In a Nutshell: While setting up a merchant account to accept credit card payments may be easier now than it was when e-commerce was in its infancy, selecting the payment processor that’s right for your business remains a large part of the challenge today. From navigating confusing fee schedules to weighing the different options for point of sale systems, you may soon feel overwhelmed with the choices available to you. Host Merchant Services offers versatile payment processing solutions for all types of businesses — from restaurants to nonprofits to online retail — and the company’s customer service team stands ready to help merchants understand the choices they have, the best practices for their industry, and get the lowest rates.
As someone who habitually forgets to keep more than a couple dollar bills in my wallet, I know I’m not the only consumer who relies on a debit or credit card for day-to-day purchases. In today’s increasingly paperless world, it’s become almost a necessity for businesses to accept credit cards. But, with so many payment processors and point of sale systems to consider, it can feel overwhelming to wade through all the options to find a partner you can trust with your transactions.
When Host Merchant Services COO, Jeff Raybould, talks about his payment processing company, he’s proud of the variety of merchants his team has helped — from restaurants and chiropractors to web-based SEO services and online e-commerce websites.
“We definitely cater to all business types,” he said. “If you accept credit cards — whether you’re a restaurant or an e-commerce store, and everything in between — we want to be able to help you.”
The simple philosophy behind Host Merchant Services is to make payment processing affordable and transparent for every merchant. Host Merchant Services works with its merchants to help them understand how different pricing models work while providing secure point of sale systems that allow them to accept card payments in person, online, and, soon, on the go.
Built by Tech-Savvy Founders to Focus on Customer Service
“We’re really unique in that the three owners of the company are former computer programmers who served in the web hosting space,” Raybould said.
Raybould joined co-owners Lou Honick, Founder and CEO, and Andrew Forrest, Chief Technology Officer, to launch Host Merchant Services in 2009. The year before, Honick sold his business, HostMySite.com, which he built from the ground up and grew to 240 employees serving 100,000 customers.
“We’ve got some coding projects, as well as our own point of sale system, which we’ve developed in-house — it’s what makes us unique in the industry,” he said. “We also have a web-hosting sister company, so we do it all. We’re a one-stop shop where a merchant can get their website, their email, their e-commerce store, and a retail point of sale system.”
Host Merchant Services strives to set a high standard for advanced technology and customer service in the credit card processing and point of sale industry.
“We do technology very well, as well as customer service, and we have great pricing. We quote very aggressively and bend over backwards for our customers,” said Raybould.
Low-Rate Guarantee Means Merchants Get the Best Rate
Host Merchant Solutions tailors each payment processing and point of sale solution to best serve its merchants.
“We find the interchange-plus model to be the most fair and the most transparent, and it gives our merchants access to those lower interchange rates,” Raybould said.
The interchange-plus pricing model, unlike the more common flat-rate model, breaks the charges down by credit card and issuer to allow for greater transparency around processing fees.
“We want to maximize the merchant’s ability to process the proper way to save on interchange,” said Raybould. “Because interchange is the kind of tax that the card networks, like Visa and Mastercard, and the banks charge everybody — whether it’s WalMart or a mom-and-pop shop — we help our merchants use that system to qualify for the lowest rates.”
Although the interchange-plus model can offer better transparency and lower rates, it can also be a more difficult model to decipher than tiered or flat-rate pricing, which is why Host Merchant Services also offers interchange consulting for its customers.
“Using debit, for example, you’re going to pay five basis points, which is .05% and 22 cents per transaction, whereas a Mastercard Rewards card might be more like 2.9% — so pretty big difference. We help with little things like that to make sure the merchants are getting a good rate from us but also using the credit card system to their best advantage to get the best rates,” he said.
No-Hassle Point of Sale Systems for Brick-and-Mortar SMBs
For low-risk businesses, Raybould said Host Merchant Services can set up an operational payment processing system and point of sale in as little as one day.
“Setup can be pretty straightforward and quick if it’s something like a restaurant because those are not very risky. There’s a quick underwriting process, credit checks, and then the actual application process takes a few hours. If you came to us in the morning we could have a merchant account set up for you by the end of the day,” he said.
The underwriting process is somewhat lengthier for a higher-risk businesses, such as an online travel company selling timeshares, but may still be completed within a week.
Once a business signs up with Host Merchant Services, per-transaction pricing and any fees are locked in for the lifetime of the account. And, because all accounts are month to month, customers can cancel at any time without penalty or cancellation fees.
Payment Processing on the Move: Host Merchant Services to Make POS Mobile
Host Merchant Services has been a popular choice for restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses that are set up for a stationary point of sale system. However, the company is currently making big moves to build a mobile POS — an appealing option for merchants on the go.
“We’re going to expand our point of sale presence. Right now we’re focused on restaurants, but we want to take our point of sale system and kind of shrink it down — from an all-in-one computer to a handheld terminal that has a battery in it, uses cell networks, and has a printer,” Raybould said.
“That way, you can be pretty much anywhere there’s cell coverage and still process payments on a smart terminal. And beyond just processing payments, merchants will be able to do customer tracking, multi programs, that sort of thing — all built into a handheld terminal.”