In the business world, there are many ways to get paid. Different methods, technologies and systems working together to put money in your bank account. Unfortunately, a lot of them are terrible, particularly when processing credit cards.
Getting paid should be a simple process, but it rarely is when credit cards are concerned. Double-entry, multiple incompatible systems, manual bookkeeping—and, as a result, delayed funding times and exorbitant costs just to accept payments—are all considered the norm.
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A Day in the Life
Maybe you’ve found yourself in one or more of these situations before:
- You’ve had to run to the other side of the office to enter a credit card number into a terminal, wasting your time and taking your attention away from more important business matters.
- You’ve had to spend time at the end of your business day—in addition to the time you already stay after close—to manually reconcile credit card payments with unpaid invoices inside your accounting system.
- You’ve had to wait an extra day to receive your credit card funds because you forgot to batch out after your mandatory cutoff time.
Unfortunately, situations like these are commonplace for many businesses. Technology that was supposed to make your life easier just makes it more complicated instead.
You Deal With It, But Why?
Maybe the complicated, time-consuming payment processes are just a vestige of the past—new, streamlined solutions certainly exist. The fact remains, however, that many businesses have old, outdated payment systems, and their owners and operators have too much else on their plate to even think about looking at something else.
The “good enough” mentality means they might not even know that better, less complicated payment solutions exist, or they don’t think they can take the time to mend their ailing systems. It’s a very valid concern.
But, as you’ve found yourself here reading this post, you’re a step closer to knowing better than your predecessors the things you can do to help yourself or your company to improve aging, slow payment procedures.
Let’s take a look at some of your options:
Essentially, a virtual gateway is a digital, totally computerized version of a physical credit card terminal. Users can key in, via keyboard, or swipe credit cards into a virtual gateway using a software program or a website. By using a computer to process credit card transactions, users gain access to the reporting tools and search features they have come to expect when using a modern digital solution.
Compared to a physical terminal, using a virtual gateway can save a great deal of work, as it can crunch numbers and compile reports for you with little more than a click.
Additionally, virtual gateway users can process credit card transactions right from their workstations instead of wasting time traveling halfway across the warehouse to a physical terminal. The technology also simplifies accounting—instead of wading through batch receipts, all an accountant has to do at the end of the day is reconcile invoices against credit card payments, which are already in the system.
Accounting Software Integration
Using an integrated accounting software module frees up even more of your time by taking the virtual gateway a step further. With a virtual gateway directly plugged in to your accounting system, you or your staff can input credit card information just once, since the virtual gateway interfaces directly with the accounting software you already use.
Some virtual gateway integrations even work as a module native to your existing system, making the transition almost seamless. In addition to saving you from double entry of data, a direct plugin can mark your invoices as paid for you, working wonders for your closing procedures, saving you time and money.
Related Article: Small Business Owner’s Guide to Invoicing and Accounting Software
Do you have customers that regularly place identical orders from you each week or month? Do you wish there was an easier way to accommodate them than running their credit card transaction manually every time they needed your services?
Enter the recurring payment.
Most virtual gateways, whether they stand independently or interface with your accounting system, have the ability to store a credit card number and charge the card on a schedule. In addition to saving time for you, this will also automate other parts of your workflow, like fulfillment and shipping.
What About PCI Compliance?
With talk of storing credit card information comes the question of PCI compliance. Fears of lack of security (and daily news reports of credit card data breaches) are another big reason businesses put off updating their payment software.
As our spending culture shifts more and more onto the internet, data security technology is improving by leaps and bounds. All major virtual gateways and credit card processors use strong encryption, which protects data in transit. Some also use tokenization, which protects data stored inside a server, even in the case of a data breach.
With these and other accepted best practices, you can maintain a nearly impenetrable security net for your customers’ credit card data. Encryption is standard practice these days, but not every credit card processor provides tokenization. If you have any questions about the technology you’re using and security available to you, ask your credit card processor or virtual gateway vendor.
Related Article: PCI Compliance: What It Means to Your Digital Security
How Many Fingers Will You Lift?
Ultimately, getting paid should never be a burden. Credit card payments can be a big hassle, however, especially when you’re tied to a physical terminal, entering information in duplicate or triplicate, or spending time gathering data for your transaction reports.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You’re already on the web now. Look at a few web-based credit card processing solutions and explore what’s out there for your business. Spending some time now to install an integrated, secure payment system might be a bit of work in the short term, but the time and money it saves you in the coming months and years will make it all worth it.