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Credit Card Payment Systems
In order to setup an ecommerce business, you will need an Internet merchant account, payment gateway, and shopping cart to accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and other major credit cards from your website.
Internet Merchant Account
An Internet merchant account is a financial relationship between you and a credit card processor, so funds can be deposited into your bank account. It differs from a regular merchant account in that an internet merchant account is approved to run web initiated transactions over the Internet, while a regular merchant account is not approved for web transactions. Usually it involves a website with real time credit card processing.
A payment gateway is a remotely hosted software application that transmits transaction data (either from your website or from a virtual terminal where you manually enter or key in transactions) to a credit card processor. Although other payment gateways are available, most merchant account providers use Authorize.Net for the payment gateway as Authorize.Net is pre-integrated with most shopping carts, has the most features, includes a free virtual terminal for manual entry, and is the easiest to use.
If you only sell one item, or one service, or just a few items, chances are you do not need a shopping cart. However, most ecommerce businesses require some sort of shopping cart on their website. This is especially true the more items you plan to sell from your website. A shopping cart allows website visitors to pick and choose the items they wish to purchase. The shopping cart then collects the customers address, and adds tax and shipping as needed. Finally the shopping cart connects to a payment gateway for processing of the credit card order.
We can provide a secure website and custom shopping cart for your ecommerce business or you can use your own website hosting and ecommerce provider.
When you host your website with us, we will help you install and setup your shopping cart and credit card processing applications on your website.
Internet Merchant Account Basics
If you have a business and you want to accept credit cards as a method of payment, you’re going to need a merchant account. From the small mom and pop shop down the street to the biggest and best of department stores, all businesses that take credit cards must have their own merchant account.
So what exactly is a merchant account?
A merchant account is the single most cost-effective way of accepting credit cards from your customers or clients. A merchant account involves an arrangement between you and a credit card processor. This arrangement allows you to accept credit card payments from your customers. Those payments are then deposited into your bank account.
There are two main types of merchant accounts. A “card present” merchant account and a MOTO (mail order/telephone order) or Internet merchant account. With a “card present” account, the credit card is actually present at the time of the sale and is swiped through a credit card terminal. With a MOTO account or an Internet transaction account, the card is not present and additional approval is required.
In order to get a merchant account, you’ll need to fill out an application and have it approved by a credit card processor. While banks offer merchant accounts, they’re not always the best place to turn to for your merchant account needs as their application process is a bit more stringent than other types of merchant account providers, plus they do not typically offer any advanced processing solutions such as wireless or web based processing.
Once you’re approved for a merchant account, you’ll need a way to process your transactions. This will involve using either a Point of Sale (POS) credit card terminal, credit card processing software or an Internet payment gateway. Once you decide which is right for you, you’ll need to program your merchant account into the terminal, software or website that you will be using.
Once your merchant account is setup, programmed and ready, you can begin to process credit card transactions. If the transaction is approved, the amount of the transaction is credited to your merchant account. If the transaction is not approved, the amount will not be credited to your merchant account. At the end of the day, the total of funds in your merchant account are settled and transferred to your bank account. Typically that process takes two business days.
Some merchant account providers will require you to set up a bank account with their bank in order to have a merchant account with them. However, there are other merchant account providers that allow you to bank wherever you choose.
It is best to use a merchant account that will let you bank where you choose to bank, as the merchant account is a totally separate account from your regular bank account and you may have needs for your bank account that the merchant account provider can not meet.
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