Not Ready for Rising Card Fees? Try These 4 Payment Alternatives

Credit cards emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever. After bearing the brunt of decreased recreational spending in 2020, the industry is riding the wave of ecommerce growth to top an unprecedented $500 billion in online credit card usage. Resurgent travel spending, higher wages and generous rewards programs all bode well for credit card payments.

But as card spending stabilizes among consumers, their issuers must contend with the broader impact of economic downturn.

Credit Card Payments Under Pressure

The country is seeing record numbers of credit card debt and growing delinquency rates. Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York report that credit cards are the most prevalent form of household debt and expect this trend to continue—particularly with student loan payments resuming.

Talk of congressional action to lower swipe fees and rumors swirling around rising interchange fees also loom large for merchants that rely on credit card payments. With so much uncertainty, how can businesses protect their bottom line?

Bolster Your Business Growth With More Ways to Pay

Prepare for volatility in the credit card space by diversifying your payment methods. Consider these alternatives to safeguard your cash flow and generate revenue in any economic conditions.

4 Alternative Payment Methods

1. ACH

Automated clearing house (ACH) payments are a strong solution for businesses seeking reliability. This payment method allows merchants to draw funds directly from the customer’s bank account, limiting risk and excess costs.

ACH processing expenses are generally low compared to other forms of payment. Unlike credit cards, which are subject to fluctuating fees, ACH doesn’t require merchants to make authorization requests to credit card networks or issuing banks. This means that not only does using ACH save businesses money—it also insulates them from rising interchange fees if Visa or Mastercard choose to schedule increases.

ACH is also a more secure payment option. Credit card fraud is on the rise, with global losses projected to surpass $43 billion in the next five years. What does that mean for merchants? More chargebacks, less revenue and greater overall risk.

ACH payments also come equipped with security features that protect businesses from fraud. With end-to-end encryption and tokenization, sensitive payment data is disguised during transmission. It’s one of the safest payment methods available to businesses today.

2. Same-day ACH

Businesses can further optimize their electronic payments by implementing same-day ACH transfers. This method carries the same benefits as standard ACH payments, but with the added promise of receiving funds within a single day.

Payment processors traditionally could expect to see direct transfers reach their accounts in around four business days. But those that partner with a same-day ACH provider are guaranteed usable funds much sooner, provided they initiate the transaction by the designated cutoff time.

By bypassing processing delays, businesses enjoy the following advantages:

  • Faster payments, with lower fees. The speed of same-day ACH processing is comparable to credit cards. But with lower costs involved, the former provides merchants the best elements of both.
  • Streamlined cash flow. Automated transfers and reduced cycling times simplify delivery and allow for better control of cash flow.
  • Optimized customer experience. When you enable customers to pay their bills closer to the due date, both sides benefit. Same-day ACH processing helps last-minute payers avoid penalties, while faster crediting is applied to late payments.
  • Expedited payroll disbursement. Same-day ACH can also be used to pay employees via direct deposit. Faster issuance reduces administrative burdens by providing quick resolution of late payments or emergency distribution.

3. RTP

Real-time payments (RTP) can also quickly provide your business with cash flow. Much like ACH, this method supports quick electronic transfers between banks. But the similarities stop there.

RTP transactions are instantaneous—faster even than same-day ACH. These payments are initiated, cleared and settled with virtually zero perceptible delay. The unrivaled speed of RTP is a contributing factor to its international appeal: one 2020 survey found that consumers across six different markets consider real-time payments at least as important as internet access.

Speed isn’t RTP’s only convenient feature. Year-round availability is another unique benefit. Unlike ACH, real-time payments are also available on weekends, holidays and after business hours. Because it’s processed by The Clearing House rather than banks, RTP isn’t subject to the same limitations and enables 24/7/365 payments.

However, he RTP system isn’t always the answer. Transactions are capped at $1 million, and only credit payments are supported. Its network is also smaller than that of ACH—not every bank covers RTP.

But RTP is gaining popularity, and as it does, these drawbacks are expected to shrink. The U.S. Federal Reserve recently rolled out an instant payments service of its own in FedNow. As banks push for faster fund processing, the government’s network will offer them additional high-speed coverage options, making RTP more broadly available.

By stimulating competition with this move, expect to see increased adoption of real-time payments in the U.S.

4. Alternative Methods of Payment

Non-traditional payments are also available to businesses seeking credit card alternatives. To capitalize on these options, connect your bank account to an e-wallet that is compatible with popular payment methods. These might include:

  • PayPal
  • Physical or digital gift cards
  • Loyalty points
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Direct carrier billing

Offering customers the capability to use their preferred method encourages on-time payments, increased revenue and a seamless CX.

Get A Consult: Find Your Payments Fit

Payment methods should be built for your business—not the other way around. Connect with CSG Forte to get expert advice on which payment processing options will work best for you. Get started.

Mode of Payment – Guide to All Payment Types

Cash, check or card—it wasn’t long ago that these were the only options people had when paying for a purchase. Today, customers have more choices than ever, including using their phones to pay at a store or restaurant or transferring money directly from their savings or checking accounts.

Accepting as many different methods of payment as possible allows your business to accommodate numerous customers. But first, you must understand what types of payments are available to use and what your company needs to do before accepting them.


What Is a Mode of Payment?

A mode of payment is how a customer pays for a purchase. When out with a group of friends, someone might pull out their phone and use a digital wallet to pay for a round of drinks. While shopping online, that same person may reach for their credit card to buy a new outfit. If they’re browsing a farmers market, they may hand over cash when purchasing their fruits and vegetables for the week.

The type of payment method a person uses can be dictated by what they’re buying and where they’re making their purchase. If they’re ordering online or over the phone, they can’t use cash or another physical payment form. Some merchants also prefer contactless forms of payment for in-person sales, as these are faster and easier than using cash or swiping cards.


Types of Payment Methods

Many payment methods are available today—integrating them into your operations is just a matter of which ones your business chooses to accept. Among your options are:


Card Payments

Card payments are convenient for customers, as individuals can carry less cash or make purchases online with their cards. Compared to cash, cards offer a sense of security. If a card gets lost or stolen, the cardholder can block it and report any fraudulent purchases made without paying for them.

Each type of card payment has different rules:

  • Debit: Debit cards typically connect to a checking or savings account. When a customer uses their debit card, the purchase amount gets pulled directly from their account.
  • Credit: Credit cards are a type of revolving credit or loan. When someone pays with a credit card, they are borrowing to make the purchase. Depending on when they pay their card balance, they may also have to pay interest.
  • Prepaid: Prepaid cards are similar to debit cards, but they don’t connect to a standard bank account. Instead, a person purchases a card for a specific amount, such as $200. Whenever they pay for something using the card, the purchase amount gets subtracted from the card’s balance.
  • Contactless: Contactless cards can be debit, prepaid or credit cards. Instead of inserting the card into a terminal or swiping it through a magnetic reader, a person paying with a contactless card waves or taps the card over an interface.


Phone Payments

Customers can use their phones to pay for purchases. They may place an order over a phone or use the device itself as a mode of payment.

Digital Wallets

Digital wallets store people’s payment card information on their smartphones. A customer can load their debit and credit cards to their digital wallet, along with gift cards for certain stores. Many digital wallets can communicate with credit card terminals through contactless near-field communication (NFC) technology.

Digital wallets are meant to be more secure compared to carrying around a physical card. To access the payment information, a person may need to input a special code or provide biometric information, such as their fingerprint.

People can use digital wallets when shopping online, too. When they use their digital wallet, they don’t share their credit or debit card number, making the transaction more secure.


Interactive voice response (IVR) is another payment method that uses a phone. Your customers can call into your messaging system and use IVR to pay a bill. The system is completely automated, allowing customers to access it 24 hours a day.

With customers paying over the phone, CSG Forte Engage enables leading organizations to streamline call center operations, improve payment security and enhance the customer experience. Businesses of all industries, ranging from government entities to insurance companies, can benefit from this user-friendly call center payment solution.

By Text

While people use their phones more than ever, they aren’t always making or receiving calls. Text messaging is often the preferred communication form. It can also be an easy way for customers to pay. Text to pay systems send customers a payment reminder through text. They can then click a link in the text, which directs them to a payment gateway.

Text to pay methods help ensure timely payments.



Customers have many payment options when paying online, from inputting their credit card information on a checkout page to using their digital wallet. They can also pay through the Automated Clearing House (ACH) or eChecks to pull funds directly from their checking accounts.

Depending on the platform your company uses, customers can save their preferred payment method and information. The next time they visit your online store to place an order, all they need to do is click on their saved information to complete their purchase.

Buy Now, Pay Later

Buy now, pay later programs allow customers to split up payments into equal installments. Instead of $100 upfront for a sweater, a customer who chooses a buy now, pay later program can make four $25 installment payments. They can pay the first $25 after one month and then pay $25 per month for three more months.

When someone opts to use a buy now, pay later program, the company providing this service pays the merchant the full cost of the purchase (such as $100 for the sweater). The customer then makes payments to the buy now, pay later servicer. Whether they pay interest depends on the terms of the agreement and if they can keep up with the payment schedule.


Most payment methods use the currency of the country your business is based in, such as U.S. dollars for U.S.-based companies. If your company accepts cryptocurrency, it receives payments in a completely digital currency. Crypto payments are based on the blockchain and are meant to be more secure than other forms of payment.


Benefits of Accepting Different Payment Types

Between credit card payment methods, digital wallets, buy now, pay later schemes and old-fashioned payment methods like cash and checks, you may feel your head start to spin. While you might want to keep it simple and limit the number of payment methods you accept, sometimes more is better.

You can reach out to more customers by casting a wide net and accepting more methods of payment. Everyone has their preferred way to pay, whether it’s a credit card, digital wallet or third-party payment system like Paypal or Venmo. You don’t want to alienate customers or turn down a sale because you can’t accept their preferred payment.

Accepting multiple forms of payment also creates a more positive customer experience and helps your business stay competitive.


How to Choose the Right Payment Method for Your Business

While you do want to accept multiple payment options, this may not be possible with all forms of payment. Your business’s format might automatically rule out some payment types. For example, if you’re entirely online, you probably don’t want to accept cash or paper checks, as doing so would mean you’d have to wait for those payments to physically arrive. You may also not want to deal with the hassle of setting up a crypto wallet.

Similarly, if your average order size is on the small side, such as less than $25, offering buy now, pay later options may not make sense.

Beyond that, consider your business’s structure. If you operate on a subscription model, accepting digital and card payments can streamline the process, as customers can provide their payment information once. ACH payments may be another appropriate option for a subscription-based company.


What to Consider When Choosing a Payments Provider

Once you’ve settled on the types of payment methods to accept, you need to choose a payment provider that offers them. There are a few essential features to look for in a payment provider.

  • Price: Providers use various pricing structures, such as taking a percentage of each transaction or charging a flat fee. Look for a provider with an upfront, crystal-clear pricing structure so you know what you’re paying and why.
  • Security: Your customers are counting on you to protect their payment information. Look for a provider that puts security first.
  • Scalability: Ideally, the payments provider you choose will work with your business now and accommodate your needs as your company grows in the future.
  • Revenue: The payment methods you accept influence how quickly your company gets paid for products or services. The right payment provider can help you boost your revenue.
  • Integrations: Your business may already use certain platforms, and you may wish to continue using those platforms. Look for a payment provider that integrates with your current systems.
  • Reporting: The more data you have about transactions, the better able you are to make decisions for your business. Choose a payments provider that offers insights into and reports on your transactions.


How Can CSG Forte Help Your Business?

CSG Forte is your partner in payments. We can help you grow your business through our unified payments platform. Whether you choose to accept payments online, by phone, in person or all of the above, we can help you do so.

Our platform quickly integrates with your current systems, allows for multichannel payments, and support is available when you need it. Our platform also has built-in Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and follows the industry’s highest security standards.


Choose CSG Forte

Expand your accepted payment methods and grow your business. Talk to us today to learn more about how we can help.

NFC Mobile Payments

When customers use their phones to pay for purchases at supermarkets, restaurants or stores, those payments are in part powered by near-field communication (NFC). NFC is a type of wireless connection that lets two devices in close proximity to each other communicate. A smartphone with NCF enabled can send data to a nearby credit card terminal, for instance.

NFC makes paying more convenient for customers and businesses. If your company isn’t yet accepting NFC mobile payments, learn more about how it works and the benefits of using it.


What Are NFC Mobile Payments?

NFC mobile payments are contactless payments. To make a mobile payment, a person must first have a smartphone with NFC enabled. They also need to install a digital wallet app on their phone. A few different digital wallets are available, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. Each type works with a specific type of mobile device. Apple Pay works with iOS devices, while Google Pay works on either Android or iOS devices.

Once someone has a digital wallet on their phone, they can load their payment information onto it. They will provide their credit card information, including their account number, expiration date and security code. The app stores that information securely. When they want to make a payment, they can open the app, choose their payment method and wave their phone near the credit card terminal.


How Do NFC Payments Work?

NFC is a type of radio frequency identification (RFID) that lets devices talk to each other when they are within a certain range of each other and when NFC is enabled. Most smartphones let users toggle NFC on and off. RFID isn’t new—it’s been used for decades in barcode scanners. However, NFC is a newer form of RFID—it’s been in use since the start of the 21st century.

NFC uses a specific frequency that lets devices talk to each other when they are very close together. For an NFC payment to work, the user typically needs to place their mobile device about 2 inches away from the NCF-enabled terminal.

When an NFC-enabled mobile device with a digital wallet app installed gets within range of an NFC-enabled credit card terminal, the two devices start talking. The smartphone sends encrypted payment data to the terminal, which then sends that data on to the appropriate banks. The banks approve or deny the transaction, the data gets sent back to the terminal and mobile device, and the payment is completed (or declined).

The entire process takes just a few seconds. It’s usually much faster than swiping or inserting a credit card for payment and quicker than handing over cash and waiting for change.


Advantages of Using NFC Mobile Payments

NFC payments offer benefits to businesses and consumers. If you haven’t yet started accepting mobile payments, here are a few reasons to do so.

They’re Fast

A lot happens when a customer presents their mobile phone to pay, but all of it occurs in pretty much the blink of an eye. Data travels from phone to terminal more quickly through NFC than it does when a card is physically swiped or inserted into the machine.

All that speed is good news for business owners, as it lets you serve more customers in less time. It’s also good news for buyers, as they don’t have to wait a long time at the checkout counter for a sale to complete.

They’re Convenient

Who hasn’t forgotten their wallet at home, only to realize it when they’re at the front of the checkout line? With mobile payments, all a customer needs to do is pull out their smartphone to pay for their groceries, meal or new wardrobe.

NFC payments also allow for a smoother transaction process. Most people keep their phones within easy reach, but their wallets are securely tucked into a bag or pocket. Using mobile payment eliminates the need to dig around for a wallet. Customers also don’t have to wait for change or spend time counting out the correct number of bills.

They’re Secure

NFC mobile payments are as secure, if not more secure, than card payments—and they’re way more secure than using cash. If someone loses cash or has their wallet stolen, there’s no way to get it back. But, if someone loses their smartphone, they can lock it down to prevent anyone from accessing it or their payment information.

Digital wallets often have multiple security features built in to prevent unauthorized access. For example, a digital wallet may open up after the phone’s owner scans their fingerprint. Some apps use facial recognition software and only open after scanning the phone owner’s face. A slightly less secure option is for the app to require a person to input a code or draw a pattern before getting access.

When sending data from the phone to the credit card terminal, digital wallets encrypt the information. If a third party intercepts the payment data, they’d have to spend a lot of time and effort cracking the code and deciphering the information.

Some digital wallet apps also use a security measure called tokenization. Once the user provides their payment card information to the app, the app creates a series of random numbers, which it then uses in place of the payment card. Outside of the NFC payment system, the random numbers are worthless. If a third party gets access to them, they wouldn’t be able to use them for anything.

They Give Customers Options

For some customers, the more payment options they have, the better. Adding NFC mobile payments to your business’s point-of-sale (POS) system means your customers have another choice when it’s time to complete a transaction. They can feel confident running to the store with only their phones.

They’re Flexible

Most digital wallets allow customers to use them for in-person payments—such as when someone is picking up their morning coffee or grabbing groceries after work—and online payments, such as placing a weekly Amazon order.

They’re Easy to Set Up

Your business needs a terminal that accepts NFC payments before you can start accommodating digital wallets and mobile payments. If you use a complete payment solution, your card terminal will already be NFC-enabled, making it easy to start accepting digital wallets.

Once you have an NFC-enabled terminal, your business is ready to accept mobile payments from customers, speeding up their time in the checkout line and making life more convenient for everyone involved.


Examples of NFC Payments

Digital wallets turn smartphones into payment methods. The type of digital wallet a person has installed on their device depends on the operating system. Some of the most readily available NFC payment digital wallets include:

Apple Pay

Apple Pay works on iOS devices, such as the iPhone, and pre-installation means users don’t have to download the app on their own.

Apple Pay users can save their credit or debit card information to the app, plus membership cards and gift cards. Individuals in the U.S. have the option of using an Apple card or Apple cash, which is digital prepaid card. Users can choose which payment method to use as their default payment.

When someone wants to use Apple Pay to complete a purchase, they need to open and unlock the app using either FaceID, which scans their face, or TouchID, which scans their fingerprint.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay is similar to Apple Pay but only works on Samsung devices. It works the same as Apple Pay does, letting individuals save their membership cards, gift cards and debit or credit card details. Users can also take advantage of a prepaid Samsung card when using Samsung Pay.

For security, the app only opens after scanning the user’s iris or fingerprint.

Google Pay

While Apple Pay only works with iOS and Samsung Pay only works with Samsung, Google Pay works on Android and iOS devices. It allows users to save payment information that they can then access to make payments from the Google Pay app or when using the Chrome browser.

To use Google Pay, a person needs to verify their identity. They can use their fingerprint or a personal identification number (PIN) or draw a special pattern.


How Can CSG Forte Help You?

Are you ready to accept mobile payments at your brick and mortar location? CSG Forte’s payment solution can help. Our platform makes it easy for customers to pay using their chosen method, whether it’s their digital wallet, a physical card or cash.

If you’re ready to streamline payment at your business, contact CSG Forte today to learn more about our payment solutions.

Tips to Reduce Late Payments by Engaging Payers

Suman Chaudhuri

Suman Chaudhuri, VP, Sales & Revenue, CSG Forte


Late payments are on the rise, and they can weigh down your organization’s growth if they go unaddressed.

Auto loan and credit card delinquencies have bounced back to their pre-COVID rates, and late payments on consumer loans aren’t far behind. With these indicators, merchants in other industries might be right to wonder if they’ll see more missed or late payments—assuming they haven’t already.

Organizations are well aware how late payments can disrupt cash flow. As they add up, they can limit the ability to make the investments needed for growth, from purchasing new equipment, to hiring talent, to ordering inventory. Then there’s the cost of collecting late payments: sending out notices, attempting to call customers, engaging collection agencies, and so on.

Consumers often miss payments due to a lack of funds, but a large chunk of late payments are highly preventable. Among consumers who missed a payment in the previous six months, nearly half said either forgetting about the bill or mixing up the due date were factors, according to a recent survey.

So what can organizations do to help customers pay on time? By keeping them engaged with these approaches.

Make the payment experience as easy as possible

Many late payments result from transaction abandonment, which is a usually fixable problem in the customer’s payment journey. Sometimes the abandonment is accidental: think of how easy it is to get distracted in the process of paying a bill online or over the phone if it requires multiple steps. Other transaction abandonment is deliberate: perhaps the customer became frustrated to learn that they can’t make their payment online, and they put off the task for later.

To reduce transaction abandonment—accidental or otherwise—it’s important to make the payment experience as simple as possible.

Accept multiple payment methods.

You want to ensure most of your customers can use the payment method they most prefer, whether that’s credit/debit card, ACH, digital wallets, and yes, paper checks (55% of U.S. consumers wrote checks in 2022).

Offer auto-pay.

Automating regular payments is a win-win for you and your customers. Customers get to put the recurring payment out of mind, and your organization sees fewer late or declined payments. Offering and encouraging auto-pay makes a huge difference. Between April and July 2020, renters failed to make timely rent payments approximately 22% of the time. However, renters who used Rentec’s recurring payment system, powered by CSG Forte, only made late payments 1% of the time.

Allow payments in installments.

Making the payment experience easier can also involve offering a payment plan if your organization can provide that flexibility. Accepting partial or installment payments can be preferable to delinquent payments, and offering installments keeps the customer engaged. The key here is to use a payment solution that enables customers to set up their own alternative payment arrangements easily, without having to call into your call center. The payment terms, installment amounts and due dates also need to be clearly communicated to the customer through the user interface.

Send payment reminders on the customer’s preferred communication channels

The modern consumer has plenty of notifications and due dates competing for their attention. It’s easy for even your most organized customers to forget a payment unless they receive regular reminders. But reminders only matter if customers receive them on communication channels they use. Make sure you can send these automated messages by multiple methods, including email, text and outbound interactive voice response (IVR).

Also consider payment reminders that can integrate with customers’ calendar applications, increasing their visibility as part of your customer’s recurring to-dos. If you can enable seamless payments through your reminder communications, such as offering text to pay, then you’ve not only made it easier for customers to remember their bill, but also pay it in seconds.

CSG Forte Engage, a payer engagement platform, can help simplify your customers’ payment journey in these ways and more, enabling you to minimize late payments and protect your bottom line. Learn more about CSG Forte Engage and start increasing on-time payments today.

E-Commerce Payment Methods

E-commerce is big and getting bigger. In 2023, mobile e-commerce sales, in particular, are expected to top $415 billion, making up 6% of all retail sales. By 2025, mobile sales could be as much as $710 billion.

To reach today’s shoppers, your business must accept online payment methods, from credit cards to digital wallets. Learn more about e-commerce payment options and what your company can do to increase the number of payment methods it accepts and the number of customers it can reach.


What Is E-Commerce Payment Processing?

E-commerce payment processing is what allows a business to accept electronic payments. The process of paying online is usually over in what seems to be only a few seconds, but payment information actually makes a fairly long and detailed journey from submission to approval.

E-Commerce vs. Traditional Payment Processing

E-commerce payment systems differ from traditional payment processing methods in a few ways. With traditional payment processing, a merchant connects a third-party payment gateway to the checkout process. The customer needs to visit a separate page to provide their payment details. They are then redirected back to the checkout page of the merchant.

E-commerce payment processing removes the intermediary, as it integrates payment processing into your website. It’s perceived as more secure and trustworthy by the customer, as they aren’t being taken to an unknown third party. Integrating e-commerce payment processing into your retail website helps build trust with your shoppers, which can lead to more sales.


How Does E-commerce Payment Processing Work?

Several parties are involved in the online payment process. Most of the work happens behind the scenes and moves quickly, so a customer may not realize their payment information has to go through several steps before it’s approved and the sale is complete.

1. Customer Inputs Payment Information

The e-commerce payment process begins when a shopper inputs their payment information during checkout. They may use a credit or debit card or a digital wallet such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal. The customer inputs their payment information into the checkout page on your site. The data is then encrypted and sent over a payment gateway to a processor.

2. Information Reaches Payment Processor

Once the processor receives the payment information, it reaches out to the bank connected to the debit or credit card. The bank confirms that the customer has enough funding to cover the transaction. If all is well, the bank approves the transaction. If there isn’t enough money in the account or on the credit line or the bank suspects fraud, it declines the transaction.

3. Transaction Is Accepted or Declined

From there, the payment processor lets the payment gateway know if the transaction was accepted or declined. The payment gateway then shares that information with your website. If the bank approved the transaction, the sale is complete and the customer gets an order confirmation. If the bank declined the transaction, the customer receives an error message and is asked to try again or seek help.

4. Approved Transactions Go Through

After the transaction is approved and complete, the total amount is deducted from the customer’s bank account or credit line and sent to your merchant account.


Who’s Who in E-Commerce Payments

There are several participants in the e-commerce process. Take a closer look at what each party does and their roles.

Payment Processor

A payment processor is the service provider your business uses to accept credit cards and other digital payment methods. It facilitates the e-commerce transaction by sending payment data to the customer’s credit card or bank and your merchant account.

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is necessary if your business wants to accept payments online. It’s a platform that connects your website to a merchant service provider, enabling data transfer between the payment processor, issuing and receiving banks, and your website. When a customer’s bank or credit card approves or declines a transaction, the information is sent to your website through the payment gateway.

Merchant Account

After a customer’s bank or credit card authorizes an e-commerce transaction, the money needs a place to go. The funds are deposited into your merchant account.

A merchant account is separate from your business’s bank account. To get a merchant account, you need to have a relationship with a merchant services provider, which provides software and hardware for e-commerce sales. Some banks offer merchant accounts, but before choosing a provider, you should consider factors like:

  • Hardware and software costs
  • Quality of customer support
  • Contract length and other terms

Once you’ve opened a merchant account, you can link it to your business’s bank accounts. You can transfer any funds in your merchant account to your business checking or savings, usually after a day or two.


What Are the Types of Global Payment Methods?

E-commerce payments take place over the internet, but the payment methods vary considerably. Several e-commerce payment methods exist, and the available options are evolving.

The payment method a customer is likely to choose depends largely on the options available and their preferences. To facilitate the payment process and reduce the chance of turning a customer away, consider accepting as many payment types as possible.

Details From Physical Cards

Types of e-commerce payment methods with physical cards include:

  • Credit cards: Credit cards have 16-digit numbers assigned to them, plus an expiration date and security code. When a customer uses a credit card to pay, the sale amount is deducted from their credit line. If they have enough remaining on their credit line, the issuing bank typically authorizes the transaction.
  • Debit cards: Like credit cards, debit cards have 16-digit account numbers, an expiration date and a security code. They’re connected to a customer’s bank account, typically their checking account. When a customer pays with their debit card, the funds are pulled from their bank account. 
  • Prepaid cards: Prepaid cards work similarly to debit cards but aren’t connected to a bank account. Instead, a person purchases a card and “loads” a certain amount of money onto it. Every time they use the card, the purchase amount gets deducted from the amount loaded onto it. Some prepaid cards are reloadable, while others aren’t, like gift cards. If there aren’t enough funds on the card, the transaction gets declined.

Payment With Account Information

In the digital age, customers can also use account details or securely stored card information to make purchases online. These are digital payment options like:

  • Digital wallets: Digital wallets “store” customers’ credit and debit card information. Examples include Apple Pay and Google Pay. The wallets can be used on any device, including a smartphone, laptop or tablet. They’re designed to make paying for purchases more convenient and secure because they encrypt and tokenize payment information.
  • Online payment services: Sites like PayPal or Venmo connect to a customer’s bank account. Shoppers log in to the payment platform at online checkout instead of needing their bank account details.
  • Bank transfers: A bank transfer, or an automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfer, pulls money directly from a customer’s bank account. To perform the transfer, the customer needs to provide their bank’s routing number and account number. They can usually use a checking or savings account.
  • EChecks: EChecks are often confused with ACH payments, but the two methods differ. ECheck is a form of ACH, but it’s not ACH itself. When paying by eCheck, a customer provides information that would be found on a paper check and authorizes the payment. It does take slightly longer to receive funds from an eCheck, but it processes as quickly as ACH.

Other E-Commerce Payment Methods

Other payment methods include:

  • Buy now, pay later: Customers split the cost of purchases into installments with this method. Typically, buy now, pay later programs are offered through a third party, which collects the payments from the customer and may charge them interest.
  • Cash on delivery: Cash on delivery (COD) is a relatively old-school payment method that’s still popular in some parts of the world, often in places with a large unbanked population or where credit or debit card use is uncommon. With COD, a customer orders a product or service and pays in cash when the item arrives at their home or the service is performed.


What to Look for in an E-Commerce Payment System

Make it easier to choose among your many e-commerce payment system options by knowing what to look for. Because each business has different needs, a payments platform that’s right for one store or merchant may not be right for you.

Keep an eye out for these qualities when choosing your payment system.

1. Security

The payment solution you choose should be secure. Security can take several forms, so look for the following features:

  • Tokenization: Tokenization turns sensitive credit card and other payment data into randomly generated tokens. On their own, the tokens have no value, so if they are intercepted by a third party, the third party can’t use them elsewhere.
  • Hosted payment pages: Holding on to customers’ sensitive payment information puts you and them at risk. Hosted payment pages mean that your company doesn’t store payment details on its site and that any payment information is kept secure.
  • End-to-end encryption: Encryption transforms data into strings of gibberish, making it worthless if intercepted. Look for a payment system that uses Payment Card Industry (PCI) validated, end-to-end encryption.

2. Ability to Accept Different Payment Types

The more payment types you can accept, the wider your customer base. Choose a payment system that lets you accept credit and debit cards, digital wallets, eChecks and other payment methods.

3. Costs and Fees

All payment processors charge fees for using their services, but the fees vary. Before deciding to work with a payment system, review the costs associated with it and the fees it charges. Typical fees include:

  • Monthly subscription fee
  • Transaction charges, which can be a flat fee or a percentage of the purchase amount
  • Setup fees

4. International Payments

When you sell online, you may have customers from all over. To accommodate people living in countries other than yours, you may want to look for a payment system that lets you accept payments in other currencies.


Why Work With CSG Forte?

CSG Forte lets you manage your payment operations from a single location. Our complete payments solution lets you accept any payment method, from cards to digital wallets to ACH. Our solution goes beyond online sales, allowing you to accept payments in person and over the phone.

We also have several pricing structures available. Choosing the pricing model that works best for your business, based on your sales volume and transactions.


Contact Us Today to Get Started

If you sell online, you need a payment system that’s secure, affordable and flexible. Contact CSG Forte to learn more about our complete payment solution or to sign up for an account.

What Is a Merchant Services Provider?

The days of cash-only payments are over. Customers today often prefer to use electronic or digital payments for increased convenience and personal hygiene. If your company wants to accept credit cards, debit cards and other electronic forms of payment, it needs to work with a merchant services provider.

You have plenty of choices when looking for a merchant services provider (MSP), but not all companies are created the same. Knowing what services you need and what features to look for ensures you find the MSP that’s the best match for your business.


What Is a Merchant Services Provider?

A merchant services provider is a go-between company that acts as a mediator between your business and credit card companies and banks. If your company wants to accept multiple forms of payment beyond cash, it needs to work with an enterprise that offers secure merchant services.

The goal of most MSPs is to facilitate and secure the payment process for companies and their customers. Along with acting as the intermediary between banks and your company, an MSP may also allow you to connect your online and physical stores’ payment systems, ensure you stay compliant with security regulations and offer customer support.

Depending on your needs, your MSP may provide payment processing, payment gateways, point-of-sale (POS) systems and a merchant account.


Merchant Account Provider vs. Payment Gateway

Payment gateways and merchant account providers fall under the merchant services provider umbrella. In some cases, an MSP may provide both payment gateway and merchant account services.

Merchant Account Provider

A merchant account provider offers your company a merchant account, which you need to accept credit and debit cards. The merchant account holds funds for you while a bank authorization occurs. Once the authorization takes place, the money transfers from the merchant account to your business’s bank account.

A merchant account isn’t the same as a typical bank account. While the money in the account technically belongs to your business (provided the credit or debit card company approves the transaction), you can’t directly access the money and withdraw it as you would funds in your savings or checking account.

Instead, you must rely on the account provider to transfer the money from the merchant account to your business bank account. The merchant account provider subtracts any fees related to the transactions from the balance before transferring the funds to your bank.

You need to have a merchant account before you can accept credit and debit cards. Some merchant account providers also offer payment processing services and products such as card readers, point-of-sale systems and mobile payments.

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is a type of merchant services allowing your company to process credit and debit cards and other electronic payments. Online shopping, in-store shopping and using a credit or debit card in-store wouldn’t exist without payment gateways.

Payment gateways provide the software that transfers data about a transaction from point A to point B. When customers provide their credit card information online, that information travels along the payment gateway to the issuing and acquiring banks. The payment gateway encrypts the card information, protecting it from third-party interception.


Merchant Services Products

Merchant accounts and payment gateways are just two examples of the products an MSP can offer. Additional products that may be available from a merchant services provider include:

Credit Card Terminals

Credit card terminals are machines that allow you to swipe, insert or tap a payment card during an in-person transaction. The machines capture the card’s account number and other relevant details either through the embedded computer chip or a magnetic strip. Often, the terminals have keypads that allow a customer to tap in their security code or personal identification number (PIN) to verify their identity during a transaction.

Once the terminal has captured and verified the card data, it then sends it through the payment gateway for authentication and approval.

The number of credit card terminals your company needs depends on its size. If you have a small brick-and-mortar store with a single checkout register, you may only need a single terminal. If you have a larger store with multiple checkout lanes, you’ll need one terminal for each lane that accepts payment cards.

Some card terminals are meant to be portable. These versions attach to a smartphone or are handheld, allowing your employees to carry them around your store or restaurant and accept payments on the go.

POS Systems

A point-of-sale system is the machinery and software that allows you to ring up customers’ purchases and accept their payments. Typically, POS systems are a combination of hardware and software. They include the credit card terminals you use to accept payment cards and the computers or tablets your employees use to input orders. POS systems may also include a barcode scanner or connect to the camera in a smartphone to read Universal Product Code (UPC) labels on products.

Traditionally, a POS system was the cash register used in-store. Today’s systems are much more complex. Along with the terminals and tablets you may use to ring up in-person purchases, your POS system can include online shopping carts and checkout processes. You may also be able to use a POS system to track your store’s inventory and run customer loyalty or engagement programs.

Mobile Payments

A merchant services provider can allow you to accept mobile payments or use your mobile device as a terminal.

When a customer wants to use their mobile device to pay for a purchase, several components must come into play. First, the customer needs to set up a mobile wallet on their smartphone and load their credit or debit card into the wallet. Then, they must enable near-field communication (NFC) on their device.

To use their mobile device as their payment method, customers need to visit companies that have NFC-equipped terminals and accept mobile wallet payments. Your merchant services provider may offer mobile payment options.

Virtual Terminals

A virtual terminal allows your business to accept card payments without having the card physically in front of you. If you accept online payments, you’ll need a virtual terminal to collect customers’ card numbers and other pertinent information. You can also use a virtual terminal to accept payments over the phone.

When using a virtual terminal, you must manually input the customer’s card information, typing in the number, expiration date and security code. Some virtual terminals also require the billing ZIP code as an added layer of security. You also must put in the sale details, including the amount of the transaction.

Virtual terminals can be web-based, part of an app or a component of a larger POS system.


How Does a Merchant Services Provider Work?

As the go-between for a business and a bank, the merchant services provider is responsible for facilitating payment transactions. While a lot goes on behind the scenes when a customer makes an electronic payment, the process itself typically lasts a few seconds. A merchant services provider goes to work once a customer provides payment information:

  1. The MSP sends the payment information to the acquiring bank.
  2. The acquiring bank passes on the payment details to the issuing bank to get authentication and approval. The issuing bank can either approve or deny the payment.
  3. The approval or denial gets sent to the acquiring bank, which then sends the information to the MSP.
  4. If the payment is approved, the merchant account receives an approval and confirmation of the transaction. The money is then transferred from the customer’s bank account or credit card to the merchant account.


Merchant Services Pricing

Several pricing models are available for merchant services. At CSG Forte, we charge a per-transaction fee based on the type of payment. For example, a credit card transaction, we charge 2.95% of the amount. For Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, the per-transaction fee is 1% plus 25 cents.

The exact pricing structure can vary based on your agreement with your MSP.


How Quickly Can You Get Started With a Merchant Services Provider?

If you’re ready to work with an MSP, the first step is to gather the information the provider will need to review your company and confirm you’re eligible to receive its service. Providing as much information as possible on your application helps streamline the process, meaning you can start more quickly.

Some of the documents you’ll want to include with your MSP application are:

  • Your business’s tax ID
  • Your website
  • Your mailing address
  • Your business’s bank account information


Who Can CSG Forte Help?

If your business wants to accept more forms of payments than it currently does, CSG Forte can help. We offer merchant services for small- and medium-sized businesses. We’ll allow you to accept electronic payments, including credit and debit cards, in-person payments, online payments and over-the-phone payments. You’ll get peace of mind that your transactions are secure and your customers’ payment data is safe.

If you have any issues with our merchant or payment processing services, our customer service representatives will assist. We help you troubleshoot issues and provide support with customer disputes.


Choose CSG Forte for Merchant Services

Take the steps toward achieving a simpler payment process by choosing CSG Forte as your merchant services provider. Contact us today to start your application or learn more.



Have questions about working with a merchant services provider? Check out our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.


Do You Need a Merchant Services Provider?

If your business wants to accept credit and debit cards or other forms of electronic payments, then you need to work with a merchant services provider. While you’ll need an MSP, the type of MSP your business requires can vary depending on the services and the type of payments you want to accept.


What Is the Difference Between a Merchant Services Provider and Merchant Account Provider?

A merchant account provider is a type of merchant services provider. A merchant account provider can give your company access to a merchant account. Some merchant account providers also handle payment processing, but not all do.


What’s the Difference Between a Payment Service Provider and Merchant Account Provider?

A merchant account provider gives your company access to its own merchant account. Payment service providers can also provide access to a merchant account, but the account won’t exclusively belong to your business. Instead, a payment service provider groups businesses together and uses the same merchant account for them.

While either a payment service provider or merchant account provider allows your company to accept electronic payments, it typically takes longer to receive an account from a merchant account provider than to be approved by a payment service provider.

Payment service providers typically take on more risk when accepting businesses than merchant account providers. They may have stricter transaction limits or put more holds on transactions compared to merchant account providers.


How Can You Ensure Payment Security?

Security is critical in this day and age. Customers want to feel confident that their payment information is safe from hackers, and companies want to know that the MSPs they work with prioritize security.

There are a few things to look for to ensure payment security. All payment details should be encrypted during transmission and when the system is at rest. Fraud management tools are also important, and the MSP should comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.


How Do You Choose a Merchant Services Provider?

Choosing an MSP can be a straightforward process. You need to assess your business’s needs and the type of payments you wish to accept, then do your research and look for a provider that offers them. Also, consider how you want to accept payments, such as online, in person or over the phone. Pay attention to the security measures the provider has put in place, the fee schedule and the amount of customer support the MSP provides.

It’s also useful to look for an MSP that can integrate with your existing systems or provide ample support to help you migrate over.

Credit Card Processing Outage

Whether you run an online or brick-and-mortar business, you depend on credit card payments from your customers. Debit or credit cards have become the preferred payment method for most shoppers, with 57% of total payments being completed by card.

So what happens when your credit card system is down and you can’t accept card payments? Card outages happen, making it difficult — if not impossible — for customers to pay. Here’s what you can do if card readers are down to reduce the impact on your business.


Credit Card Outages Happen

Most payment card transactions happen instantly, taking seconds from the time the customer taps their card or types in their payment details. The transaction is fast, but a lot goes on behind the scenes. The payments platform sends the customer’s card information to the issuing bank, which approves or declines the transaction based on different factors.

The approval or rejection travels back to the card network, then the merchant’s account, then the payment processor.

When credit card machines are down or there’s a credit card outage, the process can’t happen. Something is standing in the way. Since credit card systems need the internet to function, it could be due to an internet outage.

A credit card outage can stem from several sources. The merchant’s equipment could be to blame. Your Wi-Fi router might be acting up, making it difficult to connect to the internet. Refreshing your router or switching to a wired connection may clear up the issue.

Sometimes, the outage stems from the credit card processor itself. A Visa debit card outage may happen when Visa’s having connectivity issues, for example. The software a business uses to process card payments may be experiencing a glitch or outage.

An outage, no matter its cause, can disrupt your business and lead to a drop in customer satisfaction.


How Does a Credit Card Outage Affect Your Business?

Because credit card outages can have a tangible impact on your company, you should do what you can to make these issues as rare as possible. Some effects of a card outage can include:

  • Loss of business: A credit card outage can cause an immediate loss of business — all the customers who planned on paying with their debit or credit card can’t anymore. If you operate a physical store, some of those customers can switch to cash payments instead. If your sales are primarily online, your customers most likely can’t complete their purchases until the outage is resolved. You may notice a dip in sales on the day of the outage.
  • Unhappy customers: Credit cards offer convenience and security that cash can’t match, and many shoppers primarily carry cards because of that safety. If someone loses their debit or credit card, they can report the loss to their bank, pause and cancel the card so they don’t have to worry about losing actual money. If someone drops $20 on the street, that money is gone for good. When customers can’t use their preferred payment methods, they might take their business elsewhere.
  • Negative reputation: Frequent outages can adversely affect your business’s reputation. Customers may start to assume that your card machines won’t be working and may be more likely to visit your competitors. Faulty payment card equipment can also cause customers to question your business’s trustworthiness.


What Causes a Credit Card Outage?

Card outages can happen for a few reasons. Some issues are widespread and may affect multiple merchants and businesses simultaneously, while others occur only with your business.

Power Outages

Bad weather — from thunderstorms to hurricanes, blizzards, and extreme heat or cold — can affect the power grid. When many people use large amounts of power at once, such as to run their heaters or air conditioners during a cold snap or heatwave, the grid can go down. Electrical lines can also be damaged by lightning, ice buildup or intense winds.

During a power outage, everything will be down. Your business’s point-of-sale system may not operate, and your computers won’t power on. If your customers are shopping online, they may get cut off from shopping if their own power goes out.

If you’re experiencing a power outage, talk to your electric company. Inform them of the outage so they can send out a crew to investigate and fix the issue if possible. The electric company can also give you an estimate of when you can expect them to restore power.

Some brick-and-mortar stores choose to add generators and backup power to their premises to keep their point-of-sale systems running if the power does go off.

Internet Issues

Card payment processing needs an internet connection to work — if the connection gets interrupted, the payment can’t go through. Internet issues can take multiple forms and have different sources:

  • Wi-Fi problems: The Wi-Fi signal may be weak or blocked, or your router may not function properly. Sometimes, moving the router or switching to a wired connection is all you need to do to solve the problem.
  • Provider outage: An outage may stem from the provider. Storms and severe weather may affect your internet service provider’s ability to establish a connection. Many service providers have outage maps online and keep their customers in the loop if there’s an issue in the area. In this case, all you can do is wait for the connection to be restored.

Hardware Troubles

The hardware you use to process sales and read payment cards may have issues, which can look like a credit card outage. For example, the card reader may wear out or become unable to detect contactless payments. If the hardware isn’t updated, it can also stop working.

Sometimes, the ports that connect your register to the card reader can become worn out. In that case, you may need to replace your hardware to get your system up and running again.

Software Issues

In rare cases, the payment processor’s software may cause a card outage. If the payment processor goes down, your business and numerous others will be affected. It can also be the case that one of the major card companies, such as Visa or Mastercard, is experiencing an outage.


What to Do During a Credit Card Outage

During a card outage, you don’t have to wait for the issue to be resolved. Being proactive can help protect your reputation, get to the root of the issue and keep your customers happy.

Take these steps if your credit card system is down:

1. Tell Your Customers

As soon as you detect a problem, tell your customers about it. Email people to inform them of the issue, put a message on your website or social media, and post a sign on the door of your physical location. Explain what’s happening and how you’re working to fix it.

2. Accept Other Forms of Payment

The more payment options customers have, the more likely they are to complete their purchase. If you can’t accept credit or debit cards now, let people know which payment methods are working, whether it’s cash, e-Checks or alternative payment options like PayPal or Venmo.

3. Troubleshoot

Try to find the source of the problem — it could be something you can fix on your own. Fix Wi-Fi issues by restarting the router, or look for loose cables in your point-of-sale system. Check for updates on your software and hardware, as well.

4. Ask Around

If you can’t find an immediately obvious source of the problem, find out if other businesses are experiencing the same issue. Once you know the problem is bigger than your company, you can monitor the situation and inform the parties who are most likely going to resolve it.

5. Offer a Discount

Your customers may be inconvenienced during a card outage. One way to smooth over the situation and encourage them to shop with you again is to offer a discount code or coupon to use on a future purchase.

6. Take Steps to Prevent Credit Card Outages in the Future

Being proactive can help reduce the chance of a credit card outage in the future. Purchasing a backup generator, switching internet providers and preparing for bad weather are helpful steps to take.

Another option is to keep your hardware and software up to date to reduce the chance of malfunctions. It’s also worthwhile to find a payment platform with a proven track record and stellar reputation.


Choose CSG Forte as Your Payment Platform

You need to have a payment platform that will have your back during a card outage and that will provide the flexibility you need to respond to any outage issues. CSG Forte has over 20 years of experience as a complete payment solution. We’ll help you accept all payments and keep your business online. Contact us today to get started.

7 Essential Features for a Better IVR Payment System

While no one likes paying bills, reducing consumer friction points during the bill-paying process can get your invoices paid faster. Millennials are more likely to prioritize paying bills that are easy to pay before tackling (or ignoring) bills that are more inconvenient. More than half (52%) of consumers report experiencing at least one pain point when paying bills, and 29% encountered multiple issues. Top bill-paying complaints include log-in frustration, authentication issues and a lack of autopay options. Creating convenient payment options improves the customer experience and can lead to more on-time payments.

Thoughtfully designed interactive voice response (IVR) payment systems are convenient, efficient and secure, which benefits both customers and merchants. IVR payment systems use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to guide customers through the payment process over the phone. However, poorly designed IVR payment solutions increase customer frustrations instead of reducing them. The best IVR systems include seven key features that improve the payment experience for customers.

Benefits of Offering IVR for Payments

Customers expect the payment experience to be quick, convenient and secure. Quality IVR services meet all three of these expectations. Customers may also expect merchants to offer an IVR payment option; according to a 2022 survey of more than 2,100 online bill payers, 26% had paid a bill via an automated phone system within the past year.

The IVR payment process is:

  • Fast. By using an automated IVR payment system, customers don’t have to wait to speak with a live agent. The average IVR payment call takes about three minutes. This can be significantly faster than other payment processing options, such as finding the merchant’s payment portal, logging in and resetting a password after multiple failed login attempts or waiting on hold to speak to an agent to complete a payment.
  • Convenient. IVR payment solutions allow customers to pay their bills 24/7—without an internet connection. Customers are also able to enter their payment reference number (e.g., invoice/account/policy number) so they don’t have to remember a password.
  • Secure. IVR payment platforms securely process transactions and reduce the risk that sensitive payment data is exposed either via unauthorized access to internal systems or through call center agents manually accepting payment details over the phone.
    • When using an IVR system, customers can enter credit card information via their phone keypad instead of reading out the information to a contact center agent. This prevents someone from overhearing the conversation and jotting down the information.
    • Merchants should select an IVR system that complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
  • Affordable. IVR payment systems benefit merchants by increasing efficiency and decreasing labor costs by reducing payment-related calls to contact center agents, whichcost around $5 or more per call. While a few dollars per call may not sound like much, it adds up quickly. In contrast, IVR payment calls cost merchants about 50 cents each.

7 Must-Have IVR Payment System Features

IVR payment systems should provide:

  1. Multiple payment options (credit card and ACH) for full or partial payments
  2. Automated voice services offered in multiple languages
  3. Several ways for customers to connect to the IVR system
    • Call a direct number (printed on statements or included in an email or text notification)
    • Access via the IVR menu (e.g., press 1 to pay your bill)
    • Agent transfers callers to the payment IVR
  4. A variety menu options after the customer completes payment
    • Make another payment
    • Receive an email/text receipt
    • Speak with an agent
    • Store (or update) payment method(s) for future transactions
  5. An outbound IVR system that
    • Delivers payment reminders
    • Allows customers to schedule a convenient time to receive an automated call to make their payment
  6. The ability to easily make changes to your IVR system based on your business’ needs
  7. Integration with billing and accounting systems, allowing payments to be posted directly to your business in real time

CSG Forte offers an IVR payment system with inbound and outbound options for fast, convenient and secure payment processing. With CSG Forte Engage’s IVR solution, live agent calls have been reduced by up to 70% for payments, on average.

Contact us to learn how CSG Forte Engage’s IVR solution can streamline your payment processes and reduce inbound calls to your call center. Get started today.

Taking Card Payments Over the Phone—Finding A Secure Approach

Credit card fraud is widespread—and costly. A recent survey found that 65% of Americans with credit or debit cards have experienced credit card fraud at least once. Not surprisingly, 52% of U.S. bill payers rank security as a top feature in the digital bill payment process.

One area of heightened risk is taking credit card payments from your customers over the phone. Your organization needs to get paid and you can leverage tools to make taking phone and call center payments more secure.

Merchants who accept credit card payments must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Payment card brands may fine merchants up to $500,000 per incident if they aren’t PCI compliant at the time of a data breach.


Taking Credit Card Payments by Phone Is Risky Business

When consumers think of how contact center agents take payments, they often think of being asked to read off their credit card number, expiration date and CSV code over the phone.

If that doesn’t make you a little nervous—it should. That method of sharing card information may increase the risk of credit card fraud for several reasons:

  • A contact center agent may write the credit card information down on a piece of paper or somewhere visible where another person could walk by and steal the information.
  • A disgruntled employee taking the payment may steal the credit card information, using it to make unauthorized purchases or obtain funds from the account.
  • The customer may be in a public place when reciting credit card details. Someone may overhear the conversation and jot down the credit card information.
  • Reading out a CSV code negates the reason for having it—it’s used to prove the payer has possession of the card at the point of payment. Someone who overhears and captures that CSV can use it to make card-not-present charges.


2 Better, More Secure Ways to Take Credit Card Payments Over the Phone

  1. Inbound and Outbound IVR — Customers pay via IVR (interactive voice response) with automated voice prompts and keypad inputs. This eliminates all three problems listed above. The contact center agent transfers the caller to the payment IVR system. The customer enters the card number, expiration date and CSV on their phone keypad when prompted to do so. The IVR system is integrated into a payment gateway to make the transaction. The system then gives the customer a receipt number and the option to receive the receipt by email. To make it even more convenient for your customer, you can leverage an outbound IVR, where a customer can schedule a time to receive an automated call to make their payment.
  2. Live Agent Assist Technology — Businesses can leverage payments technology to have contact center agents quickly send customers a link to a custom online payment page for payment. By using a solution like CSG Forte’s Payer Engagement Platform, contact center agents can easily create an invoice with a few clicks of a mouse and send it to the customer via email or text message. This allows customers to pay promptly and securely—without sharing their credit card information with the agent. This method of payment greatly reduces the risk for fraud and the business’ PII data exposure.

The Payer Engagement Platform is a secure digital payment solution that enables customers to make payments using their preferred channel and payment method, at any time. Its Live Agent Assist feature allows call center agents to quickly create custom invoices to be sent to customers to complete transactions, eliminating the need for agents to collect sensitive information.

Contact us to learn how the Payer Engagement Platform simplifies bill payment, improves the customer experience and reduces fraud exposure.

Why Does Your Business Need a Payment Service Provider?

Payment service providers (PSPs) are pivotal in the digital payments landscape. Their services enable merchants of all sizes to accept various payment methods since consumer preferences differ. Retailers can gain more customers and increase sales by offering more payment choices.


What PSPs Do

A PSP is a third-party business partner that provides the technology required for merchants to take different payment methods from their customers. They help connect retailers to financial networks to support collecting credit and debit card payments, electronic bank transfers and more.

PSPs—also called merchant services providers—make payment collection simple, convenient, efficient and secure. They enable businesses to choose a processing option outside of their banks and generally work with numerous financial institutions and card networks. These broad industry connections help make the services more cost-effective and often come with additional features for more value. The result is a seamless payment experience for companies and their consumers.

Functions and services PSPs offer include:

  • Payment processing
  • Transaction security and fraud prevention
  • Payment gateway integration
  • Multichannel and cross-border payments
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Customer support


Types of Payment Service Providers

Numerous types of payment service providers exist with certain distinctions among them:

  • Acquirers and merchant account providers: These entities are typically financial institutions like banks. Under these options, each retailer has a separate account and merchant identification number (MID). Conversely, a PSP allows numerous businesses under one account and an overall shared MID.
  • Payment gatewaysMerchants use these solutions to process debit and credit card transactions. They include e-commerce portals and physical point-of-sale (POS) readers. Modern payment gateways may even support payments in digital currencies.
  • Aggregators: Merchant aggregators are PSPs that enroll retailers under the PSP’s MID instead of each merchant having a separate one. The retailer is the “sub-merchant,” and the aggregator collects and allocates the funds for each company it represents.
  • Digital wallet providers: These companies offer financial transaction apps for connected devices that securely store passwords and payment information. They deliver consumers the convenience of being able to shop without a credit or debit card in hand.
  • Mobile payment providersThese businesses provide a specialized digital wallet explicitly made for mobile devices. For example, Apple users can store their payment information in Apple Pay and use their iPhone or iPad to make purchases online or on the go at contactless terminals.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment providers: P2P payment providers like PayPal and Cash App make it easy to move money between individuals. When users send money, the P2P provider deducts it from a linked bank account. Once the recipient claims the funds, they can withdraw or use them.


Benefits of Using Payment Service Providers

  • Simplified payment process: A PSP makes collecting payments a hassle-free experience for retailers and customers alike.
  • Enhanced security and fraud protection: PSPs rely on robust security encryption tools and offer safeguards against payment fraud through features like verification.
  • Accessibility and global reach: Many PSPs support selling in different currencies, so it’s easier for you to be accessible worldwide and establish a global market.
  • Integration and compatibility: A PSP works with numerous technology partners in various industries to ensure its solutions integrate with common tools.
  • Analytics and reporting capabilities: Built-in metrics and reporting help you understand your business’s unique transaction data and simplify reconciliation.
  • Customer support and service: Well-regarded PSPs offer 24/7 technical support and around-the-clock customer service to ensure satisfaction.


Key Considerations When Choosing a PSP

Consider these factors when selecting the best PSP for your company:

  • Business type and industry requirements: Not every PSP works with every retailer or serves all industries. List your organization’s unique needs to ensure a potential PSP partner can meet them.
  • Payment methods and currencies supported: Your customers’ payment preferences and locations often dictate the options you want to offer. Choose a PSP supporting the forms you need and the currencies you sell in.
  • Security and compliance measures: Accepting card transactions means following the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). Look for a PSP that heavily invests in secure technology and is PCI-DSS compliant.
  • Transaction fees and pricing structure: Every PSP prices differently based on factors like transaction volume and payment type. Ensure pricing is clear and transparent to avoid potential billing surprises.
  • Integration options and developer-friendly application programming interfaces (APIs): The ideal PSP solution for your business will work with your existing tools. Look for a partner providing numerous integrations and developer-friendly APIs for straightforward implementation.
  • Reputation and trustworthiness: Working with a well-respected PSP is essential in such a dynamic industry. Choose a company with proven technology and expertise to keep pace.
  • Customer support and service level agreements (SLAs): A reliable PSP will be invested in your company’s success. Ensure your provider offers ongoing support and a service level that meets your business’s needs.


Factors to Evaluate for Success

Multiple aspects contribute to your company’s successful PSP integration and implementation, like:

  • Technical integration requirements: Does your current tech stack meet the technical specifications? Is an update or upgrade necessary?
  • Testing and sandbox environments: Does the PSP offer a sandbox environment to test the technology so you can have more confidence in their viability with your processes? Are there any potential hiccups in the process to resolve before full implementation?
  • Onboarding and account setup process: What support does the PSP offer during onboarding? How easy is it to establish your account?
  • Compliance and regulatory considerations: Does the software meet your specific industry regulation needs? Will it automatically comply with future changes?
  • Scalability and future growth potential: Can the PSP scale effectively as needs change? Do they offer support for future growth by helping you identify and implement new technologies and trends?


Choose CSG Forte

It’s more important than ever for your business to offer the payment acceptance methods your customers prefer. Doing so helps you stay competitive and resilient in a dynamic retail environment. CSG Forte is an award-winning payment services provider with a fully scalable and PCI-DSS-compliant payment platform. Our team has the expertise and resources to help you identify, implement and support the best solution for your needs.

Contact us for advice, or fill out the online application to open an account today.