By Pedro Pereira, Business Solutions magazine
A VAR’s iPhone-based credit card processing solution helps solidify a relationship with an existing client.
VAR Dennis Lowe knew exactly what to recommend when one of his customers called with a credit card processing dilemma. The client was a national, nonprofit charitable organization that operates two retail stores, though retail isn’t its primary focus. The organization sells merchandise and takes donations at events held in schools and fairs, but it didn’t want to cart its point of sale (POS) system — scanner, printers, etc. — to those events. According to Lowe, president of Lion Communications, “They were looking for a portable POS solution. No matter where they went, they wanted to be able to take credit cards and process them in real time,” he says.
The client wanted to process transactions through iPhone devices, which require an iDynamo credit card reader that attaches through the slot used for charging and transferring data. Lion Communications’ solution consisted of an iPhone with attached card reader, a free iTunes app, and a SaaS offering — the Mercury Virtual Terminal — from Mercury Payment Systems.
Accessed through a Web browser from PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, the Mercury Virtual Terminal lets merchants accept credit, gift, and governmentissued EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards without a POS system. The solution complies with Payment Card Industry data security standards. Mercury doesn’t charge merchants for the virtual terminal, though the company collects a fee per transaction, as it does with regular POS systems. “It allows the e-mailing of receipts only; there is no print capability,” Lowe says.
A Simple, Fast, Installation
The nonprofit has been a Lion Communications client since 1999, when Lowe installed POS systems at its retail locations. The company already was using Mercury Payment Systems for credit card processing, so the SaaS-based Virtual Terminal was just a natural extension of the Mercury partnership. “It’s cloud computing, so there’s no software to install and nothing to buy other than the iDynamo for $99. They just pay for the credit card processing,” Lowe says.
As a Mercury partner, Lion Communications doesn’t have to charge the customer for the Virtual Terminal service; instead, it receives a fee from the vendor. “I get the residuals from the Mercury account. Whenever we set up a customer, we get residuals. My customers love it because my service isn’t costing them anything. There’s value for my customer without their spending money,” Lowe says.
When he received the client’s call, Lowe introduced the Virtual Terminal concept to the client and explained how it worked. He told the client about the iTunes app to download and then contacted Mercury. The vendor set up the Virtual Terminal account and shipped the iDynamo attachments for the two iPhones the client planned to use for mobile transactions. In two or three days, the client was up and running.
No Training Needed
Lowe says there is a small disadvantage to the solution — the client has to enter sales manually into its POS system upon returning to the retail locations. But because sales at the events typically amount to only a few hundred dollars each time, Lowe says, the Virtual Terminal approach is perfect for the client’s needs.
No complex integration is needed for Virtual Terminal. And because anybody who can swipe a card can use the system, there is no need for training either. “This is as low-cost as it gets. It’s a small solution that makes the customer very happy,” he says.