What’s NFC and Why Would You Care?

Contactless payment. Female hand holding mobile phone. NFC technology. Retro style illustration.

When Apple announced its new Apple Pay feature in September 2014, it had been easily probably the most exciting developments in mobile payments in a long time. By utilizing NFC, Apple basically enabled iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users to ditch their wallets and go digital (a minimum of, for many purchases).

What is NFC? And just what will it mean for you personally? Let&#8217s check out fraxel treatments and every one of its implications.

What’s NFC?

NFC means &#8220Near field communication.&#8221 Small chips produce a outcomes of two devices to deliver data. Like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and RFID, it&#8217s a radio technology, and also you&#8217ll observe that the technology is carefully related, particularly where cellular devices are worried. NFC really started out RFID and uses radio waves to deliver data.

NFC really assumes three forms:

  • Device-to-Device
  • Card Emulation
  • Tag Readers and Author

We&#8217ll take particular notice at many of these forms inside a bit. However, let&#8217s discuss how NFC matches along with other mobile tech.

Unlike 4G, Wi-Fi, or perhaps Bluetooth, NFC is brief range. Devices have to be inside a couple of centimeters of one another (under 2 “). Like Bluetooth, you don&#8217t have to pay any other charges for doing things.

NFC has some major advantages over Bluetooth. First, it takes much less energy. Since NFC could be one-way or more-way, you don&#8217t always need an energy supply for components. (We&#8217ll enter into that later.)

Should you&#8217ve ever worked with the irritation of attempting to pair Bluetooth devices, have faith. Pairing devices with NFC can also be far simpler. Just tap the devices together.

NFC may also transmit data quicker than Bluetooth, that makes it well suited for mobile payments.

Device-to-Device NFC

With Device-to-Device NFC, you are able to exchange files between two devices. Which includes photos, videos, as well as contact details. Samsung continues to be using NFC in the phones because it launched the Universe S II (although it was just on select models the S III saw NFC become standard).

NFC and Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi Direct) really play nicely with one another, therefore it&#8217s easy to use NFC for pairing and Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct for that actual data exchange. Android Beam uses NFC and Bluetooth, while Samsung&#8217s S-Beam uses NFC and Wi-Fi Direct.

Actually, NFC is when most smartwatches now pair with smartphones. Which includes The new sony&#8217s Smartwatch 2, the Samsung Universe Gear, you will find, the Apple Watch. You may also use NFC for pairing phones with Bluetooth loudspeakers or printers.

Card Emulation

Card emulation is most likely where NFC shows probably the most promise. It&#8217s the driving pressure in mobile payments, utilized in both Apple Pay and Google Wallet. The concept is equivalent to other &#8220contactless&#8221 cards. You simply take the phone into range to accomplish the translation having a tap.

With GSM phones (AT&ampT, T-Mobile along with a couple of other carriers), your Sim turns into a &#8220secure element&#8221 that identifies you and also protects the data. A separate &#8220smart card&#8221 nick may also be used to secure the transaction in phones using CDMA (Verizon and Sprint).

Tag Readers and Author

Remember how NFC chips don&#8217t require power supplies for many applications? That&#8217s what we should mean here. It&#8217s easy to place small stickers with NFC chips on printed material along with other surfaces. Your smartphone would then have the ability to browse the &#8220tag.&#8221 It might open a trailer should you scanned a film poster, or produce a coupon for you personally should you passed a presentation inside a store. Sure, the idea is comparable to a QR code readers, but smartphone cameras use much more battery juice than NFC.

How Can Mobile Payments Use NFC?

Let&#8217s take particular notice at both Apple Pay and Android Pay (formerly Google Wallet), each of which use NFC in mobile payments. Google Wallet came first, however it never really found its foothold. Then, Apple launched its very own NFC payments application, Apple Pay, in 2014. In 2015, Google announced Android Pay, and rebranded Google Wallets like a peer-to-peer payments application different color leaves as PayPal.

To make use of Apple Pay on the smartphone, press your finger towards the Home Button (your phone uses TouchID to ensure your identity). While you pass your phone within the contact-less readers it completes the transaction. You may also make use of an Apple Watch to accomplish Apple Pay transactions. Apple Pay is recognized greater than a million store locations. You can browse the listing of companies here.

To make use of Android Pay, your smartphone needs to be running Android 4.4 (KitKat) with NFC. Simply unlock your phone (the lock screen should be enabled) and tap the telephone towards the terminal. Android Pay is recognized anywhere Apple Pay is &#8212 essentially any store which has an NFC-enabled terminal. You’ll find their email list here.

The Issue

Complicating this trouble (a minimum of during the time of penning this) may be the alternative mobile payment being produced by retailers. It&#8217s known as CurrentC, also it&#8217s the creation from the Merchant Customer Exchange, including companies for example Walmart, Michaels, 7-Eleven, as well as Southwest Airlines. Individuals same retailers, despite getting the capacity to simply accept Apple Pay or Android Pay, are refusing to.

CurrentC doesn&#8217t use NFC. Rather, it produces a scannable bar code on screen of the phone. The instalments are deducted from your money.

Around the plus side, it&#8217s so fundamental just about any smartphone supports it. Since payments undergo accounts, additionally, it saves merchants quite a little bit of cash on charges.

However, the app also potentially gives retailers a substantial amount of data in regards to you, and privacy issues naturally abound.

At this time, can be which mobile payment option will emerge ahead. However with Apple finally tossing the weight behind NFC, and now Android Pay broadly available to the Android user-base, mobile payments appear to become poised to have an explosion in recognition.

As a small company, you’re in a good position to get among the forward-thinking NFC retailers in your town that accept ApplePay and other kinds of mobile business.

Would you already accept a kind of NFC payment? Or are you currently looking for a place-of-sale system that enables you to accept NFC? Let&#8217s chat within the comments!

The publish What’s NFC and Why Would You Care? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments

This Year, the PewResearch Internet Project discovered that 65 % of respondents in the survey thought that by 2020, mobile payments may have almost entirely replaced the requirement for cash or perhaps charge cards. And if you&#8217re a merchant who&#8217s not accepting mobile payments yet, you&#8217re already behind the bend.

Now is a great time to have a look at why you ought to accept mobile payments, we’ve got the technology in play (and just what&#8217s coming), not to mention, the main players. We&#8217ll also demonstrate how to pull off obtaining the tools you have to accept mobile payments.

Why you ought to Accept Mobile Payments

Accepting mobile payments

Infographic by Jess3. Source: http://visual.ly/global-rise-mobile-payments

The truth is, business proprietors can&#8217t manage to focus on cash-only systems. Even though you&#8217re only a small-time crafts business and attend a couple of shows annually, should you don&#8217t accept card payments, you’re passing up on an enormous quantity of potential earnings.

Based on a 2012 study through the Fed, lots of people carry less than $20 in cash. Even though cash transactions were the most typical kind of transaction, their overall value was under credit, debit, or electronic transactions. By 2017, experts predict cash will take into account just 23 percent of transactions.

In a nutshell: if you would like people a larger investment along with you, you have to accept cards.

Technological progress around the mobile payments front continues to be slow. Square introduced its mobile payment system, enabling smartphone proprietors to show their devices into card readers, in ’09.

Google Wallet debuted this year, turning individuals same phones into digital wallets that replaced cards and funds, supplying, obviously, the business had the required equipment.

PayPal, the darling of e-commerce for a long time, didn&#8217t introduce its very own mobile payment solution until 2012.

However in 2014, Apple finally debuted its very own mobile payment solution, Apple Pay, which utilizes biometric authentication and NFC to create payments through the iPhone and Apple Watch. The adoption rate among Apple Pay is promising, with major retailers reporting massive increases in mobile payments.

In a nutshell: Apple joining the mobile payments field, and getting aboard a large number of major companies along the way, would be a big advance.

And also in 2015, Google made the decision to exchange Google Wallet&#8217s mobile payment abilities with a brand new application known as Android Pay. Google Wallet grew to become a peer-to-peer payments tool, allowing users to transmit money to buddies and family.

A 2015 study through the Given discovered that 22 percent of cell phone users and 28 percent of smartphone users had designed a mobile payment in the past year. That&#8217s up from 16 percent of cell phone users in 2014. And mobile transactions increased with a whopping 118 percent over five years, according to Business Insider.

Comprehending the Consumer Mindset

Researching the market may be the cornerstone associated with a effective strategic business plan. Here is exactly the same: Before you begin adding mobile payments for your business, it&#8217s essential that you understand a bit concerning the consumer mindset regarding them. Knowing your consumer can help you choose which option is the best for both you and your business.

Overall, there&#8217s great news. In america, Europe, and lots of japan, the outlook is usually positive and individuals are receptive. And when people begin using mobile payments, they are more inclined to keep doing so. The rate and ease of mobile are generally big factors within their appeal, so you have to remember this.

Plus, smartphones are starting to saturate the marketplace. An astonishing 82 % of 18-to-25-year-olds had smartphones by Q4 2013. About 60 % of the parents have smartphones, too.

That, however, doesn&#8217t mean there aren&#8217t any barriers to resistance or objections. Actually, a couple of pervasive myths might be keeping consumers from going mobile:

Infographic: Mobile Payment Myths

Infographic by Intuit. Source: http://payments.intuit.com/
mobile-payments-myths/

A 2013 survey by Accenture revealed some surprising insights about consumer sentiment toward mobile payments:

  • Many people understand their phones can complete mobile payments, however the adoption minute rates are low. That stated, once individuals have designed a mobile payment, they’re certainly going to keep doing so.
  • People aren&#8217t prepared to switch banks, upgrade phones, or make other changes just to obtain more support for mobile payments. Quite simply, it&#8217s around the merchant to become as flexible as you possibly can where mobile payments are worried.
  • Most importantly, individuals are concerned about privacy, security, and convenience with regards to mobile payments. Additionally they worry about value. Sixty percent of people that make mobile payments will make much more of them if utilizing their smartphone generated instant coupons. Several-third of mobile payment users are prepared to give private information in return for that convenience. They’re also thinking about value-added tools like receipt tracking.
  • Additionally to coupon incentives, consumers want to see other tools to supplement mobile payments. Which means features like receipt tracking or perhaps balance checkers might make an impact in adoption rate, as would having the ability to make use of a cell phone as evidence of ID.
  • Possibly most surprisingly, consumers AREN&#8217T waiting to determine what technology claims dominance. Which means there&#8217s likely room for a lot of types of mobile payments on the market, and it wouldn’t be impractical to think about finding a method to accept variations.

There&#8217s a little bit of push and pull happening here. There&#8217s a proper segment of shoppers who wish to use mobile payments. You may also lure new users to use mobile payments with the proper incentives.

Also important to note: Millennials, undoubtedly the greatest users of technology, are far interested in financial choices from technology, e-commerce and payment giants like PayPal, Amazon . com, Google, and Apple compared to what they have been in services using their own banks. One-third of them feel they won&#8217t want to use a financial institution whatsoever soon.

That stated, over fifty percent from the commercial banks have some type of mobile banking, and 61 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds who own smartphones use mobile banking. They have a tendency to determine their bank as interchangeable along with other banks, that is most likely one of the reasons for curiosity about alternative payments. The 2008 recession most likely didn&#8217t do much to assist Millennial perceptions of banks, either.

Mobile Payment Technology

At this time, you will find three contenders competing for dominance in mobile payments. They all have its very own advantages and disadvantages:

  • NFC
  • QR Codes
  • iBeacon

Let&#8217s take particular notice each and every to actually know how they might dominate mobile payments.

NFC

NFC, or near-field communication, is really a contactless data transfer system similar to RFID. When two NFC-enabled devices enter into range, you are able to transfer data from together (for example getting a telephone in selection of a charge card terminal). It plays well along with other technology for example Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, that is a huge advantage.

NFC isn&#8217t ubiquitous (yet), however it&#8217s found in many phones, particularly the flagship devices from Samsung, LG, and The new sony. Apple finally leaped in to the NFC game in 2014, and Google relaunched its mobile payments service as Android Pay in 2015. Samsung also launched its very own application, aptly named Samsung Pay, in 2015.

NFC is really a safe way of payments. Sensitive information is kept in a safe and secure element, either included in the Sim of the phone or put into another nick. Generally, retailers never really see your card or banking account data.

For any much deeper take a look at NFC, check out our guide, &#8220What is NFC, and Why Would You Care?&#8221

QR Codes

QR codes, or quick-response codes, have the type of ubiquity that NFC lacks. They work similar to your standard barcode symbols, with the exception that rather of counting on one-dimensional analog checking, they’re digital. This means that having a QR code readers application, your smartphone&#8217s camera could be temporarily converted to a scanner. QR codes can embed far more information than your standard barcode symbols, which provides them the ability to complete such things as open mobile sites, lead you to YouTube Videos, you will find, even allow you to complete mobile payments.

iBeacon

iBeacon is definitely an Apple-developed technology that utilizes Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE, or sometimes also known as Bluetooth Smart). Unlike another two kinds of technology, it&#8217s really still within the developmental stages. While you can use it for mobile payments, right now the greatest application for iBeacon is really as closeness alert or geo-fence that may go where Gps navigation doesn&#8217t.

It really works such as this: iBeacon units are positioned up within a building (like a mall). If somebody by having an iBeacon-enabled device makes selection of individuals beacons, they transmit information. A few of the ways fraxel treatments might be used is always to transmit mobile coupons or any other special deals, to steer customers through the store by department, or perhaps to enable them to find specific products on the grocery list.

A primary reason that NFC had an edge over Bluetooth for any lengthy there was a time the huge quantity of energy that Bluetooth needed. However, BLE uses much less energy than its predecessors, and that’s why it&#8217s now becoming more popular for pairing wireless rodents and keyboards (the batteries can last considerably longer). iBeacons with Bluetooth Smart technology won&#8217t be considered a massive power-suck for consumers. Plus, iBeacons have a further range than NFC: NFC devices have to be within 8 inches (though 2 ” is really most effective). iBeacons, however, have a variety of 50 meters, or about 165 ft.

For payments, iBeacons works as being similar to NFC: the telephone would wirelessly transmit payment information towards the terminal or beacon via Bluetooth.

It&#8217s also important to note that although iBeacons are Apple technology, they aren’t only at iOS devices. The telephone just will need Bluetooth Smart and also the appropriate application. In addition, Samsung announced its own form of the iBeacon, known as Closeness, at its 2014 developer conference in November. it really works exactly the same way as iBeacons, but instead of dealing with an application, Closeness works directly using the phone&#8217s hardware.

Even Facebook features its own Beacon service for companies. The beacons prompt people to the place to love the organization&#8217s Facebook page and offers additional information.

Major Players in Mobile Payments

Let&#8217s begin by analyzing a few of the major players in mobile payments, where they stand, and just how they compare when stacked facing one another. Included in this are:

  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • CurrentC
  • Flint
  • Square
  • LevelUp
  • PayPal Here
Apple Pay
apple-pay-logo

When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Also in September 2014, additionally, it introduced Apple Pay, which utilizes a mix of biometrics and NFC to accomplish mobile payments. Furthermore, Apple already had major retailers arranged to begin accepting Apple Pay. With this particular mobile payment method, consumers never need to give their names, charge card figures, or security codes to retailers. Rather, Apple utilizes a unique device ID to process the transaction.

Apple Pay works together with debit and credit cards for major US banks, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express from Chase, US Bank, Wells Fargo, PNC, and much more. You should check out the entire listing of banks and retailers here.

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Android Pay

Before Apple Pay, there is Google Wallet. It never acquired much traction, however in 2015, Google launched Android Pay, the successor to Google Wallet. (GW continues to be available, but because a mobile wallet and peer-to-peer payments application.) Android Pay also uses NFC. To really make it work, you have to let the lock screen in your device. Unlock the telephone together with your preferred method (fingerprint scanner, PIN, or pattern) and tap it towards the terminal to accomplish the transaction.

There&#8217s also the Google Wallet Card. It&#8217s debit cards from MasterCard, that’s linked straight to your Google Wallet balance. You are able to link your GW account to your Android Pay account as well as withdraw cash from ATMs using the card.

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CurrentC
CurrentC_App

Apple Pay encountered some trouble when some major retailers (including CVS and Rite Aid) disabled its NFC terminals to bar Apple Pay. The main reason? Wal-Mart, Best To Buy, Rite Aid, CVS along with other retailers have partnered inside a partnership known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, that is creating a mobile payment option known as CurrentC.

CurrentC uses QR codes instead of NFC. However the CurrentC process is slow, much slower than NFC, and extremely clunky. It&#8217s exactly the same kind of system combined with direct deposits. First, the client must scan the QR code generated by register while using CurrentC application. Then, the cashier scans the QR code generated through the phone.

The main reason people from the MCE are tossing their support behind CurrentC is it could conceivably enable them to sidestep the charges that charge card issuers charge. Most retailers pay between 1 % and three percent from the transaction in charges. CurrentC would sidestep this by utilizing checking accounts, gift certificates, and store-issued an atm card.

Right now, CurrentC hasn’t gone live, however the application will come in iTunes and Google Play. Worth mentioning is the fact that in October 2014, CurrentC was hacked and user emails were stolen. That&#8217s before the woking platform is fully ready to go.

Here&#8217s why that&#8217s so troubling:

CurrentC collects your driver&#8217s license number, your ssn, as well as your birth date to ensure your identity. Additionally, it collects your wellbeing information. Plus, among the key selling options that come with CurrentC may be the coupon-and-rewards feature. While it might be a large draw for purchasers, additionally, it reveals a lot of data about users as well as their shopping habits. Everything information goes directly to retailers, since retailers are the type who developed the platform.

Apple Pay, by comparison, doesn’t collect that data, also it doesn&#8217t share any information with retailers.

Flint
Flint-mobile-logo

Unlike another mobile payment options we&#8217ve discussed to date, Flint doesn&#8217t need any kind of terminal. It&#8217s a really &#8220mobile&#8221 solution because all that you should accept payments is the phone, that makes it well suited for service companies which make house calls along with other vendors who travel. Flint&#8217s mobile application works together with the digital camera to scan cards (note: it never stores the photos it requires of the charge card) and process payments. Which means no fighting with card readers as you’ve to with PayPal and Square. However, you are able to only accept Visa and MasterCard right now, with no pre-compensated cards. (It&#8217s also important to note that in October 2014, Flint guaranteed $9.4 million in funding, with Verizon adding the majority of it).

Flint offers invoicing, support for mobile coupons (via email and Apple Passbook), and digital receipts for money and appearance options. Should you also sell online, you may also setup an e-commerce system for checkout using Flint. For retailers, Flint&#8217s rates rely on regardless if you are charging a debit or credit card: for debit, you have to pay 1.95 % for credit, 2.95 %. Money is deposited straight into your bank account within 2 working days.

Square
Square-POS-Logo

Square really was the very first company to go in the mobile payments space, completely in 2009. Anybody having a cell phone could start swiping cards and accepting payments having a dongle that connects to headphone jack. Square, like other mobile payment services, charges a set rate per transaction.

For card swipes, retailers pay 2.75 %. Should you key the transaction in by hand, that jumps to three.five percent plus $.15. Square&#8217s greatest issue, from the merchant perspective, is its difficulties with holding funds if this suspects fraud. Otherwise, retailers obtain money within 1-2 working days.

Using the EMV liability shift, Square introduced a brand new card readers that is capable of doing studying the nick-and-PIN cards. It provides 2 types of the readers, including one which has NFC support to be able to accept payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay, along with other NFC-based services.

LevelUp
LevelUp-logo

LevelUp is really a mobile payments processor with increased functionality than the other available choices we&#8217ve seen. It really works much like CurrentC for the reason that you scan QR codes. However, instead of linking to some banking account, it enables users to produce a mobile wallet using their debit and credit cards (the website states any U.S. debit or charge card is recognized). Additionally, it integrates with loyalty programs and generates coupons for you personally. LevelUp has greater than 14,000 partners, and you should check out their email list here.

Like Square, LevelUp includes a POS functionality. However, LevelUp also adds its very own terminal devices, that also support NFC and iBeacon. Much more promising, LevelUp&#8217s application for consumers can be obtained not only for Android and iOS, but additionally Home windows Phones.

Another thing that sets LevelUp apart is its open platform, that can be used to integrate to your own systems. You are able to integrate it into greater than 40 other POS systems in addition to e-commerce an internet-based ordering platforms.

Retailers pay just 1.95 % per transaction, without any chargebacks. Money is deposited the following day to your account.

PayPal Here
paypal-here-logo

PayPal is, unquestionably, a huge in e-commerce, as well as in 2012 it finally moved into mobile payments. Like Square, you need to simply swipe the credit card while using free card readers. The funds you collect go straight into your PayPal account are available for you quickly. If you possess the PayPal bank card, the different options are the cash inside your PayPal account when it&#8217s inside at any location that accepts charge cards.

Like Square and LevelUp, retailers are billed flat charges per transaction. There’s additionally a POS system and support for invoicing. You are able to accept checks by snapping photos together with your phone&#8217s camera. PayPal Here charges 2.7 % for card swipes, though manual key-ins are 3.five percent plus $.15.

Something also worth mentioning is PayPal&#8217s One Touch. This mobile solution enables you to definitely stay logged to your PayPal account in your phone and employ that to accomplish any in-application purchases.

Like Square, PayPal also offers an EMV-compliant readers with NFC abilities to be able to accept mobile payments via consumers&#8217 selected apps.

Accepting Mobile Payments with a free account

What must you do in order to start accepting mobile payments? Should you travel for the business, a mobile solution like PayPal Here’s most likely the greater choice for you. However, if you want POS capacity and also have a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll need an NFC-enabled terminal that may accept Android Pay, Apple Pay, yet others.

Credit card merchant account providers can frequently assist you to get yourself a terminal, because of free or at an inexpensive. Let&#8217s check out a few of the top-rated providers, using their charges for their terminal options.

  • Dharma A Merchant Account
  • CDGcommerce
  • Helcim
  • PaylineData
  • PaymentDepot
Dharma A Merchant Account
dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma A Merchant Account offers retail and e-commerce solutions alike, if you come with an web store in addition to a physical store you are able to integrate them easily. As opposed to a tiered prices model Dharma charges a $15 fee every month (including PCI compliance) by having an interchange-plus cost model for transactions. Dharma charges .25 % along with an additional $.10 per transaction for in-person transactions, and .35 % plus $.10 for e-commerce.

For small companies (individuals earning under $10,000 per month), Dharma includes a partnership with Flint, so use a smartphone or tablet to process charge cards. However, this doesn&#8217t provide NFC abilities.

Terminals: During the time of penning this, Dharma can re-program your overall equipment to utilize its services for $100. For $299, you can aquire a VeriFone Vx520 terminal, that is NFC enabled in addition to EMV ready.

(EMV is really a global standard that will become a lot more common stateside in 2015 because of the massive liability shift that starts in October 2015. Essentially, this means that debit and credit cards includes a unique nick that gives extra security. Basically we&#8217re more worried about mobile payments here, you need to certainly locate a terminal that’s EMV compatible too.)

Also worth mentioning: Dharma donates 50 % of their profits to charitable organization. It&#8217s additionally a certified eco-friendly business and B-corp. If social or ecological responsibility are part of your company model, this appears such as the apparent fit.

CDGcommerce
cdgcommerce-logo

CDGcommerce also offers retail and e-commerce payment solutions — but additionally, it includes a mobile payment option that Dharma lacks, known as ProcessNow.

Prices wise, CDG charges 1.95 % plus $.30 for online transactions, 1.7 % plus $.25 for swipes, and 1.7 % plus $.25 for mobile transactions. On the top of this, there&#8217s a $10 monthly support package as well as an optional cdg360 package with value-added security measures for $15 per month.

Terminals: For $79 annually, CDG will give you an EMV-ready and NFC-enabled PerkWave terminal along with a customer-facing readers. It&#8217s suitable for Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Softcard, along with the remaining NFC payment services. CDG also promises to replace it all within 24 hrs. The long run-proofing guarantee helps to ensure that if another bit of technology becomes standard (for example iBeacon), it’ll change your terminal. Plus, you receive free terminal reprogramming for just about any existing equipment, a totally free USB card swiper that&#8217ll use most Home windows and Mac devices for those who have existing software, and much more.

Helcim
helcim-logo

Helcim is yet another processor with multiple solutions: it provides an online terminal for implementing computers or running an e-commerce site, retail solutions with terminals, along with a mobile payment solution, all on the monthly subscription plan plus interchange-plus prices (Helcim calls it cost-plus prices).

The virtual terminal package runs $30 per month, the retail package runs $12 per month, and also the mobile package runs $25 per month. CDG charges just .18 percent per transaction for mobile and retail transactions, and .36 percent for virtual/e-commerce transactions.

Your monthly subscription also covers PCI compliance. The mobile package incorporates a totally free card readers and limitless users — but additional card visitors $45 each.

Terminals: With Helcim, you possess an range of terminal choices to accept mobile payments, beginning at $199. Re-programming of terminals is free of charge, and the organization offers exchanges for $45, where it’ll give back a refurbished pre-programmed model.

Payline Data
payline-data-logo

Payline Data again provides retail, e-commerce, and mobile solutions, also it claims to give the cheapest rates, guaranteed. They&#8217ll even provide you with $500 whether they can&#8217t beat your overall prices.

Payline uses interchange-plus prices on the top of the fee every month. Standard plans start at $5 monthly for any subscription, though you will get the professional take into account $20. Using the standard plan, you have to pay .five percent plus $.10, and pro accounts pay .2 percent plus $.10.

Terminals: Once again you can buy multiple terminals from VeriFone and Ingenico, including EMV and NFC devices. Prices start at $195. There is also a number of other retail supplies, including check readers, card readers, PIN pads, as well as receipt paper.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Payline Data will donate 10 % from the processing revenue from your bank account to some charitable organization of the selecting from Payline&#8217s listing of approved partners.

Payment Depot
payment-depot-logo

Payment Depot operates a little differently compared to other processors we&#8217ve spoken about here. Again you’ve mobile, retail, and e-commerce solutions. You are able to pay a regular monthly fee or perhaps an annual fee that discounts the price by 20 %. But rather of interchange-plus, you have to pay a set rate.

That fee depends upon the package you select, which depends upon your monthly volume.

  • For sales under $10,000: $199 each year ($20 monthly) $.25 per transaction.
  • For sales as much as $40,000: $399 each year (40 monthly) $.15 per transaction.
  • Limitless: $599 each year ($60 monthly) $.10 per transaction.

Using the mid-tier package there is also a totally free virtual terminal so that you can enter payments from the browser or mobile phone. Using the limitless plan, Payment Depot offers an EMV-ready Smart Terminal.

Terminals: Again, you can aquire a free Smart Terminal using the limitless plan. Should you&#8217re not doing quite that volume, Payment Depot can reprogram existing equipment free of charge. Otherwise, you are able to use the organization to obtain a new terminal of the selecting, which will come at wholesale cost (the website states costs start just $49).

Final Ideas

We&#8217re residing in digital age, folks. Consumers have not had a lot of options, approximately much power — and for retailers, that may certainly appear frightening. And when you&#8217re not devotedly following a latest developments in technology, the idea of stepping into the sport can appear overwhelming.

Anything you do, don&#8217t just sit around at nighttime ages.

We&#8217re here to assist. Take a look at our reviews of charge card processors/credit card merchant account providers, in addition to our overview of mobile payment solutions. Need assistance selecting a service provider? Call us for help. We will also help you select a web-based shopping cart software to get involved with e-commerce, and pick a qualified POS software for you personally.

What else would you like to learn about accepting mobile payments? Ask away!

The publish The Best Help guide to Accepting Mobile Payments made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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What’s the main difference Between Nick-and-PIN and Nick-and-Signature Cards?

difference between chip and pin and chip and signature

The EMV liability shift is well going ahead and customers have began dipping individuals cards. At this time, most small company proprietors are most likely wondering why the heck everyone is speaking about nick-and-PIN cards when everyone appears to become using nick-and-signature. What’s the main difference between nick-and-PIN and nick-and-signature cards? We’ve briefly pointed out this before, however if you simply want all of the exciting details&#8211how it really works, what it really method for you, etc.&#8211we’ve got your back the following.

Support one minute.

Let’s review the way the whole magstripe/nick factor works again. Magstripes have secret figures baked into the small black box in your card. Whenever you swipe it, the device reads the figures and transmits on them the internet or phone lines to ensure the figures are correct. Charge card companies have made the decision to update prepaid credit cards since with magstripe, it’s simple for less-than-honest individuals to carry the secret information once the card is scanned or as the figures have been in transmission. Since magstripe figures never change, fraudsters can wreak lots of havoc with this particular information.

However, nick cards essentially possess a small embedded computer. Whenever you dip the nick, it interacts using the terminal&#8217s computer. First the credit card will be sending a secret, encrypted, at random generated message, towards the terminal that is construed through the terminal having a secret key, then the other way around. By doing this the credit card and also the terminal make certain that things are authentic.

To ensure the person while using card isn&#8217t a crook, the credit card user has to set up a PIN (that ought to match the PIN kept in the credit card or around the banks servers). Or, when the card is nick-and-signature, the individual merely has to sign their name and also the cashier may-or-may-not verify it matches the main one on the rear of the credit card. It&#8217s no question one expert stated that nick-and-signature cards are the same as “locking the leading door and departing the rear one open.”

That Seems Like an issue.

Okay&#8211that last sentiment is too dramatic in my opinion, however it got your attention, right? Here’s the factor: nick cards allow it to be incredibly hard for fraudsters to create a fake card because things are encrypted. The verification method (PINing or signing) determines how difficult it’s for any crook to utilize a legitimate, but stolen, card. For any nick-and-PIN card, the crook has to understand the PIN. For any nick-and-signature card, the crook just needs to be half-way decent at forging a signature (when the cashier even checks whatsoever). Since fake cards are an even bigger issue in the US than stolen cards, it truly isn’t a large problem.

Why Don’t We Simply Use Nick-and-PIN?

Short answer: it&#8217s a piece happening. There’s two big reasons we aren’t going right to nick-and-PIN. The very first reason is, the charge card companies don’t believe that consumers are designed for much change. They’re accustomed to swiping and signing, now they have to get accustomed to dipping and signing.

Prior to going off on the tirade about how exactly humans aren’t that stupid (I needed to after i learned this), there’s proof: when card companies in Canada folded out nick cards, individuals who sent nick-and-PIN cards recognized that individuals stored failing to remember their PINs. You’d think this is entirely the consumer’s problem, before you keep in mind that almost everyone has multiple cards, and also the card that’s an enormous discomfort will probably be the main one that’s used minimal. Bad deal for card provider.

Another reason happens because ATMs aren’t nick-compatible yet (plus they won’t be until October 2016 or 2017). Since magstripes continue to be a computerized fallback on ATMs, if your fraudster will get your hands on the magstripe data and PIN for any chipped card and uses the data at an ATM, they’re will make served by a great deal of money. Because the bank needs to cover the lost money, it&#8217s bad deal for that bank.

So How Exactly Does This Affect Me, the company Owner?

Glad you requested! The good thing is, you can’t take place liable if somebody utilizes a stolen nick-and-signature card together with your fancy EMV terminal. Hooray!

Unhealthy news is, you may be liable if somebody utilizes a stolen nick-and-PIN card at the terminal and you’ve got to fallback to processing it as being nick-and-signature. The reasoning is equivalent to it’s for just about any other EMV-related change: should you have had the best technology, theoretically the fraud wouldn’t have happened. Since most cards will be nick-and-signature at this time, I wouldn’t be worried about that as well much. However when the PIN cards start getting more widespread (which I’m guessing may happen inside a couple of years when ATMs get caught up), you might like to consider upgrading your terminal to 1 that does PINs.

Yet Another Thing…

There’s a repayment process increasing that bypasses the credit card altogether, and that’s NFC (near field communication). To obtain all of the juicy information regarding how it operates, take a look at our articles here and here, but let’s review the fundamentals. Customers can connect their cards to virtual wallets like Apple Pay or Android Pay, or connect their banking account straight to applications like CurrentC.

The verification process works similar to it will for chipped cards: the telephone and terminal send encrypted messages backwards and forwards over short range electromagnetic waves to make certain that things are legitimate. Within the payment application, you will see a verification method just like a PIN to guarantee the user is true. The entire factor is all very secure, theoretically. It’s additionally a couple of years lower the street from being broadly used.

We&#8217re tied to regular-old signatures for some time longer, but safer choices are coming. For now, verify individuals signatures!

The publish What&#8217s the main difference Between Nick-and-PIN and Nick-and-Signature Cards? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Understanding and Staying away from CNP Fraud

Credit card online shopping

Once we trundle ever-nearer to total nick-card domination, professionals are predicting that &#8211 as happened far away who adopted EMV technology &#8211 nearly all fraud will migrate from counterfeit and stolen cards, and for the simpler target: card-not-present (CNP) fraud.

As always, for business proprietors, this is an excellent news/not so good news kind of factor. Unhealthy news? Unlike card-present fraud, where the issuer generally accumulates the liability for fraudulent costs, retailers are often accountable for any CNP fraud. Since this kind of fraud has already been the biggest way retailers generate losses, the concept that CNP fraud will become a level bigger problem is daunting.

But here&#8217s what’s promising: there are several relatively simple things you can do to prevent nearly all CNP fraud.

Internet Fraud 101

Everyone knows the internet is rife with methods and scams, but minus the coupon-clipping all of them. Let’s review the fundamentals, after which discuss what your company can to complete do not be responsible for their fraud.

Phishing Attempts: The fraudsters will be sending out fake emails or setup fake websites that appear to be legitimate so that they can get individuals to enter sensitive information for example charge card figures. These emails may also contain adware and spyware&#8230

Adware and spyware: Software made to work without anyone’s knowledge and monitor the consumer to be able to collect sensitive information, or simply really ruin their computer.

Account Takeover: A kind of id theft where the fraudster gathers details about their victim, then use that information to consider within the victim’s charge card/merchant services, change their passwords and billing address, etc.

Application Fraud: Similar to in account takeover, the fraudster uses information collected regarding their victim to spread out accounts within the victim’s name.

Charge Card Generators: This is exactly what it may sound like: a fraudster uses a generator to create fake charge card figures. That one is simple to combat should you employ a minimum of a few ways of verification.

Friendly Fraud: This type of fraud (also referred to as chargeback fraud) continues to be increasing lately. After ordering and finding the goods, a fraudster will request reimbursement claiming they never got their order, it had been broken, or even the order was said to be canceled. These claims are tough to combat because frequently retailers don’t have the documentation to demonstrate the fraudster wrong.

How you can Safeguard Your Company

Maintain PCI standards (even though you aren’t being attributed): PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Standards) is some standards made to reduce card fraud. These standards largely include common-sense ideas: conserve a firewall, set all passwords to something unique, regularly update and run anti-virus software, secure or tokenize all sensitive stored and transmitted data, restrict access of customer data to simply individuals who need to visit it, etc. Browse the PCI Standards Council website and this reference guide for more details regarding their standards. That one may not assist you to avoid CNP fraud around it can help you avoid data breaches. My own mail data breaches.

Make use of an Address Verification Service (AVS): This particular service blogs about the billing address joined through the customer towards the address on record using their charge card issuer. The service will flag any orders in which the addresses don’t match or only partly match, and it’s your decision to determine if you wish to risk accepting an order. AVS is nice protection against card information acquired though means like phishing and adware and spyware since the fraudster may not be aware of billing address. The down-side: AVS only works within the U . s . States.

Look into the Issuer Identification Number (IIN): The very first six figures from the charge card number is known as the IIN (formerly referred to as BIN&#8211Bank Identification Number). The dpi is much like the worldwide AVS&#8211you can be sure that the info on the IIN (like the country) matches the data presented to yourself on an order.

The Three Verification: By requesting the 3 or 4 digit the three on the rear of a charge card, you set another bit of information which fraudsters need to collect to be able to pass off like a legitimate customer.

Email Verification: Should you send a note towards the current email address supplied by the client requesting the customer verify the e-mail address is true, you are able to be sure that the email is connected using the additional information provided.

Make use of a 3D Secure Service: These types of services, for example MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa use plugins in your web site to verify the identity from the cardholder. Customers who’ve cards held by participating banks is going to be requested to go in your password verifying their identity before they create their purchase. Bonus: the liability associated with a fraudulent charges that will get with the 3D services are selected up through the issuer, and not the merchant.

Check out Suspicious Orders: Somebody silently place in a purchase for a lot of costly goods? Plus they want priority shipping? Plus they would like them shipped to overseas? Sounds suspicious in my experience! Perhaps you should consider that the bit further. Read this link to find out more about what suspicious orders seem like and you skill about the subject.

Maintain Extensive Records of the Transactions: The greater information you’ve, the greater difficult it’s for purchasers to assert fraudulent refunds. Just make certain you simply keep sensitive information that’s essential. Also&#8230

Distribute Confirmation Emails: This task also causes it to be harder for fraudsters to weep chargeback. They can’t claim they weren’t informed, and email leaves a paper trail.

Practice Good Customer Support: Frustrated customers who can’t make contact with your company are more inclined to request refunds on their own products instead of trying to solve the issue in a manner that&#8217s more agreeable for you.

Don’t assume CNP fraud is somebody else’s problem. In all probability, you&#8217ll lose probably the most if your company is hit with fraudulent purchases. But here&#8217s more great news: because we know CNP fraud is rising, people happen to be developing new methods to combat this issue. It&#8217s only getting simpler from now on.

The publish Understanding and Staying away from CNP Fraud made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Mobile Payment Processing 101

how do mobile payments work

Should you focus on Internet buzz whatsoever, you&#8217ve most likely heard the term &#8220mobile&#8221 tossed out a great deal. Almost everything&#8217s gone mobile — gaming, marketing, shopping, you will find, even payments.

Using the rise of apps like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, more shoppers have found it easy to ditch the credit card altogether and merely depend on their own phones for payments. And much more phones support we’ve got the technology needed, too.

Just how will it all work? How can you even start establishing your company to simply accept mobile payments? And really should you?

Today we&#8217ll cover the fundamentals of methods mobile payments work, what you ought to enable them for the business, and regardless of whether you really have to accept mobile payments at this time.

What Exactly Are Mobile Payments?

Mobile payments aren&#8217t by any means new. Individuals have been toying with the thought of having to pay with mobile phones because the 1990s, although it&#8217s only lately removed as a possible option for consumers AND retailers.

However the term &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is really a broad one. Generally, it refers to 1 of four things:

  1. In-store mobile payments: Also known as contactless payments, or sometimes mPOS payments. This requires utilizing a phone (or smartwatch) to pay for rather of swiping a charge card or having to pay with cash.
  2. Mobile eCommerce: Sometimes known as mCommerce. This requires making use of your phone to create purchases online, for example with the Amazon . com application, in addition to online bill pay using your phone.
  3. Mobile peer-to-peer: Also referred to as P2P. Including services for example PayPal, SnapCash, Square Cash, and Google Wallet, which allow you to send money to buddies and family totally free.
  4. Mobile Charge Card Swiping: This is alternative way the word &#8220mobile payments&#8221 is most generally used, also it describes retailers using their phones (or a tablets) to simply accept cards, as opposed to a traditional POS terminal. You may hear this more precisely known as mobile processing.

Ideas&#8217re mostly worried about in-store payments, but we&#8217ll discuss a few of the others.

How Popular Is Mobile Payment Processing?

So what would be the adoption rates like? The Given, in the 2015 survey, discovered that 28 percent of smartphone users and 22 percent of cell phone users had designed a mobile payment previously year. That, obviously, includes all sorts of payments sent via a phone, not only to-store payments.

Not just that, however the industry appears majorly poised for growth, with payments likely to hit $37 billion in 2015 — and jump to some massive $808 billion by 2019, based on estimates by Business Insider. Individuals figures are really slightly less than BI&#8217s original projections due to how late around Samsung Pay and Android Pay launched.

Want more statistics and compelling good reasons to consider going mobile yourself? Take a look at our Ultimate Help guide to Mobile Payments. Should you&#8217re thinking about taking payments in your phone, make sure to take a look at our comprehensive guide.

How Can Mobile Payments Work?

Nowadays, most mobile payment processing methods depend on NFC — that’s, near-field communication. NFC works nearly the same as RFID technology. When two NFC-enabled products are in range, they are able to transfer data (for example payment information) from together. Within this situation, we&#8217re speaking a good NFC-enabled charge card terminal (we&#8217ll return to that in just a minute) and also the consumer&#8217s smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.

You can aquire a more in depth explanation of NFC within our article here.

The less-common alternative is using QR codes. They&#8217re similar to traditional barcodes, except they are able to hold a lot more information. The mobile phone opens an application that generates the QR code and also the merchant&#8217s POS system scans the bar code. At this time, LevelUp is among the few mobile payment options that utilizes QR codes. It supports NFC, as well as an less-common technology known as iBeacons.

The great factor about LevelUp is the fact that the organization works with companies to build up white-colored-label mobile payment apps. That means they&#8217ll produce a custom, branded application only for you. Consumers can download the application and employ that to create payments inside your stores (or restaurants).

The Customer Merchant Exchange, helmed by Walmart along with a couple of other institutions, have attempted to push CurrentC, a QR code-based choice for greater acceptance, however it&#8217s simply not removing the way in which NFC-based payments did when Apple Pay broke to the scene.

How Secure are Mobile Payments?

It&#8217s becoming more and more harder to help keep consumer data secure. Take, as an example the great Target Hack of 2013. As well as on a far more personal level, how many occasions have you ever received a brand new bank card just because a merchant&#8217s data was compromised?

Swiping a charge card just isn&#8217t a really secure type of payment because charge card figures are now being stored and transmitted more than a network.

Mobile payments — particularly, NFC-based ones — offer greater peace of mind because many of them depend on tokenization. Each time a shopper uses their mobile device to create a payment, the unit generates just one-use charge card number it transmits towards the merchant. Consequently, you, the shop owner, will never be really coping with the client&#8217s sensitive information.

Not just that, however the mobile phone&#8217s CPU rarely, when, handles the transaction and also the card details aren&#8217t really stored around the device. Rather, a safe and secure element or smart nick, outside of the CPU, generates the amount and transmits it towards the merchant&#8217s system. Card information is kept in the cloud and may usually be easily wiped remotely if your device gets lost.

Additionally, most devices that support mPOS payments require consumer to ensure their identity in some manner before finishing the transaction. For Apple Pay, it&#8217s the TouchID fingerprint scanner. For Android Pay, it&#8217s the action of unlocking the telephone (meaning consumers need to enable the lock screen to start with).

None of the is completely invulnerable, but the truth is, no payment technique is. However, you don&#8217t need to bother about mobile payments being less secure than other methods.

What Must you Accept Mobile Payments?

The good thing is that you simply don&#8217t have to significantly overhaul your whole system if you wish to accept mobile payments. All you actually need is definitely an NFC-capable charge card terminal. Since NFC is exactly what drives Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, you are able to accept the 3 payment methods (in addition to whatever other apps might emerge later) with similar bit of hardware.

Yes, upgrading terminals sounds somewhat costly proposition, particularly if you have multiple registers and locations. The good thing is by using the EMV liability shift on October first, 2015, lots of credit card merchant account providers and pay-as-you-go services (Square and PayPal, for instance) happen to be offering new, &#8220future proof&#8221 terminals to retailers. Most of those terminals will also be already outfitted with NFC. If you just got such a terminal, you may curently have what you ought to accept mobile payments. Should you&#8217re still searching at obtaining a new terminal and you need to accept mobile payments, search for one with NFC. And when you upgrade in the standard magstripe readers that Square and PayPal offer, you will get an NFC-enabled device.

Now, should you&#8217re searching at LevelUp, you&#8217re gonna need to purchase the QR code scanners (should you don&#8217t have), which run $50 each. And when your POS isn&#8217t suitable for LevelUp, you’ll need a tablet or more, or three ($100 each through the organization).

In The Event You Result in the Change to Accept NFC?

At this time, mobile payments and NFC are extremely small players within the bigger payments industry. Yes, the adoption minute rates are rising, but you’re most unlikely at this time from the game to really lose sales because of not accepting mobile payments. (Not accepting charge cards whatsoever is yet another matter entirely.)

However, having the ability to process NFC payments will help you stay around the leading edge of the profession. In case your audience is youthful and tech savvy, it&#8217s more worth purchasing we’ve got the technology to simply accept mobile payments than if, for instance, most of your audience is seniors.

Have questions regarding mobile payments? Leave us a remark! And when you&#8217re not setup with charge card processing, we will help you choose a payment processor and obtain a low-cost machine with nick card and NFC abilities.

The publish Mobile Payment Processing 101 made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Nick Card Fraud: Are You Currently In Danger?

Thief stealing credit card data/money

The current shift to nick-based cards has everyone considering fraud, so possibly now is a great time to talk about the kinds of fraud that you ought to look as an entrepreneur. The good thing is, as this article extensively explains [PDF], in each and every other country where nick-and-PIN cards happen to be introduced, card-present fraud has dramatically declined. Regrettably, we haven&#8217t quite went to nick-and-PIN cards yet, and (while you&#8217ll see) fraudsters are extremely, very ingenious. America has showed up late towards the EMV game, a lot of smart card workarounds happen to be invented. Now it&#8217s here we are at us to experience get caught up.

There are various kinds of fraud that may hurt your company&#8211some old, and a few new. Since magstripes continue to be around, we can’t overlook the classic ways of fraud, however, you should be looking for new methods too. Ready? Let’s begin!

Fake/Doctored Cards

Doctored cards are pre-existing cards which have the magstripe data and also the information on the credit card face altered (by using electro-magnets). Once the card is swiped, it’ll develop a mistake and pressure the merchant to type in details by hand. Fake cards are basically exactly the same, however they begin with scratch rather of utilizing a pre-existing card.

This can be a pretty primitive approach to fraud. It’s also losing sight of style because of the elevated complexity of charge card designs which, incredibly enough, exist to combat this kind of forgery. However&#8211who knows? It might still happen.

Skimming

This process involves using reprogrammed technology to gather information from people&#8217s cards, or using cameras to record the victim&#8217s PINs. Frequently, this trick is performed at unstaffed ATMs or gasoline stations&#8211the fraudster will plant an imitation card swiper to get figures from the magstripe, along with a camera or device put into the keypad to record the PIN. However, it is also done within companies too: POS terminals could be altered to record card data and PINs, or employees may use small cardswipes to get the information once the card is taken away in the customer&#8217s sight (for example inside a restaurant).

The skimmed magstripe data may then be copied onto another card and combined with any swiper. Bear in mind that regardless of the emergence of EMV machines, fraudsters can continue to pull this off by disabling the nick inside a chipped card to ensure that retailers need to fallback on swiping.

I’d recommend looking at this site, that has images of skimming technology. Regrettably, skimmers are frequently hard to place since they’re just re-purposed POS equipment. Paranoid yet?

Individuals who don&#8217t study from history, etc. etc. An alert:

While EMV technologies are still in the infancy, we may possess a small-form of the UK’s mix-border problem on the hands: once the United kingdom switched to EMV, fraudsters stole United kingdom citizen’s magstripe data and tried on the extender within the U . s . States where magstripes were prevalent. In the same manner, stores that don’t have EMV readers may be in danger because they’re an simpler target than individuals using the new machines.

Skimming Redux: the Tapping Attack

Should you thought we wouldn&#8217t need to bother about skimming any longer once nick cards be prevalent, reconsider. Essentially, the tapping attack is a kind of skimming that needs chipped cards. Remember how nick cards are ultra-secure since the information is encrypted? Ends up a few of the information, such as the customer’s PIN, isn’t encrypted whenever a terminal is speaking to certain kinds of nick cards (meaning, individuals kinds of nick cards in which the issuer didn&#8217t purchase more costly types of cryptography). Using the information skimmed out of this attack, the fraudster has enough data to create a functional magstripe-and-PIN card, or is able to connect to the PIN on the stolen card.

Stolen or lost Cards

This is actually the easy one: shady men and women steal cards to make use of the cards for his or her own purposes. There are several very clever ways to call stolen cards, like the Courier Scam: an individual pretending to become out of your bank calls and claims your card continues to be compromised, so that they need mail your card and PIN to your bank. Then they employ a mail person to gather your envelope, who provides it with towards the fraudsters rather from the bank. Charge cards may also be acquired with the mail before they&#8217re delivered, from pick-pocketing, or from misplaced cards, among other means.

Fraudsters have numerous methods available, like the latter within this list, to make use of stolen cards for his or her own gain.

Signature Foraging

I don’t believe that I have to spend a great deal of time about this one since i curently have: the signature on the stolen nick-and-signature card, or on the nick-and-PIN card combined with a terminal only enabled for signatures, may be easily foraged.

Fake/Stolen Card Combo

This is actually the forged card&#8217s more intelligent brother or sister. There really are a couple of different attacks (that we understand of) which use fake cards, but I’m lumping them together if you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter what type of trick a fraudster is pulling&#8211you have to look for fake cards.

The very first, the Wedge Attack, is discovered by Cambridge College researchers in 2010. They figured out that if somebody will get your hands on a stolen card, they might make use of a man-in-the-middle device to convince the terminal that the PIN was joined while concurrently convincing the credit card the transaction was verified by signature. For it to operate, the actual card is connected to the man-in-the-middle device, and also the fraudster inserts an imitation card in to the terminal. Throughout the transaction, the fraudster could enter any PIN and also the transaction would still undergo.

The Relay Attack, also discovered by Cambridge College researchers, is quite ingenious: the client puts their real card right into a tampered-with POS terminal to create a payment. Rather from the information transmitting towards the bank, it’s transmitted to a different man-in-the-middle device, that is held with a shady individual (Fraudster B) in another store. Fraudster B then uses the data transmitted in the fake terminal to create a different purchase with an imitation card in the second store. The client thinks they’re having to pay, say, $5 for any coffee, however their account was really billed $400 for any computer.

The fake cards utilized by the Cambridge researchers were wired towards the man-in-the-middle device (begin to see the above link for any picture), however they think it might be easy to make wireless cards and small, covert man-in-the-middle devices. It is a puzzle at this time if the flaws within the EMV technology which make the Wedge and Relay attacks possible happen to be fixed. Regardless, EMV technologies are very complicated and it’s hard to close all of the doorways. Even when individuals attacks don’t work, somebody less honest compared to people at Cambridge will probably locate one that does eventually.

You Skill

The most effective factor to complete, should you haven’t already, is to purchase new EMV terminals. It’s also wise to understand your rights when you are looking at liability and also the new nick card technology. Most of all: be vigilant&#8211check individuals signature cards, look out for just about any suspicious goings on in your area of economic (by employees and customers), don’t leave terminals unwatched, regularly examine terminals to make sure they haven’t been tampered with, and obtain a good take a look at customer’s cards to make certain they’re genuine.

Although EMV technologies are not completely fraud proof, it’s a good deal much better than what we should were using before. For the time being, once we&#8217ve seen far away, don’t be surprised lots of fraud to maneuver towards the less-secure card-not-present type of attack (that is a whole other article by itself).

It doesn’t matter how frequently fraud happens, it takes only one attack to ruin somebody’s day&#8211take some steps to make sure that it isn’t yours.

The publish Nick Card Fraud: Are You Currently In Danger? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Launching a Kickstarter Campaign? Listed Here Are 10 Things You should know

kickstarter

Kickstarter is just about the go-to way of financing a task for that modern-day media-savvy producer of technological, artistic, and cultural goods. The possibilities of having the ability to make use of a community of moneyed consumers eager to obtain the floor floor from the Newest Factor is really a tempting one indeed. Especially considering the alternative could be to pry financing in the ice-cold hands of the bank &#8212 financing which, even when by a few miracle you’ll be able to obtain, you&#8217ll still need to repay, unless of course personal bankruptcy belongs to your strategic business plan.

However, don&#8217t go believing that Kickstarter crowdfunding is really a walk-in-the-park. Kickstarter campaigns work on the &#8220all-or-nothing&#8221 funding model. Which means that should you don&#8217t meet your funding goal when your campaign ends, you receive no funds promised for you. Should you check out the statistics Kickstarter creates concerning the campaigns located on their own site, you&#8217ll discover that no more than 36% of projects on Kickstarter achieve their funding goal. Which means that 64% of Kickstarter projects finish up delivering $ towards the &#8220creator.&#8221

Sounds a little daunting, doesn&#8217t it? The factor is, it doesn&#8217t need to be. Be systematic inside your method of performing your Kickstarter campaign and heed these ten strategies for crowdfunding success.

Browse The Ghosts Of Campaigns Past

Kickstarter does every crowdfunding campaigner an enormous favor, plus they don&#8217t even make much reference to it! Whenever a Kickstarter campaign ends, whether or not this succeeds or fails, the campaign remains up online &#8212 they&#8217ll never go lower. Now, for that campaigner who launches some half-baked project, fails, and subsequently attempts to your investment whole factor ever happened, this might not appear like a favor. However for you, the creator in waiting, it most definitely is. Individuals past campaigns really are a treasure chest of raw data.

Return and appear through old campaigns in your town of niche. Seriously consider the campaigns which have been successful, along with the campaigns which have crashed and burned. Find out if you identify any patterns that correlate with success. With more than 360K projects launched so far, there&#8217s an amazing quantity of data a slave to on Kickstarter&#8217s servers just waiting to become exploited.

You don&#8217t reach peruse watch application for the loan ever posted to some bank to determine the things that work and just what doesn&#8217t. However with Kickstarter, things are preserved and readily available for public viewing. Utilize this and do your homework.

Function As The Public Face Of The Campaign

Kickstarter has lengthy been seen as an spot for passion projects. Projects that inspire an amount of devotion and question far above the typical business enterprise. It&#8217s why Kickstarter describes individuals who launch campaigns on their own site as &#8220creators&#8221 and never &#8220campaigners.&#8221 Consistent with this spirit, if you wish to win the hearts (and therefore the wallets) of potential backers, you have to personalize your campaign.

Don&#8217t be shy about including details about your and yourself motivation in performing that which you do in your campaign. Get people committed to not only the prosperity of any project, however in your success. If people that you’re enthusiastic about what it’s you&#8217re doing, they are more inclined to be part of that enthusiasm. Don&#8217t hesitate to place yourself too much there. Be concise, though. An excessive amount of personal background info and individuals might weary.

Publish An Expert Video

Kickstarter estimates that together with a video inside your project presentation increases the chances of you getting a effective campaign from 30% to 50%. That most likely won&#8217t be an unexpected for you. The greater your presentation is, the much more likely it is you&#8217ll flourish in your campaign.

That&#8217s why it might be worthwhile to take a position some cash into producing your video. A properly-created video will convince backers that you simply&#8217re seriously interested in any project and also have the sources to determine it through. You&#8217re most likely not wanting to devote your precious funds towards something apart from the topic of your campaign, but consider there are numerous great ideas searching for funding from Kickstarter backers. It might be nice if the caliber of your opinions could carry your day, but in fact you have to find additional methods to differentiate your and yourself campaign if you wish to break with the noise. Likewise, make certain to become deliberate regarding your emblem along with other design choices.

Fall Into Line Backers Before You Decide To Launch Your Campaign

Backers could be averse to being the first one to support a task. Seeing &#8220$ promised&#8221 on the project is sufficient to send people away, even though you&#8217re just getting began. For this reason it will help to secure backing before your campaign even launches.

Try to obtain your family and buddies involved with backing any project prior to it going live, then ask them to lead when your project has launched. Consider building an e-mail listing of interested folks out of your professional and personal systems too. Then, when your project went live, inform them immediately. The significance of getting early backing extends beyond the need for the contributions themselves. Based on Kickstarter, 78% from the projects that raise over 20% of the funding goal are ultimately effective. Do whatever you need to do to be able to secure that crucial early funding. It might be the important thing to attracting subsequent funding from individuals you don&#8217t know. Success breeds success.

Make Use Of The Data Within The Project Dashboard

You can depend on intuition in figuring out how you can advertise your campaign. A much better idea is always to use Kickstarter&#8217s Project Dashboard, which provides you use of a group of helpful data. The Dashboard enables you to see wherever your backers are referred from. I&#8217m not speaking about traffic generally, but actual backers. You&#8217ll begin to see the domain source your backers are originating from, the amount of pledges from that source, the quantity promised, and also the percentage of your amount elevated from each domain. This post is highly useful for assisting you determine where to place your marketing efforts.

kickstarter

In addition to this, the Dashboard also provides you with data concerning the recognition of the various reward tiers. Information is worth more than intuition. Make use of the data Kickstarter freely provides you with.

Talk With Your Backers

By backing any project, individuals are placing their rely upon you to definitely deliver in your promises. Edge in the game knowing there&#8217s no guarantee they&#8217ll receive anything in exchange. Show your backers the respect they deserve by continuing to keep in contact with them. Have them accustomed to how well you’re progressing, and become as open as you possibly can.

Keep an eye on social networking chatter with regards to your campaign. See what concerns individuals have. React to people. Provide them with grounds to consider a leap of belief and put their rely upon you.

Purchase Marketing Your Campaign

I recognize you most likely didn&#8217t enter into this realm using the intent to become salesperson or perhaps a PR flack. It is always good if your campaign could sell itself. In the past of Kickstarter, you may well have become away without investing in advertising and PR. But because some observers have noted &#8212 not without a little bitterness &#8212 the backlinks directed towards effective Kickstarter campaigns have a tendency to reveal lots of traffic originating from Facebook or Pay Per Click.

Don&#8217t be squeamish about running an advertisement campaign. For much better or worse, it&#8217s how a game is performed nowadays. If you possess the sources, you might want to employ a PR agency and/or perhaps an advertising agency to handle marketing stuff so that you can concentrate on your passion.

Set A Practical Funding Goal

Entrepreneurs generally have a proper regard for his or her capability to accomplish big goals. When they didn&#8217t, they’d have discovered another profession. However, you will find advantages to keeping the funding goal modest.

Determine how much cash you&#8217ll have to accomplish your objectives and canopy expenses. Consider Kickstarter&#8217s 5% platform fee and also the charges billed through the payment processor. Just don&#8217t ask in excess of is completely necessary. You&#8217ll clearly have better luck meeting a modest fundraiser goal than the usual more ambitious one. So that as I stated earlier, success breeds success, so a effective campaign can set happens for additional winning projects later on. What&#8217s more, having a modest funding goal, you&#8217re more prone to possess a campaign that blows well past what embark to boost, which could impress your customers &#8212 and possibly the press &#8212 by itself.

Don&#8217t Offer A Lot Of Reward Levels

Research has proven that whenever you are offering people a lot of choices, they&#8217re prone to feel overwhelmed and can frequently choose that making the decision isn&#8217t well worth the hassle.

Choose rewards which are clearly presented and which attract your audience. Offer entry-level rewards for minuscule pledges in order to provide the largest possible variety of potential backers the opportunity to seem like they&#8217re part of any project. Have them committed to your ability to succeed. Just don&#8217t present an overabundance of rewards, and particularly not an array of similar rewards or variations on a single reward. Make it simple, stupid.

(It&#8217s only a saying, folks. You&#8217re not stupid, you&#8217re wonderful.)

Don&#8217t Do All Of It Yourself

I understand, I understand. You&#8217re a self-starter. You love to Do-it-yourself. However, crowdfunding is difficult. When Kickstarter launched in ’09, running every facet of your campaign yourself might have been a far more achievable proposition. Nowadays, you&#8217re rivaling companies supported by private investors oftentimes. Their agencies have agencies, for screaming loud.

Attempt to manage every facet of a contemporary crowdfunding campaign while remaining dedicated to your own personal project &#8212 the main reason you began your campaign to begin with &#8212 and also you&#8217re prone to spread yourself too thin.

Whether you possess an agency to handle marketing, partners to assist handle any project, or perhaps your friend&#8217s kid to handle social networking outreach, Kickstarter campaigns would be best contacted as group projects. It requires a village! (Remember, you&#8217re in competition with villages)

The Conclusion

For a large number of entrepreneurs and startups with big ideas, Kickstarter is a godsend. Creative projects and merchandise that will otherwise not have seen the sunshine of day have discovered rabid fans all over the world. Crowdfunding is a great factor. But be cautioned: the arena isn’t level. Your vibrant ideas is going to be competing for that Crowd&#8217s cash with big crowdfunding agencies. Entire squads of suits who may lack your creative spark but who know their business strategies.

Don&#8217t get left within the dust. Do your research to make certain your effort and inventive spirit hit paydirt. Kickstarter is really a maturing platform, also it&#8217s not only for that little guy any longer. Be smart inside your approach &#8212 and perhaps begin with some money too &#8212 and your project may be the next RompHim. I only pray you have that sort of transcendent creative satisfaction sooner or later on your time on the planet.

The publish Launching a Kickstarter Campaign? Listed Here Are 10 Things You should know made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Newest Methods to Identify CNP Fraud

protected EMV credit card

The shift to EMV technology isn’t just affecting payments in-stores&#8212due towards the elevated impossibility of fraud in-stores, so many people are expecting that you will see a rise in card-not-present (CNP) fraud. We’ve already spoken about how exactly business proprietors can avoid fraudulent purchases for the current moment. But don’t get too attached. New, supposedly safer methods are coming.

We’re conscious of how difficult it’s to maintain ever-altering technology, so we’ve got your back. Here’s the safety technology you&#8217ll be listening to within the next couple of years.

3D Secure

This type of security is working for multiple banks, however the obvious leaders are MasterCard’s SecureCode and Visa’s Verified by Visa. The name is really a mention of the their three domain model: the acquirer domain (the merchant), the issuer domain (the financial institution) and also the interoperability domain (we’ve got the technology employed for the acquirer and issuer domains to speak to one another).

3D secure adds an additional security step during checkout, thanks to a card provider. The service utilizes a plug-directly into identify cards from participating banks and, if this finds one, it opens a pop-up window asking the client to go in a pre-set password to ensure their identity. This may a couple of things: first the possibility fraudster must know another, hard to collect, bit of information to charge the credit card. Also, when opening the pop-up window, the financial institution could see when the user is applying a proxy. On top of that, the issuer generally covers the price of any fraudulent purchases making it although the 3D secure system.

Sounds a good buy, right?

Well, 3D secure has existed for some time, and many individuals the U . s . States haven’t heard about it. There’s grounds for your. The safety programs happen to be slow to become adopted by online stores because of their badly considered technology and poor customer education.

Probably the most apparent issue is that 3D secure technology confuses customers. A great deal. Pop-up home windows, in the past, haven’t been employed for good purposes. Naturally, users will be suspicious once they locate one that’s requesting some kind of banking password along with other private information. Worst, from the merchant perspective, some customers may be so confused they abandon their purchase altogether.

We’ve got the technology has additionally become critique for asking people to create passwords at inconvenient occasions (a person who just really wants to buy their stuff isn’t prepared to produce a secure password), which makes it too simple to change forgotten passwords, violating user’s privacy by permitting organizations to determine the transactions, departing apparent vulnerabilities within their software, and pawning off liability charges onto customers.

Clearly, 3D secure systems have a methods to go. Nevertheless, 3D secure has already been beginning to become adopted by many people ecommerce websites, and, typically, we’ve got the technology does its job. Meanwhile, the manufacturers understand the requirement for fraud-proof technology, and therefore are focusing on making these programs more user-friendly and secure.

CAP/DPA

Hey&#8212remember the way i just stated issuers will work on making 3D technology safer? MasterCard’s Nick Authentication Program (CAP) and Visa’s Dynamic Passcode Authentication (DPA) programs are members of their solution.

CAP/DPA is essentially EMV for online transactions. The concept is the fact that banks will issue just a little hands-held EMV terminal known as a CAP readers (though a good phone application may be within the works too). To authenticate their identity, the client uses their nick card and PIN, and so the readers will produce a one-use password. Although this had been developed mainly for banking, issuers have recognized the potential of integrating it with 3D secure software&#8212the one-use password may be used along with 3D secure&#8217s pop-up service.

Issuers have previously began moving out CAP readers within the United kingdom for internet banking, and unsurprisingly, we’ve got the technology wasn’t quite as much as snuff. The United kingdom CAP visitors poor-quality and also have technological issues that fraudsters may potentially exploit in several ways.

Another apparent problem: in the usa, we don’t have nick-and-PIN cards yet. No PINs means not a way to ensure the consumer, which&#8217s not so secure whatsoever. However, because CAP/DPA is basically a method to bring EMV technology, a technology which has already proven very secure, to CNP transactions, theoretically it’s a very viable choice to lessen fraud online. However, we’ve got the technology isn’t there with regards to the CAP readers or American’s charge cards.

We’re going to need to wait a couple of years with this one, guys.

Tokenization Standard

However, tokenization is a kind of security you could implement at this time (and also the payment card industry encourages you to do this). Although this isn&#8217t going that will help you root out fraudulent transactions, it can help safeguard against data breaches. Should you don&#8217t utilize it already, this really is one you’ll certainly be thinking about, since MasterCard, Visa and American Express have announced their intention to create tokenization a worldwide standard online as well as in-store. Let’s be truthful: soon, you most likely won’t have the ability to neglected.

You’ve most likely heard about file encryption, and you’ve most likely heard about tokenization, however i wouldn’t be amazed should you didn’t be aware of difference. Here you go: file encryption works just like a secret code. You utilize a vital to secure and decrypt the information. Anyone who will get your hands on the encrypted data with no answer to interpret it’ll just visit a mess of figures. It really works very well&#8230 unless of course the interceptor finds the important thing, by which situation file encryption is totally useless. And you’ll be able to discover the key. However, tokenizing several is irreversible because there’s no link between the initial number and also the token. There’s no master key that may turn back tokenizing process.

Theoretically, when a customer enters their charge card number and verifies their identity (possibly though a procedure employing 3D secure), their charge card number is going to be substituted for a token number sent in the payment processor. The entire factor works exactly the same way casino chips do&#8211when you, the merchant, are speaking to money providers lower the road, everyone can treat time like it’s the customer’s real charge card number. Since everyone knows the token is connected with this particular customer which particular transaction, you&#8217re all on exactly the same page. But just like a poker nick, outdoors of this particular transaction, the token won’t work any longer. There’s you don’t need to store customer’s real charge card number whatsoever, and since each transaction features its own token, the information is basically useless to the fraudsters who steal it.

Clearly, tokenization isn’t a perfect solution. You may still find occasions once the customer’s real card data must be joined and transmitted (which means you can’t give up all of your other way of file encryption), the customer’s identity still must be verified to begin with, and tokenization won’t safeguard against account takeover.

What Exactly&#8217s the purpose?

That’s why we’re speaking about multiple forms of security: not one of them are 100% effective on their own. Theoretically, these types of security works together. 3D secure protects against application fraud, CAP/DPA protects against phishing and account takeover, and tokenization protects against information thievery.

There should never be one fool-proof method to finish fraud. We can’t cover the cost of a totally hack-proof system. But maybe, by using a couple of different, very secure methods, we are able to get close. Although individuals methods haven&#8217t quite showed up yet, they&#8217re searching promising.

The publish Newest Methods to Identify CNP Fraud made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

dharma-merchant-services-logo

Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

Flint-mobile-logo

Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

payline-data-logo

Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

shopify-banner

Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

salesvu-logo

SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

stitch-labs-logo

Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

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TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

freshbooks-logo

Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

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Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

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BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

bookeo-logo

Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

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At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

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AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

trello-logo-blue

Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

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With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

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ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

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ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

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Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

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Are You Currently Meeting EMV Standards?

meeting EMV standards

The shift originates! I understand denial continues to be establishing pretty hard, and when you’re similar to retailers, you’re only beginning to understand that it may be smart to exchange your magstripe readers to have an EMV-enabled device. Regrettably, whether you’ve got the correct equipment or otherwise, you’ll still might be responsible for certain kinds of charge card fraud. So it’s time for you to shake the sand from individuals boots and obtain an advantage on these new rules or perhaps your business are affected for this.

What’s the EMV Standard Exactly?

EMV is short for for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the 3 firms that first produced the conventional in 1994 (yes, this idea is a lengthy amount of time in the making). Since 1999, EMVCo—owned by Visa, MasterCard, JCB, American Express, UnionPay, and Discover—has been the entity behind EMV standards.

The purpose of the EMV shift would be to strengthen security by embedding “smart” micro-processor computer chips into charge cards. These chips tend to be more heavily encrypted compared to magnetic stripes available on traditional charge cards, avoiding fraud a lot more effectively. Obviously, as these cards have an alternative way of storing sensitive data, retailers will need an additional way to read them. By October 1st, if you don’t possess a device able to studying the brand new chips (forcing your clients to swipe their cards rather of dipping them) you have the effect of certain fraudulent charges created using a counterfeit or stolen nick card.

How Can This Be Happening?

As technology advances, our economy is relying more heavily on debit and credit cards than in the past. Since cards are simpler to steal and forge than cash or checks, we’re searching in a natural rise in swipe card fraud. This task-in technologies are an essential change to keep track of the more and more sophisticated data breaches and skimming techniques. It’s a kind of arms race by which each side need to keep improving their technology so as have an edge on another. This EMV transition is certainly victory around the security side since Europe has witnessed an 80% decrease in charge card fraud using the implementation of EMV standards. Meanwhile, the U.S. has possessed a 47% rise in fraud because we’ve taken such a long time to meet up with already EMV compliant regions like Canada as well as other areas of Europe, Asia, and South America.

Is Everybody Aboard?

Virtually. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Uncover all announced their step-by-step plans for shifting certain kinds of fraud liability from themselves towards the retailers. On the more global scale, most countries have previously implemented or are at some stage in applying EMV nick technology for debit and charge cards. When I pointed out before, the U . s . States is a touch late towards the party, but we’re getting there.

What This Signifies for Retailers

To put it simply, should you don’t want to accept possibility of getting to fork over a collection of cash, you’ll have to safeguard yourself from fraud liability by buying new EMV-compliant charge card processing equipment. For most retailers, it might be a good idea to install new systems as quickly as possible, but when you’re still not convinced it might be a pertinent investment, browse the article Do You Actually Need An EMV Terminal?

Note, though, the liability shift isn’t relevant to CNP (card not present) transactions. Phone order and web order transactions is going to be worked with because they always were, and therefore should you never really are exposed to a charge card, you most likely won’t need to bother about being EMV compliant.

Implications for Consumers

Apart from a sense of elevated security and also the task of really finding out how to begin using these cards, consumers won’t experience as most of the changes or hassles of EMV implementation—certainly not as much as the retailers who’ve to buy the brand new equipment and undertake the additional liability. Until nick card dipping gets to be more common, though, you’ll most likely see some slower moving lines because it requires a couple more seconds to process nick cards and never all clients are quite sure cooking techniques yet.

Steps to consider like a Merchant

(Before you get the EMV equipment)

  1. Don’t panic, but don’t get too comfortable.
  2. Verify customer ID cards when processing charge card transactions.
  3. Be positive about locating the EMV equipment and payment processing options that actually work good for you.
  4. Check this out publish on buying an EMV nick card terminal.

Looking Around

If you’ve discovered that your payment processor isn’t quite EMV-compliant yet or they’re charging a leg along with a leg for any new machine, you’ll most likely be thinking about switching providers. Should you decide you are looking at doing that, you’ll would like to get quotes from a minimum of three different trustworthy providers to make certain you are receiving the best offer. This publish on negotiating the very best charge card processing deal will be able to help, but when you’re still baffled, tell us and we’ll lend a hands.

What’s Going To a brand new EMV Card Readers Require Me To Pay?

Though you can buy new readers from the couple different sources, the particular cost largely depends upon the company and also the equipment you choose to get. For example, there’s a couple compact, mobile EMV readers that exist for approximately $30, some countertop nick terminals (with built-in receipt printers and pin pads) average within the $200 to $400 range.

Based on the number of devices you’ll need and just what your business’s revenue stream is searching like, you might be thinking about leasing an EMV charge card terminal, but that’s certainly something I wouldn’t recommend. Read this short article for the entire story, but essentially the thing is that you’ll most likely finish up spending hundreds more about the device than really worth.

Summing Up

If you’re already setup having a nick card readers, congratulations! You’re formally EMV-compliant. Should you don’t accept any in-person payments, you’re ready too. If you’re presently accepting charge cards with no EMV-enabled device, however, don’t panic. Not, a minimum of. You shouldn’t encounter a lot of problems this early hanging around, however the charge card market is evolving rapidly and you’ll need to maintain the rules to safeguard your company. Since the technological bar continues to be elevated, fraudsters will likely be searching for individuals companies which are still vulnerable. Don’t be caught unawares!

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