Independent Sales Representative: Is Selling Merchant Services a Good Career?
Wondering how to become a merchant services agent and just crush it in the sales game? Well, it is both easy and challenging. It’s easy for those who know what they need to do to become a successful sales agent and difficult for those who are clueless.
So to help you have a pretty good idea of things, we have come up with this guide. It will help you up your merchant services game with just a few practical approaches. So with that said, let’s start:
5 Core Elements to Work on to Become a Successful Merchant Services Agent:
1. Decide Your Approach:
One of the most important parts of not just the ISO agent program, but any business, is that you have the groundwork laid out. When you become a merchant services agent, you will have to make a complete business plan and decide your approach before stepping out into the field. There are various aspects that you need to consider, and some of the main ones are:
- What will be your target market? (Individual street-side stores or the ones in malls)
- What will be your target industry? (High-risk industries like CBD or low risk like parking garages)
- How will you make money? (Sell plans only or other things like terminals as well?)
- How will you approach a customer? (Your pitch – most important)
- How will you market your business? (Cold calling, internet marketing, word of mouth, anything else?)
Everyone wants to become a credit card processing agent because of the freedom this job grants; no more bosses micromanaging you! However, this also means that you are mostly on your own in the field. You need to come up with a strategy, decide your approach, take action, and keep refining the strategy based on results.
2. Spread the Word:
Sales business benefits a lot from social networking. The more contacts you have, the more clients you can expect from every direction. People in today’s world don’t blindly trust any business, which is why they ask their friends and family for referrals and usually end up trying out the referred business.
According to BigCommerce; 92% of people believe in suggestions coming from friends/family more than advertising. This shows how powerful referrals can be, which is why you need them! You will work on two types of referrals besides the general business contacts.
- Commission Based: These will be the people you will pay a percentage of your commission for bringing you leads. They can be your relatives, friends, family members or someone you go to the gym with. The gist is, you will tell them to look out for any merchant in need of credit card processing facility, refer them to you, you will educate them, close the deal and share some of your commission with the referrer.
- Merchant Based: These will be directly the merchants. You can visit different merchants in your vicinity, introduce yourself, ask them if they need any help with their credit card processor, and just help them without charging anything. You are actually selling without selling! When they see you are there for them when they need you, they will put trust in you, and sooner or later, either they will switch to your credit card processor or tell their ‘merchant-friends’ about you. Either way, it’s a win-win for you! Making yourself known in the community and increasing your exposure will reward you with sales and opportunities you wouldn’t have thought about.
3. Choose the Right Credit Card Processor:
Choosing the ISO agent partnership is the most careful thing to do. It can either make your merchant sales career or break it. Most of the ISO agent programs will promise to bring the moon for you if you bring sales, but not everyone will really live up to their promises. So to help you find the right program, we have outlined some tips below:
- See if they are offering their customers free add-ons like POS terminal, and signage. These things make it easy for you to sell.
- Do they have fair pricing? The processing fee and their monthly service fee should not be too high that discourage the merchants from taking the plan.
- Do they offer a cash discount program? Here, the merchants can offset any processing fee directly to their customers and not pay anything.
- Are they using the latest equipment and software? How smooth is their POS interface?
- How good is their customer support for both merchants and agents? You want a processor that won’t leave you hanging when you need help.
- Will they work in high-risk industries like CBD, Pharmacy, and Tobacco, etc.? You might not work in these industries now, but when your business grows, you will have to.
Check your contract with them, check your fee schedule, and see how much you will be paid in commission; it should be fair. Also, they should have various bonuses available for achieving good sales.
• You should not be bound to make X number of sales to continue receiving residual income from your previous client; they should be yours no matter what your sales numbers are.
• You should not be bound to only work with them until the contract ends, working with other processors simultaneously should be an option.
You also want to ensure that the ISO agent program you are working with offers amply training resources so you can better equip yourself with knowledge about the product.
Tip: Try exploring our ISO agent program; we fit this criteria and have been in the game for several years. You might find your a perfect match without having to comb through the market.
4. Be a Sponge and Absorb Knowledge:
Be it merchant services sales or any other business; knowledge is power, which is why you need to be the sponge. Absorb as much knowledge as you can about your business, the market, the customers, and, more importantly, the product.
Start by devouring the educational and training material provided by your ISO agent provider. Side note; Shaw Mrchant Group offers a wealth of resources for gaining knowledge and proper sales training.
Once you are done by company training material, take courses on platforms like Lynda, Udemy and Coursera, etc. Not only you need to learn about your market, product, and target audience, but you also need to know about the tactics of selling effectively.
5. Honesty is the Best Policy:
They say honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom, and I say you need to read this whole book. To become a merchant services agent who gets results and is loved by his customers, you need both honesty and wisdom.
You need to have wisdom allowing you to help your potential clients without asking anything in return as they will bring you good business once they trust you. You need to be an absolute truthful person so that merchants can rely on you for their credit card processing needs.
Once they do, they won’t go anywhere, and you’ll be getting continuous residual income. So being wise and honest will only add wings to your business, keep practicing both.
Practical Tips for Selling the Merchant Accounts:
- Learn to Identify Prospects: Rule 101 in a sales agent’s notebook; drop the bad prospects, and focus on good ones. Let’s say you visit 10 prospects, 8 of them are not interested in talking to you, and some may even talk harshly, drop them. Focus on the remaining two who discussed their business with you or at least showed some respect.
- Talk Less Listen More: You need to use your ears more than your tongue. Listen to the pain points of your potential clients, and only talk when you have a solution or a question. Let them feel that they can rant in front of you, and you will listen and solve their issues. Just let them talk themselves into sales!
- Don’t Be Pushy: Do not make your prospects feel like they are being pushed or pressured into making a purchase from you; you might soon get banned from their store. Instead, just have patience, and keep visiting them from time to time. Don’t let them forget you, and once an opportunity comes up, you will be the first one in their minds.
- Be Creative: You cannot sell by selling, this is not the 70’s, and everyone knows the old tactics of selling, so you need to be creative. Let me give you an example of creativity; there was this merchant that had a POS which didn’t support the processing program that the agent was selling. The agent gave him a free POS terminal as his company; (SMG allows it), sold the old one on eBay, and gave full money back to the merchant. You can imagine if the merchant converted or not!
Over to You:
To become a credit card processing agent, you will have to do a lot than just wearing a shoulder bag and using gel in your hair. You need to have a plan, a network of referrals, the right type of processor, a wealth of knowledge, and an honest approach. Only with these core elements, you can make it to the top.
Wondering how to become a merchant services agent? Maybe you don’t know how the credit card processing program works and want to understand its basics? Well, whichever reason has brought you here, this comprehensive guide will help you understand how to become a merchant account reseller and how the merchant account reseller program works, along with many more useful things. So with that said, let’s get started:
Process of Becoming a Credit Card Processing Reseller
The process is not really hard; you just need to understand who is who and what is what and you will be quickly able to figure out how to become a merchant account reseller. So basically there are two ways you can become a merchant services agent, and we will discuss both of them below:
- Being MSP: Short for Member Service Provider, MSP, or also known as ISO (Independent Sales Organization), is usually a company (it can also be an individual) that is directly connected with the bank. However, if you go with this route, you will have to pay a large chunk of money to the bank on a yearly basis to establish a relationship with them and enjoy various perks like low buy rates and continuous support. However, the amount you pay to the bank per year can be up to $10k or more, and since you are just starting out, you won’t have this much money. Plus, some banks don’t even sign up individuals and require them to work with their registered MSP.
- Working with MSP: This is the second method of becoming an agent where you will be working with an MSP that is directly registered with banks like the NAB ISO agent program. Now obviously, you won’t get the buy rates that the bank is offering, you will get a rate that will have MSP’s commission added to it. But considering that the MSP is paying a hefty sum of money to the bank per year, this is more than a reasonable deal. A good MSP or ISO partner program will provide you with ample learning resources and continuous support so you will be able to learn quicker and ultimately earn quicker.
Now that you know the difference between both, you should not have any problem with joining a merchant services reseller program. However, there are some more things you need to understand before you dip your toe into this field. So for that, we will cover things like how this program works, what your responsibilities will be, and some things to look for in a suitable ISO partner program.
How Does The Reseller Program Work?
The process is pretty simple and straightforward. Assuming you are working with an MSP/ISO, you will get a ‘buy rate’ from the company. You can call it the profit of the MSP program. Now when you deal with a merchant, you will have to add your own profit to that buy rate and offer it to the merchant so that whenever a transaction is made, both you and the MSP will get a piece of it.
For instance, if you join a merchant services program that is offering you a buy rate of 2% + 20 cents, you can resell it to the merchants for 2.3% + 25 cents. These additional %0.3 + 5 cents will go in your pocket. Now, this looks like nothing compared to the work you will put in converting the merchant. However, this amount will be charged for each transaction the merchant makes on credit cards.
This means that if the merchant processes 100 credit card transactions with an average of $10 per transaction, then it becomes $1k. So you get, 0.25% x 1000 = $2.5. Now also add 5 cents for each transaction which will be $0.05 x $1000 = $50. So the total becomes $52.5 in recurring monthly income. Now that’s the income from just one merchant.
If you sign up 10 of them in your first year, your monthly income will be $520 per month in the second year. So you can keep adding merchants to your portfolio and keep increasing your income.
Responsibilities of a Merchant Services Reseller:
Your main responsibility will be to sign up as many merchants as you can because that is the sole factor behind your monthly income. Here are a few more things that’ll be on your plate once you become a credit card processing agent:
- You will have to first learn everything about the products/services you will be selling to merchants
- You will have to educate merchants about what you are selling and persuade them to sign up for your program.
- You will have to help the merchants in completing necessary paperwork and setting up their merchant accounts with the MSP.
- You will have to work continuously with the merchants you sign and offer them support whenever they encounter a problem.
- You will also have to actively search for new merchants and pitch them your products/services. Most of them will show reluctance, keep paying them friendly visits, and help them without asking for anything in return, some of them might convert soon.
- You will have to keep a continuous track of your progress, how many merchants you signed up, how much you are making, what your monthly goals are etc. (Some good ISO programs offer web-based dashboards for performance measurement).
These are a few important things that you will be doing on a daily and weekly basis as a credit card processing reseller program agent.
Things to Look for in a Suitable Reseller Program:
The policies, procedures, and rules of merchant programs vary, which is why you need to be very careful when choosing one. We have already discussed the things you need to look for in a program in this guide - Selecting the Best Merchant Services Agent or ISO Program. However, to provide you with a basic idea, we have covered some basics you should remember below:
- Their Buy Rate: The MSP/ISO you will be working with should have a lower buy rate as merchants will prefer to pay a low fee, which is why a program with a high buy rate won’t get you high sales. North American Bancard eliminates the concept of buy rate with cash discounting, making it easier to get more merchants. Read about it here (Link to the guide on cash discounting)
- Monthly Sales Quota: Some merchant processing programs require you to make X number of sales to keep earning the residual coming from your merchants, avoid them at all costs. Your residuals should stay yours no matter how many sales you make.
- Customer Support: Go with the merchant processing program that offers the best customer support. You don’t want to be stuck in a position where a merchant is having a technical issue, but the processing company is not answering your phone.
- Freebies: Some of the top merchant services programs offer freebies like a free POS terminal and signage to let customers know the merchant accepts credit cards. These things really help when you pitch your program to the merchants.
There are many more important factors you need to look for when joining a credit card processing reseller program, make sure to read out detailed guide this subject.
Who Can Become a Merchant Services Agent?
To be honest, anyone can become a merchant services agent as long as they are disciplined, self-reliant, and go-getters.
Granted, you will have to study a lot at the start about the programs you will be selling and the techniques to sell effectively, but once the ball starts to roll, you will find it easy to work in the industry.
How Much Can a Merchant Services Reseller Make?
There is a lot of potential for how much you can make. If we look at the example above, then you might make $50 off of a single merchant.
If you manage to sign up 15 merchants per year, then in 5 years, you will be making $3750 in monthly recurring income without doing much. Keep increasing merchants, and your income will increase.
How Do I Become a Merchant Account Reseller?
It’s simple, just select a good merchant account reseller program, talk to them, discuss your concerns, and once you are satisfied, fill their form.
You might be required to provide them with some documentation, just follow what they tell you, and after some verification work, you’ll be registered as their merchant accounts reseller.
Over to You:
See, it’s not really hard to be a merchant account reseller, plus the perks of being your own boss and no income cap really make it an appealing business model. However, just be careful when joining a credit card processing reseller program as you don’t want to be bound by unfair rules and regulations.
If you want to enter into the massive merchant services sales industry, then we would like you to stop right there. Before taking the plunge, there are a few things you should know. You need to have a clear idea of this industry and whether a credit card processing sales job is even your cup of tea or not.
We will help you know some simple yet important facts about selling credit card processing in this guide and will also provide you with useful tips to jumpstart your career as a merchant services agent. So with that said, let’s get started:
Why is it Important to Know?
Before we move towards knowing some important facts about the merchant services ISO agent programs, the question that might come to your mind is, why bother knowing these things? Well, to be honest, there are a lot of factors involved when it comes to getting merchant services sales jobs, it’s not as easy as approaching the merchant, pitching the service and closing the deal.
Things can be both easy and difficult, which is why you need to set your expectations straight. So instead of jumping into a river without gauging its depth, it is better that you know how deep it runs. Therefore, we will tell you both the good and the bad of the merchant services industry.
These advantages and drawbacks will help you understand what to expect from it and whether it is the right field of work for you or not. So follow along and learn some of the most important things about selling credit card processing.
Benefits of Selling Merchant Services:
There are plenty of benefits in the merchant services careers, which is why many opt for this route. If you are persistent and work very hard, you will enjoy a high income and many benefits that come with it. Here are a few advantages of working in the credit card processing industry:
Excellent Earning Potential:
The basic need for everyone is the money, the sole motivating factor that makes you want to work for hours without looking at the clock. Well, the good thing is that this job is based on commissions. So you will be paid for the amount of work you put in and not like corporate jobs where you give 12 hours daily for a fixed pay.
However, if you ask an accomplished merchant services agent, he will tell you that the money doesn’t come easy and is certainly not handed to you on a silver platter. To make a killing in the industry, you need to work very hard, build a network, and be persistent.
There are also several bonuses offered by credit card processors for achieving X amount of sales that add to your overall earnings. So once your business takes off, you can then enjoy a vacation on the beaches of Bali while sipping your fresh piña colada.
The best thing about working in the merchant services business is that you are your own boss. There is no one looking at you with a microscope waiting for you to make a mistake. You can work on your own terms and in your timings as long as you are getting sales because sales pay the bills in this game.
You can approach any business you want, wherever you want and whenever you want to make your pitch. There will be no one calling you and asking you why you haven’t reached the office yet; your dining table is your office.
Tons of Surprises:
If you are someone who cannot deal with a monotonous routine and the same kind of office-based work, then this is the job for you. You will start your day not knowing what’s in store for you because you get to meet lots of new people in this line of work.
Different merchants will need different tactics and pitches for the deal to close. So you will have to adapt to the situation, work any problems that may arise, and learn something new every day. If you are someone who loves this kind of work, then you will definitely have higher job satisfaction.
Drawbacks of Selling Merchant Accounts:
Remember, nothing, and I repeat nothing is always rainbows and sunshine. Not even rainbows and sunshine are always there on the sky. So you cannot expect the merchant services sales job to be a walk in the park. There will be some drawbacks, just like there are with all types of jobs. If you are someone who is ready to face challenges and come up with new ways to achieve their goals, then you might not be affected by these downsides very much. That being said, let’s see what they are:
Yes, this will happen. Every sales job comes with complimentary rejections, which an agent has to accept. Selling merchant services is no different. You will likely face two types of merchants when it comes to rejections. The first ones are those who already have a credit card processing provider, and they are satisfied with it.
The second ones will be those who just don’t want this facility or those who don’t have time to talk to you. You can persuade these people to an extent, and some might convert. I know getting rejected is tough, but you will have to take it like a man and move one to another merchant, there are plenty of them out there.
Yes, there are thousands of merchant services agents out there just like you. But don’t let the high competitive environment bring you down. If you have the key ingredients of becoming a successful credit card processing agent then nothing will stop you from getting ahead of the competition.
Plus, you have to be a bit creative in selecting the location to target, maybe a new mall, or a complex? You will have to figure things out as you go and not leave any stones unturned in getting ahead of the competition.
Things You Can Do To Have a Strong Start as Merchant Services Agent:
Now that you know the good and bad sides of the merchant services industry, it is time we give you a few pointers on kick-starting your career.
- Establish Goals: Being a sales agent means you need to manage yourself because there is no one at your back, making plans for you. You need to set targets like closing X amount of deals in Y number of days. And then work with all your strength and capabilities towards achieving the targets. Once you do, reward yourself with something you like.
- Strong Networking: Being a new agent means no one really knows you. So you need to get yourself out there and have more exposure. Visit potential merchants, have a chat with them, help them out with anything related to credit card processing for free, and slowly and gradually build trust. Once they know you are knowledgeable and helpful, they will either get your service or refer their fellow merchants to you.
- Understand What You Offer: Speaking of knowledge, you should first increase it to be able to help and educate merchants. Credit card processing is a vast sea, and you need to cover its every aspect. Learn about the services, equipment, and value you are offering so you can better communicate with the potential merchants and pitch them more effectively.
- Follow Up: No matter how the dealing with a potential merchant went, always follow up. After contacting a merchant for the first time, don’t let them forget who you are or what you offer. This doesn’t mean you start visiting their home, but rather, say Hi every now and then. If, after some time, you feel your efforts are going somewhere, keep pursuing otherwise move on to a different merchant.
- Offer Excellent Support: One of the main things that you will sell is support and not the service itself. When things are a bit technical, like credit card processing, people purchase the person selling them and not just the product/service. This means that they will buy trusting your word, and you will have to be there for them whenever you are required. This will not only retain your current merchants but also build your credibility in the industry.
Many jump into the credit card processing business hoping to build successful merchant services careers; however, only a handful of them manage to do so. Do you know why? Because the ones that fail expect a lot at the initial level. And the ones that win just keep their heads down until they can live with their heads high. There is a difference in IMPOSSIBLE and IMPOSSIBLE. You just need to be persistent, work hard, and have patience; you will make a successful career a possibility one day.
Merchant services is one of the hottest industries in the country. Merchant services can surely be lucrative, but one of the first things that you will need to learn about merchant services is that there are a variety of services that fall under the umbrella of being in merchant services. One of those is payment processing. If you want to achieve a higher income, more streams of revenue, and a better relationship with your merchant clients, then one of the questions that you may be considering is: how to become a payment processor?
A payment processor is one of the most essential roles in the payments process. However, becoming a payment processor is somewhat difficult if you don’t know the proper steps and the benefits of becoming a payment processor. If you’re ready to become a payment processor, but don’t know where to start, then this guide will give you valuable insight that will show you how to enjoy the benefits of becoming a payment processor while also being aware of the potential drawbacks.
Benefits of Becoming a Payment Processor
One of the reasons that so many merchant services providers flock towards becoming a payment processor is that it does come with a number of benefits that make it absolutely the right choice for some. In order to make the decision for yourself whether you want to become a credit card processor you need to get to know the benefits of being a payment processing company a bit more. Here are some of the most well-known benefits of becoming a payment processor for merchants and businesses.
Most people that want to branch out to being a payment processor and create a more robust product offering are doing so because they want to diversify and expand their income streams. When you are a payment processor, you will be making money from payment processing in a variety of ways. This can help to reduce the risk involved in being in business and make it more feasible to have success in merchant services. While there is undoubtedly more responsibility and some more work involved to get things going, you can certainly experience improved and more stable income as a result of becoming a payment service provider.
One of the best aspects of running your business as a payment processor is that when you are a payment processing company, you have more control over the entire process. This means from the underwriting to the actual payment processing, your business will be involved. While some see more work in this arrangement, others see an increased opportunity to optimize and improve the process in a way that most directly benefits your business model. You’ll be able to evaluate risk and other factors in the way that you see fit and place importance on the factors that you think are important. While this does increase liability and put more of the burden on your business, it also could allow you to explore opportunities that you might not have been able to before and have real influence on the industry.
As a merchant services reseller, there are some benefits such as being able to outsource customer support. However, there comes a point where each professional must decide whether this is a benefit or a liability. Outsourced customer support or the act of passing on your customer to another company for tech support can feel bloated and inefficient. When you are a payment service provider, you will have more freedom to handle customer support on your own. This can mean that your customer support is a better experience overall. It will mean faster service times, more direct communication, and increased trust between you and your customer. This all leads to greater customer loyalty and overall a better business outlook.
Steps to Becoming a Payments Processor
Though the concept of becoming a payment processor is somewhat easy to understand, the process does take time and effort if you want to have success. Here are the most important steps that you need to take if you want to start a payment processing company.
Perhaps the most important step is a good foundation. For a payment processing company, this often means registering with the proper authorities and making sure that you have all necessary paperwork in order. Be sure to do this before anything else, as it could leave you open to liability down the road.
The next thing you will have to do is build the infrastructure of your team and company. For payment processors, this means hiring staff and renting facilities that will house your business and carry out business functions for you.
Now that you have all the permanent aspects in place for your business, it’s time to build the wireframe of your processes and workflow so that your business and employees understand how the business works.
When you have everything set up, you can begin to get clients and market your services to anyone that can benefit from them. You will also build selling and commission programs to attract agents. This creates a funnel of clients and sets up your business for success into the future.
Grow Your Merchant Services ISO with White-Label Payment Solutions
As an independent sales organization (ISO), you can upgrade your business by providing merchant processing services under your own brand. You may dismiss the idea at first, probably thinking that you don’t have the infrastructure or expertise to become a payment processing company. However, with white label payment processing, all you really need is a good ISO partner.
How a White Label ISO Program Works
To offer payment processing services under your own brand, your ISO partner will provide you with an online application page that doesn’t identify their company. This “white label” solution is ready for your brand and includes your logo, colors, and contact information, so your merchants only identify the payment solutions with your company. It eliminates any confusion among your merchant customers about who their service provider and primary contact should be. Your brand is the only thing the merchant will see on your website, merchant portal, and marketing materials.
Your payments ISO partner becomes a silent partner, providing technology, payments functionality, and services. This puts you in more control, allowing you to deliver seamless, consistent customer experiences in all interactions – and enhance your brand’s reputation. With this white label payment solution, you won’t need to overcome negative perceptions a prospect may have about the company your working with. This is because you are creating a unique customer experience. Better still, you don't have to fall in line with another company's existing customer experience.
Once you start providing white label payment processing services, you will also find that you build stronger, longer lasting relationships with your merchants. They'll begin to view you as a payments expert and an expert in the other solutions you provide. You may even find you are able to grow your customer base, as merchants in every vertical or niche can benefit from accepting payments, enabling you to market to more types of businesses.
Remember: white label payment processing enables you to earn huge residual income.
Our White Label Program Will Save You Thousands in Fees
Put your brand on merchant statements and applications — build your brand with your sub-agents and merchants. Full white label payment solution with your logo and branding on applications, statements, online enrollment, merchant and partner portals.
We at Shaw Merchant Group have an awesome white label solution. There is no huge package of documents for you to fill out, no approval process by Visa and Mastercard and the sponsor banks, and best of all no annual dues. Here are some details on the “White Label ISO” program:
- Roughly 4–5 weeks to fully set up once we get the signed license document back.
- Executed addendum from you saying it’s OK for us to use your brand too.
- This program can run on our standard schedule A’s with bonus and free equipment and has no other obligations. from you other than the standard agent agreement.
- When we set up the DBA you will have access to EPX/BMO Harris for submitting merchants under your brand.
What do we brand?
- Paper Applications
- Online Applications (Simplified Enrollment)
- Partner.PaymentsHub for your back office.
- PaymentsHub for your merchants — It’s generic when your merchant logs in and then show your brand once inside.
- Merchant Support Email — TMS (ticket management system) which emails you and your merchant each time we speak with your merchant and shows the proper brand in the notice and as the from address on the email.
- Merchant Support Phone — Our call centers answer with a generic “merchant services” then once they have the MID identified, they represent your brand.
- Deployment Packages — Generic boxes and welcome docs inside with proper brand.
What we need:
- A letter authorizing EPX to register your DBA on your company letterhead.
- A high resolution image of your company logo.
- A certificate of good standing from the state you are registered in. It may not be called a certificate of 'good standing' in some states.
- The ISO Branding request form.
One of the most lucrative fields that you can get into as a salesperson is selling to other businesses and especially selling merchant services. Unlike most end consumers, business owners keenly understand the value of investing wisely in long-term solutions, and not merely throwing away their money on something cheap. If you want to truly contribute value to other business owners, while making a decent paycheck every month yourself, one of the best ways to do that is to offer quality merchant services. You will be invaluable to your clients, and if you serve them well, they will continue to look to you for ways to make their business more efficient.
Why start selling on your own, though? Isn't that a lot more work? What are the benefits if you're already working in a commission-based kind of job? Well, here are a few of the major ones:
Even if you're working in a field where you get a relative amount of independence, like in sales, you still don't have complete control, and your whole work life revolves around satisfying someone else's numbers. You may have your own personal selling style, but the overall strategy that the company follows—the direction in which “the ship” is being steered—is not determined by you, but by someone else. This may not be such a bad thing for some people, but it also means that your livelihood is ultimately in someone else's hands. What if the owners of the company that you work for make a dumb decision that spells the end of the business? You will have to suffer the consequences anyway, even though it wasn't your fault.
Of course, if you own your own business, you have the potential to make a lot more money than someone who doesn't. If you're an independent contractor, at the end of the day, the people above you are raking in the most money. Sure, as a merchant services representative, you might make a hefty percentage of that, but the fact of the matter is that your potential for financial growth is stunted. If you have a business that you control yourself, it is basically up to you how much money you want to make, and you keep more of the fruits of your hard work.
The Potential for Scale
The thing about a normal job, even a merchant services sales job, where you're working for someone else, is that you rarely have the possibility to scale things up. In other words, you can't “replicate” yourself by hiring someone else to do some of your tasks, and this can greatly reduce your long-term income potential. When you run your own merchant services business, you can choose to run it in many different ways, but one way is to outsource the work slowly until your business can practically run on its own. For true residual, passive income, this is the kind of situation that you will want to be in. This is what makes it possible for you to work because you want to, and to make money even in your sleep. You just can't do this when you work for someone else.
Now, you may be thinking: How to start a payment processing company? Maybe you've been a salesperson for awhile—maybe you've even been selling POS equipment and other important retail tools—but you're not sure how to make that leap into selling for yourself.
Well, unless you've invented and designed your own solutions, you're going to have to start by forming a partnership with a company that you believe in. They're going to have to make a product that you can really get behind because, if you're building a business for yourself, most of your money is ultimately going to come from the back-end, from repeat customers. This is why it is so important to take a step back and think about quality above anything else. By all means, find a program that is lucrative, but don't ever sell a product that you wouldn't feel enthusiastic about using yourself. In the end, this is what is really going to create repeat business.
What traits do you look for in a merchant services agent program, then? Don't be taken in by any fancy bells and whistles. Basically, these are the things you are going to want to see:
A History of Reliability
Again, there's no sense in selling shoddy services or products. Look up reviews of the company and decide if they are any good. Research their products and make sure that they are user-friendly. Find a way to use them if you can. The easiest products to sell are the ones that are actually good because they basically sell themselves time and time again.
Generous Revenue Share
Since this is going to be the core of your business, you are going to want to find a merchant services partnership that gives you a good cut of the sales. If you're doing all the work of finding and maintaining leads, then you need a fair percentage of what that customer is paying.
Part of what makes selling merchant services and POS services so lucrative is that there is often a monthly fee involved or else the merchant services company takes a percentage of the user's sales. As a partner, make sure that you have access to a significant portion of that long-term income as well. This is what is going to pay you month after month, even long after you have made the initial sale. This is where most of your money is, really.
Lots of Options and Flexibility
The company you work with should have lots of different options when it comes to revenue sharing, that way you will be able to build a strategy out of the one that best suits your business.
Become a payment service provider today and take your business to the next level. If you are a sales-oriented individual with vast experience in the world of payment processing or you are a driven and motivated professional looking for a new challenge, the SMG ISO agent program might be a great fit for you. With the highest paying commission structure in the industry, superior products, and sales support, our program will see to it that you are rewarded for your efforts.
For anyone with a sales background or a passion for the payments industry, SMG is the ideal partnership. There are dozens of reasons to become a sales partner with Shaw Merchant Group, but don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of the top reasons that we were given when we asked our ISO agent participants why they chose us and why they continue to work with our highly lucrative program.
Sales Partner Portal
With our industry leading partner portal, you’ll have access to online enrollment, training sessions, marketing materials, and you’ll always be ahead of the game with the latest news and promotions.
Stay up-to-date on merchant issues and their resolutions via automated emails and text messages that include a detailed ticket number describing what the merchant’s concern was and how it was resolved.
Registered DBA (White Label)
With our program, you’ll be able to market under your own brand, without paying costly fees! Your brand will be seen on the partner portal, marketing communications, merchant statements, and more.
Free Equipment for Your Merchants
Selling businesses on a new processing plan is much easier when you are able to effortlessly jump over the hurdle of the cost of the equipment. With this program, you can offer your clients free equipment that they will need for their processing provider change. This lowers the barrier to switching and creates a higher conversion rate for you.
Lifetime Passive Income
You will recieve 50–70% of residual income based on the pay structure you select. You will share income on every available revenue stream. With SMG, you get a True Interchange Revenue Split. Unlike other ISO agent programs, there is no basis points off the top for BIN sponsorship or for what they call hidden losses. Our sales partners earn more residual income with our 50/50 partner program than you would with our competition who claim to offer a higher percentage because thier interchange cost (buy rate) is higher.
$20K Performance Bonus
We offer a performance-based fast start bonus that is payable for anyone that onboards more than the standard threshold of clients in the first 4 months. This program is designed to reward those experienced sales members that join our team and quickly learn how to sell this product. The bonus can reach up to $20,000, making it one of the most lucrative and competitive in the industry.
Profitability Based Bonuses
We will look at how much profit is generated on the account after they have been processing for one month and you earn 14 times of the total profit. Example: If we retain $100 in residuals in that month, the bonus would be 14 x $100 or $1,400. You would have already been paid $600, so we would pay you an additional $800 on that account. This bonus is capped at a max of $10,000 per merchant per location. With our dual pricing program it is easier than ever to earn huge bonuses with a 14x profitability bonus. This dual pricing model enables you to maximize your bonus at $10,000 on almost every merchant processing over $90k.
Dual Pricing Program
When you are selling merchant services, one of the best assets of any partner program is more rewards and incentive programs that save your client money. The Edge dual pricing program is one of the hottest new commodities in credit card processing, as it is designed to save the client thousands of dollars in credit card processing cost, instead passing on the fee to the consumer in a way that isn’t damaging to their own conversion rate and revenue. We offer this program to our clients and make it easy to understand and present for our sales partners.
With some sales jobs, you don’t even have the option for medical coverage. With the SMG ISO agent program, you’ll have the resources that you need to provide healthcare coverage to you and your family at an affordable rate. We take care of our own, and when you are in our program you will have access to these benefits.
Are you a merchant services representative or an Indendent Sales Organization that’s looking to make it to the big leagues of the merchant industry; the payment gateway providers? Well, it might require some serious investment to set up a complete infrastructure that can even break your bank. However, there’s an alternative - white label payment processing.
It’s a low investment, low-risk solution allowing you to set up your own payment gateway without having to manage any technical aspects of the payment gateway. Curious? Read on to know more about a regular payment gateway, how a white label payment gateway is different and what main advantages it can offer you.
Let’s Discuss What Payment Gateways Do:
Before we move towards the payment gateways for white label merchant services, let’s talk about the regular ones to ensure everyone reading this is on the same page. Payment gateways are crucial for every business for credit card transaction processing. When the card is swiped against the machine, the payment is cut and sent through the payment ‘gateway’ to the processor for authorization. This additional gateway ensures the security of customer’s data and the authenticity of their transaction.
Once it’s cleared, the information of the transaction is added to the credit card networks and sent to the bank that issued the card to the user (customer). If everything is correct and there’s a balance available to be charged, the transaction is approved; otherwise, due to any reason, it can get declined.
How Payment Gateways Do What They Do?
Payment gateways equip the merchants with interfaces and tools to collect the information for credit card transactions from the customers. This can be done in several ways. Most of the gateways offer APIs (Application Programming Interface) that enable the websites, business software, mobile applications, and POS (point of sale) device to connect and send transactions right to the payment gateway for authorization.
They also offer virtual terminal abilities allowing credit card info to be input directly in a webpage form, which can then be submitted for a transaction.
You can also find a range of value-added functions in payment gateways allowing merchants to easily manage their business and transactions. These added features can be fraud detection, recurring billing, tokenization, PCI compliance, and more.
Merchant Acquirers & Payment Gateways:
Merchant acquirers and ISOs (Independent Sales Organizations) act as agents/salesperson of the payment gateways by reselling their services to the merchants. ISOs or merchant acquirers employ a team of salespeople and support agents to connect with merchants, nurture them and eventually sell them the payment gateway’s services and equipment like POS machines.
Since it doesn’t really make sense for the merchant acquirers to build and manage their own gateways, they mostly partner with existing payment gateway service providers and get a small chunk of the pie. However, there’s an alternative, providing ISOs or merchant acquirers with opportunities to set up and differentiate their own payment gateway brands. This is where a white label payment gateway comes into play.
What’s a White Label Payment Gateway?
With the help of a white label payment gateway, you can get similar features and functions and perform the same duties as a payment gateway provider. However, there are many distinctions and benefit with the white label service. While the regular gateways get into contracts with the ISOs and merchant acquirers to resell their services, white label gateways allow and also prefer the ISOs and merchant acquirers to sell their services as their own with their own branding.
The merchant services resellers and ISOs have the liberty to use their logo, play with the branding and color scheme to match it with their own, and service the customers however they see fit.
Becoming a White Label Payment Provider:
If you become the payment gateway provider rather than reselling someone else’s, you’ll have several unique opportunities at hand. As the white label payment facilitator (Payfac), you can set your own profit margins and actively get your share of the revenue stream. This also means you will have the freedom to set up your very own brand, market it and get visibility rather than living under someone else’s shadow. You will have control over customer experience, and how you want to service them, which means direct customer acquisition.
Here are some more benefits that you experience when you become a white label payment provider:
- You will not have to set up or manage the service by yourself. All the heavy lifting and technical aspects like infrastructure and security compliance will be taken care of for you.
- You will get access to the shopping cart integrations processor connections of the platform, enabling you to offer solutions to a wider merchant group and take care of their needs.
- You will get total control over the customer relations, meaning you will establish the rules for how your gateway equipment and products will be serviced and sold.
- Every effort put in by you and your team into the promotion of payment gateway technology will enhance the worth, reputation, and value of your brand.
- The use of a white-label payment gateway will solidify your relations with your merchants and put you in the position to meet their needs better.
Who White Label Payment Providers Partner With?
First things first, you need to know if you have the kind of business that can benefit from the white label payment provider. There are four kinds of resellers that will benefit from the white label model the most:
- ISOs – Independent Sales Organizations
- ISVs – Independent Software Vendors
- VARs - Value Added Resellers
- PayFac – Square or Paypal
When opting for a white label payments provider, work with someone having experience and a good track record of working with these business types.
Finding a Good Quality White Label Payment Services Provider:
To get the most value out of your while label gateway experience, it is imperative that you work with the provider offering exactly what you need so you can meet and exceed the needs of your merchants. To find that kind of service provider, here are a few questions you should ask:
- Will you get access to their support service, guides, and training materials?
- Do they have an intuitive payment gateway platform? You don’t want something that’s buggy and complex.
- Can you rely on their platform? It should have 99.99% uptime; once it goes down, your payments won’t be processed until it's back on.
- What about the security level of their platform? It should be encrypted with the latest and most impenetrable technologies.
- Does it sell its services to the merchants directly?
Branding on Your Payment Gateway:
You will require a highly flexible platform that allows you to leverage your or your designer’s creativity and customize every aspect of the product/service. You would want to make the payment gateway your own in the truest sense of the word. Therefore, make sure to find out the branding options they have available that’ll allow you to brand your payment gateway exactly the way you want. Here is a small list of some things you should be able to make your own:
- Color scheme
- Marketing guarantee
- Login portal
Make sure to ask about all of these features’ customizability, so you know what to expect from the white label provider and if you want to go with them.
Types of Merchants on Your Gateway:
If you’re wondering what kind of merchants I can put on my white-label payment gateway, then the answer is; anyone you want. However, not every provider agrees to this, so make sure to ask this beforehand. The payment gateway provider must be able to offer you the liberty to get anyone on board and do business with them.
Some Final Considerations:
You will also need to find out about the third-party integration options, SDKs, and API functionality of the payment gateway. Some more important things to consider are:
• Who will own the website’s domain name?
• Who is going to bill the merchant?
• Who will manage the SSL Certificates?
• What kind of shopping cart integrations will you get?
• How the customer support to merchants will be handled?
• What kind of merchants will you be able to provide a platform to?
Remember, the best white label merchant services will have incredibly useful features to help you crush the competition and get as many merchants on board as you can. This can only happen if you have the freedom to have any merchant you want and your platform is robust enough with tons of useful features that attract them.
Credit cards are all the rage in the USA and have been for decades, and six out of ten Americans have at least one credit card. The number of credit card users has been growing each year exponentially. People use them as the primary mode of payment. Similarly, debit cards are widely used online payment substitutes, and the number of new users is rising worldwide. Today, debit card usage accounts for 25% of all purchase volume which was 13% in 2005.
Moreover, there were 45 billion dollars in credit card transactions in the year 2019. It means more volume of the transaction will increase demand for credit transaction processors. Payment processing companies act as a bridge between the merchant and the customers making the payments. This industry may be competitive, but it’s true that it can be very profitable. Do you want to become a merchant service agent, or wondering how to start a payment processing company? If yes, then read on to learn how to become a credit card processor.
How to become a credit card processor in 4 simple steps?
You might think it’s simple to become a credit card processor, but it is not as simple as it sounds. In fact, it is more than project projection, payment terminal, and POS options to get things started. Follow these steps if you are on a mission to becoming a merchant service provider.
Conduct Market Research
Market research will not only help you better understand your target market but also uncover insights about your competitors. So don’t forget to invest some time to conduct market research to analyze your competitors and potential clients. Determine the viability of new selling merchant services and the niche of the local retailers. Don’t forget to monitor how your competitors are doing business, their services, and the average fee their customers are paying for credit card processing.
Come up with a great deal for your future clients. If you offer to deal with a lower amount than your competitors, you will likely get more profit. All you need to go to your local market and create a survey to gather comprehensive information from your targeted audience about the service they use the most. Ask them about their current merchant service provider and check how much they are satisfied with them. And most importantly, don’t forget to collect the contact information of your potential clients, like their phone numbers and email address.
Plan Out How You Will Operate Your Business
The second step is to create a profitable business plan. It will give you an idea of how your credit card processing company will work. Plan out what kind of services you will offer and their pricing. Moreover, your business plan should also cover how large your sales team will be. In other words, it is a guideline that will help to make business-related decisions. Also include other details like how much capital you need to start a payment processing company, how you will obtain this capital, and how you will market your new business.
There are two main options for those who are becoming a credit card processor, i.e., start your own company or franchise (work under another company or brand) a credit card processing company. When you start your company independently, it offers various benefits. First of all, starting an independent business may cost less, and you earn more profit because there are no chances of getting your hand-tied in any contract or bad deal. In addition, it comes with downsides too. When you start a new company, no one recognizes you in the market, and you have to do a lot of hard work to beat your competitors around. Not only that, you should have good terms with banks to finance your company.
On the other hand, if you choose the second option, i.e., franchise an existing credit card processing company, forget about designing a winning business model, finding credit card terminals, machines, and other equipment, and build a relationship with finance resources like banks. However, if you choose this option, you will require big bucks to get started. Moreover, the parent company will also cut through some percentage of your profits.
Partner With The Bank
You need to partner with a bank to handle the interbank routing and get financing for operational costs. Initially, you need at least $50,000 capital to start a credit card processing company with a physical office location. If a contingency plan fails and unexpected expenses arise, consider a secondary source.
Execute Your Business Plan
Now, it’s time to execute your business plan and launch your company. Having a killer marketing strategy helps you grow your business exponentially. Your ultimate goal should be to stay ahead of your competitors. To reach out to more clients, business networking can help you rack up new contacts. Provide the best services as promised to your customers. Referrals from merchants play a crucial role in the company’s growth.
How To Sell Merchant Services
Want to know how to sell merchant services? Just keep in mind that there is no secret formula to selling it; it starts with you. First off, you should know how this transaction processing procedure works. You should be an expert as a credit card payment processor that helps you get more profit than MSPs (Merchant Service Providers). Over time, when you see more trade growth, people will recognize your business assets. Prepare your business assets like yellow and white pages, business cards, website, business cards, and local directory for your company and market them to grow your business.
Tips On Selling Merchant Services
One of the best tips on selling merchant services is that give your clients the reason to choose you. Don’t offer the same thing that other hundreds of merchant service providers are offering. Let them know what benefits they will get because only special discounts are not enough. A high percentage of profit is probably is more attractive to sell your merchant services. Don’t focus on discount price offer only. Show your numbers and merchant testimonials as your company’s proof of growth. Moreover, don’t hesitate to build a good relationship with them which helps you increase sales.
In this article, I am going to teach you ways to start a successful credit card processing company. I am also going to take you through the fine details of planning, setting up, and starting a credit card processing company.
You are going to learn about what it takes to become a successful credit card processing agent, how to conduct market and niche research, how to create a great business plan, how to get funding for your venture, and also tips to run a successful credit card processing company.
It is important to note that when you become a merchant service provider you will be helping corporate and businesses to process payment for their customers.
Your credit card processing services will involve offering the platform and equipment to facilitate the sending, approval, and processing of payments and transactions between customer’s bank accounts and your clients' bank accounts.
What It Takes To Become a Credit Card Processing Agent:
The credit card processing industry is very dynamic, and the success of becoming a merchant services agent is both easy and hard.
There are a few things that you need to know; some of these include having a clear understanding of how selling credit card processing works. You will also need to have deep knowledge of how credit cards work and what they do.
Another overly important thing that you will need to understand is your market and, most importantly, your niche market. This way, you will be able to connect with your customers on a personal level. In addition, you will also be able to create a solid relationship with banks for financial transactions and payment processing.
Market Feasibility and Niche Research
It is critical to note that any successful venture always starts with thorough research. When you want to become a credit card processing agent, you will need to do thorough market research.
Understand the type of services or products you will be offering and where your clients are and their needs.
Make sure that you look at the services offered by your competitors, their rates, and also how satisfied their customers are with the services they get.
The few steps you can take to become a merchant services reseller are to first create a survey on several businesses in your area, determine the most common services they use, and evaluate the satisfaction level of customers with their current payment providers.
Another important step that you need to take is to gather client information, such as phone numbers or email addresses. These details will help you when you start sending out pitches.
Crafting a Comprehensive Business Plan
For you to become a credit card processing agent and be successful in it, you will need to come up with a detailed business plan.
It is okay if you are not a seasoned writer, but you can hire one to do the work for you. Better still, there are several business plan templates available online that you can use.
There are several details that need to be included in your business plan; some of these details include:
- How you intend to run your venture
- The executive summary about your business
- How you intend to raise startup capital
- Products and services you will be offering
- Marketing and sales analysis
- SWOT analysis
- And more
Ideally, the business plan for a credit card processing company can serve as proof to investors and stakeholders that you are serious about with your venture as the document shows all the strategies.
A great business plan can help you win funding from various investors and banks.
How to Finance Your Credit Card Processing Business
Most business requires a startup capital; the same case applies to credit card processing companies.
To become a credit card processing agent, you need to consider where you are going to get funding to start your venture. You will also need to cater for all the operational costs until you start realizing some profits.
According to research, on average, a minimum of $51,000 is needed to start a payment processing company.
There are options that you can use to get financing for your credit card processing company, some of these options include;
- Getting a loan from banks
- Approaching investors
- Getting funding from business partners
- Using your savings or selling assets to raise funds
- Sourcing some funds from friends and family members.
Launching Your Merchant Services Reseller Company
Once all the above are set up, you can go ahead and launch your credit card processing company. There are other finer details that you will need to consider before you do this. These include finding the appropriate location for your business, understanding the requirements which you must have beforehand, and understanding the manpower needed to run the business.
To become a payment service provider, you should fully implement your business plan. The best way is to strictly follow the plan without cutting corners.
Tip: Due to the competitive nature of the credit card processing business, it is critical to ensure that your business stands out.
Put more efforts to stand out among your competitions. The best way to do this is to have a business network. You can reach out to organizations and corporations to widen your reach and customer base.
Marketing Plan for Your Credit Card Processing Company
- Just like any other business, a marketing plan is a must. You can do all the above work, but if you don’t come up with an effective marketing plan, you might fail.
- Take your marketing strategies seriously. The following are some effective marketing ideas that you can use.
- Use social media platforms to spread the word about your business
- Reach out to stakeholders, clients, and managers of big corporations
- Make sure that your business is listed in local directories
- Use TVs, magazines, newspapers, and radio to advertise your business
- Start bidding for available contracts
To further increase your reach to potential clients, you can create business cards, flyers, pamphlets, or business website.
Tips To Help You Run a Successful Credit Card Processing Business
In order to succeed in starting a processing processing company, understand that you will not only be providing requirements and services to help process payment for customers BUT also, you will be selling yourself. As a credit card processor, you will need to clearly show potential clients why they need your services. Show them the benefits they will get from your services. Never seize to reach out to potential customers. In addition, ensure that you do a follow up on those pitches. To simplify the process of becoming a credit card processing agent, North American Bancard provides all the tools you need for a successful credit card processing business.
All around the world, there are thousands of businesses that use vital services that are referred to as merchant services. These are services such as payment processing, which is what allows businesses to accept and process payments so that they can make a profit on their product. Without these services, businesses would be unable to function in the modern world. You might think that the fact that these services are an absolute necessity to these businesses make them an easy target for selling, but that is now always the case. There are definitely some positives as well as some negatives when selling merchant services.
This guide will show you some of each and hopefully give you some insight as to whether a career selling merchant services is right for you.
Undoubtedly, there are some very positive aspects of selling merchant services for a living. If you have had a sales job that is similar in the past, you already have known some of these benefits. Here are some of the best things about selling merchant services.
There is always a market
One of the best things about working in the merchant services industry is that there is never a lack of demand for these services. There are always new businesses sprouting up as people chase their passion for owning their own business. And existing businesses are always evaluating their options and ensuring that they are getting the best deal on the market. For that reason, you won’t ever have to worry about the industry as a whole drying up. People will always need to spend digital money and businesses will always need to find a way to accept it.
Set your schedule
For many that are in a commission-based sales job, one of the greatest benefits of it is being able to get to the point where you are working when you want to work instead of punching a time clock when you get to work. When you are a partner in a merchant services ISO agent program, you will be able to set your appointments on a schedule that works well for you.
Build passive income
Finding and signing clients to lucrative merchant processing contracts is hard work, nobody denies that. However, all of the hard work that you put into this process could end up paying out tenfold throughout the years. One of the greatest things about being a merchant services salesperson is that your accounts can earn you passive and residual income long after you have closed them to a contract. This could help you build passive income for years to come and eventually phase out the bulk of the labor that is involved in this career.
High commission rates
When you compare merchant services to other industries out there, you will find that it has a very competitive and comparatively high commission rate compared to those other industries. The high price of the contracts and the fact that they continue to pay out for years to come is what makes these sales so valuable and why some of the best salespeople in the world turn to merchant services when they want to increase their earning potential.
Just as there are many pros to selling merchant services, there are also some aspects that could prove difficult. You should watch out for these aspects and consider whether they are something that you are able to overcome and overlook.
Highly competitive industry
There is always a lot of demand for merchant services, but this fact also means that there is a lot of competition. One of the hardest aspects of selling merchant services is that you will always have competition breathing down your neck, waiting to provide your client with a better rate. This is really where your ability to create and nurture relationships will come in handy with client retention. This industry is not for those that don’t like competition and healthy capitalist tendencies.
Dependent on success to make money
When you are a merchant services representative in any industry, you know that your ability to make money is heavily dependent on the success that you have when selling your product or service. It’s no different in selling credit card processing accounts. If you want to have a good income, then you will need to become skilled at selling these products. If you don’t feel confident that you can do that, then it might not be the right choice for you.
Though you might hear the term ISO or Independent Sales Organization used a lot in the merchant services business, people don't always use it accurately. Let's take a look at what this term actually means according to credit card companies and banks.
What is an ISO?
Basically, a merchant services ISO program is an entity (a company or a person) who is not a MasterCard or Visa member bank—also known in general as Association members—yet they have a relationship with these banks. This can mean many things. For example, they may find new customers, offer customer service to the merchants, or sell terminals to them.
What is an MSP?
An MSP (Member Service Provider) is more or less similar to a credit card processing ISO program, though this isn't always exactly the case. An MSP is more of a “middle man” usually, a company that is often not an Association member, but who provides services to members.
What Do ISOs and MSPs Do For Their Banks?
First of all, remember that neither MSPs nor merchant services ISO agents are actually banks. The MSP / ISO will contract a processing bank to do this, and each MSP / ISO must have this kind of relationship with a bank to be able to process credit cards.
Under normal circumstances, the acquiring bank will be an Association member with both Visa and Mastercard, and they usually register for both at the same time. ISOs in turn can have relationships with more than one bank. By the way, these processing banks can also engage in vertical integration and become their own ISOs. This isn't common, though, and normally they will just specialize in processing credit cards, since it takes a lot of resources to draw in leads all the time.
An ISO is required to disclose their processing bank on their brochures, website, and other material. Usually, these are somewhere inconspicuous, like the bottom of a page.
How Does an ISO / MSP Register with the Credit Card Companies?
It's not exactly easy. First, the merchant services ISO needs to find a processing bank that will serve as a sponsor. Next, the merchant services ISO has to demonstrate to the companies that they have the means to perform their duties. Afterwards, there's lots of paperwork to do. For example, a merchant services ISO program might have to provide:
- Financial statements / tax returns
- Incorporation documents
- Their business plan
- Their sales material
- A list of their sales agents
On top of all of that, the owners of the companies will also have their credit checked.
What Kind of Fees Does an ISO / MSP Have to Pay For Registration?
Once they are actually approved, the fees are $10,000 upfront. These fees are paid every year as well, as part of a review process.
What Are So-Called Sales Agents?
Many times it's helpful for merchant services ISOs to have an independent sales team, so they will hire sales agents to find interested merchants. According to MasterCard, a sales agent is someone who provides services to a member, but isn't an MSP. In other words, sales agents don't have to be Association members, since the merchant services ISO program is the one that takes care of the processing. Sales agents have to be registered, however, though the fee is quite negligible—something like $50 every year. Sales agents, though functioning somewhat independently, can't advertise as a service provider and have to use the name of their merchant services company.
What Option Works Best?
Is it enough to be a merchant services sales agent? Or should you consider becoming a merchant services ISO or MSP, even though it requires going through all that bureaucratic process? Like anything else, this really depends. How much processing volume do you have? Obviously, you get a better price per transaction as a merchant services ISO, so you'll need to make some calculations and decide for yourself whether the increased profit margin is worth the overhead costs.
Be cautious, though, when looking at proposals from processing banks. There might be some fine print in there that can come back to haunt you. Specifically, look for fees that might cut into your profit, such as minimum processing fees. Minimum processing fees are charged when transaction fees during a certain period don't reach a minimum threshold.
These minimum processing fees can sometimes be really exorbitant, so watch out for them. Sometimes they can run into tens of thousands of dollars per month, and if you can't come up with the transaction fees, you'll be paying the difference yourself.
If you don't have a large portfolio yet, this can really harm you. Let's say the minimum processing fee for you is $6,000 every month. Let's say that, like many ISO's, you make an average of between $0.07 to $0.09 for every transaction. You would basically need to make 66,600 to 85,700 transactions on a monthly basis just to reach the minimum, which is unfeasible if you are a brand new company.
Usually, your processing bank will give you a period of time to build up your clientèle, however. If you think you can manage to reach a volume that surpasses the minimum processing fees by this time, then go right ahead and become a merchant service provider. However, make sure that you calculate everything very carefully.
By the way, since you're kind of expected to increase volume over time, the whole minimum processing fee can increase as well. That's right, a bank can progressively charge you more and more. For example, they may have given you a minimum fee of $4,000 in year 1, but every year that your contract renews, they might increase it by a lot—maybe even by the original amount, so that you're paying $4,000 more every subsequent year.
You can probably see why this would be a problem. Your fees are growing linearly, but your portfolio might not be. In fact, it is unlikely that your business would be able to support that amount of growth every year, unless your company is just so great that people are abandoning their merchant service agreements just to work with you. Either way, never sign an agreement that has fine print like this. Fees that increase like this are not very sustainable and you may get ripped off in the end.
Another (Not Great) Alternative
One thing you can do is to try to find a small bank that doesn't have any minimum fees at all. The problem here, though, is that their pricing might not be as good of a deal as larger processing banks, and their service might not be as reliable.
Besides, these smaller processors often have their own version of a minimum fee requirement—instead of transactions, they require you to bring in a certain number of new clients per month. If you don't comply, then you could stand to lose your residuals. In other words, you could have worked for years to build up a portfolio of dozens of merchants, and you could be bringing in a huge volume for your bank. You might have built up to tens of thousands of dollars per month for yourself, but your bank requires you to bring in five new merchants, and you only brought in four.
What happens? You lose all of your income, just like that. Does that sound fair to you? Your processor still has all of those accounts, but you are left in the dust. It's not really “passive income” if you have to keep adding a certain arbitrary amount of merchants per month, is it?
All of this can be confusing if you are new, but you can probably draw a few conclusions from it and get an idea of your game plan. To put it simply, if I had to start in this business over again knowing what I know now, I would just pick a large ISO and become a merchant services agent for them. This would help me learn about the industry and build up some income, and I wouldn't be risking falling victim to some fine print from my processing banks, or having to pay huge fees just to stay in business. I would work with several merchant services ISOs until I had decided which one was the best fit for me long-term.
After that, I would stop working with all of the other merchant services ISOs and concentrate on the best one exclusively until my volume had increased substantially. Once I thought I could pay all of the entry fees, I would consider becoming a merchant services ISO myself. I would speak with my merchant services ISO and see if they have a sponsorship program. Either way, I would shop around and be a hard negotiator, and not settle with a sponsor until I had a fair deal that I could actually work with.
Last, I'd hire an attorney to look over the paperwork. Yes, attorneys can be expensive, but in a business like this they are worth their weight in gold. You don't want to sign something without understanding all of the ramifications. Once that was settled and the deal seemed right, only then would I sign the agreement.