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Published: 27/12/2018

What are merchant services?

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Merchant services. You may have come across the term before if you’ve ever looked into merchant accounts. But what does it mean?

Well, it’s a broad term that is used to describe the credit card and debit card payment processing itself

This involves a number of steps that help ensure that when you take a payment, the money moves from your customers’ account to your business bank account, safely and securely.

So, what’s the process?

Well, the best bit about the process, is that you won’t need to do anything manually yourself. It’s all automated and runs in the background whenever you take a card payment.

Let’s look at it from a card machine perspective.

  1. You use your card machine to take payment from your customer.
  2. The card machine automatically contacts your acquirer bank (this is where you have your business bank account).
  3. Your acquirer bank makes an authorisation request to your customers’ card issuer (such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express) which is sent to your customers issuing bank.
  4. If the correct amount of funds is available, the transaction will be processed, and the money will be released to your merchant account (which is where the funds are approved and processed - you can read more about them below)
  5. The funds will be checked and approved before being transferred to your business bank account for you to easily access.

No matter whether you take payment through a card reader, online or over the phone, the payment process is pretty much the same in the background.

What does a merchant account do?

You might be thinking, why doesn’t the money just go straight into your business bank account? Why does it need to go through a merchant account first?

Well, you’ll first need to understand what a merchant account is.

They’re separate to your business bank account, where the funds taken from card payments are held while the transaction is being checked. This involves checking the customer’s details are correct and that they have enough money in their bank.

It’s also where all the relevant fees (such as transaction and authorisation fees) are deducted before the payment is sent to you. So, you won’t need to worry about fees being taken directly from your business bank account.

This all basically means that you’ll only receive the final processed amount in your business bank account, not any payments which are still awaiting approval.

That means if a customer’s payment is rejected or if they don’t have enough funds, it doesn’t touch your business bank account at all. So, you won’t ever accidentally use money from your account which needs to be sent back.

You can read our blog on what a merchant account is, to find out more.

How many merchant accounts will I need?

If you’re looking to take any form of card payment, whether that’s face-to-face, online or over the phone, you’ll need to be set-up with a merchant account.

The number of merchant accounts you’ll need will depend on how many locations you want to take card payments from.

So if you have just the one shop, you’ll need one merchant account. If you have two shops, you’ll need two merchant accounts, for example. If you have three shops… well, you get the picture.

Plus, you won't need a separate merchant account if you want to take payments online or over the phone.

Choosing the best merchant services for you

Well, like with anything you’re looking to buy, you first want to look at the costs.

However, this is easier said than done. Most card payment processing businesses don’t advertise their costs or fees. And there’s a reason for this.

It’s actually quite difficult to do.

There’s a number of factors which affect it, including what type of business you run and what your current or expect card turnover is, what type of machine you need, etc.

So, if you’re a business looking to take card payments, where do you even start? That’s where we come in!

How to get started

At Payzone, we don’t believe in a one-size fits all approach. Our team of local card payment specialists will meet you to discuss the best solution for you.

They’ll create a personalised pricing package, designed to fit your business needs. The package will depend on your business type and your card turnover.

You won’t need to worry about paying for your card machine rental fee separately. This is included within your pricing package, along with transaction and authorisation fees.

Plus, there are no set-up fees and no exit fees if you leave at the end of your contract. We also provide a short 12-month contract – currently one of the shortest contracts available on the market.

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Vanessa Littler Digital Marketing Executive
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