credit card merchantThe days are gone where consumers only pay in cash, as innovations in technology and financial services have made the process of purchasing goods and services more efficient. Merchant credit card processing services have created a variety of ways to make a purchase from businesses, some more traditional, and some new methods have emerged in the last 5 years. All the consumer needs is a credit or debit card account. Businesses should be aware of all the options that consumers have in order to maximize revenue opportunities.

How have merchant accounts evolved over time? In the early days of credit card processing payment slips would be filled out, the credit card imprint would be swiped onto the slip, and sent to the merchant processing bank by mail.

Next came electronic processing, where the customer’s credit card was swiped on a terminal or the credit card number was given over the phone. At first these types of transactions were slow due to slow dial-up connection speeds, but as the connections increased in speed, so did the time of transaction.

Today, technology allows credit card processing over the internet as well as in stores and over the phone, making shopping convenient and quick. Most recently, Google and Pay Pal have introduced their own forms of merchant accounts that do not reveal the cardholders’ information to the merchant, making consumers feel more protected.

How a Business Can Win Sales by Offering Multiple Forms of Payment

Let’s say that a husband and wife are searching for a flat screen television, and they start their search on the web and find three retailers. All three retailers have point of sale credit card terminals in their brick and mortar locations, and they also accept credit cards over the web (Both of these merchant credit card processing services are offered to businesses by companies like North American Bancard, Pay Pal, and Google.) Only one of the retailers accepts Pay Pal, and the husband and wife don’t feel very comfortable giving businesses their credit card information. So they decide to use the retailer who offers Pay Pal as an option.

This is one way that a business can gain a competitive advantage by offering these new forms of payment over the internet, and it will be interesting to see if Pay Pal expands its merchant services to brick and mortar locations.

A newly developed concept is processing sales with mobile phones. This can be a useful tool for businesses that conduct services off-site like plumbers, electricians, or truck drivers. There are applications that can be downloaded to your mobile phone after you have established a merchant account with a participating bank.

The customers’ credit card information is either manually typed into the fields, or there is Bluetooth technology available that allows the credit card to be swiped and to print a thermal receipt. Or if you would like to cut down on paper, a receipt can be sent to the customer’s email or by text message. Keep on the lookout for this method to grow in popularity.