Energy marketers often have challenges reconciling credit card payments from initial sale to deposit into their bank account. This process becomes more tedious once you start to layer in more than one sales channel or software partner. Reconciling sales information gathered from multiple vendors can prove challenging.
The complexity of multiple vendors, the associated logins, and receiving one daily deposit for a group of transactions leaves energy marketers with the challenging task of trying to match which payment is reflected in what deposit.
While processing a credit card transaction at the point of a sale seems simple enough, getting a complete picture of what exactly has happened can be confusing as well as time-consuming.
According to Qualpay’s CPO Penny Townsend, the undertaking of processing credit card purchases and making sure that the money ends up in the right place, at the right time, and the revenue is accurately recognized in the general ledger—is much more involved than it would first appear.
Most payment transactions involve multiple intermediaries ranging from software solutions to financial partners, just to process one transaction regardless of whether selling only online or through other channels such as in-store or over the phone. For instance, when a marketer accepts a credit card for an online purchase, it usually takes at least five different vendors to conduct and complete the entire transaction:
- Thesoftware or portal vendor supplies the online website.
- The payment gateway acts to facilitate transactions between the front-end e-commerce platform and the processor.
- The processor establishes a connection with the various credit card networks, settles each transaction and then forwards the proceeds to the acquiring bank then, ultimately, to the merchants account. The processor is, you might say, the “man behind the curtain.”
- Visa, MasterCard, Discover are example card brand networks, providing the framework, rules and network that govern their member banks use to coordinate the entire process.
- Issuing bank—The bank that issues credit cards and provides credit to buyers
- The acquiring bank (also known as the merchant acquirer), approves merchants to accept a credit card payment from their customers and fund the transaction.
- The marketer’s bank, where the deposit account is held.
Like most marketers, if your company offers budget plans, mobile, or in-person payments, additional vendors may be involved to support purchases. Most of these vendors are in the background and marketers may not know they exist. The main takeaway here is that there are a lot of moving parts within a single credit card transaction. Each vendor involved in the payment handles a piece of the transaction. But no vendor has an overall view that encompasses the entire transaction process from beginning to end.
An issue that typically arises is that the numbers in these various vendor reports may not match one another – figuring out precisely how they don’t match and why isn’t easy. For instance, the Payment Gateway provides a report of all sales, regardless of success or failure. In contrast, the Processor may only present to your successful transactions, followed by the Acquiring Bank, who in turn, may only show you the totals for a given settlement day. Now layer on that each of these players has different cutoff times for reporting and vendors may have different naming conventions for the same transaction field. When Marketers sell through multiple channels, they very likely have separate processing accounts to handle, say, their online transactions from those conducted in-store. The result is often much confusion and a lot of time spent on separating and organizing all these reports. The only guaranteed information is the payment amount, along with the invoice number. So how do you know what batches have been paid, and which payments are included?
The good news is that in recent years, payment companies have developed integrated platforms to simplify reporting and make it easy to reconcile and follow your money. Having access to an integrated payments reporting platform that tracks payments from the initial sale, all the way to cash, as well as from cash to each of the transactions that composed the deposit to a businesses’ bank account can make a massive difference in the day-to-day running of a business. If your company is having reconciliation challenges contact your payment partner and ask if they offer an integrated platform, it could help with reporting, reduce the number of vendors and save your company money.—Marci Gagnon
Marci Gagnon is vice president of strategic alliances for Qualpay, which provides processing solutions to fuel delivery and service businesses. For additional information contact Marci Gagnon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.qualpay.com/industry/utility-and-energy.