If you already provide point-of-sale systems or software, becoming a payment facilitator could be a natural complimentary service. You can use your new payment facilitation capabilities to deepen your relationship with customers through enhanced service, and create new revenue streams.
However, the process of becoming a payment facilitator isn’t easy if you’re unfamiliar with the payments space. To be a payment facilitator, you have to be accepted by an acquirer, which is usually a bank or other financial institution. Acquirers don’t accept just anyone into their payment facilitator program. To gain approval, the acquirer has to be satisfied that you have the correct payments strategy, to service customers in a familiar industry, and the operational expertise meet your obligations as a payments company.
One of the best ways to gain acceptance into an acquirer’s program is to align yourself with an expert in the payments space. Advisors in the payments space help you to create the right payments strategy. This involves aligning payments to your current capabilities, to successfully evolve and sustainably operate as a payment facilitator. They assist you in implementing new processes and capabilities so you meet the acquirer’s standards.
Choosing the right advisor can be a task in itself. Many consultants are simply out to sell you a specific service, and are less concerned about the rest of your payments strategy. But prior to making any decisions about purchasing tools and support, you need to align on what the right approach is for your organization. Generally, a holistic advisor will have the experience and depth of knowledge to help you prepare every aspect of your business.
Holistic payment facilitator advisors take a customized approach to payment facilitation. They tailor their process to your business and recommend strategies that best fit your unique needs. While the custom approach may vary from business to business, holistic advisors often look at five key areas:
Business Model Alignment
Your business model will have a big impact on how you operate as a payment facilitator. Your organization should consider everything from the types of products and services you offer today, to the effect payments will have on them, to how you’ll support your customers as a payments company, compared to how you do today as a company.
If you sell products, you may have a different customer relationship than a company that offers software or services. Do you bill upfront for services or on an ongoing subscription basis? Are your products consumed all at once or over time?
These questions are important because they influence how you will rollout your payment facilitator services and your ability to take on new payment facilitator customers. Based on your business model, your holistic advisor may suggest that you start slow and grow the payment facilitator operation over time so you meet all regulations and obligations. If you don’t have a rollout plan that aligns with your model, the acquirer could reject your application.
There’s inherent risk in becoming a payment facilitator. You’re responsible for processing payments and routing money to the correct destination. If you fail in those steps, you could expose yourself to financial risk and legal liability.
Simply put, acquirer’s want to know that you have explored every possible risks and that you have taken steps to minimize your exposure. This usually means establishing firm contracts with customers, vendors, financial institutions, and other participants to clarify everyone’s responsibilities.
It also helps to begin your payments journey in an industry you’re already familiar with. This will help to ensure an acquirer’s confidence in you to responsibly manage your business and service to clients with minimal issues or disputes.
Again, a holistic advisor can help you identify areas of risk that you may not otherwise notice. They can then help you establish contracts and other risk management tools to protect yourself and your customers. If an acquirer feels you haven’t taken adequate steps to manage your susceptibility to risk, they may not accept your application.
Your payment facilitator operating agreement could be hundreds or even thousands of pages long. Every page contains information that is relevant and important to your operations and processes. If you and your team don’t fully understand the payment facilitator agreement, you could inadvertently violate the terms and open yourself up to legal liability.
Payment facilitator agreements can be complicated, and they can be especially difficult to understand if you don’t have substantial experience in the payments space. A holistic advisor who has helped execute payment facilitator agreements across a broad range of industries can help you understand the terms of the document so you can stay in compliance with the terms and regulations.
Technology & Platform
Technology may be the most important aspect of your new payment facilitator operation. As you might guess, processing payments is highly dependent upon technology. You’ll be responsible for processing credit card payments, chargebacks, refunds, and for implementing fraud monitoring and protection. Your customers may also expect you to operate at speed, and in a seamless fashion. This all requires a robust tech platform.
Without the right tech in place, you could end up in a processing nightmare, further complicating your operational responsibilities. And on top of that, you could be rejected by your potential acquirer. They’ll analyze your platform during the review process. Even worse, you could be approved as a payment facilitator, but then experience tech failures later. That could paralyze your processing operation and expose you to substantial risk. Your holistic payment facilitator advisor helps you prevent this nightmare scenario from unfolding.
Finally, even with the right tech, compliance, and strategy in place, your acquirer will still want to know that you have the processes to manage a high volume of payments, refunds, chargebacks, and more.
You’ll need documentation with step-by-step processes for every aspect of your payment facilitator operation. How are payments processed? What happens if fraud is suspected? What steps do you take to execute a refund or chargeback? How do you implement systems for a new payment facilitator customer?
Your payment facilitator advisor helps you develop these processes and implement them in your organization. Detailed and disciplined processes can make all the difference between payment facilitator success and failure.
The first step in your payment facilitator journey is to partner with an advisor who has the experience and holistic approach to help you overcome any challenges and obstacles. Do your due diligence as you interview potential advisors, and be sure to hire a firm who can offer a custom approach for your unique goals.
Stay tuned for more payments strategy guidance
Payments may not be your core business, but it may present a strategic opportunity for you to better serve your customers. Is it the right decision for you?
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