Cash is slowly being phased out as a preferred tender while our world is becoming increasingly more digital. According to one of the largest payment processing companies, TSYS, it found that 80% of customers preferred to use credit and debit cards compared to the merely 14% that would rather use cash.
Over the years, merchants have realized the importance of accepting both credit and debit card payments both in-store and especially online. However, their knowledge is still limited as to how they can seek processing outside of third-party processors and turning to banks to open up merchant accounts. Unfortunately, the latter option tends to produce less results as many do not meet the bank’s stringent criteria.
For first time merchant account holders, there is an option that is easier and more accessible. These are called Independent Sales Organizations or (ISOs).
Independent Sales Organizations Defined
Independent sales organizations are companies that act as an intermediary between the merchants and the acquiring banks. They basically take in payments by credit card transactions. The ISOs play different roles. These include locating new merchants on the behalf of acquiring banks and large payment processors. They also process the transactions initiated by small businesses and they provide assistance and customer service to merchants throughout the life of the association with that ISO.
ISOs serve as a type of shield. This is so that acquiring banks as well as credit card companies don’t have to directly deal with millions of existing businesses worldwide that are in need of payment processing. This is vitally important. Visa and Mastercard, for example, even with its tremendous reach, does not have the capacity to manage the volume that would be required for “direct-to-merchant relationships.”
Another reason is that the ISOs remove the risk factor from banks located at the “end of the chain”. It is a fact that acquiring banks are risk averse and are highly selective as to whom they will partner with. Unfortunately, that would leave a lot of small businesses out in the cold if they do happen to carry risk. ISOs take the heat by taking on the risk themselves. This frees them to provide merchant account services to a significantly broader market.
How To Choose The Best ISO Program
Choosing the right best ISO is critical to the success of your business. Be aware that some ISO programs do not pay residues and others are plainly scamming their customers. It is critical that you partner up with an ISO you can trust and that is willing to work with you and help you reach your goals. Whether you are just starting out or are simply looking to change ISO programs, here are a few tips to help you select the best ISO that meets your needs.
- Good merchant reviews: Since you are interested in growing your business and therefore, expanding your merchant network, you want to work with an ISO that has a good reputation. Seek out positive reviews from merchants to determine which they have been most satisfied to work with.
Holds relationship building in high esteem: It will be incredibly difficult to ride the highs and especially the lows if you have partnered up with an ISO with little regard for your success. Seek ISOs who value the importance of building a solid, positive relationship with merchants.
- 24/7 Support staff: If you run into a snag or a merchant makes an inquiry in which you have no answer for, you will need a lifeline to contact immediately for answers. Ensure their availability is reasonable.
ISOs offer a great intermediary service between merchants and acquiring banks. However, the key is to choose the right ISO program by checking reviews thoroughly, paying careful attention to what merchants have experienced.