With the ongoing decline in the popularity of cash, the vast majority of businesses in the modern era will need to be able to receive electronic payments of some kind or another. Whether through EFT credits, debit orders, card payments, these businesses will all require a "payment solutions provider" with access to the banks and can facilitate these payments. Unsurprisingly, who one partners with, in terms of the provision of payment solutions, can become an important decision affecting the business's day-to-day operations and impacting cash-flow and bottom-line profits. The business owner must understand who they are working with and make their decisions for a payment solution partnership from a position of knowledge. Here then, are the five questions you have to ask a payment solution provider before you agree to sign up.
Are the services offered in line with my business needs?
This is quite a big question and will require a business owner to understand their business thoroughly. Any payment solution provider must be able to match the needs of the company in question. While it may be obvious, for example, that a store's payment solution provider be able to take card payments, what may be less obvious is that this payment solution provider must also be able to scale for volume and grow the services offered as the business grows. In addition, the business may diversify the way it offers its products, for example offering goods on credit which may require a debit order solution for future dated payments.
Flexibility from the payment solution provider will be essential for the business's long-term success. It's no good to be locked into a rigid solution that will not allow the business to do what it needs to do before the end of the contract.
It's important to ask how agile any potential payment solutions providers services are, whether they offer a broad range of payment streams and solutions within the National Payment System, and whether they are capable of changing and adapting their product to match the current solutions, situations and changes in your business. It is also important to ask, if they can adapt their product, how quickly these changes can be implemented. The best solutions providers will be able to tailor their services to your business to make sure they can maximise efficiency and minimise risk. For example, Amplifin offers both immediate and future dated payment options and are able to scale with our users requirements as their volumes grow. If a business owner is looking to build a business that is adaptable and capable of pivoting, then the way they receive money will need to be the same.
What is the contract length?
Related to this, it is essential to know if there is a required contract and what the length of that contract may be. Business owners should automatically hear warning bells as soon as a potential payment solution provider company insists on a long-term fixed contract. Long-term fixed contracts should be viewed as a caution, as a business should be able to move to an alternative provider without disruptions or barriers.
Onerous, unnecessary cancellation charges are simply a sign that the potential payment solution provider wants to make it impossible for you to leave, whereas a company that offers open terms and seems unafraid of you deciding to find an alternative service provider is certainly depending on their service and solutions instead of a binding contract, to keep you hooked.
According to Steven Maier, Chief Brand Officer for Amplifin, their company believes in allowing businesses to change service providers with no long-term contracts or punitive fees.
"If there is a perceived lack of value from either side, we are happy to part ways within sixty days with no further disruption to our clients’ businesses," says Maier. "We want the best for our clients, and if we are ever perceived not to be the right fit, we want you to be able to find what you really need."
Do they understand your business environment and industry?
Your payment solution provider will need to adapt and grow with your business. This will require in-depth knowledge of your industry in the ever-changing economic environment.
Do they understand your industry's challenges, and can they adapt their systems to best integrate with your current solutions to suit your business needs?Will their system address the shortcomings and challenges of the industry and increase your efficiency and operation capabilities?Can they assist you with compliance to ensure you don't run afoul of the regulators? Requirements and compliance change constantly; if you and your payment solution provider are not up to date, you could wind up in hot water.Do they engage in consultative engagements with you as their customer to stay in touch with your business and needs?
"It goes towards the potential value a System Operator like Amplifin can add to the business as a whole," says Maier. "Is the system operator, as a service provider, able to provide a certain level of insight into the broader industry sector that one is operating in to provide compliance and sustainability at the end of the day?"
"And this is a sustainability issue because if you fall foul, the regulator will want to deregister the business. This could have been prevented if they had the correct advice from the likes of Amplifin when they started the business," adds Maier.
Is the payment structure designed around my success?
Many fly-by-night payment solution providers structure their charges to ensure they make money regardless of how well you do. A true solutions-partner will instead charge so that your success is the same as theirs. Companies that take money from a business without care about whether that company succeeds or fails are clearly to be avoided. It's wise to ask if the cost implementation is designed to provide opportunities or detract from them.
According to Maier, Amplifin not only offers payment terms that are clearly incentivised by their client’s success, but also backs this up with regular consultative engagements with clients,
in-depth analysis and advice for increasing success, reducing costs, and remaining compliant.
Another potential issue is how quickly settlements occurs for collections that have been successfully processed and are required to be credited into the bank account of the business. Many service providers build in a delayed payment settlement window, whereas solutions providers who understand the importance of cashflow within any business will always attempt to get money to their client as quickly as possible.
“We understand the importance of cashflow to businesses, so in all instances and payment streams that Amplifin offers, same day or next day settlement is key,” says Maier.
What support do they offer?
Support is integral to any payment solution providers offering, but it is vital when receiving payments. The first thing you should look for is a payment solution provider who offers you a direct line to call someone who can help on the other end. When clients come calling, and you have a problem, the last thing you want is to go into a queueing system or endlessly ring a call centre. Never underestimate the ability to pick up the phone and speak to someone you know when you have a problem or even need help making changes to your system.
"When Amplifin speaks about support, we talk about both proactive support, which is when we analyse your systems and send in consultants to pre-empt any issues which may be experienced, and reactive support, which is our experienced support centre, which operates six days a week," explains Maier.
The second question to ask around support is whether the payment solution provider can assist in times of a challenge and how quickly they can get you up and running again. These days companies should have a well-oiled disaster recovery system that can help in the event of everything from a minor bug to a fire or total internal system collapse. The sooner you can get up and running from a hacking attempt, the less your company will lose, and the less likely this incident will become a full-blown disaster.
"Things will inevitably go wrong at some stage, but when it does, what can your payment solution provider offer?" asks Maier. "We have back-ups of back-ups of back-ups. We are ready for unimaginable corporate disasters – for example, a country-wide blackout for seven days. Our clients know that whatever comes, we have their businesses covered."
“Another example, Amplifin allows for the warehousing of debit order payment plans which means our clients are not required to submit individual instalments per payment cycle, and if our clients are unable to submit due to a complete shutdown of their systems, Amplifin will continue to extract and submit all instalments that have been warehoused which significantly reduces the risk for our clients,” says Maier.