Understanding Multichannel Payments

Today, customers use multiple channels to engage, transact, and pay bills. A McKinsey study found that 82% of Americans use digital payments. These digital payments encompass browser-based or in-app payments, in-store checkouts using mobile devices or QR codes, and person-to-person payments (P2Ps).

Customers appreciate the convenience and ability to make payments in multiple ways when transacting. They also expect seamless, personalized experiences from your business. Providing multichannel payment options is one way you can meet their needs.

What Are Multichannel Payments?

Multichannel payment processing refers to the ability to accept customer payments across various channels. It offers your customers the freedom and flexibility to make payments using their preferred methods and platforms, whether that means paying in-store, on a mobile app, over the phone, or online. Multichannel payments provide your customers with a consistent, streamlined experience while making things easy for you to manage with one synergized vendor and solution.

Efficient multichannel payment processing also makes it easy to track customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history across various channels. With that info, you can deliver better customer service, marketing, and overall experiences.

How Do Multichannel Payments Work?

Multichannel payments offer a convenient experience no matter the path your customers choose. A customer may use your services or purchase your products and want to transact in a unique way. With a multichannel payment solution, you can make the switch between channels seamless.

Your customers can pay on their preferred channel—email, text, interactive voice response (IVR) or via a live agent—and switch at any point. You can simplify the payment process for your customers and merchants while keeping interactions personalized.

Multichannel payments link all your touchpoints through an integrated platform, making payments highly personalized and focused on your customer’s preferences.

What Are Multichannel Payment Processing Channels?

Typical multichannel payment processing channels include phone, in-person, email, and text.

1. Phone Payments

Pay-by-phone IVR solutions enable you to accept payments 24/7. Leverage innovative speech-recognition and touch-tone technology to empower customers to make rapid payments using self-service capabilities.

Your customers can connect to your system at any time from any phone, following prompts to complete transactions. IVR payment methods provide frictionless payments and shorten your collection time. The self-service functionality will free your staff to focus on more urgent matters.

2. In-Person Payments

Speed up in-person payment processing with advanced contactless payment technology that makes point-of-sale (POS) purchases a breeze. Digital bill payment methods will continue to grow, but in-person transactions are still the preferred pay point for many consumers.

A contactless system enhances the offline payment experience, helping customers pay bills securely and efficiently while on the go. You can opt to integrate award-winning POS solutions with your current system or use the enterprise-grade POS terminals as standalone devices.

3. Email Payments

Leverage email payment link technology to streamline billing for your customers. To accept payments through this channel, you need a trusted payment services provider (PSP) to set up a secure system that enables you to send customers a safe email link. This email link will take customers to an encrypted hosted page or NanoSite where they can make payments online. The link will also work when sent via text or through social media.

You can accept email payments even if your business doesn’t have a website. Email payment processing is versatile and quick. It removes barriers to sale and reduces late payments by supporting them via multiple methods, including:

  • E-wallets
  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards

4. Text Payments

Pay-by-text capabilities enable customers to make payments via SMS and MMS. When a customer initiates a bill payment, they’ll receive a message with a secure link. This encrypted link will take the customer to a secure gateway or NanoSite to complete the transaction, offering a seamless payment solution.

Text payments are opt-in services that help customers conveniently pay when you message them, reducing your past-due payments.

What Is a Multichannel Payment Platform?

A multichannel payment platform helps you manage multiple types of payments in one place. CSG Forte Engage provides secure, frictionless payment methods, allowing your customers to pay using their preferred channel anytime. This integrated platform offers:

  • Multichannel payments: Give your customers the power to pay at multiple touchpoints and via email, text, IVR, or live agents—with the option to switch throughout the payment process seamlessly. Enable customers to select payment options like autopay for recurring fees or installment payments.
  • Secure payment options: The live agent assist feature allows your contact center staff to create online invoices and send them directly to customers. With cutting-edge NanoSite technology, clients can securely complete transactions without sharing banking details or credit card information across multiple channels. This approach reduces the risk of sensitive information leaking.
  • Customized payment journeys: Rapidly deploy personalized payment journeys for your customers. Branded payment journeys can be activated for one-time, recurring, or future-date payments. You can send invoices with payment prompts, confirmations, or late payment notifications to a customer’s channel of choice.

The Benefits of Our Multichannel Payment Platform

Innovative multichannel payments offer your business several advantages. When you leverage our platform for multichannel payments, you can benefit from:

  • Fast implementation: Advanced solutions enable low-to-no coding, meaning integration takes days, not months.
  • Convenient automation: Multichannel payments reduce repetitive tasks through automation while still providing highly personalized customer experiences.
  • Secure transactions: Custom payment pages or NanoSites allow customers to transact with your business quickly and securely, reducing late payments.
  • High adoption rates: Multichannel payments increase self-service capabilities and encourage the adoption of digital payments, minimizing the costs associated with some offline payments.
  • Seamless testing: Your business can leverage multichannel payment capabilities to split-test elements of the payment journey. See what best works for your customers and use it to enhance their experience.

Partner With CSG Forte for Secure Multichannel Payments

At CSG Forte, we leverage decades of experience to help your business scale payments and grow with smart, unified payment solutions. Our payment platform is designed to meet your ever-changing needs and customer preferences.

Want to learn more about how we can help you simplify and scale your multichannel payment capabilities? Get started by connecting with our team online.

Optimize the Payment Journey for Your Customers

Customer payment experiences have evolved in recent years. Digital payments are leading the pack, providing multiple ways for users to transact with businesses. By optimizing the payment journey for your customers, you can enhance their experiences and reduce late payments.

What Is the Payment Journey?

The payment journey is the path customers take when buying a product or service from your organization. The journey extends from the consumer engaging with your company about what they want to the steps they take to pay for the solutions you deliver. You want billing, invoicing, and transactions to be hassle-free from start to finish, removing barriers and making payments seamless and personalized for your customers and merchants.

The goal of a streamlined payment journey is to replace any friction in the process with solutions that provide convenience and choice.

How to Improve the Payment Journey

Enhancing the payment journey leads to better user experiences and increased customer satisfaction. A happy customer is likely to return and advocate for your brand. Here are four ways you can improve the payment journey.

1. Accept Multiple Forms of Payment

You can optimize the payment journey and meet customers where they are by allowing multiple payment methods, including credit cards, digital wallets, or bank transfers. The more options you provide, the fewer reasons customers will have to postpone payment.

2. Provide Recurring Billing Options

Subscription or recurring billing provides:

  • Consistent revenue: Recurring billing gives your business a predictable revenue stream. Regular payments increase business stability and cash flow. Using systems like CSG Forte Account Updater automatically updates account info so you rarely miss payments and can focus on steady revenue recognition.
  • Convenience for customers: Subscription services streamline payment for customers. Your customers won’t have to complete payments manually, saving them time and effort. Convenience enhances the customer experience and increases brand loyalty.
  • Efficient operations: Recurring billing reduces your team’s administrative workload. Instead of manual interventions, you get automated solutions that optimize your processes and enable you to focus on more impactful tasks.

Securely gathering and storing sensitive information is key to benefit from recurring billing. Using an encrypted platform will help you manage data effectively and make cancellation easy for customers.

3. Offer Multiple Channels to Pay

To improve your payment journey, you must allow customers to select their preferred channels to pay. The seamless transition between channels makes for frictionless payments. It also lets customers choose how they interact with your business. A multichannel payment platform will allow your customers and merchants to use email, phone, in-person, text, or live agent channels to pay bills and complete transactions.

4. Let Customers Buy Now and Pay Later

Merchants are increasingly adopting buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) models. Offering the option to pay in installments may:

  • Improve conversion rates: BNPL lets your customers bypass full upfront costs. Smaller installment payments lower the financial barrier to transactions, leaving customers more likely to make impulse purchases that raise your conversion rates.
  • Attract new customers: The ability to pay in installments can make purchasing an easier choice for new customers who might be put off by prices initially. BNPL also offers an alternative method to credit cards, which may be a plus for some consumers.
  • Increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases: Customers with a positive experience of your BNPL services are more likely to make repeat purchases and advocate for your business, driving word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Reduce cart abandonment: Customers abandoning their carts is a serious problem e-commerce businesses face. BNPL alleviates cart abandonment due to financial barriers, giving shoppers more time to complete their purchases.

The Benefits of Frictionless Payments

An integrated payment system is an investment in your business. Modern customers expect seamless payment experiences, and they might turn to a competitor if they find paying bills or completing transactions out of sync with their preferences.

A seamless payment journey and system has several benefits, including:

  • Saving your business money and time in the long run
  • Increasing customer loyalty and confidence
  • Reducing risks associated with payments
  • Maximizing the probability of repeat purchases and on-time payments
  • Offering flexibility in terms of payment channels
  • Enhancing your payment security features
  • Giving your business a competitive edge in the market

How CSG Forte Will Help You

CSG Forte has decades of experience helping businesses like yours optimize the payment journey. We know how to do payments right, and we’ll come alongside your business to streamline the process for your customers.

Take advantage of multichannel payments, customized journeys and secure solutions to help your business succeed.

Multichannel Payments

CSG Forte Engage enables your customers to choose their preferred channels during the payment journey. Customers can pay by text, phone, email or through a live agent and change their method seamlessly as needed.

Customized Payment Journeys

Forte Engage assists your business in deploying branded customer payment journeys for recurring, future-dated and one-time payments.

You can easily send customers invoices with confirmations, late notifications and payment-due prompts via their preferred channels. These highly personalized interactions can help reduce outstanding amounts that are past due.

Secure Payments

Through the call center payment processing feature of the Forte Engage solution, live agents can rapidly generate personalized invoices and send them to customers online.

The agents leverage innovative NanoSite technology to complete transactions without your customers needing to provide their credit card or bank account info. These secure NanoSites mean you won’t have to worry about data leaking. You’ll also benefit from a solution that offers prompt payments—a win-win.

Enhance Your Payment Customer Experience With CSG Forte

At CSG Forte, we partner with businesses to help them scale while offering superior customer experiences. We use an intuitive, unified payment platform that adapts to your evolving needs. Our payment solutions will reduce operational costs, simplify processes and help your business build a solid reputation for secure transactions.

With our decades of experience, award-winning technology and vast network of partners, you can count on us to streamline your payment journeys and enhance your interactions with customers.

Contact our team for frictionless payments, optimized journeys and first-rate customer experiences.

A Guide to Avoiding Payment Reversals

Payment reversals challenge organizations of all sizes. Many companies even allocate a monthly budget to payment reversals. They may be a frustrating part of your own business—and depending on your organization’s services or products, you may have a higher likelihood of experiencing payment reversals.

The good news is that avoiding payment reversals is possible. This guide explores all aspects of payment reversal and solutions your organization can implement to minimize your risk.

What Is a Payment Reversal and Why Does It Happen?

While a payment reversal can happen for a few reasons, the direct cause is the initiation of a request by a cardholder, issuing bank, acquiring bank, merchant or card network. A payment reversal on a credit card is not uncommon. Some reasons why payment reversal happens include:

  • Unmet expectations: If consumers feel your product or service doesn’t match what they paid for or expected based on the description, they can submit a payment reversal.
  • Customer-initiated issues: Consumers may change their minds after purchase and no longer want to leverage your products or services.
  • Fraudulent reasons: A consumer may reverse a payment in an attempt to make a fraudulent transaction.
  • Incorrect charges: A payment reversal may occur as a response to the wrong amount of money being taken from the cardholder’s account.
  • Missing information or duplicate transactions: Many fields are involved in payments. If information is missing or incorrect, you may need to reverse charges. Reversals may also be necessary in the event of duplicate transactions.
  • Stock issues: If you are in e-commerce, items may sell out before they are delivered—so the consumer may need a refund for the unavailable products.

All payment reversals should be a concern for your organization and an opportunity to explore ways to optimize your processes. Payment reversals may indicate:

  • Operational failings
  • Product or service issues
  • Inadequate safeguarding against fraud

Payment reversals go beyond the financial implications of your organization needing to return funds and pay associated fees. Depending on the reasons for reversal, your business could face reputational harm and lose customer loyalty.

Types of Payment Reversals

Three main payment reversals exist—authorization reversal, refund reversal and chargeback reversal.

1. Authorization Reversal

Authorization reversal is reversing a payment before it has been fully completed. The automated clearing house (ACH) network is often limited and slow, so pre-authorized transactions are conventional. Pre-authorized funds may take days or weeks to transfer from the customer’s account to your bank account. This delay occurs because the customer’s bank needs to authorize the transaction and specify the funds for the payment. The wait provides a window of opportunity to stop a transaction before money leaves the bank account.

Authorization reversals can happen in various scenarios, including a merchant spotting a mistake in the amount keyed in or the consumer wanting to change cards or payment methods. Depending on the payment software you use, there is usually a way to stop the transaction from happening. The stop communicates to the issuing bank to reverse the authorized transaction.

In other instances, you may require the customer to pay a pre-authorized amount before they use or consume a product or service. For example, a hotel may ask for a deposit on a room before accepting a reservation. This pre-authorized payment is also known as a security payment. If the consumer does not spend the authorized amount, you must fully or partially refund them.

Remember that the longer the authorization takes, the more complex the reversal becomes. As the transaction clears through the payment process from the issuing bank to the card network and the acquiring bank, reversal fees become more expensive and complicated. Ideally, you want the funds to stay in the customer’s account when processing reversals so you can avoid interchange fees.

Rapid authorization reversals are cost-effective and fast. Reversals can happen before consumers even know, making this approach the most convenient and customer-centric way to cancel payments. Quick reversals also mean you won’t have to account for the arrival of a payment and return of funds on your balance sheet—something that’s particularly helpful when you process high volumes of transactions for your business.

2. Refund Reversal

Refund reversals are for payments where transactions have already been completed. Refunds often occur because consumers are unsatisfied with a product or service. If the opportunity has passed for an authorization reversal, a refund reversal is your next best option as an organization.

Instead of canceling a transaction, you pay the transaction in reverse. The acquiring bank is now paying the consumer or cardholder in a separate transaction. That means a refund is not a neutral agreement. You will have to pay transaction fees and lose the sale for services rendered or products sold. Still, a refund is preferable over a customer contacting their bank to get their money back.

3. Chargeback Reversal

Chargeback reversals are the worst-case scenario for your business. These reversals involve a customer contacting their bank to file a dispute against the transaction. A consumer may file a dispute if they believe fraud has occurred or if they never received an item or service they paid for.

Chargebacks are more than an inconvenience for your business. These reversals can incur additional chargeback fees and penalties from card networks.

You can dispute chargeback requests if you provide evidence that the consumer is wrong. A dispute can take weeks or months and cause a substantial administrative burden for your team. Even if you win the dispute, your organization may be flagged by card networks if you receive high rates of chargebacks, leading to stricter security thresholds.

When a chargeback reversal occurs, your organization can face a range of challenges:

  • Paying for shipping fees if you’re selling products or goods
  • Recovering or forfeiting items sold or services rendered
  • Submitting a claim and disputing the chargeback reversal

Chargeback reversal can also leave you with revenue loss and transaction fees associated with fraudulent payments. Excessive chargeback reversals may lead to reputational damage and card networks suspending your ability to transact.

The best way to combat chargeback reversals is to identify fraudulent transactions proactively. Internal system checks will help you reduce the number of chargebacks and help you easily distinguish between legitimate and unauthorized transactions.

How to Minimize Payment Reversals

Your organization will face payment reversals from time to time. You can and should take steps to minimize refunds and optimize your processes to mitigate the risks when they do happen. Some ways you can prevent payment reversals include:

  • Making payments secure: Use additional payment security measures like two-step authentication and tokenization to reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions.
  • Being vigilant: Authorization reversals are often due to human error, like a staff member typing in the incorrect amount. Encourage your employees to be attentive while processing payments, explaining the cost and implications of reversals, refunds and disputes.
  • Leveraging automation and technology: Implement an innovative payment processing platform that manages all your payments in one easy, user-friendly interface. CSG Forte verifies transactions, helps you make payments secure, and streamlines recurring and ad hoc payments. The cloud-based platform will support your employees, minimize admin and help you provide first-rate payment experiences for customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few common questions to help you gain a deeper understanding of payment reversals.

What Are the Differences Between a Reversal and a Refund?

An essential difference between reversals and refunds is what happens to the funds. During the former, payment reverses, meaning the bank or payment processor cancels the transaction—the funds aren’t transferred from the customer’s account into your account. A refund means that after a transaction is completed, you need to refund the amount and pay it back to the consumer, incurring transaction interchange fees.

What Is an Example of a Reversal Transaction?

In the context of e-commerce, one example of a reversal transaction is a consumer wanting to purchase running shoes online. The consumer attempts to buy running shoes and, during the transaction, receives notice that the shoes are no longer available in the correct size. While the payment is pending, the consumer cancels the transaction. No funds are transferred from the cardholder’s account to yours, meaning no fees are incurred during reversal.

What Happens After a Purchase Refund?

After a purchase refund, the business returns funds to the consumer’s bank account. It is an entirely separate transaction from the original payment. The amount is the same, but the business must pay transactional and processing fees, and standard settlement time applies.

Why Would a Company Reverse a Payment?

A company might reverse payment if:

  • A customer is trying to commit a fraudulent transaction
  • An item or product is sold out before delivery can occur
  • A consumer changes their mind after ordering a product

Verify Payments With CSG Forte

Scale your business and provide frictionless customer payment experiences with CSG Forte’s award-winning payment solutions.

One of the add-on services that organizations leverage to verify payments is Validate. With Validate or Validate+, your organization can process ACH payments with confidence. Both solutions use an innovative ACH database with millions of records, ensuring funds are in good standing. Validate provides:

  • Updated data sources
  • Instant, actionable responses on each transaction
  • Extensive routing and bank account (DDA) validation over multiple data sources
  • 100% real-time reporting for invalid checksums and transaction routing numbers

With Validate, your organization can proactively minimize and simplify payment reversals to save money and provide customers with seamless payment experiences.

Streamline and Verify Your Payments With CSG Forte

CSG Forte has over two decades of experience delivering innovative end-to-end payment solutions for over 81,000 merchants. We will help you optimize revenue and streamline payment processes with quick, easy integrations.

Contact us to learn more.

A Mid-Year Outlook of the Payments Landscape

Jeff Kump, President, CSG Forte

 

We’re halfway through 2023 and it’s amazing how much has changed these past 6 months, both in terms of the business landscape and the current economic environment.

Before heading into the second half of the year, I think it’s important to pause and look at how the payments industry is continuing to transform. Here are some of the emerging payments trends that businesses should keep tabs on to set themselves up for success.

 

  1. Personalizing the Payments Experience Drives Customer Loyalty

Companies need to offer personalized experiences to stay relevant, especially when you consider that 76% of consumers get frustrated by businesses that don’t offer personalized experiences.

Payments may not be top of mind when you think of how to personalize a user experience but it’s an integral part of the customer journey.  According to a 2022 survey, 91% of consumers indicated a satisfying checkout experience influences whether they will buy from that merchant again.

How do you personalize the payment experience? By letting customers pay when and how they want to pay. Offering convenient, preferred digital payments channels is essential, and is becoming more so. In CSG’s State of the Customer Experience 2023 Report, we found that digital communications sent through CSG increased 15.6% year-over-year in 2022.

Offering preferred digital channels may mean leveraging text-to-pay technology, which lets customers simply respond with a text message to make a payment, or letting customers schedule an automated phone call to complete a purchase. It could also mean printing QR codes on billing statements to make going online to pay that much easier. Not only is this a better customer experience, but your company is likely to see lower payment abandonment.

By offering a personalized payments experience, businesses are also building brand loyalty with their customers. Oftentimes we think of loyalty programs as discounts or special perks, but loyalty extends throughout the entire buying process—including completing a payment. By making payments frictionless, personalized, and convenient, companies can increase customer lifetime value and reduce payment abandonment.

 

  1. Embedded Payments Remain Paramount

The best payment experience is the one you don’t even think about. It’s so seamless that you don’t notice it at all. This is where embedded payments come into play and it’s essential that organizations offer the payment options consumers are expecting.

Your checkout page can be a balancing act—you’re trying to offer consumers the payment options they want but you don’t want to overwhelm them with choices.

When determining which payment choices to offer,  lead with how people want to pay and what is easiest for them. This includes payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. To make payments even more seamless, you could consider offering social media sign-on, which was identified as a top checkout feature that enhances customer satisfaction.

 

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RELATED WHITE PAPER: 3 Steps to Ensure Payments Security

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  1. Security, Security, Security

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. All parties in the payments process are concerned about security. As payment methods evolve, so do cyber criminals and it’s critical that organizations work with a payments provider that offers the latest in payments security.

At CSG Forte, we recommend following sound security best practices and leveraging solutions that reduce PCI scope. Best practices include end-to-end (E2E) Encryption, tokenization, and two-factor authentication.

Using secure solutions can also greatly reduce risk. For in-person payments, Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) is the gold standard in PCI compliance. The trailblazing P2PE process creates a secure connection between devices, or components within devices, preventing possible sensitive data from being exposed at any point while it moves across a network. P2PE reduces the likelihood of PCI compliance breaches—and correspondingly drops the number of self-assessment questionnaire questions from over 300 to around 30. This means you can raise the bar on security but dramatically lower the compliance audit burden.

Another way for an organization to reduce fraud risk is to leverage an authentication solution. When using an authentication solution, you can easily confirm account ownership information (including full name and business name) to secure your ACH transactions. This helps ensure payment accuracy and reduces fraud potential.

A good payments processor will also have solutions that reduce your PCI scope. For example, call centers can greatly reduce their PCI scope by texting or emailing a link to a customer to complete payment, as opposed to having a customer service representative manually take sensitive payment information over the phone.

As the payments landscape and consumer preferences continue to evolve, it’s important that your business works with a payments solution provider that offers the latest in secure payments technology. At CSG Forte, we are dedicated to providing solutions that help your business prepare for the future. Contact us to learn how we can be a valuable partner to your business today.

What Are Electronic Payments and How Can They Help Your Business?

Imagine. You want to purchase a doughnut at the local bakery, but instead of handing over your credit card, you reach into your pocket and pull out a few grains you picked on your farm earlier that day. After all, the baker can use the grains to make more dough. Seems crazy, right? However, the barter system was a cornerstone of transactions in our early history. Lucky for us, advances in payment acceptance mean you no longer are tied to your farm (in fact, you don’t even need to have a farm nowadays). But the biggest advance in payment acceptance isn’t particularly tangible. Why? Electronic payments. The invention of electronic payments makes receiving and making payments online, via mobile and at the point of sale a whole lot simpler.

 

What Are Electronic Payment Systems?

Electronic payments are any payment completed through an electronic medium. These methods include credit and debit cards, ACH payments and virtual cards. These electronic methods replace physical checks or cash, and they can occur at the point of sale or online. For example, consumers can use their virtual rewards card to pay for their coffee at the drive-through.

 

The Benefits of E-Payments

With e-payments, users can enjoy:

  • Payment ease: Many forms of e-payment allow users to pay with as little as a tap. With an easier payment process, you improve the user experience for payers and payees.
  • Reduced processing costs: Processing checks involves printing, signing and mailing, requiring manual labor and material expenses. Electronic payments eliminate these processes, saving you money on payment processing.
  • Greater visibility: With electronic payments, you can track transaction status, access financial metrics and follow audit trails for compliance needs. These tracking capabilities are often integrated into e-payment platforms, so following the status of your financials is much easier than when manually processing physical payments.
  • Improved security: Handling cash or checks can easily lead to theft or fraud. With electronic payments, you eliminate passing physical money between hands, and you can enjoy built-in encryption that protects user data during transactions.

 

Types of Electronic Payments Systems and Their Advantages

There are various types of e-payments, and they all offer unique advantages.

ACH Debit Pull

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) processes electronic transactions between bank accounts. In the case of an ACH debit pull, a payee initiates a pull of funds from a payer’s account. One of the most common examples of a debit pull is direct deposit for employees.

These debit pulls are typically low-cost, and sometimes they’re completely free. The most significant advantage of this electronic payment is it eliminates the need to collect and process checks or deposit cash.

ACH Credit Push

An ACH credit push is the opposite of a debit pull. Rather than the payee pulling the funds from the payer’s account, the payer pushes the amount out of their account and to the payee. Credit pushes are common for a range of online payments where the vendor is an established company. ACH payments often come with lower processing fees than credit cards, making them a practical option for some businesses.

Credit Cards

With a credit card, a user borrows money from their card issuer up to a certain predetermined limit. The cardholder is then responsible for paying this borrowed money back and can be charged interest for outstanding balances.

In the case of e-payments, credit cards are fast and accessible. This secure payment method is easy to use at the point of sale. With the growing use of chip payments with credit cards, every transaction has a unique code that makes it challenging to steal sensitive information.

Mobile Pay

Mobile pay relies on a mobile device, such as a smartphone, smartwatch or tablet, to complete a transaction. Many of these devices are compatible with mobile wallets that allow users to upload their card information for use at point-of-sale terminals. These terminals must have near-field communication (NFC) to receive payment information from the mobile device and accept payment.

Mobile payments can also include mobile payment platforms that use ACH payments to complete transactions. This payment type offers convenience since most people carry some kind of mobile device. Additionally, these mobile payment methods typically require authentication before completing a transaction, making them a secure electronic payment option.

 

The History of Electronic Payment Systems

Electronic payments have their roots in the 1870s, when Western Union debuted the electronic fund transfer (EFT) in 1871. Since then, people have been enamored with the idea of sending money to pay for goods and services without necessarily having to be physically present at the point of sale. Technology has been a driving factor in the development of electronic payments. Today, making a purchase is as easy as tapping a button on your smartphone. Work with streamlining payment methods has been hard-won.

From the 1870s until the late 1960s, payments underwent a slow but gradual transformation. In the 1910s, the Federal Reserve of America began using the telegraph to transfer money. In the 1950s, Diner’s Club International established itself as the first independent credit card company, soon followed by American Express. In 1959, American Express introduced the world to the first plastic card for electronic payments.

Entering the 1970s, people became more reliant on computers as part of the buying process. In 1972, the Automated Clearing House was developed to batch process large volumes of transactions. NACHA established operating rules for ACH payments just two years later.

 

The (Wide, Wide) World Wide Web

Then along came the Internet. In the 1960s, ARPANET, a precursor to the modern Web, was built as a military network to improve communication. In the 1990s, online internet banking services were offered to bank customers. Those first online payment systems were anything but user-friendly—users had to have specific encryption knowledge and use data transfer protocols.

Soon, development across the Web, and the eventual invention of Web 2.0, set the stage for online sites to participate in what’s now known as e-commerce. In 1994, Amazon, one of the pioneers of eCommerce, was founded, along with a slew of other websites that we know and love to purchase on.

Payment acceptance and securing payments have been specific challenges for e-merchants and payment processors. In the early days of electronic payment processing, you needed special equipment and software to send a payment for goods. Now, payment acceptance can be integrated into websites, mobile platforms, and at the point of sale for scalability amongst merchants big and small.

 

Keeping Your Private Data Safe

As technology changes at an increasingly rapid pace, however, keeping your data safe has been at the forefront of most merchants’ minds. It’s easy to see why. Data breaches can have long-reaching financial and systematic impacts on businesses and can damage the reputation of long-standing organizations. What’s more, breaches can also spell financial ruin for companies without the financial, legal and logistical bandwidth to weather the storms of a hack.

Regulations by both NACHA and PCI standardize how payment data is received, stored, transmitted and processed for each transaction and help reduce the likelihood of an attack. However, it’s important that payment processors who offer PCI compliance programs stay ahead of those who wish to do harm to hardworking business owners by hacking their systems.

For point-of-sale transactions, EMV-enabled (also known as “chip card”) transactions add another level of encryption to your sales when performing card-present sales. End-to-end encryption, like what CSG Forte offers, provides a level of security to your entire payment processing system from terminal to payment acceptance and beyond. When accepting payments online, SSL webpages and other methods of data encryption help ease the worry of consumers and take some of the burden off merchants to remain PCI-compliant.

 

What’s Next For Electronic Payment Systems?

According to a McKinsey study from 2020, 78% of Americans currently use at least one form of digital payment. Offering consumers more ways to efficiently pay bills and purchase the things they want should be a key objective for all modern business owners.

Hot-button technologies like cryptocurrency and blockchain could be another way payment processing gets another technological push into a new era. After all, some cryptocurrency contenders aim to revolutionize the processing time for electronic payments, and if successful, can completely change the game for the payments industry. But in the interim, new trends like PIN on Glass acceptance to allow customers to use their PIN for mobile point-of-sale transactions, as well as contactless payments, same-day ACH and advancements in payment APIs all are geared towards making payment processing simpler, faster and more efficient.

For the last century and a half, the world of electronic payments has seen several notable technological shifts. As we speed through the industrial advances that the payment industry currently faces, we will only see a payment processing scheme that is safer, faster and operates how consumers and merchants need.

 

The Benefits of E-Payments for Your Business

Your business can benefit from e-payments with the help of:

  • Improved supplier relationships: When your vendors can enjoy the ease of e-payments, they know that you value their time, security and ease of payment processing. These e-payments also include remittance data for ease of reconciliation. Many modern suppliers may come to expect e-payment options and may even turn down relationships without this convenience factor.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Your customers will enjoy the convenience and security of e-payments as much as your vendors. When paying for products or services is easy, consumers are more likely to follow through with a purchase.
  • Reduced costs: Processing cash and checks can require hours of physical labor and expenses dedicated to stamps and mailing. Enjoy the reduced administrative overhead of e-payments.
  • Enhanced security: With encryption and unique transaction codes, e-payments are far more secure than physical cash or checks. Plus, electronic payments eliminate the risk of losing cash or checks before they get deposited.
  • Greater flexibility: If you offer various types of e-payments, consumers can pay in a way that works for them. For example, a buyer who forgot their wallet can use their mobile wallet to cover costs. This flexibility encourages more sales.

 

How Can CSG Forte Help Optimize Your Electronic Payment Systems

CSG Forte offers a comprehensive electronic payment solution that supports online, in-person and phone payments. Our payments platform supports secure, flexible payments with reliable reporting and a user-friendly interface. With recurring payment capabilities, intuitive bill presentation, point-of-sale support and trusted security practices, CSG Forte supports the success of modern businesses.

See what electronic payments can do for you, and get started with our platform today.

Explore the Value of ACH Payments Between Businesses

ACH payments are a modern and secure method for processing fund transfers. Explore the value of this payment type for transactions between businesses.

 

What Are Business to Business ACH Payments?

Business to business ACH payments are electronic fund transfers between two companies. These electronic transfers occur in the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network and eliminate the need for paper trails that come with checks, money orders and other conventional payment methods.

ACH is a widely used electronic payment system in the United States and internationally. With this network so widely recognized, it can be an ideal solution for business to business payments between companies that are located in different states or countries.

Business to business transactions encompass a wide range of corporate processes, from paying advertisers and shipping companies to covering rent for office spaces. While many individuals have stopped using checks for their day-to-day payments, many businesses are still relying on these slips of paper to make large payments to other businesses. With corporate ACH payments, businesses can streamline a significant aspect of operations.

 

How Does Business to Business ACH Work?

All ACH payments start with two bank accounts—the Originating Depository Financial Institute (ODFI) and the Receiving Depository Financial Institute (RDFI). Essentially, there’s a bank account requesting a payment, the RDFI, and an account sending money to respond to the request, the ODFI.

In B2B ACH payments, this arrangement stays the same. However, rather than a corporate bank account and a consumer bank account, the transaction happens between two corporate accounts. The Clearing House or the Federal Reserve oversees the transaction by storing and processing the funds. Since these transactions are not direct from bank to bank, they can take one to two days to process.

The entire ACH process can be divided into four steps:

  • Authorization: Before funds can move from one account to another, the ODFI needs authorization from the owner of the account to transfer funds through ACH. During authorization, the business will have to provide the account and routing numbers for the corporate account and other details to verify the use of their funds. As a business requesting this authorization, you may send an email with a link to the accounting department, so they can complete the authorization process.
  • Initiation: The business then sends its information to the ACH provider or ODFI to initiate the transaction.
  • Request: After initiating the transaction, the ODFI can send a payment request to the RDFI to receive the necessary funds for a product or service.
  • Processing: As long as all information is correct and the RDFI account has enough funds to complete the request, processing can begin. The funds move from the RDFI account to the ODFI, and the business receiving funds will officially be paid for their product or service.

 

Benefits of B2B ACH Payments

Using ACH payments for your B2B transactions has many advantages, including:

  • Simplicity: ACH payments are easy to set up with the right ACH provider. Both companies involved only need to provide account information for their corporate bank accounts and work with a provider who supports the process. Most banks allow the ACH process to occur with authorization, so there’s no need to have a special account or change the way you manage financials for your business.
  • Speed: While there is a processing window for ACH payments, it is typically only a few days maximum. Even with this processing time, businesses will receive confirmation that funds are entering their account before they officially arrive. This aspect makes business to business ACH debit much easier than checks. Accounting teams don’t need to reconcile the bank account with several outstanding checks that have not yet been cashed.
  • Security: With many businesses still relying on checks for B2B payments, check fraud is a possibility. Businesses are particularly at risk because they send multiple checks with large amounts. ACH payments are completely electronic and verified through your ACH platform, so you know you’re genuinely receiving money from your client businesses, and information like account and routing numbers is kept private.
  • No processing fees: ACH payments are free of all processing fees, which is a major benefit to businesses that transfer money frequently between suppliers, clients and beyond. With so many transactions, small fees can add up and lead to large costs at the end of a month.
  • Low transaction fees: Transaction fees for ACH payments are often free or low in cost, depending on the financial institutions involved. Compared to wire transfers or credit card processing, these fees are incredibly cost-effective.
  • Electronic records: ACH payments have a clear electronic record you can access at any time, so it’s easy to manage invoicing processes, and you can cut down on paper records.

 

Implement ACH Processing With CSG Forte

CSG Forte’s Dex payments platform is the key to implementing ACH processing for your B2B transactions. Manage online, in-person and over the phone payments with a unified, cloud-based solution. With transparent reporting, you can stay connected to every transaction and manage your funds more efficiently.

Get in touch with us today to learn more or make an account with us to get started.

Your Voice Matters: How CSG Forte Acts on Customer Feedback

Here at CSG Forte, we believe that listening alone is not enough to be truly customer obsessed. We have to learn and respond from customer feedback to deliver the best experiences for our customers.

Continue reading “Your Voice Matters: How CSG Forte Acts on Customer Feedback”

CSG Forte Recognized in Forrester’s Now Tech Payment Report

Forrester’s Now Tech Merchant Payment Report offers an overview of payment providers to help merchants understand the value of different payment providers—and ultimately help them find a payment provider that can help grow their business. We’re proud that CSG Forte was recognized for our full, end-to-end payments-as-a-platform solution. Additionally, Forrester highlighted CSG Forte’s expertise in the government, home security and business services verticals.

To compile the report, Forrester distributes a questionnaire to the market to identify product capabilities, market presence, geographic focus, and an overview of primary market segments. Equipped with this valuable information, merchants can select a payments partner that best fits their needs.

“To be identified by an industry leader like Forrester is validation of our mission—to make payments simple, safe and scalable,” said CSG Forte’s President Jeff Kump. “Our goal is to tirelessly innovate and simplify payments for our customers. This report is evidence that we’re on the right track and that the best is yet to come.”

 

CSG Forte Product Capabilities

Forrester uses a brief assessment of product capabilities to have a well-rounded group of vendors that span markets and geographies with varying areas of expertise.  Some the key attributes of the CSG Forte platform include:

ACH Processing

As a Nacha preferred partner, CSG Forte is known for its ACH capabilities, including real-time payment processing, ACH/eCheck origination, validation and fraud prevention.

Customizable Convenience Fees

Unlike other payment processors, CSG Forte allows merchants to set convenience fees for their customers in real-time in the payments portal.

Credit Card Processing

CSG Forte’s solution makes it simple to process debit and credit card payments in-person, online and over the phone, and to set up recurring payments.

 

What Makes CSG Forte Different?

In addition to these unique capabilities, CSG Forte also offers several differentiators that benefit our customers:

Revenue optimization—By simplifying the payments process through a unified, end-to-end solution, CSG Forte helps clients grow and optimize their revenue.  With industry-leading ACH processing capabilities, clients are able to receive funds quicker than the traditional credit card process, often receiving funds the same day with Same Day ACH.

Stringent security and compliance—CSG Forte’s solutions implement cutting-edge technology and proven protocols to keep vital information secure. Through tokenization, end-to-end encryption and hosted web pages, CSG Forte allows clients to accept payments securely. Additionally, we offer built-in PCI compliance and Nacha real-time transaction compliance.

Superior support—Navigating the payments landscape can be tricky. CSG Forte simplifies the process with best-in-class client support. With a dedicated support team, comprehensive onboarding resources, a robust knowledge base and regular release notes, CSG Forte makes accepting and processing payments easy.

CSG Forte is proud to be included in Forrester’s Now Tech report. By selecting a vendor from the Now Tech Merchant Payment Report, merchants can improve how they accept and process payments—from supporting new payment methods to reducing fraud and enhancing security and compliance. Click here to read about CSG Forte’s growth into 2022.

Learn how CSG Forte delivers seamless integration through partner network to meet accelerated demand for secure, convenient digital payments.

5 Payment Trends to Watch in 2022

Human beings have an innate need to make predictions. For whatever reason, we like to make forecasts on just about everything, from Oscar winners to World Series champions, from election results to the likelihood of weather events, and everything in between.

The most effective prognosticators tend to take a 360-degree view. That is, they try to eliminate blind spots and take multiple factors into account. The recent past can give us a good idea of where things are heading moving forward.

In the payments world, the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves throughout the industry that continue to reverberate. Today, we are seeing innovative breakthroughs in new digital payments technology, with rapid adoption across a wide range of industries. On the flip side, there are more opportunities for hackers and bad actors to try and take advantage.

Where is the payments industry headed? While I don’t claim to be Nostradamus, there are a few major trends I believe will dominate the payments headlines in 2022.

 

1) Digital Payment Methods Transform (and Explode)

The past few years have shown consumers that there are more ways to pay than just checks, cards and cash. As a result of the pandemic, contactless payments adoption has surged. Today, more than half of all Americans use at least one form of contactless payments (mobile apps, contactless cards, etc.). And consumers are letting merchants know that they expect more digital payment options—57 percent say they are more likely to do business with a merchant that offers a contactless payment option.

New payment methods will continue to attract first-time users in 2022, such as virtual credit cards, which provide consumers with alternative credit card numbers to disguise their sensitive information when making online transactions. There are a number of reasons virtual credit cards are an alluring prospect: they are environmentally friendly, incredibly secure and easy to monitor. They also empower the customer by allowing them to set spending limits and expiration dates. Just like with contactless, once buyers use a virtual credit card, they’ll demand the option moving forward.

 

2) Tighter Payment Security

An unfortunate byproduct of the rise of digital payments is the increase in digital payment fraud. eCommerce fraud grew to more than $20 billion in 2021. As security threats loom over merchants and consumers alike, more advanced fraud prevention will become a necessity.

In the next year, multifactor authentication (MFA) will become more commonplace. MFA has three types of authentication factors—biometric identification, device in-use and traditional password. Just as consumers are used to opening their smartphones with a quick press of the thumb, consumers will get used to using MFA for purchases.

In 2022, consumers will have the ability to set up multiple layers of security while making purchases in real-time. When a consumer is using a credit card at their local market, they can instantly receive a message to confirm their purchase. In the time it takes to glance at a screen, the transaction is confirmed to be safe. These additional levels of security can drastically reduce the risk of fraud, a tremendous benefit to both consumers and merchants.

 

3) Better Bill Pay

Bill payment is the one guaranteed touchpoint your customer will have with your business every month or quarter, and since these interactions are guaranteed, there’s a great opportunity to make them stand out.

In 2022, we predict that businesses and merchants will level up their bill payment processes, from offering customers payment methods like PayPal to establishing recurring payments so customers can set it and forget it. In fact, almost 40 percent of consumers prefer to pay their bills through automatic checking account deductions or credit/debit charges. By offering more convenience and choice, companies can make ordinary bill payment experiences extraordinary.

 

4) Companies Will Offer More Financial Flexibility

The last few years have highlighted the importance of flexibility—in how we work, interact and communicate. Now, consumers have come to expect flexibility in their payment terms. With the rise of apps like Klarna and Affirm, companies are embracing the “buy now, pay later” option, letting consumers pay off purchases in installments rather than one single payment. On the flip side, consumers can also customize when they get paid, with some prepaid debit cards and even financial institutions developing early payday options. In some cases, early direct deposit allows consumers to receive their paychecks into their accounts up to two days early.

Large financial institutions are beginning to adopt these new technologies to create a pipeline of young consumers who place a premium on flexibility, convenience and financial freedom. I anticipate the increased implementation of financial flexibility in the next year as a tech-savvy generation continues to push institutions to reinvent their business to keep pace with digital transformation.

 

5) Recurring Payments Will Keep Going (And Going, And Going…)

Nobody likes to waste money—especially on something as avoidable as late fees. For that reason, many consumers have embraced recurring payments for regular charges, including cable, utility and rent bills. The notion of having to pull out a checkbook and pay bills monthly is outdated—and this trend will spread to the B2B space.

Unfortunately, payment failures can stand in the way of a successful recurring payments strategy. Payment failures can lead to customer churn, bad debt and a diminishing bottom line. Businesses are increasingly embracing automation when it comes to their payments, including recurring payments. B2B companies that embrace payment modernization can avoid failure and effectively set and forget their recurring payments.

 

Want to learn more about how payment security can make 2022 your best (and safest) year yet? Download our 3 Steps to Ensure Payments Security here.

Power to the People: Digitized Payments Make Payments Safer and Easier

The first electronic payment may have debuted in 1871, but digital payments have really shown their worth in the last 18 months. They have presented an ultra-secure, convenient and hygienically safe way to make payments without physical contact. Recent surveys show that digital payments are here to stay— 45 percent of US adults say they are likely to use digital or contactless in-store payments regularly in a store after the pandemic.

 

What Are Digital Payments

Consumers are increasingly growing accustomed to digitized experiences. With a few taps of a smartphone, a pizza can arrive on their doorstep within a half-hour—no phone call, cash or physical contact needed. Digital experiences also offer an extra layer of safety during an ongoing pandemic. As low touch and digital experiences become more ubiquitous, consumers have come to expect them to be available, especially when it comes to payments.

Payments play a pivotal role in the customer experience—and contactless payments give consumers a safe, secure and easy way to pay.  According to Forbes’ State of Contactless Payments 2021 report, when all other factors are equal, consumers will choose a store that offers contactless checkout over one without contactless. In terms of staying competitive, digital payments are no longer a nice-to-have—they are a must.

 

Benefits of Digital Payments

There are several benefits for both merchants and customers when it comes to digital and contactless payments.

  1. Convenience— When asked why they wanted contactless options, 2% of respondents cited convenience as their primary reason for using contactless payments. Contactless payments remove the need for PINs or signatures.
  2. Enhanced Experience—Digital payments offer a more seamless customer experience while cutting operational costs for merchants.
  3. Security— Contactless payments featuring RFID and NFC-enhanced technologies are secure, especially when paired with an enterprise-grade POS terminal with advanced security.

 

Choose CSG Forte for Digital Payment Solutions

From managing employees to balancing the books to creating an exceptional customer experience, merchants have more than enough to worry about—partnering with a payments provider with the right solution helps.  At CSG Forte, we offer a full suite of solutions to make digitizing payments scalable, secure and convenient.

Our V400C Plus device makes contactless payments easy. The device was designed with merchants and their customers in mind—with enhanced features including a color touchscreen interface, wi-fi connectivity and thermal printing, merchants can smoothly conduct transactions and provide an exceptional customer experience.

The V400C Plus can be used as a standalone device, be connected to a point-of-sale application, or seamlessly integrate with CSG Forte products. Merchants can accept every major credit card, as well as mobile wallet payments, like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Combined with our cloud-based platform Dex, merchants can gain insights into what payments customers prefer and allow them to easily manage the entire transaction lifecycle.

Contactless payments were on the rise before the pandemic—COVID-19 has merely accelerated its momentum. When powered by the right technology, merchants can satisfy customers and boost revenues by offering secure and convenient contactless payments.