Integration layer – supports accounts receivables

o Via Application Program Interface (API) – connect gateway to business software

o Systems talk to one another

o Reporting of transactions

• Features of previous examples apply here – reporting data, permissions, etc.

In a prior issue I stressed the importance of operators to ask questions to their merchant providers. All too often not enough questions are asked and the end result is a payments systems is enabled that does not meet the business requirements and/or needs. As outlined above, a number of configurations exist and depending on your business, it is wise to seek out information. For those using software management solutions, ask your current provider if their system supports a checkout and connects to a payment gateway via an API.

As a society we have become Internet connected and dependent. A simple perspective is how many times a day you tap on one of your apps via your phone or tablet? Anywhere as long as cellular data or WIFI is available information is there. You can be connected to your business regardless of whether you are onsite at your business or sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. Regardless of your situation, any of the solutions mentioned are not complex to configure and for more affordable than one might think. Ask the questions to your provider and at a minimum get the information. SVBS

Joe Radest HeadshotJoe Radest started his career in card payments in 1998 working for the industry giant First Data. Since FDC, Joe has worked with other notable processors – TSYS, Global Payments and Chase Paymentech. Nearly 3 years ago, Joe branched out on his own; providing complete end to end business process management and secured payment technology solutions, which affords business clients the ability to securely transact payments without having sensitive data touching their environment. He can be reached by phone at 770-731-0414 or by email at [email protected]