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Integrations, Security, and Savings Help Curbstone Optimize Payment Processing and Drive Growth

Curbstone Optimizes Payment Processing And Drives Growth
Mike Senecal

Written by: Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal
Mike Senecal

Mike Senecal draws on more than 20 years of editorial experience to update readers on industry trends, business news, and best practices in budgeting and credit use. Mike has worked for decades in academic and trade publishing, including roles as managing editor and technical editor at the University of Florida and as contributor to finance industry publications, including Surety Bond Quarterly and Independent Agent, among others. Mike holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina, and he enjoys bringing his years of academic and industry expertise online to help consumers of diverse financial backgrounds.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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In a Nutshell: Firms operating in the IBM i, iSeries, and AS/400 “mini-mainframe” environment value its scalability, security, and reliability. Curbstone integrates omnichannel B2B and B2C payment processing into the AS/400 environment using a consultative approach emphasizing each client’s unique priorities and goals. Integrations support complex payment structures, reduce compliance exposure, control costs, and secure the best possible interchange rates. Curbstone helps AS/400 businesses meet the present competitive moment and stay flexible to evolve into the future.

IBM Power Series hardware and the IBM i operating system have a legacy that extends back to the AS/400 environment of the 1980s and 1990s. This midrange computing environment has undergone many rebrandings. But its core attributes of scalability, security, high performance, and reliability make it an outstanding platform for resource-intensive and mission-critical applications.

Curbstone exists to provide AS/400 businesses with a modern payment infrastructure that can support current processes and remain flexible into the future. Curbstone’s SaaS environment allows IBM i to take credit card payments, move sensitive data off corporate networks for streamlined compliance, reduce processing fees, and automate manual processes.

AS/400 businesses, from manufacturers and distributors to retailers and professional service providers, rely on Curbstone to deliver seamless payment processing through a consultative approach that fits each firm’s unique needs.

Curbstone logo

Curbstone’s history makes it ideal for meeting that challenge. Its founder, Ira Chandler, created the first commercial credit card processing software for the IBM i in 1993. He started Curbstone in 2004 to provide on-premise payment processing for the AS/400, transitioning to a SaaS approach around 2015.

Curbstone seamlessly integrates with IBM i environments. The platform specializes in removing credit card data processing, storage, and transmission from the merchant’s environment to reduce the burdens of PCI compliance. It also helps businesses save on costs and interchange fees.

“The AS/400 environment is typical in midmarket companies that need a platform orders of magnitude more powerful than your typical Windows PC, but they haven’t quite gotten to the point where they’re at the big-box level running on mainframe computers,” said Russell Gilmer, Director of Operations at Curbstone. “We work with those businesses to ensure our integrations exceed their expectations and they have all the functionality they need.”

Consultative Onboarding Enhances Business Processes

Just as no two businesses or AS/400 computing environments are identical, Curbstone installations vary depending on the size and type of the organization.

Contact begins with a formal needs analysis. Gilmer and his team of product managers, solutions engineers, and technical staff dive into understanding the merchant’s business and technical parameters. They present Curbstone to the merchant as a transaction processing engine ready to conform to business processes rather than mandate them.

“We want to know what they do, how they do it, and what they don’t like about their current process so we know how to fix it,” Gilmer said. “We craft our solution around where they’re trying to get to with their business.”

Curbstone solutions
Curbstone supports B2B and B2C payments across all sales channels.

A kickoff meeting starts the onboarding process. The team establishes expectations and timelines and introduces the new customer to the Curbstone Support Center.

Under Curbstone’s guidance, the merchant begins to program their ERP or order entry software to interact with Curbstone. The team assists with 24/7/365 support.

“Anytime they need to call in, they can speak with their project manager — a professional right here in the U.S. who knows payments, the AS/400, and its RPG programming language,” Gilmer said. “They’re not just getting somebody in a call center.”

Compliance is crucial. Curbstone provides PCI recommendations for later verification by a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). It’s rare when a Curbstone compliance recommendation needs a QSA revision.

Next comes the go-live plan, which can vary widely depending on the organization. A mid-market eCommerce business transacting through a single website may have a straightforward go-live plan. The go-live for a large company with thousands of retail locations will look very different.

“The important part is that Curbstone is there to guide you through with a dedicated project manager and 24/7 support,” Gilmer said.

Flexibility to Generate Ongoing Payment Efficiencies

The goal is payment optimization through integration and processing features. The Curbstone approach to processing optimizations helps the merchant save on interchange fees.

In that role, Curbstone becomes more than a payment provider. It becomes a payment consultant ready to contribute to the business’s bottom line.

“We’re not just here to process payments — anybody can do that,” Gilmer said. “We want you to do it well and pay the least amount of money for it as you can.”

Integration optimizes payments by working within an existing environment to improve it. One way Curbstone accomplishes that is through real-time authorizations.

Curbstone efficiencies
Responsive platform retains current workflows while supporting business evolution.

Clients immediately know whether a card account is valid, the payment amount is approved, and they have a match for the contact info and security code. The platform provides full bank details for declined transactions so the client can correct the problem with the customer.

Authorizations move forward according to unique business processes. The platform confirms that funds are available before shipping and can update inventory based on transaction details to eliminate manual data entry.

Curbstone designs its authorization environment to be flexible. One B2B manufacturing client often receives large orders that it must divide into multiple shipments depending on product availability. The client needs to settle a credit card authorization for a portion of the order, open a new authorization for the remainder, and hold that open until the goods are ready to ship.

If a credit card authorization stays open longer than seven days, downgrades and penalties can add costs. Curbstone is ready with programming advice to account for those variables.

“We have tools that allow our clients to do those things,” Gilmer said. “We can recommend procedural changes to get a better rate.”

Platform Assumes Responsibility for PCI Compliance

Compliance with evolving PCI standards has always been a Curbstone priority. Its SaaS offering handles compliance responsibilities by moving them out of the merchant’s scope and taking them on internally.

Curbstone validates its platform’s capability to meet those responsibilities through PCI Level 1 compliance, the standard that major credit card providers and payment systems such as PayPal and adopt to ensure cardholder information remains secure.

PCI Level 1 compliance ensures Curbstone can handle credit card data on the client’s behalf. There’s an obvious benefit: If a business doesn’t store card data on its system and the system suffers a breach, the criminals can’t get to the card data.

Three key terms — processing, storage, and transmission — describe how Curbstone accomplishes this.

Curbstone compliance
Curbstone moves compliance out of the merchant’s scope and takes it on internally.

First, Curbstone provides interfaces for card processing via mail order, telephone order, eCommerce, and retail without the information going through the client’s systems.

Second, it stores and encrypts all credit card information on its servers. The only data clients receive back from Curbstone is a unique token that establishes how clients interact with customers for future transactions.

“These tokens are useless to hackers even if they’re compromised,” Gilmer said.

Third, Curbstone ensures client platforms never interact with issuing banks and authorization networks — Curbstone handles all of that on the merchant’s behalf.

Feedback is essential to product iteration and part of the ongoing client relationship the Curbstone team strives to establish with every client.

Curbstone provides informational resources to help clients and the public stay abreast of developments in the dynamic payments industry. Account reps speak with clients at least twice a year, even if everything goes smoothly, as it usually does.

“We like to have that personal touch and lots of conversation,” Gilmer said. “We’re not just your vendor; we’re your partner for anything related to payments.”