Secure, Swift, Seamless: Why Your Customers Love Digital Wallets

Consumers want fast, convenient ways to pay for their purchase—without digging through their wallet for their card payment details. Shoppers increasingly say they choose where to shop based on how convenient the online payments process is. One way to enhance your customer experience (CX) and streamline the online transaction process is by offering your customers digital wallets as a payment option.

Digital wallets are gaining popularity—with an expected 5.3 billion users by 2026. They’re becoming increasingly important not just for the benefits they provide customers; businesses that take advantage of this evolving technology soon will be ahead of the game—digital wallet adoption still lags among some types of merchants, despite continued increase in consumer usage.

It’s those ongoing advancements in digital wallets that are exactly why collaborating with a knowledgeable payments provider is essential for organizations that want to attract and keep customers in a dynamic online payment environment.

 

The Rise of Digital Wallets

Digital wallets are becoming mainstream. They’ve transcended novelty status and become an integral part of everyday life. Consider this: 79% of Gen Z consumers use digital wallets at least once a month. They’re also growing in popularity with Millennials and Gen Xers, half of whom reported using digital wallets more often than traditional payment methods in a recent Forbes survey.

So, we know digital wallets are increasingly popular. But, why?

 

Customers Expect Fast, Secure, Streamlined Service

Customers crave simplicity. They want transactions to be swift and secure, and they don’t want to take any unnecessary steps. Digital wallets fulfill these expectations by offering:

  • Fast Processing: With a few simple steps, payments are completed in seconds.
  • Security: Digital wallets employ robust encryption and authentication methods, providing peace of mind for users.
  • Reduced Redundancy: Say goodbye to repeatedly entering card details—digital wallets store payment information securely.

 

Why Offer Digital Wallets?

 

Meet Customer Expectations

Customers expect to see familiar payment options when they visit your website. Digital wallets have become a standard feature for most consumers, akin to credit cards and bank transfers. By offering a digital wallet option, you signal that your company is attuned to consumer preferences and up to date on the latest technology.

 

Increase Trust and Security

Trust is the bedrock of any successful business relationship. Customers recognize digital wallets as secure payment methods. Whether it’s PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay or Google Pay, these platforms have earned their reputation for safeguarding sensitive data. By integrating them into your payment ecosystem, you reinforce trust with your audience.

 

Streamline the Checkout Process

Offer a frictionless checkout experience: no fumbling for credit cards, no manual data entry. Digital wallets eliminate these pain points. Customers appreciate simplicity—they can complete purchases swiftly, especially on mobile devices. This simplicity also helps your company’s bottom line; consumers who use digital wallets spend 31% more than non-users, according to recent survey data.

 

Choosing the Right Payment Methods

 

Quality Over Quantity

While variety is enticing, overwhelming customers with too many payment options can backfire. Instead, focus on quality. Prioritize widely used digital wallets that resonate with your audience. Remember, simplicity is best.

 

Understanding Customer Preferences

Knowledge is power. By analyzing transaction data, you can discern which payment methods your customers prefer. Do they browse from Apple devices? Then consider offering Apple Pay. Are they connecting using Google Chrome? Google Pay may help you speed up transactions. Armed with this type of insight, you can tailor your offerings and enhance the user experience.

 

Collaborating with Payment Providers

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: managing separate accounts with various digital wallet providers. It’s time-consuming and inefficient. Here’s where a payment provider comes to the rescue:

  • Centralized integration: Partnering with a payment provider allows you to consolidate digital wallet options. Instead of juggling multiple accounts, you have a unified interface.
  • Seamless updates: When a new digital wallet emerges or an existing one evolves, your payment provider handles the integration and is there to guide you through the process.
  • Efficiency: Focus on your core business while the payment provider manages the technical intricacies.

Remember, the goal is to enhance your customers’ experience. By offering digital wallets and collaborating with a reliable payment provider, you’re not just streamlining payments—you’re building trust and loyalty.

The future of wallets is digital, and now is the time to claim your spot—ahead of the competition. Incorporating digital wallets isn’t a trend, it’s a necessity to stay relevant and keep customers coming back. Your customers demand speed and convenience; meet their needs by adopting digital wallet technology today. Contact our experts at CSG today.

PCI Compliance: Definition, Overview and Benefits

Payment card industry (PCI) compliance is the global security standard for organizations that accept consumer credit card payments. PCI compliance entails a variety of best practices, security measures and benchmarks to help you manage how you collect and store information while processing transactions. Let’s break down what you need to know about PCI compliance, its primary benefits, and how your organization can streamline the process of achieving PCI compliance.

What Is PCI Compliance?

Credit card companies require payment card industry compliance to help improve the security of transactions.

PCI compliance is the technical and operational requirements your business needs to follow to protect consumer credit card data. It’s a comprehensive set of policies ranging from regular system upkeep to clearly delineated user permissions.

The PCI Security Standards Council develops and manages compliance standards to help organizations fortify their security systems and prioritize consumer data protection.

PCI compliance requirements include:

  • Security against malicious software
  • Routine network maintenance
  • Cardholder data encryption
  • Restricted internal access to sensitive data

PCI Credit Card Compliance Overview

PCI compliance may seem challenging if you are unfamiliar with the terminology or the latest cybersecurity best practices. But you don’t have to do it alone. You can achieve compliance and minimize risk by partnering with a trusted, experienced payment service provider. (List of approved QSA) Still, it is valuable for your business to grasp the fundamentals of PCI compliance. Here is an overview to get a better understanding:

  • It’s a continuous exercise: PCI compliance is an ongoing process that your organization should review yearly.
  • Your payment methods have an impact: The type of payment services you offer can affect the amount of work you need to do to remain compliant.
  • There’s variation in requirements: Your compliance requirements depend on the size of your organization and the number of card payments you process annually.
  • Your transaction count matters: PCI compliance rules sort businesses into four groups. Level one merchants have the most requirements to meet because they process over six million annual transactions across channels. Smaller organizations will have fewer transactions and fewer rules to follow.
  • Merchant account providers may add requirements: To accept credit card payments, you need a merchant account and service provider. If you have a merchant account, your payment service provider should have PCI compliance-related requirements included in the terms and conditions of your agreement.

6 Primary Goals of PCI Compliance

The principles that guide the 12 PCI requirements can be summarized in six main goals:

  • Build and maintain a secure network and systems: Use strong passwords, firewalls, and/or software security technology to protect your network from hackers.
  • Protect account data: Keep your customers’ data safer with encryption, tokenization, and other ways to disguise sensitive information.
  • Maintain a vulnerability management program: Establish a vulnerability management program that helps protect your organization from malware.
  • Implement strong access control measures: Restrict which employees can access cardholder information. ensure limited users have access in-person and online.
  • Regularly monitor and test networks: Test your networks regularly and track who is accessing cardholder data.
  • Maintain an information security policy: Your staff must be familiar with internal procedures and regulations in dealing with cardholder data.

12 Requirements for PCI Compliance

The PCI Security Standards Council provides 12 requirements for businesses to be compliant. Here is an overview of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) requirements:

Goal: Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems

  • Install and maintain network security controls: Install and update a network security device or software defined technologies that check traffic entering and exiting your network, identifying, and blocking potential cyber threats. Test your networks and control connections to untrusted networks.
  • Apply secure configurations to all system components: You must define and implement processes and mechanisms that ensure the configuration and management of system components are secured. For instance you may do this by changing vendor-supplied, generic passwords and settings, removing or restricting functionality where necessary, encrypting access or enabling only essential services.

Goal: Protect Account Data

  • Safeguard stored account data: Protect payment data. Implement policies for disposing of cardholder data, avoid storing sensitive data and limit what you keep, which should be strictly what is necessary for the needs of the business.
  • Protect cardholder data with strong cryptography during transmission over open, public networks: Do not send unprotected account numbers (PAN) and sensitive personal information by any end user communication technology. Instead, use strong cryptography.

Goal: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

  • Protect all systems and networks from malicious software: Put mechanisms and processes in place to protect your networks and systems from malicious software and malware. Equip your staff with mechanisms to protect them from phishing attacks.
  • Develop and maintain secure systems and software: Spend time reviewing vulnerabilities and risks, then implement processes and systems to provide protection, including following secure development and coding practices.

Goal: Implement Strong Access Control Measures

  • Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know: Restrict cardholder data to only users who need to use the information to complete transactions. Define access roles, privileges and controls so only authorized users can access data.
  • Identify users and authenticate access to system components: Authenticate users and document policies, and see that each user has unique, identifying credentials. For a production environment where you have account data stored Multi Factor Authentication must be implemented.
  •  Restrict physical access to cardholder data: Mechanisms to restrict access to cardholder data must be in place. For instance point-of-sale devices must be protected from tampering or non-authorized substitution.

Goal: Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

  • Log and monitor all access to system components and cardholder data: Ensure your system has an audit trail, and leverage time-stamped tracking tools. These tools can show you when employees access data and help you review logs and identify suspicious activity.
  • Test security of systems and networks regularly: Test and catalog wireless access points. Schedule frequent security vulnerability assessments and proactively monitor traffic.

Goal: Maintain an Information Security Policy

  • Support information security with organizational policies and programs: Establish, publish, and share your company’s information security policy. Explicitly state rules for technologies, key responsibilities, and best practices. Give new employees the policy once signed on. Consider that education on security awareness must be an ongoing activity.

Payment service providers help you manage PCI compliance, making the 12 requirements and six goals simple for you to oversee. Robust platforms will have many of the rules built-in, automating the process. The bottom line is that you do not have to go at it alone.

Note on PCI DSS V4.0

March 2024 marks the beginning of PCI DSS version 4.0 application. Full implementation of PCI 4.0 requirements is effective March 2025.   The latest version of the standard includes many changes that you can check here. A summary of some of the reasons for the changes comprise:

  • Evolution of security needs: As threats evolve, security practices must evolve as well. That is why PCI DSS V4.0 includes requirements for multi factor authentication, password updates and e-commerce and anti-phishing.
  • Security promotion as a continuous process: To face ever changing malicious conducts you need to keep a recurring, well defined and strong policy and processes.
  • Increase flexibility to achieve security objectives: Your organization may adopt an innovative or different approach to achieve some objectives, while maintaining strict controls and processes and keeping the security objectives at the core of your planning and execution.

Enhance procedures and validation methods: Achieve transparency and granularity by designing for clear validation and aligned reports.

PCI 4.0 TIMELINE

How to Achieve PCI Compliance

To become PCI compliant, you need to meet the requirements, do an assessment and complete a security scan:

  • Meet the requirements: Your organization must comply with the PCI Security Council’s rules and any amendments to provisions and sub-requirements.
  • Complete an evaluation: Your organization should complete an assessment showing your security systems and measures to safeguard consumer information. Smaller organizations may complete a self-assessment. Larger enterprises must use third-party auditors to assist.
  • Perform a security scan: Your organization must scan the network you use to process payments. The scan is highly specialized and technical, and it benefits from expert assistance from an independent firm.

Becoming PCI Compliant

For PCI compliance, your organization must undergo a rigorous annual assessment. Although the requirements are universal, your business may need to adhere to additional rules and undergo more stringent checks. Depending on the size of your organization and the amount of transactions you process annually, you will fall into four main categories:

  • Level one organizations: If you process more than six million Visa payments annually across various channels, you fall into level one. You will have the most robust assessments and rules you must adhere to.
  • Level two organizations: Level two organizations complete between one and six million Visa transactions yearly.
  • Level three organizations: If you process between 20 thousand and one million Visa payments every year, you fall into level three.
  • Level four organizations: Level four organizations process under 20 thousand Visa transactions each year.

PCI Security Standards Council may move organizations that have received a cyber attack resulting in data loss into a higher validation level—regardless of the yearly transaction amounts.

What Are the Benefits of Credit Card PCI Compliance?

Your organization benefits from continuously evaluating and maintaining your security systems and addressing gaps. Other benefits of being PCI compliant include:

  • Minimizing the risk of data breaches
  • Protecting cardholder data
  • Reducing the risk of consumer identity theft
  • Identifying, monitoring and addressing security vulnerabilities
  • Decreasing the risk of paying fines associated with data breaches
  • Safeguarding your organization’s reputation
  • Keeping customers happy and confident when transacting with you

Frequently Asked Credit Card Compliance Questions

Have more questions? Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) answered.

1. Who Must Be PCI Compliant?

If your organization accepts, transmits or stores cardholders’ personal data, you must be PCI compliant.

2. What Does PCI Compliance Mean?

PCI compliance means that your organization meets the various security requirements that the PCI Security Standards Council provides. Meeting this compliance means the way your organization accepts, transmits and stores data is safe, private and secure according to the PCI mandate.

3. Is PCI Compliance Required by Law?

PCI Security Standard Council monitors the implementation of standards. PCI SSC standard is at the discretion of organizations that manage compliance programs, such as a payment brand, acquirer, or other entities.

4. How Do I Become PCI Compliant?

PCI compliance is achieved by completing a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) or hiring an approved vendor third-party auditor to complete the assessment, CSG Partners with Aperia, a QSA Approved Vendor. Upon completing the self- assessment questionnaire, and vulnerability scan (if applicable), submit all documentation and evidence to your payment processor (CSG Forte).

5. What Are Examples of PCI Compliance and Data Breaches?

When there are large PCI violations and data breaches it is often newsworthy. The sheer volume of the data and the high profile of the companies involved make these events prominent in the public eye, harming brands’ reputations and exposing millions of consumers to theft and identity fraud. However, it’s key to remember that cybercriminals target companies of all sizes and industries and no business is immune.

6. What Can My Business Do to Simplify Becoming PCI Compliant?

Although the technical aspects of completing the PCI assessment may be beyond the scope of what you can do yourself, your organization can take steps to make the process easier. Focusing on data hygiene is a good example. Here is a PCI compliance checklist:

  • Ensure your organization uses strong passwords and has strict protocols to enforce this.
  • Keep your software updated.
  • Only store the data you need.
  • Be wary of links—encourage employees to think twice before clicking on suspicious links.
  • Explain to employees the importance of protecting consumer data and the implications of not doing so.

Meet PCI Requirements With CSG Forte

Boost your payment security and protect customers’ sensitive data with CSG Forte’s secure payment solutions. Leverage the industry’s highest security standards with a platform with built-in PCI compliance mandates. CSG Forte provides:

  • Secure payments: Keep your consumer data safe with every transaction with CSG Forte’s advanced technology standards and protocols.
  • Tokenization: Leverage randomly generated tokens with no intrinsic value to replace cards, automated clearing house (ACH) networks and other sensitive data. Tokenization helps your organization safeguard against digital security breaches.
  • End-to-end encryption: Using PCI-validated end-to-end encryption, you can disguise credit card data during transmission. The encryption ensures card data is valueless if intercepted.
  • Hosted payment pages: Make sure your organization never stores data in your system using hosted payment pages (HPPs) or external checkout pages. CSG’s platform enables you to provide secure checkouts that won’t require you to manage and collect sensitive data during transactions. Third-party checkout is the easiest, most popular and safest way to accept online payments.
  • Adherence to compliance standards: Benefit from adhering to the most robust, reliable and up-to-date compliance programs. CSG’s security and compliance experts focus on delivering solutions in compliance with various mandates. We hold ISO 27001:2013 certification and maintain PCI DSS v3.2.1 compliance and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. We deliver SSAE 18 / ISAE 3402 SOC 1 Type II reports to ensure your organization’s credibility, accuracy and system security in safeguarding consumer data.

Streamline Your PCI Compliance Requirements

Protect your consumer’s data and prioritize security by leveraging CSG Forte’s award-winning payment platform. Our easy-to-integrate and navigate solution streamlines your payments, helping you process your transactions in one place.

Meet PCI compliance requirements with our built-in functionalities and tools, simplifying secure transactions. Build consumer trust and have peace of mind knowing your payment systems are robust and leveraging the latest security technology.

For over two decades and counting, CSG Forte has been helping thousands of government, insurance, telecom and other industry merchants optimize security, scale their business and process omnichannel payments efficiently.

For help achieving PCI compliance and get the support you need to make processing payments frictionless you can contact our team: whether if you are  a new merchant or an existing merchant.

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.

IVR

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.

 

Online

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.

Crypto

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.

 

FAQs

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.