Five things to consider before accepting payments

Renée Frappier lists five points on payments that your small business might not have considered.

As a small business owner, the topic of online payments processing security may not necessarily be at the top of your priority list. However, in this increasingly digital day and age, it is becoming an ever more important part of running a business, with simple improvements making all the difference.

Here are five things that you should consider and plan for as a small business:

1. Staying safe

Following some high profile, corporate data hacks, how does your business plan to protect itself against a threat of a data breach? With cybercrime becoming an ever increasing problem across the digital world (according to ONS figures there were nearly six million instances of fraud and cybercrime in the UK last year, as reported by the BBC), what steps do you plan to put in place to ensure your business is not at risk, and thus protecting your customers’ data and money? By advising customers of the steps you take to protect your data, whether that is building a secure environment for card processing, or contracting all of your payment processes to a Level 1 PCI Compliant payment processor, your customers will feel more comfortable providing their payment data, and you are more likely to get repeat business.

2. Playing by the rules

Understanding and abiding by the rules put in place by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) PSC (Payment Security Council), will not only help you ensure all payment information is secure, but will also help you avoid incurring unnecessary fines. As a business, are you aware of, and abiding by all of the PCI Data Security Standards? Being PCI compliant safeguards payment information, gives your business the ‘seal of approval’ (which instils confidence among your customers and vendors), and can be as easy as choosing the right hosting and payment partners.

3. Storage solutions

As a small business, have you considered where you will store all of your customers’ payment information and data? Do you have the resources at hand to be able to keep records of every customer who shops with you? Even those that only ever make one purchase?

It is important to maintain your consumer database, as your business will be seen as more reputable, and will also offer loyal customers the ease of not having to provide their lengthy payment information over and over again, which can be time consuming and cumbersome for the customer. However, storing cardholder data, even for a short length of time, puts your business under a heavier burden for PCI Data Security. The information must be guarded against both physical and electronic access, and you must prove that it is protected to the satisfaction of a Qualified Security Assessor.

4. Going global

As an online business, you have the opportunity to do business on a global platform. Are you set up to accept foreign currency payments? Do you know your international markets where goods and services may be on offer at a much more competitive price, or be marketed in a different way? Are you aware of, and ready for, the different preferred payment methods in various countries from Thailand to Ireland, or from Kenya to Slovenia?

5. Picking the perfect payment processor

If considering all of the above points is daunting and seems too much to handle on your own, it’s worth noting that partnering with a payment processor can help ease this process, meaning you can focus on running and growing your business. However, there are many payment processing companies out there, and choosing the right one for your business is essential.

As a general rule, the right payment processor should be PCI DSS compliant, have the resources to protect your business against potential data breaches, offer omni-channel solutions working across a number of industries, and be able to accept payment in a number of foreign currencies. Do your research to make sure you are partnering with, and relying upon, the right payment processor for your business and your customers’ needs.

Renée Frappier is director of marketing at PacNet Services.

Further reading on payments

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