5 Patreon Alternatives

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patreon alternatives

For a wide array of podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives, Patreon (see our review) has provided a convenient means of monetizing output that was previously unavailable. Patreon’s conception of crowdfunding, based as it is on ongoing donations from patrons in exchange for exclusive content, is well-suited to those who produce works that people enjoy but who previously had no means by which to get compensated for their toil.

However, if you’re on the lookout for an alternative to Patreon (as are many Patreon creators ever since Patreon introduced — and then rescinded — their unpopular new fee policy), there are several other good options. Let look at some of them!

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1. Kickstarter

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you what Kickstarter is. You’re also likely aware of the fact that Kickstarter (see our review) crowdfunding campaigns do not operate on Patreon’s recurring subscription-like model. However, if you’re a creator whose focus is on putting out, say, a few major works per year — as opposed to a continuous stream of content — Kickstarter may work for you. You can always launch a new Kickstarter campaign after your old one runs its course.

Kickstarter vets crowdfunders fairly strenuously, so not everyone gets in. It’s a more exclusive platform than most of its rewards crowdfunding peers, which is a factor to consider if you’re a small-time creator. But with nearly $3.5 billion in dollars pledged to Kickstarter campaigns — and over 136K successfully-funded projects — Kickstarter’s track record is nothing to sneeze at.

One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter campaigns is that the funding is all-or-nothing. If you don’t raise your goal amount within the time frame you specify (anywhere from 1 to 60 days), you get nothing — no soup for you. Launching a Kickstarter campaign requires a certain degree of confidence in your ultimate success.

As for fees, Kickstarter and Patreon don’t differ a great deal in this respect. Both Kickstarter and Patreon take a 5% cut of what you earn, with payment processing fees taking upwards of 3% of the rest.

2. Indiegogo

Indiegogo (see our review) is another alternative consider, and while it has a lot in common with Kickstarter, there are some key differences.

Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns are not continuous and have concrete start and end dates. Unlike Kickstarter, however, Indiegogo doesn’t pre-screen the campaigners who sign up to crowdfund, making it a less exclusive platform for creatives. Indiegogo also gives you the choice of whether you want your campaign to be all-or-nothing or keep-whatever-you-raise in its structure. With the latter, you won’t be left with nothing if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal.

The maximum campaign length with Indiegogo is 60 days. Indiegogo’s fee structure is nearly identical to that of Kickstarter and Patreon — 5% to the platform, ~3% to the payment processor.

Think of Indiegogo as a slightly more relaxed Kickstarter.

3. Donation Buttons

Here’s a crowdfunding solution that ensures you won’t have to pay a 5% platform fee to anybody: You can just directly solicit donations from those who enjoy your work. Payment providers like Stripe (see our review) and PayPal (see our review) have buttons you can place on your site for just this purpose.

These payment providers allow people to make recurring payments, so your fans can sign up to support you on a continuing basis (just as with Patreon). Of course, you won’t be getting any of the extra crowdfunding services you’d get with Patreon (reward distribution, patron management, analytics, etc.), so this funding solution will require more of your time and energy than Patreon. Then again, you’ll get more of every pledge made to you. If you have an existing fanbase motivated to pay up for your content and the ability to manage everything manually, this may be a crowdfunding route worth exploring.

Now, let’s take a look at a few crowdfunding sites that share Patreon’s subscription-based crowdfunding model.

4. Podia

Formerly called Coach, Podia isn’t one of the better-known crowdfunders out there — in fact, they’re new to the crowdfunding game, having just launched their new Patreon-like Membership service a few weeks ago (I’m writing this in December 2017). Prior to this, the site — then known as Coach — was simply a service with which people could sell online courses and digital downloads as standalone purchases.

Podia is keen to invite comparisons between themselves and Patreon — in fact, they’ve put up a page on their site devoted to showcasing themselves as a superior Patreon alternative. Their main selling point is this: Podia charges no fees on the donations your contributors make. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee to use the service. You’ll have to pay $79 per month for the Membership package and $39/month if you just want to sell online courses/digital downloads and use Podia’s email marketing services. If you can draw a significant monthly income from selling access to your work, you’ll be paying less in fees with Podia than with Patreon. However, if you pull in just a few hundred bucks a month or less, Podia is clearly not a more cost-effective crowdfunding service than Patreon. It all depends on the level of support you get from your followers.

5. Memberful

Memberful is a decidedly different way to make money from your work. It’s not a crowdfunding platform, but rather a plugin you install on your website through which you sign people up for subscriptions to receive exclusive content. You can set up the application to accept subscriptions for different lengths of time (monthly, yearly etc.) and for different subscription plans that give access to varying levels of content.

If you sign up for Memberful’s Starter plan, you won’t pay any monthly fee, but Memberful will take a whopping 10% of what you earn — and that’s before you get to the payment processing fees. Memberful’s Pro and Enterprise plans cost $25 and $100 per month (respectively) while cutting the platform fee down to 2% and 1% (respectively). Both give access to features like coupon codes and newsletter integrations. Memberful isn’t a funding solution for everybody, but for the right sort of creator, it may be worth checking out.

Coming Soon: Drip

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kickstarter’s new Patreon-like subscription-based crowdfunding platform, Drip. Drip is still invitation-only at this point, so we’re still waiting for a proper release. However, given that it has the weight of Kickstarter behind it and is clearly Kickstarter’s response to Patreon’s popularity, I expect it to become Patreon’s main rival when it becomes open to everybody. Details are scarce at this point, but Drip promises to integrate with Kickstarter so the 13.7 million backers currently on Kickstarter can use their login details and payment info to start backing Drip projects without having to set up a new profile. They also promise that Drip campaigns will feature a “founding membership period” during which backers will be designated “founding members” and get special perks for jumping in early. It’s an intriguing way to get people motivated to support you during your campaign’s early days.

Few details are available, but when Drip is released to the general public, I’m going to try to be the first person to post a review of it. Stay tuned!

Final Thoughts

Monetizing your work online has long been a challenge. Thankfully, platforms like Patreon and its various alternatives have arisen to plug this market inefficiency and help creators make money from the very people who consume and enjoy their content. No single solution is right for everybody, so check out these platforms (heck, check out other ones too if you want!) to determine which funding model makes sense for your particular needs.

Now go forth, create, and get paid!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

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What Is Affirm And What Does It Offer?

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We often talk about how tightening credit standards have changed the face of lending. What’s less discussed is the effect the Great Recession has had on consumers

American credit card debt, currently amounting to around $808 billion, is one of the easiest types of credit to overextend yourself on. Not coincidentally, many younger Americans are avoiding credit cards at a higher rate. Fewer than one-in-three Millenials claim to have a credit card, for example.

That’s where Affirm comes in. Companies like Affirm count on the fact that cardless consumers will still face situations where they need to buy something that they can’t afford.

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How Does Affirm Work?

Affirm offers point-of-sale (POS) financing. This isn’t a new form of lending, but rather a technology-assisted reinvention of an old lending model.

Here’s an example of how the process works:

You decide you can’t possibly live without the hottest new gaming console a moment longer, so you add it to your online shopping cart and proceed to checkout. Among your options to pay are the usual credit and debit cards, along with payment processors like PayPal. But this merchant also provides an option to use Affirm, which allows you to take out a short-term loan on the spot to finance the exact cost of your purchase. You’re given the choice of paying back the loan over the course of three, six, or 12 months. Affirm then shows you how much money you’ll be paying back, expressed as both an interest rate and a dollar amount. If you accept, your purchase is processed.

Congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new game console…and a short-term loan!

Isn’t That Just How A Credit Card Works?

In a sense, sure. Revolving lines of credit and short-term loans have a lot in common. In both cases, you’re “taking out” an amount of money equal to the cost of your purchase, which you’ll be paying back (hopefully) within the next few months. Additionally, in both cases, creditors aren’t concerned with what you’re buying, just the amount you’re requesting/using.

But there are some important differences.

The big one is that Affirm evaluates each loan separately rather than as a line of credit. You won’t be cut off when you hit a specified credit limit, but your loan may be denied if you missed payments on other Affirm loans or if they believe you’ve overextended yourself. Additionally, Affirm may not always cover the entirety of your purchase; you may have to make a downpayment.

You can expect APRs between 10% – 30% with Affirm. The average credit card APR is around 15%, so you can easily end up paying more than you would with a credit card. Loans are capped at $10,000.

Why Would I Want To Use Affirm Instead Of A Credit Card?

The short answer is that it’s mostly a matter of your own spending psychology, but there are some specific reasons why you might choose a POS loan over a credit card purchase.

You Have Poor Credit

Credit card companies aren’t quite as conservative as they were during the financial crisis, but many shoppers may still find themselves unable to access credit. Or they may only qualify for a very low credit limit. POS lenders take credit into account (Affirm, for example, does a soft pull on your credit when you first signup), but don’t weight it as heavily.

You’ve Maxed Out Your Credit Cards

While you may want to reconsider taking on more debt, there’s nothing really stopping you from utilizing both credit cards and POS loans.

Special Offers

It’s not unusual for credit card companies to offer 0% APR introductory rates. PoS loans also come with 0% APR offers, but they’re a little different. Instead of being attached to new accounts, Affirm will sometimes offer 0% APRs at specific partner stores.

You Like The Way The Loans Are Structured

Credit cards offer enormous flexibility in how they’re repaid. Other than making the required minimum monthly payment, you can throw any amount of money you want at your balance every month. At the same time, it’s not necessarily clear how much you should be paying to make a good dent in your balance. A POS loan has a prescribed end and tells you the amount of money you need to pay each month in order to meet it.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of diversity in the types of financing being offered to individuals and businesses these days. POS loans fit into the broader alternative lending trends. That is to say, they’re fast, easy, and more expensive. Still, they do provide options for borrowers who have a hard time otherwise accessing credit, or who wish to avoid credit cards’ minimum payment trap.

Meanwhile, if you’re a business that prefers old-fashioned credit cards, why not take a look at our business credit card comparison chart?

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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Shopify vs. Squarespace: Online Store Options Compared

Shopify vs. Squarespace – they are two of the most well-known brands in the online store / website builder industry. I’ve written a Shopify review here and Squarespace review here. But how do they compare directly to each other?

First, a bit of background. Over the past few years, online store software costs have plummeted, and the technology to get a website from idea to reality has blossomed.

Whether you’re using a text editor and uploading to the Amazon cloud, hosting your own site powered by WordPress + WooCommerce or using a drag and drop website builder, there’s never been an easier time to create an online store. It’s no longer 2002 where every storeowner had to know PHP, HTML, CSS and a bit of Javascript.

All-inclusive ecommerce builders have been particularly interesting. Companies like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce – not to mention platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon – have brought ecommerce to everyone regardless of their coding skills.

On the wide spectrum of ecommerce store building solutions, they all live on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website.

That is in contrast to solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately. That’s not a good or bad thing. But it is something to be aware of when you’re choosing one of them as a solution since it affects your website both long and short term.

In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.

Using an online store builder is like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Shopify, Squarespace and other options like BigCommerce and Weebly as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file.

The last preface I’ll mention is that Squarespace is an all-around website builder with ecommerce capability.

Shopify, in contrast, is strictly an ecommerce platform.

This focus puts Squarespace behind as an advanced ecommerce tool and Shopify behind as a general website builder tool. With their respective free trials, you can quickly see the differences.

Try Shopify for Free

Try Squarespace for Free

Make sense? Awesome – let’s dive into the comparison.

Side note – if you want this comparison in a BuzzFeed-style quiz, you can take my online store builder quiz here…

You can also look at my posts on –

Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, ecommerce features, marketing features, and customer support.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my professional experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pricing

Comparing pricing between Shopify and Squarespace is fairly straightforward if you have a clear idea of your needs. This comes from the fact that Shopify focuses on *only* online store owners whereas Squarespace markets to everyone.

The short version is that Shopify is more expensive. But there’s a few caveats to look at.

Shopify Pricing

Squarespace Ecommerce Pricing

The first caveat is credit card fees.

Squarespace syncs with Stripe and PayPal. Their fees are 2.9% + $.30 per transaction.

Shopify has their own payments gateway that charges lower per transaction fees. But – if you use a non-Shopify gateway, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee that Squarespace does not have.

So why is this important? If you already have a gateway (ie, Authorize.net for your physical pop-up shop) and you want to use them with Shopify – then Shopify’s transaction fee kicks in. But – if you want to use Shopify Payment’s for your online store – you can save a bit of money on transaction fees. Those fees add up. If you have revenues of $100000 – a 0.4% reduction in fees could equal $500 per month.

The second caveat is value pricing.

On front-end features alone – Squarespace is significantly cheaper than Shopify, especially on their Advanced plan, which compares almost directly with Shopify’s Standard plan.

See Shopify’s Plans here.

See Squarespace’s Plans here.

But – like I mentioned in the introduction, it’s hard to compare their pricing tables directly since they are really different products for different audiences.

It’s a bit like comparing the pricing of a motorcycle vs. an SUV.

Sure, the motorcycle is much cheaper and it gets you from A to B. It has wheels, an engine, and it drives on the road just fine. But it’s also meant for a certain type of driving.

It all really comes down to what you need for you project – two wheels that will get you where you need to go or a vehicle that has plenty of room along with lots of features. So let’s look at other differences.

Aside – if you’re curious, Shopify’s $9/mo Lite plan isn’t applicable since it’s more of an inventory/payments software than an online store builder software. You can upload products, manage them, and accept payments, but you can only sell them via other platforms such as a Facebook plugin or a button on an existing website. Same goes with Squarespace’s Business Plan. It’s meant to do a website that happens to have a couple things for sale – not really a full online store solution. I’ll set both those options to the side for the moment.

Onboarding & User Experience

No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”

Onboarding is the process of guiding you past that point. In theory, a huge selling point of online website / store builders is that they have a near-zero learning curve. They have a straightforward process from website concept to website reality.

On this point, Squarespace and Shopify both do alright but in different ways.

Shopify has a quick path from free trial signup to site launch. They have guided tours and a very straightforward setup. They also have customer support outreach focused on getting you up and running quickly.

Shopify Backend

However, Shopify also has many more features, apps, and technical options available that can present a challenge. The most daunting hurdle is linking your domain name to your store. It’s not difficult but is daunting at the mention of “setting your CNAME” (in fairness, you don’t have to direct your domain if you purchase via Shopify for a bit more per year than via a 3rd party).

Since Shopify functions as a platform for payments, offline inventory and more – their website store setup is actually on the second menu of their main dashboard rather than front and center.

Squarespace has a ridiculously fast sign up to live site process. Their backend is fairly intuitive for basic websites. However, they to have a “Squarespace jargon” to get used to. They like to appeal to developers and freelance designers – so there are advanced tools that can clutter simply launching a site.

SquareSpace Onboarding

Their support emails and tours are structured well. But since their software is made for all types of websites, the ecommerce features are a bit buried (and limited) from the perspective of an online store owner.

I would not rule either provider out on onboarding/user experience. But their differences are sort of like a restaurant with a waiter (Shopify) vs. a fast casual restaurant with a menu above the cashier (Squarespace).

If you want more help and more customization, then Shopify is your choice. If you want to quickly see and order from the features, then Squarespace is less daunting.

Design Features

Part of the overall value of website builders is simple, straightforward design – no web designers necessary.

But good design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing it is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design.

Both Shopify and Squarespace use templates (aka “themes”) for design. But they are very different in customization options.

Shopify has a solid drag and drop design feature. You can create any layout element you’d like and drag it into place. You can click and edit any portion of any web page – including both content and design.

But – Shopify does not combine design and content. You have to get your design right – and then add content in a separate area (ie, it’s a template).

Since you can edit HTML/CSS with Shopify, you can build any design possible. There are few, if any, limits to any design that you see on the Internet. Additionally, Shopify has a drag and drop template editor.

Shopify Drag Drop

Squarespace has a hybrid approach. They famously have beautiful pre-built designs.

Squarespace Designs

They also have drag and drop – and pretty intuitive editing.

But – they also combine design and content with their editor. This approach has tradeoffs. On one hand, you can edit the design for specific pages. On the other hand, your design can go “off-base” pretty quickly – especially with content for hundreds of products.

The other drawback with Squarespace is that their off-the-shelf themes require *a lot* of really good imagery. If you don’t have access to high-quality photography, their themes are not going to work well. Many of Shopify’s designs are fine and functional regardless of product imagery.

They both have large marketplaces for premium designs (in addition to professional designers).

If you are a fan of raw functionality – then you’ll appreciate Shopify’s approach to design. If you want your site to look amazing off the shelf, love to edit details, and have access to good imagery – then you’ll appreciate Squarespace.

Ecommerce Features

The absolute core features of an ecommerce store are a –

  • product database
  • shopping cart
  • checkout page
  • payment processor
  • order database

That is it.

But, especially in 2017 (and 2018 and beyond), there is a *lot* more than can (and should) go into an ecommerce store. There’s everything from selling via Facebook Messenger to syncing with Amazon FBA to integrating with eBay – not to mention features for executing on marketing fundamentals.

Even for advertising products, there’s selling via Buyable Pins, Google Merchant, Twitter cards, and more. There’s remarketing and coupon codes. There’s A/B testing. There’s inventory synchronization with vendors like AliExpress. And there’s order synchronization with shippers like UPS and USPS.

And that’s all a drop in the bucket.

Obviously, not every store needs every feature. If you are trying to sell a couple T-shirts or a couple specialty products – you certainly don’t need them all. But if you want to grow and expand, you’ll need your options open.

For ecommerce features, Shopify wins hands down, though Squarespace does make it simple to sell your product. Squarespace has a few advanced features (like abandoned cart recovery), but it’s nothing like Shopify.

Shopify not only has more features directly integrated into their platform, but they also have a well-established app store that includes free and paid apps to extend your store with every feature you could possibly need.

Shopify Integrations

That said, this section is a bit unfair to Squarespace, because, again, they are a general website builder that includes ecommerce. Shopify is strictly an ecommerce platform.

If Shopify didn’t “win” on ecommerce features it would be a surprise. Technically, Squarespace competes more with the likes of Weebly and Wix or WordPress who are also website builders that provide core ecommerce features.

In short – if you need core ecommerce features integrated in a simple, straightforward way, then Squarespace is fine. If you actually need a full suite of ecommerce features to grow, then Shopify is hands-down better.

Technical Features

Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really “matter”…until they matter a lot. I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable metadata, allowing page-level redirects, etc.

On this point, Shopify does very well – and not just compared to Squarespace, but compared to any hosted platform.

Traditionally, hosted platforms presented a risk for web designers, developers, and marketers who wanted to work on the technical aspects of the site.

I know that I flinch anytime a prospective client tells me they are on a hosted platform of any kind.

But Shopify and Squarespace perform well in general. Many skeptics of hosted platforms note that they actually take care of the technical features well. You still don’t have FTP access to your server, but you do have access to change things via their Liquid editor (Shopify) or Developer Mode (Squarespace).

Where they differ (especially for me) is in their potential for technical features. And again, here, Shopify’s app store is their “killer” feature. Even if a feature is not native to Shopify, a non-developer can usually add it.

On the flip side, Squarespace has a lot of native features that simply “work” – and a process of continually adding & revising existing features.

Both Squarespace and Shopify have inherent limitations as hosted platforms (ie, when you leave, you a lot of your data), but Shopify does a bit more to eliminate the weaknesses and capitalize on strengths as a hosted platform.

Marketing Features

In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Like any business, you have to actively promote and market your online store for anyone to show up.

Marketing features like custom metadata, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.

For marketing features, both Shopify and Squarespace both do really well. They support header scripts. They integrate with many products. They add meta data, product schema and open graph tags automatically.

But like design & ecommerce features, there’s the same catch. For an ecommerce store owner, Shopify has many more (and higher quality) built-in features plus a better, more developed app store.

Squarespace has core marketing features built-in, but with more limits.

Support & Service

Customer support and service are difficult to judge. Like I’ve said in most of my reviews, a single customer can never really know if they happened upon a disgruntled rookie or if the company is really that bad.

That said, there are ways to look at a company’s investment in both customer services and support.

For Shopify vs. Squarespace, I think the clear “winner” is Shopify. Shopify not only provides more channels for customer service (phone, chat, email, forums, social media, etc), they also have an incredibly extensive help center.

The help center not only tackles technical issues, it also tackles customer success issues (aka problems with making money).

Squarespace has email support, and limited chat support – but no phone. Their knowledgebase does not have the attention or the depth that Shopify has.

Comparison Conclusion

So Shopify vs. Squarespace – which one is a better fit for your project?

If you plan on running a growing online store and want all the features possible, then you should go try Shopify.

Go try Shopify for free here.

If you want a simple store – or a general site with a beautiful look, then Squarespace might be a good fit for you.

Also – bookmark my post on creating an ecommerce marketing strategy here.

Good luck!

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8 Alternative Crowdfunders To Fund Your Business

Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships. Learn more.

alternative crowdfunders

When we survey the socio-economic landscape for entrepreneurs, two seemingly incongruous things stick out. First, recent economic data indicates that the rate of startup business creation in the US is near its 40-year low. Second, over this past decade — the very decade that has seen a nadir in entrepreneurship — young companies have raised billions of dollars from (mostly) ordinary people through crowdfunding campaigns. In fact, Kickstarter (the biggest rewards crowdfunding platform) has facilitated the raising of $3.4 billion since its birth in 2009.

From these facts, we can deduce that entrepreneurship is widely popular among Americans in 2017, if only as a spectator sport and not a participatory one. What also becomes clear is that people can be readily persuaded to financially support new businesses if they stand to benefit from that support!

If you’re building a new business at this moment in history, you may well be considering giving crowdfunding a go. You’ve probably heard of the “big three” crowdfunding giants: Kickstarter (see our review), Indiegogo (see our review), and GoFundMe (see our review). However, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to seek out an alternative crowdfunder. Maybe you’ve read accounts of how the process of crowdfunding on Kickstarter has become unduly influenced by investor-backed campaigns and crowdfunding agencies. Or perhaps you want to be able to offer rewards to your backers in a different way than the Big Three allow. Maybe you want to give people rewards on a continuing basis and not just once. Maybe you want to give donors equity in your company instead of a mere gadget or trinket.

The point is, there’s no one right way to do crowdfunding. Different crowdfunding platforms may have more to offer you than others, depending on your particular business type. The following alternative crowdfunders may help you tap the coffers of The Crowd in a different manner than the more established platforms.

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patreon

Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to refer to Patreon (see our review) as an “alternative” crowdfunder, considering their rising popularity and outsized public profile in the creative industries. However, their approach to crowdfunding still stands as unique. Patreon was founded in 2013 by a musician who was frustrated by the lack of ways for up-and-coming artists to effectively monetize their work. He saw his friends set up Kickstarter campaigns for support with one artistic project, then struggle to come up with a rationale to launch a second Kickstarter campaign for their next endeavor. Seeing an opportunity to offer a more rational crowdfunding model for creatives who release content continuously, he started Patreon.

Unlike Kickstarter and just about every other rewards crowdfunding platform, Patreon operates almost like a subscription service for artists and other content creators. People who like your work can sign up to financially support you on either a per-month or per-creation basis. In exchange, they get access to exclusive content that you make available only to your paying followers, whether it be an LP, drawings, videos, podcast episodes, or just about anything else under the sun.

Patreon takes 5% of the money you raise in fees, which is pretty much the standard rate in rewards crowdfunding. Unfortunately, an additional ~5% goes to the payment processor, which is more than Kickstarter’s payment processing fee rate of approximately 3%. For most creatives on the site, however, the convenience of not having to launch a whole new campaign for their every endeavor makes Patreon quite the cost-efficient prospect nonetheless. What’s more, Patreon is more relaxed than many crowdfunders when it comes to permitted content, allowing for a wider spectrum of expression than the competition. From the political irreverence of Chapo Trap House to the various hentai artists using the platform (not gonna include any links here, sorry), Patreon supports content creators other crowdfunders might shy away from.

Read my Patreon review if the idea of long-term crowdfunding sounds appealing.

fundrazr

You may not have heard of Fundrazr (see our review), but, as it happens, it is Canada’s largest crowdfunding platform. It might not have the name recognition of some of its larger competitors south of the 49th parallel, but this rewards crowdfunder has some distinct advantages for certain kinds of businesses.

First off, FundRazr doesn’t pre-screen campaigns before allowing them to fundraise, nor does it limit the duration of your campaigns. It also permits you to keep whatever you raise even if you don’t reach your funding goal. These are three things Kickstarter doesn’t allow. What’s more, FundRazr’s fees match those of most of the crowdfunding industry (5% to the platform with an additional ~3% for the payment processor), so you’re not paying extra for this flexibility.

Another unique feature offered by FundRazr is Crowdfunding As A Service. If you choose to use this, you can host funding campaigns on your own website, under your brand, not that of FundRazr. Essentially, this turns FundRazr into a white label crowdfunder. Hosting crowdfunding campaigns for people in your community under your business’s name can provide your brand with a nice image boost.

Check out our FundRazr review to see if what’s good enough for Canada is good enough for your business.

kiva logo

What if there were a way to get crowdfunded support for your business in the form of a loan instead of a gift premised on future rewards? What if I were to tell you that these loans come with 0% interest? Does this sound too good to be true? Well, Kiva U.S. (see our review) shows that this concept is indeed a reality.

Kiva U.S. is a nonprofit P2P (peer-to-peer) small business microlender whose funding campaigns resemble those of other crowdfunding sites, except in this case, your backers are lenders who chip in to offer you a loan. Kiva U.S. operates on the principle of “social underwriting,” meaning that your loan-worthiness depends not on your credit score (Kiva U.S. doesn’t even check your credit score) but on the trust of the community. The hope is that you’ll be motivated to stay in the good graces of the community, which is especially important if you decide to seek a second loan from said community!

Of course, you’re getting a loan, not a gift, so you’ll have to pay the money back if you don’t want Kiva telling the business credit agencies of your misdeeds. However, these loans carry no interest whatsoever. Neither are there any origination fees. You are only responsible for paying back the principal. You can raise as little as $25 to as much as $10K. For the right type of business, it’s a remarkable funding deal.

Read our Kiva U.S. review if the idea of interest-free loans for your business appeals to you.

crowdfunder

With the most generic name in the crowdfunding industry, Crowdfunder (see our review) is far from a generic crowdfunder. In fact, Crowdfunder is a pioneer in the field of equity crowdfunding. Equity crowdfunding is a form of investment in which your backers are investors who fund you in exchange for equity in your company, not gadgets or other exclusive content. Equity crowdfunding has only recently become legal thanks to the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012.

Crowdfunder lets you raise money from accredited investors (this term refers to people with high incomes and/or significant wealth and doesn’t necessarily denote any particular skill in investing). This is a crowd that likes to keep a pulse on the next big thing, so if your new business is one of the rare startups with exponential growth potential, Crowdfunder’s investors may well want to get in on the action.

Crowdfunder is unique in other ways as well. Crowdfunder doesn’t collect the funds pledged to your venture — you have to collect the funds offline from the investors themselves. Accordingly, neither Crowdfunder nor any payment processor takes a cut of what you raise. However, you will need to purchase a subscription package in order to fundraise on the platform. Crowdfunder’s monthly subscription packages start at $449 per month.

It’s not for everybody, but Crowdfunder’s unique flavor of equity crowdfunding holds great potential for the right kind of business. Read our Crowdfunder review for more information.

Ulele bills itself as the “the 1st European crowdfunding site” though they host campaigns from North America and Australia as well. Ulele strives to lend a human touch to rewards crowdfunding, offering personalized coaching to all Ulele project creators, which (according to Ulele) has produced a 68% funding success rate for projects on the site. Ulele claims that this is a “record rate among international mainstream crowdfunding platforms.”

Ulele maintains a consistently bright and cheerful feel throughout the site, and its focus is on fashion, design, games, music, and art. Ulele is worth considering as a crowdfunding platform if you have items of value to offer as rewards that might have a particular appeal to the European market, as Ulele is more of a known entity there. As for fees, Ulele charges 6.67% of all funds received by credit card and 4.17% of all funds collected via check or PayPal.

fundable

Fundable (see our review) is a hybrid crowdfunding platform in that its hosts both rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns. Not just anyone can start a campaign on this site — as with Kickstarter, Fundable pre-screens all campaigns to determine their suitability for crowdfunding. Another trait it shares with Kickstarter is the fact that the funding campaigns are all-or-nothing. If you don’t reach your funding goal, you collect $0, and you do not pass Go.

Instead of charging a platform fee on what you raise, Fundable charges a flat monthly fee of $179. Unfortunately, this means that you can end up in the red if your campaign doesn’t hit its marks. And while Fundable charges a fee of about 3.5% for payment processing for rewards campaigns, it does not do so for equity campaigns, because all payments are made offline from the investor to the campaigner in a Fundable equity campaign.

There’s something of an air of exclusivity around Fundable, but certain businesses may stand to benefit from this unique platform. For instance, you can start off with a Fundable rewards campaign, and if you’re successful, you can use your success to demonstrate the appeal of your product to investors and pivot to an Equity campaign without having to go to another service.

Check out our Fundable review if you’re intrigued.

wefunder

The other equity crowdfunding platforms I’ve covered thus far have been for accredited investors (i.e. rich investors) only. Wefunder (see our review) is different. It is, by a significant margin, the largest equity crowdfunding platform that lets non-accredited investors (everyone) invest in your business. Sometimes referred to as Regulation Crowdfunding, Wefunder is the one company that has figured out how to do it right.

Regulation Crowdfunding has only existed since May 2016, when the provision of the JOBS Act authorizing it finally took effect. It’s fair to say that the kinks are still being worked out. However, if you want to get in on this new field and feel like a pioneer, Wefunder is the platform to go with. It does charge $195 to launch your campaign, however. Wefunder also takes 7% of what you raise in fees. However, all payment processing fees are paid by the investors.

Read our Wefunder review if you want to get in on Regulation Crowdfunding.

kickfurther

So far, we’ve covered rewards crowdfunders, debt crowdfunders, and equity crowdfunders. However, Kickfurther (see our review) is difficult to even classify! Truly an alternative crowdfunder, Kickfurther is entirely unique in that instead of raising money in exchange for rewards or equity shares, you offer your backers the chance to purchase inventory on consignment. Your backers also get their own Kickfurther-branded online store in which they can sell your products.

It’s an odd arrangement, so I’ll try to explain it using an example. Perhaps the most prominent project on Kickfurther was the Vaportini, a weird alcohol vaporizing system. If you backed the project, you were offered a 16% return on your investment in the event that 88% of the inventory is sold. To be sure, it’s an odd system, but if you like the idea of having your backers help finance your inventory purchases and having some of them sell your product online, you might want to look into Kickfurther.

One caveat for backers: Kickfurther doesn’t appear to do a good enough job ensuring that backers get paid what they’re due. In fact, a comment was left on my review from one of the backers of the Vaportini, claiming that the company took their money and defaulted on the payback “with no enforcement, follow up, or communication from Kickfurther.” I found other reports from backers of Kickfurther projects with similar stories. Bottom line: Kickfurther may be an interesting prospect for businesses with unique products to sell, but backers have ample reason to be wary of the platform.

Read our Kickfurther review if you’re interested in crowdfunded inventory purchases and/or alcohol vaporizers.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to take you beyond the Kickstarters and Indiegogos of the crowdfunding world to show you some of the innovative — and sometimes downright bizarre — crowdfunders out there doing it their own way. There’s no “right” way to conduct a crowdfunding campaign. It all depends on the type of business you own and the sort of product, service or experience you have to offer. Know your options, then dive in and give it a shot!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

10 Reasons Real Business Proprietors Are Grateful For Online Accounting Software

Our impartial reviews and content are supported partly by affiliate partnerships. Find out more.

Small Business Online Accounting Software

Again and again I’ve found myself covering the perks of internet accounting software. But may, it’s more efficient to listen to from real small company owners—the people really in the trenches. That is why Merchant Maverick has requested small company proprietors across a number of industries to talk about why they’re grateful for his or her online accounting software.

Continue reading to see the best way to use the valuable insight from real small companies for your own business endeavors.

Table of Contents

1. It Time Saving

While you’re reading a large number of online accounting software reviews, you begin to see a design. Online accounting software time saving.

Tim Carr, founding father of WordPress software development company WordPress Zinc, shares how his online accounting software automates his business helping him save your time:

FreeAgent ensures we are able to concentrate on running our small company, and never be worried about time-consuming data entry, chasing payments or filing complicated taxes – things are automated, tax compliant, with cloud-based access, our accountants can certainly get key data without us being a bottleneck… we’ve saved countless hrs in administrative tasks per year–time which may be sent building better software for the customer, which maximizes business profit consequently.

You’d be amazed the number of small company proprietors waste hrs creating and customizing Stand out files. Rachel Rusnak, founder the entrepreneurial hub UnCubicle, was certainly one of individuals people until she found an easy method:

I began my first business nearly 10 years ago and it was unaware about good accounting practices. I had been running things from an Stand out spreadsheet (bad mistake). Not just could it have been untidy and consumed a absurd period of time, but human error seemed to be a adding step to it-not as being a good process. When tax season came that newbie, it had been a train wreck! I had been sorting through receipts, recognized I hadn’t joined a number of my expenses, didn’t remember to transmit out invoices. Yikes!

I recognized I desired a cloud-based system… [It] releases time (and stress) for me personally doing manual bookkeeping.”

WordPress and internet marketing consultant Ahmed Khalifa understands the underside line—time is money. Also, he shares how his business has profited online accounting software:

Time matters but time can also be money, therefore the a shorter period I invest in finance-related tasks, the greater time I must concentrate on my clients rather and supplying them the plan to our prime standard which i have.

Regardless of whether you searching to place your Stand out days behind you or wish to switch from the complicated program to something simpler, online accounting software may be the answer. It helped these small companies save money and time and may meet your needs too.

2. It Can Make Taxes Very Simple

You need to file small business taxes, but it’s not necessary to dread April 15 or rue your day taxes were produced. Most (good) accounting software offers some type of tax support. Regardless of whether you file W-2’s, 1099’s, Schedule C’s, or VAT, there are many of software choices for your online business.

Lucy Kirkness‘s favorite software features help her file VAT taxes on her Search engine optimization Talking to company, Pandable, effortlessly:

Like a freelancer, my accounting software of preference was Freeagent… Things I love and appreciate concerning the software probably the most is the opportunity to easily prepare and submit VAT returns. However, the standout feature for me personally may be the Tax Timeline, which belongs to the primary dashboard interface. Although I visit a live projection of methods much tax we owe, but additionally information on crucial tax deadlines.

Professional author Spencer Coffman uses QuickBooks Self-Used to help him navigate the rough waters of self-employment taxes:

[A] awesome feature is the fact that in the finish of the season I’m able to import all the [earnings and expense] data into Turbo Tax for fast and simple tax filing. Discuss convenience!

If you are fed up with stressing about taxes accounting software might be a existence-saver. Read our article Ways to get The most from Your Accounting Software This Tax Season to understand how online accounting might help your online business.

3. It Enables For Simple Invoicing

You probably know this, Stand out just doesn’t work.

I’ve stated it before, and I’ll express it again: invoices are greater than a way of making money—they really are a representation of the business’s image and professionalism. Besides online accounting software permit you to create beautiful invoice templates, but many programs offer great invoicing automations like recurring invoices and the opportunity to see when invoices are believed to be.

Ben Taylor, founding father of freelancing hub HomeWorkingClub.com, knows firsthand that online accounting software makes invoicing easy and simple, especially after using Stand out:

I personally use QuickBooks Online in my accounts. The factor I most appreciate about it’s a simple factor – the opportunity to issue invoices incredibly rapidly and on the top of credit control and who owes me money. With my first business I made use of Stand out templates for quite some time and wasted immeasureable time!

If it is time for you to provide your invoices a facelift, discover the Best Accounting Software for Invoicing or check out our top accounting solutions, which offer great invoice templates and automations.

4. It Will Help You Receive Compensated Promptly

Besides online accounting software assist you to send beautiful invoices, it may also help you receive compensated promptly for that invoices you signal. Among the best ways to get compensated promptly would be to offer multiple online payment forms. Just about all online accounting programs permit you to accept charge cards and integrate with key payment processors like PayPal. Features like invoice reminders will also help control individuals late having to pay customers.

Jennifer Vickery, president of National Strategies Public Relations, uses invoice reminders to operate her PR firm:

I’m grateful in the opportunity to rapidly setup client invoices, however that I be capable of easily send follow-up reminders.

Jen Boyadjian, founder and md at Boyadjian Talking to, also finds it simpler to remain on the top of her late invoices with payment reminders:

The program jogs my memory when a bill arrives or late, and that i can schedule an automatic indication email. I’m particularly happy relating to this because I’ve got a hard time following track of clients for invoices.

Should you have a problem remaining on the top recently invoices or want an simpler method to track invoice payments, certainly consider giving online accounting software a try.

5. It Offers Reporting Tools

Reports would be the backbone of accounting. Certain key reports, like Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, and General Ledger, are integral to balancing the books. Other reports, like Sales by Item or Customer Balance Summary, are icing around the cake. Furthermore they allow you to understand your present financial condition and business trends, additionally they help you produce informed business decisions for future years.

Jennifer Vickery again shares how she advantages of her software’s reports:

I’m always grateful for that Reports too and that i enjoy running management reports or being able to observe how I’m doing with my earnings and expenses this season when compared with previous years. This truly helps me to understand my finances where I’m headed.

Reports are an essential component of economic planning Chief executive officer of MyCorportaion, Deborah Sweeney. She states:

I’m a Chief executive officer and I’m grateful for the accounting software since it allows us to plan and project. It enables us to drag data and reports and also to project our and make goals for that approaching year. Our accounting software helps our business management and puts us capable of make smarter business decisions.

These business owners take advantage of the capability to run reports directly from their computers or phones. With internet accounting software, you are able to too. Each application provides a different quantity of reports and various kinds of reports, so make sure to read our comprehensive reviews to find out more.

6. It Can Make Expense Tracking Simpler

Should you read our other publish, Managing Your Online Business Finances Using These Expert Tips, you already know how important expense tracking is. Among the primary purpose of accounting would be to have a solid record of your earnings and expenses. Online accounting software offers automations like live bank feeds, receipt checking, and automatic transaction categorization to create expense tracking even simpler.

Freelance author and project manager Kayla Sloan shares how switching from Stand out towards the Cloud saved her hrs of information entry:

A couple of years back, before I’d a cloud-based accounting software, I had been tracking everything by hand within an Stand out sheet. It required Hrs that i can come up with all the information in my taxes in the finish of the season and also to observe how much I had been paying for various expenses within my business.

After I switched to FreshBooks, I began saving a lot of time on these tasks. Plus, it managed to get simpler that i can decide by what expenses were worthwhile and which weren’t.

Creator of Blu Skincare, Zondra Wilson, also uses cloud accounting, not just to track expenses but to arrange transactions. She states:

QuickBooks helps me keep an eye on Blu Skin Care’s money coming interior and exterior the company. It’s stored all-in-one simple to use place. So, I usually know where I stand and I’m always ready for tax time… QuickBooks also connects to in excess of 16,000 banking institutions to download and classify my transactions for me personally.

If you’re presently using online accounting software or are searching for any cloud-based program, take advantage of all the expense tracking automation offered.

7. It Offers Mobility

In your area-installed accounting software can’t touch cloud-based software with regards to mobility. If you are always on an outing, you’ll need software that suits your mobile lifestyle. These small company proprietors discovered that mobile accounting apps helped them stay on the run.

Spencer Coffman loves doing business directly from his phone. He states:

I’m very grateful for the QuickBooks Self Employed software. It is definitely the very best financial tracking software that I have tried personally. My personal favorite factor about this is will be able to obtain the application on my cell phone and it’ll also track our mileage.

Vincent Sanders‘s IT and business talking to firm, TG4 Solutions, constantly keeps him on the go. This really is his answer to remaining effective:

Being consultants, we’re always on the highway. However, this doesn’t stop people from having the ability to track/create invoices or track receipts using our cellular devices.

It really works for Coffman and Sanders it may meet your needs too! Learn Which Accounting Programs Possess the Best Mobile Phone Applications if you are thinking about more details.

8. It’s Affordable

Generally, cloud-based software saves time and money. Just about all online accounting programs are structures as SaaS—software like a service—programs with low monthly charges. There’s also several free software application options that provide compensated accounting programs a run for his or her money.

Vincent Sanders uses Wave, a totally free accounting program, to assist balance the books while saving the checkbook:

I was in dire necessity of software that may not just track our expenses/transactions and generate monthly reports, but tend to send invoices too. Some accounting computer programs can offer these functions, Wave was to us since it was free.

If you are searching to have an affordable accounting option, take a look at our top-rated accounting programs. Visit our comprehensive accounting reviews for full prices information.

9. It Arrives With Integrations & An API

Integrations bring your accounting software one stage further allowing you connect your software with other business tools like MailChimp, PayPal, TSheets, and much more. For that tech-savvy, most online accounting programs offer some kind of API so that you can program off to your heart’s desire. Listed here are a couple of types of how real small company proprietors take advantage of integrations and API.

For Zondra Wilson, it’s by pointing out payment processors. She states:

I’m able to get data from apps I personally use like PayPal and Square.

Tim Carr shares how he makes use of API to help automate his software:

We’re most grateful for FreeAgent’s extensively recorded and powerful API (Application Programming Interface).  It’s helped us further automate the whole business workflow from your accountancy perspective.

Integrations provide key features to suit your business’s needs. Most integrations come in an additional cost, but they may be greater than well worth the cost if you are obtaining the functionality you have to run your company. Should you not know how to start, check out the 25 Must-Have Accounting Integrations for 2017 for a couple of ideas.

10. It Frees You Up To pay attention to Your Company

Finally accounting software helps you save time to be able to concentrate on what really matters–running your company.

Jen Boyadjian states:

My online accounting software provides me with time and freedom to pay attention to my developing my small company since i can automate lots of tasks that will take me hrs to accomplish by hand.

Cristian Renella includes a similar story, claiming his accounting software freed him to pay attention to managing his business:

As a small company owner, Thx to Zoho Books because since i have began dealing with them five years ago they solved the problem to focus exclusively more about my startup.

Because of them my productivity increased… because I recognized which i could begin using cloud-based online software for nearly everything!

Thx since i potentially have to pay attention to what is important: my company, for the exact purpose of creating it grow every single day. Because every entrepreneur recognizes that the most crucial factor is to eliminate all distractions apart from focusing on your products or services.

Final Ideas

At Merchant Maverick, our finish goal should be to assist you to run your company better. Should you already use cloud accounting, hopefully these expert tips keep you going to benefit from every feature your software provides.

Should you haven’t switched towards the cloud, you ought to have a much better idea now of methods companies take advantage of online accounting software. To understand when the Cloud fits your needs, read our publish: Accounting Software: Cloud-Based or In your area Installed? If you’re already offered on switching, take a look at our comprehensive accounting reviews and our Complete Help guide to Selecting Online Accounting Software.

So that as always, for those who have any queries on your way to locating the perfect software, please achieve in your comments ought to below.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is really a author, enthusiastic readers, and investigator. Additionally to loving writing, she grew to become thinking about accounting software due to her constant need to learn something totally new and know how things work. When she’s no longer working or daydreaming about her newest story, she are available consuming obscene levels of coffee, studying anything compiled by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files together with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

10 Strategies For Getting Quick Loans

Our impartial reviews and content are supported partly by affiliate partnerships. Find out more.

Good stuff take some time. Persistence is really a virtue. Everyone knows the sayings. But you probably know this, with regards to making critical business investments – whether it’s new technology/equipment, a brand new location, or maybe even a brand new worker around the payroll – you typically do not have limitless time to generate the appropriate funds. A fast loan or credit line is frequently the best choice to consider your company one stage further (or just keep the company afloat).

If you are studying this short article, you’re most likely in a rush, so let’s dive in. Listed here are 10 easy methods to accelerate the financial lending process for the small business…

Table of Contents

1. Strengthen Your Credit Rating

Okay, reversing your credit damage isn’t something that you can do overnight. But if you wish to position your company to obtain good rates on the “quick” loan, you’ll would like to get your credit rating up to possible. Before you apply for loans, there’s a couple things you want to do. First, check your credit report to find out if you will find any major issues. Second, repay whatever outstanding financial obligations you may have (if you’re able to afford to do this).

Our publish on improving credit scores offers some lengthy-term methods to strengthen your individual score, but many of these actions affect your company credit rating too.

Take it easy, though. You may still find quick financing options even though you can’t get your credit rating as much as snuff over time. From the companies indexed by this publish about loans for companies with poor credit, OnDeck (quick installment loans), Kabbage (credit line), and Fundbox (credit lines and invoice financing) are trustworthy and quite fast.

2. Get The Documents Ready

Getting all of your business documents ready and in one location can make for any speedier application. For example of documentation the loan provider might request:

  • Tax statements (business and personal)
  • Seller’s permit
  • EIN certificate
  • Business license
  • Balance sheets
  • Bank statements
  • Evidence of ID
  • Evidence of address
  • Incorporation documents
  • Copy of economic lease

Obviously, different lenders require different documents. While it isn’t strictly necessary, it’s smart to discover what documents the loan provider requires before you receive pre-approved. This web site publish from OnDeck provides you with an excellent concept of what kinds of documents they along with other short-term lenders might request.

3. Make A Proposal

Most financiers require the loan application to incorporate an in depth proposal and/or perhaps a strategic business plan. This really is frequently true even of “quick” loans. An offer generally includes information for example how much cash you’ll need, what you should make use of the money for, and how to pay back the borrowed funds. Just like your all of your important business documents, the borrowed funds application is going to be speedier and smoother for those who have these details prepared and able to go before you decide to apply.

This resource in the Small business administration includes the data you need to use in financing proposal – even though you should observe that the Small business administration requires more details compared to most “fast loan” options.

4. Be Thorough In Your Application

The greater relevant information you reveal about your and yourself business in your application for the loan, the greater. The entire process is going to be faster and fewer painful should you provide everything upfront. This way, you will see less backwards and forwards between your loan provider because they use you to obtain the data you didn’t supply initially. You’re also more prone to get approval for a financial loan for those who have a far more thorough application.

5. Consider All Of Your Options

Presuming you’ve all of your ducks (and docs) consecutively, it’s time to check out your very best options when it comes to financing types. In some instances, you will possibly not even would like to get a “loan” within the traditional sense a credit line or cash loan may well be a faster or more sensible choice for you personally, based on your circumstances. If speed is important, you should think about the next loan products, through which you’ll potentially get funds when a couple of days of applying:

Many of these fast financing options their very own benefits and drawbacks, obviously. Check out this blog publish from Fundera to learn more about each kind of quick business financing.

6. Make An Application For Online-Only Loans

So here’s the offer with loans from banks versus. online loans: loans from banks are not only seen a lot more hard to be eligible for a, additionally they take considerably longer in the future through than online loans. If you would like the loan fast – potentially even when a couple of days – on the internet is what you want. Rates of interest are usually greater compared to loans from banks, however if you simply look around, you could possibly obtain a low-interest small company loan online, particularly if your credit is good.

7. Make Use Of A Loan Aggregator

Financing aggregator service enables you to make an application for multiple internet business loans at the same time. Utilizing a service like Fundera or Lendio, you are able to complete just one application together with your business information and become preapproved for multiple loan options. This is actually the quickest way to try to get online loans, while you save time it requires to try to get multiple loans individually. These loan matchmaking services will also be typically free should you choose pay a loan offer, the loan provider pays a referral fee towards the aggregator. You never need to spend the money for aggregator directly.

8. Consider A Web-basedOrSmall business administration Loan Hybrid

If you are searching to gain access to in the Small business administration, you most likely know this isn’t the quickest type of financing around. However, the Small business administration offers top quality, low-interest loans, and when you be eligible for a one, it may be worth waiting just a little additional time for. To help make the Small business administration application for the loan process faster and simpler, you are able to make an application for a web-basedOrSmall business administration loan hybrid.

SmartBiz is a illustration of a web-based service that facilitates Small business administration-backed loans. Your funds may still require a couple of days in the future through, but it’ll be faster than applying directly with the Small business administration.

9. Get Observed By Square Capital

If your online business uses Square to consider payments, you may qualify for a financial loan through Square Capital. They are incredibly quick loans – I’m speaking next-day funding. Additionally they don’t worry about your credit rating.

However, you cannot just affect Square Capital they’ll contact you if you’re qualified. That stated, there are specific steps you can take to prime yourself for any potential loan offer. This list of tips, for instance, details ways to get on Square Capital’s radar.

If you are not really a Square user however, you use PayPal for your online business, PayPal Capital provides a similar fast lending product. Or, you should check out their list of other Square Capital alternatives.

10. Know Very Well What You’re Stepping Into

Finally, when obtaining a fast business loan it’s vital that you spend some time and browse the small print. Oftentimes, the super-quick “next-day” loans you can find online may have under ideal terms. You’ll likely need to pay the loan back quickly at maximum interest.

Ideally, obviously, there is also a great loan provider that provides a fair rate and terms. For any couple of trustworthy-but-fast loan options, here’s a summary of online loan providers who won’t screw you over.

Final Ideas

Generally, the fastest loan available isn’t the best loan available. But there are available some quality lenders that offer quick capital. In addition to this, you are able to take certain actions to hurry your application for the loan process and time for you to funding. Make sure to organize and offer all of your business documentation at the beginning of the applying process. And save your time by making use of for multiple loans at the same time having a loan aggregator service.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon includes a three-year-old daughter named Izzy. Shannon loves to unwind by watching trashy reality television and studying literary fiction throughout the commercial breaks.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

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Shopify versus. Volusion Ecommerce Platform Comparison

Shopify and Volusion are two best-known “hosted” ecommerce platforms on the web.

Ecommerce options exist on the spectrum of convenience and control. Both Shopify and Volusion are right in the center of the spectrum simply because they bundle all of the technical areas of a web-based store – hosting, speed, security, inventory, shopping cart software and payment processing – and bundle it right into a single monthly cost. This contrasts with solutions like WordPress + Woocommerce in which you buy, operate and keep each bit from the store but additionally have true 100% control of your site.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

But just like a self-located ecommerce website, Shopify and Volusion also bundle in your website in your domain in which you have full charge of product, prices and customer experience. So unlike managing a store on Etsy, eBay or Amazon . com – you control the build, design and content of the store.

Even if this area of the spectrum has lots of tradeoffs – services like Shopify and Volusion are a great choice for many storeowners. Therefore the question becomes – Shopify versus. Volusion?

I’ve reviewed Shopify here and Volusion here. I’ve used both like a customer so that as an advisor to customers of both.

Both are excellent companies by having an excellent product. And like several my other ecommerce and hosting reviews, there’s no such factor being an absolute “best” – there’s only the best choice for you personally according to your circumstances, goals and sources.

Here’s how Shopify comes even close to Volusion across 6 variables that many customers take a look at – and what you need to consider with Shopify versus. Volusion.

Skip to conclusion here.

Aside – I built a Buzzfeed style quiz for ecommerce platforms that grades the standards together with your goals. You should check out the quiz here.

Also, a fast disclosure – I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data and opinions derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Cost

Ahh – cost. It’s both simplest and many complex method to compare two products.

Rapid story on cost is the fact that both Shopify and Volusion work on a regular monthly cost structure having a ~2 week free trial offer. They likewise have a really similar “sticker” cost with tiers at ~$29/mo and ~$79/mo or more.

Shopify Pricing for Shopify Review (2016)

Volusion Pricing

That stated, their plan structure is simply different enough to create a direct comparison a little difficult.

The primary tradeoff originates from charges.

And you will find 3 various kinds of charges to think about.

First is the monthly store fee. This fee may be the “sticker” cost. Both Volusion and Shopify are usually exactly the same. Volusion is slightly cheaper, they also don’t include each and every feature on lower tiers that Shopify does.

Second is the store transaction fee. Shopify doesn’t charge transaction fees if you are using their charge card processor. Otherwise, their transaction charges are identical.

Third is the charge card processing charges. If you are using a third party processor like Authorize.internet, PayPal or Stripe – then you’ll pay anything they charge. If you are using Volusion, you’ll need to use a third party processor. If you are using Shopify, you should use Shopify payments for just two.9% + $.30 – about industry average.

If you are considering using a third party processor (ie, for cost or staying with your present provider), then Volusion is going to be comparable – or perhaps slightly less expensive than Shopify each month.

If you’re available to going “all in” ‘with Shopify, then you’ll save a lot of profit charges based on your revenue level.

In either case – cost isn’t the deciding factor for Shopify versus. Volusion. Rather, I’d take a look at additional factors.

Customer Care

Customer care is among the most undervalued advantages of choosing a located ecommerce platform.

The entire charge of a self-located ecommerce website is wonderful until it will get hacked and you’re having to pay $$$ to some developer or you are within the WordPress forums wishing someone points you within the right direction.

Both Volusion and Shopify have customer care included in their monthly cost. You obtain access to a variety of channels on – from phone to talk to forums to email tickets.

All customer care is customized since both operate on proprietary platforms.

At register – both of them come with an “onboarding” sequence along with a consultant to assist with any issues.

Volusion Onboarding

I’ve had good encounters with and you will find a few variations that I’ve observed –

  • Volusion has more thorough and instructive DIY education. They’ve videos and screenshots for small changes around the Dashboard whereas Shopify may have text instructions.Volusion Support
  • Volusion results in as increasing numbers of beginner-friendly because of onboarding and high consultant walk-throughs
  • Shopify has more thorough and instructive content on running your overall business. They invest considerable time and sources in situation studies, lengthy-form guides, tutorials, and helping your company succeed beyond just applying a brand new feature.
  • Shopify also offers a far more well-developed network of third party developers and marketers who focus on Shopify. They’re also known as “Shopify Experts.” It isn’t effortlessly, but it’s a much better beginning point for advanced help than the usual Google or UpWork search.
  • Shopify has *many* more integrations along with other 3rd parties along with other platforms. And frequently, individuals other platforms will really provide support for that Shopify integrations. This really is crucial for labeling providers, fulfillment providers, bookkeepers, etcShopify Integrations

Overall, I’d state that beginners will probably find Volusion’s support system to become less daunting. However a growing store will probably find Shopify’s support system to become handier. Quite simply, Shopify has a little more of the learning curve to understand their system, but once you understand it – that you can do more by using it.

Customer Focus

Shopify and Volusion both serve companies that vary from really small retailers selling niche products to multi-billion dollar brands. Have enterprise plans (I authored about Shopify Plus here) plus they have customer care teams educated to help absolute beginners.

That stated – there’s a significant difference between your companies when it comes to sources and mission. Shopify did an Dpo in 2015 to be a perfectly-funded public company. Their platform should serve all retail companies both on and offline – however with an emphasis on startups or online-first companies that are looking to grow offline.

Shopify runs their very own payment processing service as well as has their very own Point-of-Purchase (POS) system to ensure that small offline retailers sell offline an internet-based from inside exactly the same system. These were the first one to unveil “buyable buttons” on Pinterest and Facebook to ensure that retailers could sell inventory directly anywhere online – not only from customers who examined through the merchant’s website.

Shopify’s backend (which I’ll cover within the next section) reflects this focus. These products / orders / customers / inventory area is outside of the “website” area. The concept is your website is just one of numerous sales channels. You are able to certainly run your site as the only sales funnel in Shopify – however the choices to sell elsewhere happen to be built-in.

Volusions’s focus appears to become more about stores with an existing large offline operation – and want to grow online (almost overturn of Shopify).

That’s not necessarily a bad or perhaps a good factor – it’s only a choice. Their backend and terminology is centered on the storeowner that has a current retail business and requires to create it on the internet. There is a robust inventory system having a concentrate on the operations of the ecommerce store as opposed to the marketing of the ecommerce store. They’ve straightforward functionality to create on team people to handle listings and inventory.

Volusion Admin Control

Both Volusion and Shopify are fantastic platforms for startups to enterprise. However, Shopify’s focus is on getting an extensive platform that is useful for any kind of store. Volusions’s focus helps existing storeowners sell better – and manage across channels.

User-ambiance & Onboarding

Associated with Customer Focus would be the problems with user-ambiance and “onboarding” (ie, obtaining a new customer for an active storeowner).

Both Volusion and Shopify have excellent onboarding processes and user-friendly management areas.

The primary difference is when each backend is structured. Volusion includes a single Dashboard in which you manage everything – your product or service, inventory, websites, settings, billing, etc.

Volusion Dashboard

Shopify breaks out products/customers/orders as well as your website into separate areas. Furthermore, Shopify has their very own lingo.

For instance, rather of “product categories” – Shopify has “Collections.” Rather of a “website” – Shopify has “Online Store” that is among your “Sales Channels.”

Shopify Backend

To have an absolute beginner, it requires a couple of more minutes to determine Shopify’s lingo and structure when compared with Volusion. That stated, once Shopify’s lingo clicks, it will provide a little more versatility for daily operations. Shopify’s inventory setup, their product filtering and template editor are faster and much more versatile – when you figure them out.

For those who have never operate a website before and just possess a promising small to mid-size product collection, then Volusion will probably be preferable than Shopify.

If you would like more lengthy-term versatility, you’ll likely appreciate Shopify’s system more when you tackle the training curve.

Method of Features

Both Shopify and Volusion have the majority of the tools (marketing, Search engine optimization, inventory, order, etc) a web-based store will have to be effective. They differ though in the way the each approach adding additional features.

Shopify takes the “platform” approach. They’ve essential features that storeowners will require built-in. However for features that does not all storeowners need – they concentrate on ensuring storeowners can also add feature extensions for their store when needed. There is a large and active Application Store that does not has only well-known extensions (ie, MailChimp) but additionally lots of indie apps for each situation (ie, apps for worldwide tax and shipping features).

Shopify Apps

Shopify’s template editing language, Liquid, also enables developers to include features straight to an outlet if required. Shopify also offers a good “CMS” to handle non-product content (ie, blogs, pages, etc).

Shopify Blog Post

Volusion comes with an Application Store for extensions too. However, Volusion includes a bigger concentrate on building plenty of features straight into their software to ensure that there’s you don’t need to add extra time.

For instance, take selling on Amazon . com or importing your Amazon . com listings for your store. Both Shopify and Volusion could make these functions happen.

Volusion builds the feature to their backend. Should you not require the feature, it adds some clutter and technically enables you to “pay” for something aren’t using. However if you simply require it, it’s already there also it simply works.

Volusion Amazon Integration

Shopify doesn’t have it built-in. However, they are doing come with an application extension (produced by Shopify, readily available for free) that you could supplment your store if you are an Amazon . com seller.

That stated – the switch side from the platform/built-in tradeoff is when Volusion doesn’t have an element built-in – they’re unlikely with an application to supply the functionality whatsoever.

For instance, if you’re applying bulk 301 redirects and wish to monitor 404 errors to find out if you missed any URLs – Shopify comes with an application will require proper care of that however, you won’t have the ability to it whatsoever in Volusion.

It’s exactly the same situation for drag editing, membership shopping and lots of other advanced features. Most storeowners don’t needOrwould like them. However if you simply do, you are more inclined to have it in certain form or fashion in Shopify than Volusion.

Shopify Apps

The final example this is actually the “content management system” – Shopify includes a decent one to have an ecommerce platform. Volusion, though, is decidedly missing.

Volusion CMS

Again – a CMS isn’t by itself an enormous deal. But it’s vital that you consider which needs are critical for your store.

Overall, for those who have fairly core ecommerce needs and just want something to exist and also to work – then Volusion will probably are more effective.

If you would like more versatility (without going the self-hosting route), then you’ll convey more use of features with Shopify.

Aside – for this reason I suggest carrying out a 2 week free trial offer with Volusion and Shopify simply to click around and discover for yourself.

Method of Design

Both Shopify and Volusion make use of a system of styles / templates for design. You decide on basics theme after which edit it to appear as you desire.

As the finish result is identical, they are doing have a slightly different approach.

Shopify includes a well-developed “Theme Store” which, similar to their Application Store, has many free and premium styles produced by companies, individuals, and Shopify.

Shopify Themes

Shopify’s backend enables you to definitely make changes towards the theme. It can be done via drag or via  a hybrid method of editing. Small customizations (colors, logos, etc) require only a click while bigger changes (layout, widgets, etc) require editing Shopify’s custom Liquid language. Here’s Shopify’s drag tool.

Shopify Drag Drop

Volusion includes a Theme Store that’s quickly growing. They’ve just added a brand new batch of new styles. However, still it lacks the variety of Shopify. Their cost points for premium styles are often greater too. That stated, Volusion theme editing options include both selecting small customizations and editing the HTML/CSS. It’s a far more straightforward editor that you will get with Shopify.

Volusion Templates

Overall, I believe most storeowners will discover more versatility with Shopify’s method of design. However, if you wish to edit HTML/CSS directly without learning a brand new language and/or wish to download template designs (instead of your development store) – then you’ll like Volusion better.

Shopify versus. Volusion Conclusion & Next Steps

So Shopify versus. Volusion – who is the perfect fit for who? For those who have time – I’d really recommend carrying out a free trial offer (no charge card needed) with and merely clicking around.

Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Volusion here.

Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Shopify here.

Personally, i such as the versatility and options of Shopify. They’re likely a much better fit for many online storeowners. Take a look at Shopify here & my Shopify Review here.

However, if you are a old store and wish a less complicated experience, you’ll prosper with Volusion. Take a look at Volusion here & my Volusion Review here.

If you’re undecided – then take my Ecommerce Platform Quiz here. It will require your requirements and let you know who is the greatest option for your web store.

“”

Team Bio Series – Melissa Manley (Small Biz Love)

Our impartial reviews and content are supported partly by affiliate partnerships. Find out more.

After I sent Melissa they Bio questionnaire, I understood she wouldn’t disappoint…and she certainly delivered. Her focus on detail is really as wonderful with this project because it is in her own reviews. mPOS takes over just like a Netflix marathon on cleaning day, and Melissa is really a key player for making everything easily understandable. To focus on everything she provides, Melissa expires next within our Team Bio Series.

Name: Melissa Manley

Title: Credit Card Merchant AccountOrCellular Payments reviewer

Hometown: Joliet, IL

Current city: Lenexa, KS

Education and background: I’ve got a B.A. in British along with a B.S. in journalism in the College of Kansas, however a bad internship convinced me that the newsroom wasn’t where I had been intended to be. And So I began out like a freelance author/editor and selected up lots of really random understanding on the way.

Merchant Maverick department/niche: I actually do some content for merchant services, but my expertise is actually in mobile payment systems. I’ve labored artist tables and also at occasions which use Square and PayPal for any couple of years. I additionally have numerous buddies who’re around the convention circuit or run home-based companies so I’m familar with the requirements of retailers who don’t their very own dedicated storefront.

How have you uncover Merchant Maverick?: Amad, who owns Merchant Maverick, found me, really. He contacted me on the freelance platform and requested about writing reviews. Used to do an example article about a bit of tech known as LoopPay, that has since been purchased by Samsung Pay, which is among the services I keep close track of. Therefore it kind of seems like I’ve come full circle, in ways.

Proudest professional moment: I believe my proudest moment was getting quoted within my first HARO (Help a Reporter Out) query for Merchant Maverick. I understand that I’m a specialist in mPOS and payments, but getting my first quoted response helped me think, “Wow, others can easily see that I’m a specialist too!”

Favorite Merchant Maverick publish/moment/chance: I visited college in Lawrence, KS, the type of town that’s very happy with its small companies. The culture applied off on me. Might and it is suburbs, where I’m now, have a similar kind of devotion to independent companies that Lawrence does. It’s really amazing. What does everything relate to MM?

Well, I recognized within my freelance work which i enjoy helping small companies from behind the curtain, in addition to supporting them like a customer. I’m really lucky by using Merchant Maverick, I’m able to continue assisting small companies, whether it’s pointing them toward the very best processing deals or simply increasingly experienced in the instalments industry and just how it impacts them. Cheesy, I understand — and I am not even keen on cheese — but it’s the reality.

Where do you turn when you are no longer working for Merchant Maverick?: I’m a giant geek, so I’m usually binging something from the sci-fi/fantasy/super hero persuasion. I’m also pleased to consult with you the good thing about 1700s, Belle Epoque, and Edwardian era fashion, or even the how to go about Harry Potter, Lord from the Rings, or any one of my other favorite books. I additionally volunteer in an anime convention. As being a well-rounded geek is essential, yanno?

You’re a brand new accessory for the crayon box. What color are you currently and why?: Can One be considered a rainbow swirl crayon? I really like rainbows and anything rainbow colored. They fill me with pleasure, and I’d like to share that pleasure with everybody else.

Favorite ‘90s song: Must i pick only one? Sigh. If I needed to name only one favorite, I’d opt for No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak.” But 90s music is my jam. The runners-up include songs from Smashing Pumpkins and also the Offspring. And Backstreet Boys.

Favorite night time snack? Frozen treats.

What exactly are three products in your bucket list?: Within the interest of diversity (and not simply to list out a lot of holiday destinations):

  • Go to the Loire Valley in France, particularly Chenonceau.
  • Write an illusion novel. I do not expect so that it is good (individuals childhood hopes for to be the next Tolkien or J.K. Rowling have lengthy since been abandoned), but I must write one.
  • Finish my to-read list. Just kidding. That’s not going to happen. But it’s a great goal to desire to.

Should you could travel back in its history and reside in a different era, which may you select and why?: Medieval Europe fascinates me, but it’s a tad too plague-y in my tastes. And So I think I’d prefer to skip ahead to Tudor England, that is only marginally better so far as health risks. However it comes with Shakespeare and Marlowe and also the Tudor Empire, and a few really amazing clothing. Failing that, I love to think I’d be considered a Jane Austen-esque heroine within the Regency era.

Mac or Home windows?: I’m solidly within the Home windows camp. And much more solidly within the Android camp.

Should you could either become invisible if you wanted or have the ability to fly, which may you select and why?: Flying, certainly. I believe being invisible (even if perhaps when needed) could be very lonely. Flying appears like more enjoyable and allows for additional super hero-y antics.

When we ever require a book recommendation or help with our businesses, Melissa is our go-to. We would like to spend time together with her for fun on saturday because she’s into some really fun stuff! Can One pre-order that “someday” fantasy novel? I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be much better than Melissa is giving herself credit for.

For additional from Melissa, make sure to interact with her on LinkedIn.

Rebecca Bertone

Rebecca is really a marketing junkie who discovered her passion while finishing her Journalism and Media Studies degree at North Park Condition. She enjoys everything internet marketing, particularly social networking! To be the typical millennial, she’s building her career by checking up on the most recent trends and tools in communication to assist brand achieve their set goals. When she’s not tweeting or streaming. you’ll find her exploring her new house within the Off-shore Northwest, cooking, or making up ground around the latest Television shows.

Rebecca Bertone

“”

Merchant’s Help guide to Stopping Card-Present Fraud

Charge card fraud, for most of us, invokes 1 of 2 scenarios. First, you will find data breaches à la Target or Lowe’s, where thieves connect to the system and steal charge card figures, names, along with other data. Beyond that, you may consider online card fraud, where shady people use stolen card figures (sometimes acquired in data breaches such as the formerly pointed out ones) to purchase a lot of stuff online. Even though you start digging into ways retailers can safeguard against card fraud, the overwhelming quantity of sources are directed at eCommerce an internet-based transactions, and the ways to prevent fraud there. There isn’t many details whatsoever about card-present fraud — that’s, transactions which are still not legitimate but occur inside a store, in which the card is swiped or dipped.

Overall, card-present charge card fraud is really a smaller sized bit of the cake than online fraud, that is likely why there is a disproportionate quantity of sources regarding internet-based cons. But it’s still necessary that retailers take each step they are able to to safeguard themselves. Which includes being aware of what risks you face within the brick-and-mortar atmosphere.

Table of Contents

Understanding the kinds of Charge Card Fraud

I’m penning this mostly to describe how to prevent fraud. I shouldn’t enter into all the various scams and methods that fraudsters use because you can write a little ebook about them. But generally, all charge card fraud (or bank card fraud) falls into 1 of 3 groups:

  • Cloned/Counterfeit Card Fraud: This is a kind of card-present fraud in which the fraudster forges a card with another person’s username and passwords and uses it inside a brick-and-mortar storefront.
  • Lost/Stolen Card Fraud: This kind of fraud is most familiar to consumers, and sure concern for a lot of retailers: a fraudster using another person’s card to create a transaction (frequently a really large one). This could happen online or perhaps in a store.
  • Card-Not-Present Fraud: Any kind of fraudulent online transaction falls into this category, simply due to the credit card not swiped or dipped. While there are several tools retailers may use to mitigate this risk, generally, it’s the easiest kind of fraud to commit. CNP fraud comprises nearly all card fraud, especially as EMV makes it harder to clone or counterfeit cards.

It is also important to note there’s a couple other kinds of fraud retailers have to be cautious about:

  • ATM Fraud: Scammers uses a couple of different tactics to obtain either money or card data from ATMs, including installing card skimmers (we’ll discuss individuals inside a bit) or deliberately blocking the money distribution mechanism. For those who have an ATM on-site at the business, be familiar with it as being a possible target.
  • Check Fraud: Checks are certainly decreasing. Actually, based on the Fed, the entire quantity of check payments produced in the U.S. fell typically 6.2 percent each year from 2000 to 2012, and from 2012 to 2015, fell by typically 4.4 % yearly. In 2015, consumers authored as many as 19.4 billion checks, that was a complete loss of 3.1 billion over 2012 figures. However, the Given also reports that the need for the checks risen has elevated — and therefore while individuals are writing them less often, they have a tendency to create them for more and more bigger purchases. Check acceptance isn’t universal, however if you simply do accept checks, utilizing a digital service for example Telecheck to instantly convert payments and flag dangerous transactions is a great way to safeguard yourself.

I am not likely to really enter into CNP fraud, as the majority of it requires running an eCommerce store. This short article won’t cope with ATM or check fraud in-depth simply because they don’t affect nearly all retailers. Our focus is particularly card fraud at brick-and-mortar stores, whether it is debit or charge card related.

The Charge Card Fraud Game-Changer: EMV

Before the EMV liability shift required place, fraud experts were predicting that CNP fraud would increase with a tremendous amount in america because other nations that implemented EMV observed an identical pattern, and individuals predictions have held true. Credit monitoring agency Experian reported a rise of CNP fraud totaling 33% when compared with 2015.

One of the reasons for elevated CNP fraud may be the development of shopping online. As increasing numbers of use online, the entire amount of charge card fraud is likely to increase. However, the rollout of EMV can also be playing a job within the increase of card-not-present fraud.

Particularly, the chips in EMV cards tend to be harder to repeat and reproduce than the usual magstripe card (which is dependant on technology straight from the 1970s). So rather, scammers are switching to purchasing online, where you can find no techniques to physically authenticate the credit card. Rather, most security checks depend around the CVV or AVS checks to recognize suspicious transactions.

That’s not saying cloned or counterfeited cards aren’t an issue whatsoever. They’re. EMV market saturation in america isn’t 100%, as well as if consumers have nick cards, that does not mean retailers are outfitted to simply accept nick cards. As well as if counterfeited card fraud is decreasing, there’s still lost/stolen card fraud to bother with.

6 Methods to Reduce Charge Card Fraud in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

So, your house you need to antiques store. Someone is available in to purchase some furniture for his or her new house. Two days and a few 1000 dollars later, you discover the card used would be a stolen card. The cardholder has filed a chargeback, meaning the entire transaction amount continues to be deducted from your bank account and put on hold pending analysis. Not just that, but you’re the actual merchandise, effectively doubling whatever is lost.

Regrettably, this could and does occur to retailers. Although some industries are much more likely than the others to become victims of card fraud, any and each business should know the potential risks and take safeguards.

Which industries are most in danger? Based on an american Bank presentation, a few of the MCCs (merchant category codes, accustomed to identify the kind of services or products a business offers) which are most focused on fraud range from the following:

  • 5411: Supermarkets and Supermarkets
  • 5732: Electronics Stores
  • 5812: Dining Establishments and Restaurants
  • 5999: Miscellaneous and Niche Stores
  • 4722: Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
  • 5311: Shops
  • 5661: Shoe Stores

Exactly what do you need to do to safeguard yourself? To begin with, you should know of whether you’re in the kind of industry that’s enjoy being focused on card-present fraud. A dry-cleaning business or perhaps a cafe? Most likely less. An gallery, a furniture or electronics store, or other business where consumers can drop hundreds or 1000s of dollars all at once? Most certainly a target.

Second, make certain you implement procedures and policies that will help mitigate fraud. We’ll begin with a very fundamental one, that we suspect lots of retailers overlook:

1. Check Network Guidelines for Card Acceptance

I mention mtss is a lot — by a great deal, I am talking about in nearly every review I write — but READ YOUR CONTRACT. Understand what you’re signing and just what rules and needs you’re being certain to. It’s important to maintain your credit card merchant account open so that you can keep accepting cards. But it’s also wise to consider the merchant guidelines the various card systems (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Uncover) offer. They often cover guidelines for example displaying marks of acceptance, surcharging, and minimum/maximum transaction amounts. Hidden in individuals guidelines will also be policies which cover safety measures you’re likely to take and list of positive actions if you feel a card is fraudulent or even the transaction otherwise seems suspicious.

To help you get began, I suggest checking the Visa card acceptance guidelines, in addition to MasterCard’s rules.

2. Secure Your POS and Hardware

What is POS

In addition to the threats resulting from counterfeited or stolen cards, it’s also wise to be familiar with the opportunity of an information breach. If a person has the capacity to access the body and compromise your customers’ private information, it may be devastating for both you and your business. Data breaches can occur in lots of ways.

Among the apparent ones is skimming, in which a fraudster installs a tool over your terminal or pin pad that captures the credit card data and stores it. Skimmers may take only seconds to set up and therefore are difficult to place unless of course you are aware how to acknowledge the twelve signs. Scammers may also result in a data breach by using adware and spyware in your POS system or else hacking it. They are more complex techniques in most cases directed at high-value targets, but they’re possible you should know of, particularly if you store any type of customer data.

PCI Compliance: What you ought to Know

Technically, PCI DSS compliance (usually just known as PCI compliance) isn’t just about POS systems. Sturdy your hardware, too. More often than not that’s lumped along with your POS, though, particularly if you come with an integrated solution.

PCI DSS means Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It’s a unified policy indicating the steps retailers have to take to secure their transaction data through hardware and also the POS system, laid by the PCI Security Standards Council. Retailers are sorted into certainly one of four levels with respect to the type and number of transactions yearly. Most small companies are Level 3 or Level 4, that have the least steps to consider to keep compliance.

There’s an excellent chance that, should you didn’t construct your system yourself, you’re already PCI compliant. Software and equipment vendors will need to go via a certification process when they handle payment card information. However, should you store any customer data (particularly in a database you develop and keep yourself) or route it via a website you maintain yourself, that won’t function as the situation. You need to speak to your credit card merchant account provider or software vendor by what steps are needed to make sure your compliance. You might be needed to accomplish quarterly scans or self-assessments.

PCI compliance could be summarized into 12 points of action lumped into six groups. The reason here is obtained from the PCI SCC Quick Reference Guide.

Build and keep a safe and secure Network
1. Install and keep a firewall configuration to safeguard cardholder data.
2. Don’t use vendor-provided defaults for system passwords along with other security parameters.

Safeguard Cardholder Data
3. Safeguard stored cardholder data.
4. Secure transmission of cardholder data across open, public systems.

Conserve a Vulnerability Management Program
5. Use and frequently update anti-virus software or programs.
6. Develop and keep secure systems and applications.

Implement Strong Access Control Measures
7. Restrict use of cardholder data by business have to know.
8. Assign a distinctive ID to every person with computer access.
9. Restrict physical use of cardholder data.

Regularly Monitor and Test Systems
10. Track and monitor all use of network sources and cardholder data.
11. Regularly test home security systems and procedures.

Maintain an info Security Policy
12. Conserve a policy that addresses information to safeguard all personnel.

For retailers, I believe the important thing takeaway is the fact that PCI compliance (and knowledge peace of mind in general) isn’t a one-and-done type deal. You have to positively take preventive steps and monitoring the body, from updating software and firmware when updates seem to watching the employees and ensuring they’re educated on card security issues and proper procedures to handle.

Beyond PCI Compliance: How to maintain your POS (and knowledge) Secure

Learning all the intricacies of PCI compliance is most certainly challenging for anybody, the experts! However, since, data security isn’t something take proper care of once rather than consider again, you need to certainly take a moment to discover security.

Two big terms at this time are file encryption and tokenization. PCI DSS signifies that the POS and hardware should secure transactions. There’s two major kinds of file encryption, point-to-point and finish-to-finish.

Tokenization isn’t yet a business standard, though it’s increasingly common, mostly because of NFC/contactless payments. Tokenization generates a 1-time-use card number and substitutes it for that actual card number. Even when information is breached and decrypted, that tokenized number is useless to scammers. That’s just how Apple Pay and Samsung Pay and Android Pay keep the card data secure: Your card number is kept in a cloud vault which your phone have access to. Your phone generates the token and passes it to the system, which verifies the amount.

If you would like to understand more about how you can secure your POS, check out our POS 101 article around the subject, in addition to PC Mag’s article regarding how to place skimmers.

3. Capture Signatures, Even on Low-Value Transactions

accept mobile credit card payments

Credit (and debit) cards possess a space around the back for customers to sign them because, theoretically, retailers are meant to compare that signature towards the one around the receipt as a way of verification. The truth is couple of or no retailers really do that.

Within the interest of speeding along transactions, particularly in environments where customers be prepared to be interior and exterior the checkout fairly rapidly, the credit card systems have relaxed their guidelines with no longer need a signature on all transactions. Low-value transactions (under $25 or $50 with respect to the network) frequently waive the signature requirement.

mPOS systems — Square, PayPal Here, SumUp, etc. — plus some POS systems frequently allow retailers to disable signatures on low-value transactions. For mPOS systems, the brink is generally $25. For full-fledged POS systems, that threshold may also be in the merchant’s discretion.

Realistically speaking, quick-serve cafes and restaurants, supermarkets, etc., where you’re likely to encounter low-value transactions, aren’t an enormous risk. And also the losses, unless of course you’re experiencing a huge string of fraudulent transactions, are minimal. It isn’t that you simply absolutely must enable signatures on all transactions to safeguard yourself. That’s not true. However if you simply want to maximise your protection out on another mind the additional time to gather a signature throughout the checkout phase, you are able to enable them.

For top-value transactions, you need to absolutely be collecting signatures on everything. Actually, for large transactions, signed invoices are an easy way to safeguard your company and reduce the chances of chargebacks.

4. Request Customer Identification

Some consumers, rather of filling out the backs of the cards, decide to write “SEE ID” for the reason that space. This informs retailers they ought to request a photo ID and compare it towards the name around the card.

A great practice. Not every retailers get it done, especially with increasingly more consumer-facing PIN pads and terminals in which the cashier never handles the credit card.

But there’s only one small problem:

A merchant can ask to determine a photograph ID for any transaction, but legally, the customer isn’t obligated to supply it. Visa’s guide, 5 Important Visa Rules That Each Merchant Ought To Know, explains it such as this:

“A Merchant may request cardholder identification inside a face-to-face atmosphere. When the name around the identification doesn’t match the name around the card, the merchant could decide whether or not to accept the credit card. When the cardholder doesn’t have, or perhaps is reluctant to provide, cardholder identification, the merchant should recognition the credit card should they have acquired evidence of card presence, a legitimate authorization, along with a valid signature or PIN.”

Therefore if a person provides an ID that does not match the name around the card, the merchant can pick to say no the transaction. When the customer will not offer an ID or doesn’t have one, Visa’s rules condition that you ought to process the transaction, provided you will find the card in hands plus they sign or enter their PIN.

That stated, requesting ID continues to be generally a great policy. Just be familiar with the credit card systems acceptance rules (see point #1 above).

5. Avoid Keyed Transactions

It’s story time!

A lengthy, lengthy time ago (OK, a lot more like eight years back), after i labored like a cashier somewhere that shall ‘t be named, I recall from time to time getting to place a card inside a plastic grocery bag and swipe it to obtain the POS to see it. I’m still unsure why this labored, however it did. Them which had this issue were usually old and worn — sometimes worn to the stage the elevated figures weren’t as elevated because they must have been, and also the whole card appeared thinner, even extended. They often left worn-lower, overstuffed wallets, therefore i just generally assumed the put on evolved as the result of in which the card was stored. Sometimes, though, even that didn’t work, since the card might have a split inside it within the magstripe or it simply wouldn’t read. In individuals cases, I could (and did) by hand go into the card.

I do not determine if the cards I processed by doing this were fraudulent, but I know since it was a danger. Card network guidelines, in addition to other security experts, suggest that you inspect the physical card for indications of damage or tampering before you decide to process a transaction. Broken cards — particularly if it normally won’t swipe — can (but don’t always) indicate counterfeit or cloned cards. Entering the transaction means the POS does not have to physically look into the card, because it’s treated like a card-not-present transaction.

First, keyed transactions always are more expensive than swiped or dipped ones. PayPal and Square both charge 3.5% + $.15, that is well over the 2.7% and a pair of.75% (correspondingly) they charge for swiped or dipped transactions. Traditional merchant services may also assess a greater fee, although it varies more.

Second, getting a lot of keyed transactions is frequently a warning sign for a free account provider. It shows that someone may be processing cards that aren’t even physically contained in the shop, that is, clearly, a large no-no. A particular quantity of keyed transactions should be expected, but a lot of can result in a hold, freeze, or termination.

So your very best to prevent entering card information, because this will safeguard your company. Most security experts also recommend searching at the processing background and making note associated with a patterns — whether these transactions happen in a particular time consistently, or maybe one cashier is much more vulnerable to keyed transactions than the others.

6. Change to EMV Acceptance

EMV credit card terminal

Should you not curently have a POS and hardware that accepts EMV transactions, it’s about time you are making the switch. No exceptions, no excuses. Yes, it may appear costly, you will find, the EMV rollout continues to be rather slow partly due to the backlog on hardware and software certifications. But there are many EMV-certified hardware and software open to retailers. If you were postponing the switch, just start it already. It’s probably the most important methods for you to safeguard your company from charge card fraud.

Like I stated earlier, it’s a great deal harder (not possible, but very, very hard) to repeat a nick card. That is why many scammers are relocating to CNP fraud. On October 1, 2015, liability for fraudulent nick card transactions shifted in the banks to “the least-secure party,” which within this situation means retailers who aren’t outfitted to simply accept EMV.

Remember the instance I began with, using the antique furniture. Repeat the person purchasing the products have a counterfeit nick card. However, you, the merchant, have only a magstripe readers. If you’d had an EMV readers, it could have been in a position to identify the card was fraudulent. But rather, you processed the magstripe transaction — which leaves you entirely responsible for the entire mess.

The problem could be different when the fraudster were built with a stolen EMV card and tried on the extender in an EMV terminal. For the reason that situation, the liability would fall around the card provider.

Should you haven’t already, get EMV-capable card-readers and make certain your POS is EMV certified, too. It’s absolutely worthwhile, and every one of our top-rated merchant providers offer EMV acceptance, just like our top-rated mPOS providers.

Conclusion: How Large a danger is Card-Present Charge Card Fraud?

Realistically, retailers who sell online face an even bigger threat than brick-and-mortar retailers. That’s largely because of the EMV liability shift and rollout of nick cards. Unfortunately, even nick cards can’t safeguard against stolen or lost card fraud. And until EMV market saturation hits 100%, there’s still a danger of accepting counterfeit cards.

Fortunately, you are able to take measures to safeguard your and yourself business. Understanding is power, especially within the payments industry. So review your processing contract, the credit card networks’ laws and regulations, and also the legal matters affecting your industry. Make certain that you simply keep the POS secure, out on another overlook simple defenses for example collecting signatures or requesting IDs, and keeping keyed transactions low. Applying EMV, should you haven’t already, is among the most critical methods for you to safeguard your company.

If you have questions, we’d like to respond to them! Take a look at our comment guidelines by leaving your question inside a comment. Thanks for studying!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

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Why Don’t You Comprehending the “Rolling Reserve” Could Place You Bankrupt

rolling reserve paypal

There is a little-known risk management tactic the bankcard market is using with elevated frequency nowadays known as the “rolling reserve” or holdback. For individuals individuals that do not know what it’s, here’s a fast definition:

A method utilized by charge card processors, obtaining banks or MSP’s (merchant providers) to reduce the danger profile of retailers that will otherwise not be eligible for a a free account according to current underwriting guidelines. The moving reserve provides the above pointed out institutions the authority to withhold a portion (usually 5-10%) of product sales in the merchant for any specific time period inside a non-interest bearing account to pay for for the potential of fraud or chargebacks.

going-out-of-business

The horrible economy that we’re presently facing is responsible for individuals associated with the processing of charge card transactions to do something like paranoid crack addicts, but will it be for valid reason?

Bankruptcies really are a cent twelve nowadays, so overcome through the anxiety about taking a loss, the processors pass their risks onto us retailers rather. I just read a BusinessWeek article a few days ago that does an excellent job of explaining everything.

The current recession and rising business bankruptcies have motivated giant credit-card companies for example Denver (Colo)-based First Data and Atlanta-based Elavon to demand that some business proprietors conserve a cash reserve using the processors to be able to safeguard against the chance that customers may need refunds following the retailers go belly-up.

Like a merchant, as long as you are able to accommodate for your missing income, then you definitely won’t have problems, but in some instances getting five to tenPercent of the sales withheld of your stuff, could place you under. Particularly if most of the business originates from charge card transactions.

sharing-financial-risk

Personally, I believe the danger ought to be spread across all players involved retailers, ISO/MSP’s, the obtaining banks and also the processors. Seriously, rather of forcing the merchant to simply accept a particular percentage (5-10%) that you simply dictate, why don’t you question them the things they are designed for? I am talking about, don’t this option realize that when the small-business goes bankrupt, everyone loses? Wait, who shall we be held kidding, that’s like attempting to tell Tony Soprano to prevent using the extortion.

Anyway, your main option like a merchant at this time would be to make certain you realize exactly what the moving reserve is, what number of your hard earned money the processor is thinking about withholding, and whether you may also remain in business without that income. Otherwise, i then would you should consider alternative payment methods before you feel you’ve enough of your reserves to pay for the stinkin’ moving reserves.

Finally, if you have questions or concerns about PayPal’s moving reserve policy – and lots of PayPal retailers do – you can consult this resource from PayPal.

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