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We hear a lot about the latest payment-related features and capabilities that are necessary to meet the evolving expectations and demands of customers in today’s world. Mobile payments, contactless payments, virtual terminals, point-to-point encryption – the list can be endless. While all of those are important, there is one key feature your payment partner must bring to your payment solution. It is simple yet powerful. It is TRUST.

Your customers trust your products. They trust your service. They trust you. The same thing should apply to your merchant services or integrated payments partner. Without trust, your relationship is destined to fail.

There are five key areas of payment partner trust that all businesses must consider.

1. Trust they’ll keep you secure.

This may sound like table stakes, but you’d be surprised. Many businesses do not even comply with the PCI standards set by the major card brands. According to Verizon’s 2020 Payment Security Report, of the organizations assessed on PCI DSS compliance in 2019, only 27.9% achieved full compliance. This is nearly a nine-percentage point drop from the previous year. Admittedly, PCI compliance can be a highly complex process. So much so that often merchants bypass that step and choose to pay monthly non-compliance fees. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) those fees mount quickly, and 2) non-compliant merchants are more vulnerable to a breach. Neither scenario is desirable. Strong payment partners step in to help navigate and simplify the compliance process.

Merchants are at risk in scores of other ways as well. Phishing, ransomware, and cybercrime are all on the rise. You need to have confidence your payment partner is staying on top of the latest threats and is actively engaging protective measures on your behalf.

2. Trust you’re paying a fair price.

If you’ve ever tried to compare your credit card processing statements with the pricing from other payment providers, you already know what a challenge that is. Payment invoices can be packed with obscure line items and jargon that are impossible to understand. Sadly, this is often intentional on the part of the payment provider. Vague descriptions are great ways to sneak in additional, and sometimes unnecessary, costs.

To trust you’re being charged fairly, you need to be clear about what you are paying, where the money goes, and whether there are ways to better control those costs. In short, your provider must be transparent, and you should ask for the details that support your charges.

3. Trust they’ll be there for you.

Imagine a line of customers waiting to transact at your POS when you start to have problems with your payment terminal. You probably trust that you’ll be able to reach a customer service rep to get your issue quickly resolved. Unfortunately, you may discover your trust has been misguided when you must leave a voicemail and wait hours for a return phone call. This is a pretty common occurrence. Your ability to quickly process transactions is way too important to rely on voicemail service from your provider.

4. Trust they’ll be there for your customers.

Software providers with integrated payments have very little control, if any, over the support that is delivered by their payment provider. This presents a quandary as the software provider’s reputation is at risk should their provider stumble with customer service.

When vetting potential partners, the focus often is on the ease of integration. Certainly that is an important aspect, however the more important concern is the service commitment the partner is willing to make to your customers. They are your lifeblood; don’t let your payment partner jeopardize your relationships. Timely day to day support is a requirement for ensuring your end customers receive the level of service they deserve and that their experience is seamless and efficient.

5. Trust their expertise and guidance.

The recent health crisis exemplified the need for payment partner expertise and guidance. Brick and mortar-only businesses suddenly found themselves in a mad scramble to expand online to support new commerce channels such as curbside and home delivery. Those with proactive guidance from their payment partners had a smoother, more cost-effective transition than those that faced that unfamiliar territory alone.

Configurations, hardware, software, and compliance are just a few examples of areas where merchants need expertise and guidance from their payments partner.

How to Find a Trustworthy Payment Partner

No business ever promotes itself as untrustworthy, but there are a few simple questions that can help you separate the good providers from the mediocre ones.

  1. Is their customer retention rate 90 percent or greater?
  2. How is service handled? Call center? Off-shore? Relationship manager? Response times?
  3. Are they transparent with how they arrive at pricing?
  4. Do they lock you into a long-term contract with a penalty for leaving?
  5. How often do they communicate with merchants regarding security threats?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But it will get you on the right path to finding the right payment partner for your business.


Debra Janssen has held various CEO, COO and CIO roles in Financial Services and Business Process Outsourcing industries over the past 25 years. She has expertise in Technology, IT/Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Compliance and Regulatory requirements that support 24/7 business process outsourcing. Companies she worked at include MasterCard Worldwide, Fidelity Info Services, Bankers Trust and First Data Services.

Debra has also held Board roles for both public and privately held companies and is recruited for her expertise driving critical transformation efforts to grow, digitize, integrate and re-engineer traditional business processes.