As noted in our previous blogs in this series (available here, here and here), choosing a payment gateway can be a daunting, but important, task. In this blog series, we’ve outlined many of the things a merchant should consider in assessing different payment gateways. A careful review of a gateway’s reliability, countries and currencies supported, fees and onboarding processes, and a variety of other factors will help a merchant determine which gateway will best serve their needs, both in the present and as their business grows and evolves.
In this final post in the series, we’ll cover three remaining, important topics: Reporting & reconciliation, Credit card portability, and Compliance.
Reporting & reconciliation
Merchants depend upon information from multiple sources including external parties like gateways, banks, and credit card companies for revenue recognition and other financial reporting purposes. Understanding how this information is provided is critical. Some merchants will rely on reports from payment gateways, while other merchants rely upon specialized internal staff who prepare reports using raw data from the gateway.
Some key questions around reporting practices include:
What reports does the gateway provide—standard vs. optional vs. custom. Are there additional fees or other considerations for creating or receiving non-standard or custom reports? Merchants who know they need more advanced reporting tools should ensure any gateway they choose can provide them and identify any additional cost.
How are the reports accessed? Via download or on-demand? And how often may they be obtained? If reports are difficult to obtain, a merchant’s reporting processes will be affected.
Are there tools to search and find items, for example, duplicate or missing transactions? Straightforward methods for finding data improves the reconciliation process.
If a merchant will be accessing gateway data to construct their own reports, it’s may be helpful to understand:
What kind of data model does the gateway use?
How is the data structured?
What data formats are supported?
Credit card portability
Occasionally, a merchant may want or need to switch to a different gateway. In this case, a gateway’s credit card data portability processes and policies will become extremely important.
How easy does the gateway make it to switch to another provider?
What tools or support do they provide to import and export customer and credit card information? Are there fees involved in this process? And how long will the process take?
Keep in mind that whenever a merchant decides to change gateways, they’ll need to export their credit card data from their old gateway. Because this information is so sensitive, payment gateways can be resistant to exporting the data. Even when this process is agreed to, it can take months to schedule and cost several thousand dollars in professional services fees. As well, the merchant will lose access to their legacy data and all their subscriber data will need to be reconfigured.
Subscription-based businesses who use Recurly don’t need to worry about the portability of their credit card data. With Recurly, merchants can change payment gateways with ease as their needs grow or change. It’s as simple as providing the new gateway credentials and checking a box to switch the flow of transactions from one gateway to another.
In addition to PCI requirements (which we discussed in blog 2), merchants should familiarize themselves with these additional compliance requirements, as applicable to their business. And, they should determine how well the gateway can help the merchant fulfill these requirements.
One compliance requirement is
“KYC” (Know Your Customer)
. KYC policies are becoming more important globally to prevent things like identity theft, financial fraud, and money laundering. What kind of KYC due diligence and support does the gateway provide to help the merchant meet these compliance requirements?
Another compliance concern relates to mandates from the
Office of Foreign Assets Control (or OFAC)
which is part of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury. This is the body that enforces economic and trade sanctions against specific foreign countries, regimes, and individuals who are involved in activities that are deemed threats to U.S. national security, foreign policy, or our economy. If necessary, can the gateway support a merchant’s OFAC compliance?
is another broad area of compliance. As we all know, federal and state tax rules and regulations can be very complicated. Merchants should be sure to choose a payment gateway that is familiar with the state and federal tax codes and is prepared to support merchants’ compliance with all payment-related aspects.
Choosing a payment gateway is just one of the many key business decisions a subscription-based business must make. Knowing the factors that are most important to your business and knowing how a gateway can meet those requirements will help a merchant choose well and set them up for success.
The same is true when it comes to choosing a subscription management platform. If you’d like to learn more about how Recurly can help power your subscription business success, give one of our experts a call at (844) 732-8759.