Merchant services. What does that encompass? Has the definition changed over the past several years? Merchant services are loosely defined as a broad range of financial services used for (and by) businesses, but more often than not the definition is narrowed to a group of specific services around the ability for a business to accept and process consumer credit and debit card transactions. Within the more succinct definition, services typically include credit and debit payment processing, payment gateways, online ordering and processing, gift and loyalty programs and even point-of-sale (POS) system integrations.
What has been the standard in merchant services for nearly twenty years is changing. Well, maybe not changing, but definitely expanding – all due to mobile. Mobile card acceptance, payment acceptance from a consumer’s mobile device, integrated, mobile gift, loyalty and rewards and mobile commerce – they are all driving new services and new expectations in terms of merchant services.
Today’s merchant services still provide the transactional and traditional support, such as payment gateways, merchant portals, merchant accounts, online payment acceptance, and customer service and technical support. But, today, trusted providers must also have the capability of delivering mobile card acceptance through a smartphone or tablet, innovative payment technologies that prepare merchants for the future, with EMV, NFC and QR payment acceptance, and integrations with mobile loyalty and rewards, delivering a more powerful and seamless experience for the customer. Mobile is changing what has been a transaction point – a consumer paying for merchandise – into an interaction – an opportunity for the merchant to deliver incremental value to the consumer to drive incremental sales and seamlessly reward the most loyal customers.
Merchant services today and in the future must be focused on customer engagement. New technologies, primarily driven by mobile, provide significant opportunities for those merchants who leverage them, to increase revenues through integrated customer acquisition and retention programs and a much improved experience for the customer as a whole.