Integrated Systems: The Gold Standard in Payment Acceptance

Marci Gagnon

Over the years Energy Marketers have added software tools to help business operations run more effectively. Software tools including route management, online ordering, and customer portals have helped companies significantly reduce costs and provide more efficient customer service. However, a potential drawback has been reconciling credit card payments from the initial customer sale to the final deposit into a company’s bank account across multiple software platforms. With multiple systems it can be very confusing and quite time-consuming. The reason matching card transactions from sale to deposit can be hard is something that a lot of Energy Marketers are not fully aware of—credit card transactions are actually quite complex and involve multiple parties. You might not realize this because card transactions happen so fast and with such apparent ease.  The truth is that it takes several moving parts working in coordination to ensure a successful credit card transaction. The payment gateway, processor, Issuing and Acquiring bank, the Energy Marketers depositing bank along with the credit card brands Visa and Mastercard are the primary players.
All these intermediaries working in concert make using and accepting credit cards possible. Each of these intermediary steps is often conducted by separate vendors and this is where things can get complicated. Each vendor provides their own reports with their own formats and often their own fees. To get a complete picture of what goes on with a single transaction, a merchant has to wade through all of these different reports. There’s another problem: Marketers who make sales through multiple sales channels can face another layer of complexity and vendors. For example, Marketers who sell online, as well as in-store, tend to use a different merchant account for each of these sales channels. Historically, the need for a different account has to do with the perceived higher risk profile of online  transactions versus a retail physical store. Ultimately this has driven the development of payment solutions specializing in just one of a business’s sales channels.

With advancements in payment technology,  tracking all of your credit card transactions from start to finish doesn’t have to be so complicated. In recent years the demand for integrated payment platforms has yielded updated tools to make reconciliation fast and easy.
An integrated payments platform combines the payment gateway with the payment processor into a single seamless system. In other words, there’s one less vendor meaning one less report for you to have to analyze and match against other reports.
An integrated platform also works across all sales channels, whether it be a physical store, a mobile phone, a land-line phone, online or snail mail. The advantage to this is there is now no longer a need for multiple merchant accounts. One merchant account does it all. And because you are only utilizing one merchant account, you no longer need to receive separate reports from all those various sales channels. Instead, a single report is generally all that is required to record and recognize all your sales and revenue.
There is another important advantage to an integrated platform—by combining multiple intermediaries, an integrated platform gives you the means to trace every transaction from the initiation of the sale to the final deposit in your bank account from just one source. There is no need to collect different data points from multiple sources as there is with non-integrated payments platforms.

This ability to follow a transaction from end-to-end without mixing and matching information coming from separate platforms leads to more robust data reporting and efficiency. That is to say it leads to much more concise and detailed reports, and that adds up to a much easier reconciliation process. In the end, the better your reconciliation process, the less time devoted to the often tedious accounting activities that go with running a business. And you know the old saying: Time is money. Time is also precious. And wouldn’t you rather use that precious time engaging in the actual activities that define your business rather than handling paperwork?

Marci Gagnon is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Qualpay and has been in the payments industry for over 15 years with a concentration on recurring billing and the Energy space. Qualpay provides processing solutions to fuel delivery and service businesses. For more information contact Marci Gagnon at marci@qualpay.com or visit https://www.qualpay.com/industry/utility-and-energy

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