What is a QR Code?

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QR codes (also known as Quick Response Codes) are those square barcodes you can find on almost anything. Like right next to this paragraph, for instance. Even though these codes rose to fame in the late 2000’s, they were actually created in 1994. They were originally developed by Denso (which was an affiliate of Toyota) to track parts going through the factory.

What they do is pretty simple. Just like how a cashier scans a barcode on a product, you can scan a QR code with your phone. It brings up a website, a video, a Skype call, an application in the app store – anything really. QR codes are used in all types of businesses, with all forms of advertising, on literally anything – the bench at a bus stop to a page of a magazine can have a QR code on it. And the best part is that they don’t take any fancy designing to make. You can just go to a QR code generator site and go to town within seconds.

QR codes can be very useful, because they’re a free way to get consumers to interact with different components of your brand. Let’s pretend you work for a car company and you’re at a trade show. You’re really trying to get the word out about your new line of cars. You can give consumers fancy photos, let them sit in the cars, etc. But what you really want them to do is like your Facebook page, so they’ll constantly get up to date information about your cars. How can you do that? Well, there are a few ways:

Option 1) Set up a computer and have people log in to Facebook to like your page.
The problem: People are concerned about security, and don’t want to type their e-mail address and password in on a random computer.

Option 2) Tell them to go to Facebook on their phone and like your page.
The problem: There’s a good chance they won’t actually do it.

Option 3) Have a QR code that leads to your Facebook page posted somewhere very visible.
Why this is the best option: Consumers are curious. They want to see what that QR code does and where it will take them. Once they scan the code, all they have to do is decide whether they want to like the page or not.

And in a perfect world, this article would stop here, and QR codes would rule the world. But they’re not. Why?

1) iPhones can’t scan them unless you download an app.
2) They’re ugly.

But don’t let that get you down. Would you rather stick a QR code on your piece of advertising, and potentially get more customer interaction? Potentially increase sales? Potentially get more video views? The list goes on and on.

Or would you rather leave the QR code off? Then you’ll never know what it could have done for your business…

PayPal vs. Web Payment Software

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Paypal is one of the most useful e-commerce solutions in the world – we won’t deny that! Founded in 1998, PayPal is a 10,000+ employee company that helps millions of people send and receive money — every day.  But does bigger always mean better? Check out how PayPal weighs in with Web Payment Software, below.

Lets start with the account setup.  We charge $98. PayPal is free. But why?  We only charge $15.99 a month, whereas PayPal charges $30.  Our transaction fees our lower, too.  We charge 2.25 – 2.7% + $.25 each transaction, when PayPal charges 2.2 – 3.9% +$.30 each transaction.  We also don’t charge to receive payments outside the U.S.

Put all of that on top of the fact that it takes funds 2 business days to clear the bank with us, and 3-4 business days with PayPal (or two months with rolling reserve). Rolling reserve could put you out of business.

Next, let’s talk about payment pages.  That’s one of the big things we do.  We support unlimited payment pages.  PayPal does not.  Our payment pages can be custom branded.  PayPal’s cannot.

At the end of the day, if you want to send money, PayPal is probably what you want to look into.  But if you’re running an online business and need to accept payments, Web Payment Software is the solution you need!

The Pros and Cons of Mobile Payment Solutions

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Mobile payments are a big part of the e-commerce industry, and they’re one of Web Payment Software’s specialties.  But the term “mobile payments” is so broad.

In short, mobile payments are any monetary transaction that can take place on a mobile device.  Examples include anything from a card-swiping device that plugs into your phone’s headphone jack, to Google wallet, to a store’s iPhone app that makes it easier to buy products.  Mobile payments are growing, and they’re more than likely “the future.”  But as great as mobile payments are, there are also cons.  So let’s break it down a little more.

Why They’re Great:

1.  The Security
If you download an app from a trustworthy company, use a secure Internet connection, and keep your phone password protected, you’re more than likely safe making mobile purchases.  Do customers necessarily believe that, though?  We’ll discuss that in a bit.

2.  They Give Consumers More Options
Say you’re a business at a trade show.  You have a mobile credit card reader. Customers can no longer say, “I can’t buy that, I only have my card.”  In the same sense, if you’re a customer, you don’t need to worry about bringing cash everywhere.

3.  Brand Loyalty
Mobile payment systems help build brand loyalty.  Lets take a moment and flashback to the McDonald’s mobile ordering app.  It’s great for McDonald’s because people download the app, and then see the McDonald’s logo every time they flip through their phone.  But it’s great for McDonald’s fans as well, because they get a cool new ordering system.

Why They’re Not…(Yet)

1.  User Experience
At the end of the day, many users feel that mobile payments are more trouble than they’re worth.  Why download a phone app, just to purchase a product on a tiny cell phone screen, when you can simply go on your computer?  Why scan a QR code to pay for something when you can just pay in cash?  Think about this – you need to have your phone charged in order to pay for something / accept a payment.  What if it dies?

2. They Cost Businesses Money
If you’re allowing people to swipe credit cards on your phone, you’re getting charged a transaction fee, or a monthly fee, or both.  If you’ve had someone design an app to help people buy your products on the go, that costs money.  The ability to accept mobile payments is not always worth the price.

3.  The Trust Isn’t There Yet
Despite what I said earlier about mobile payments being safe and secure, consumer trust just isn’t there yet.  There’s something about sending information through thin air from one device to another, or swiping your info into someone’s phone whom you don’t know very well.  Read this article for what people in the UK think.

Are mobile payments right for your business?  What do you think?

Alternative Solutions for Online Payment

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When you sell something online, you’re probably selling in one of three ways.  You could be selling through your e-commerce web store.  Or, maybe you’re using an online marketplace like Etsy or eBay.  Or perhaps you arranged some type of deal through an online forum, and you’re doing a straight PayPal transaction.  All of that is great, but sometimes you need another solution.  Enter our Web Payment Software payment pages. If you sign up for a merchant account with us, you’ll have the option to use these payment pages. They’re great for a number of reasons, which I’ll discuss below.

No Website

To accept payments with our payment pages, you don’t need a website. The payment page gets hosted in our PCI-Compliant data center, and all you need to do is send the URL to your customers.

No Account for Users

PayPal can be a great way to collect money, but what if your customer doesn’t have an account? That can immediately end a potential sale. With our payment pages, customers don’t need to sign up for any account. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Design & Branding

Our payment pages look great without any alterations, i.e. they look good “straight out of the box.” You can change the header to anything you’d like. Or if you have a designer that knows CSS, they can customize it even more. If you don’t know a designer, but you’d still like your payment page customized, we can do it too.

Link from Social Media

As I previously mentioned, all you need to do is send your payment page link to potential customers. This includes the ability to post the link on social media! If your audience is on Facebook, for example, you can make a post with the link in it, then ‘pin’ the post to the top of your Facebook page, and send people directly to your Facebook page.

Thank You Pages

Once your customer submits a payment, they don’t get left hanging on some blank page. You can customize thank you pages, and set up automatic confirmation/thank you e-mail messages.

Interested? Check out some of our sample payment pages.

The Mountain Commerce Facebook Shopping App

More than one billion people currently use Facebook. It’s by far the largest social media platform to-date. Currently, 50 percent of web sales occur through social media.

If you own a business and you don’t have a Facebook page, you’re missing out big time! For those of you who do have Facebook, it’s time to take your business page to the next level. Check out the Mountain Commerce Facebook Shopping App.

According to data, 20 percent of Facebook users prefer buying products through a brand’s Facebook page, as compared to it’s website. That number is only expected to grow in 2015. What better time than now to start selling on Facebook?

Our Facebook Shopping App is easy to use. Just login to your Mountain Commerce Facebook Store, add a banner, customize your catalog and payment options, and voilà! Once your store is live, customers can browse products, add them to a cart, and check out — without ever leaving Facebook.  This makes for a seamless customer experience!

The Mountain Commerce Facebook Shopping App is inexpensive too. Our beginner package is only $24.95 a month! For more information regarding our Facebook Shopping packages, please visit our pricing page.

Finally, we believe your business will benefit from our Facebook Shopping App so much that we’re offering a 30-day risk-free trial.

You’ve got nothing to lose! Try it today!

7 Mobile Apps for Small Business Owners

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There are a lot of smartphone owners out there who just settle for a few apps, like Facebook, Gmail, and The Weather Channel App. Your phone can do so much more! Check out these seven mobile apps that will surely help you and your small business.

Mint

Everyone needs a way to keep track of his or her finances.  Mint makes that easy, and it’s completely free.  They put all your information in one place, so you no longer need to look in one place for your savings, another for your car payments, and so on.  But probably the best part is the budgeting feature. 10 million people use Mint, and it has the same level of security that banks use.  It really is a simple, eye-catching, and very useful app.

Trello

We use Trello as a team at Web Payment Software.  If you’re a fan of Trello for desktops, you’ll be a fan of their mobile app as well.  This app keeps you and/or your team organized by using “cards” with info on them.  As the Trello company says, it’s “like a whiteboard with super powers.”  Users can create tasks, comment, attach files, set due dates, and more.  And it’s completely free.

Cardmunch

This is a simple but cool app for the person who collects a lot of business cards.  Simply take a picture of the business card, and it’ll turn into a LinkedIn connection on your phone.  Pretty neat, right? (And while you’re at it, get the LinkedIn mobile app too!)

Shoeboxed

This app is ideal for the business traveler who hates thinking about receipts.  Similar to Cardmunch, you just take a picture of the receipt and the app takes care of saving it.  You can even run an expense report when you’re all finished.  This app is free.

Flipboard

You’re in a meeting, and all of a sudden everyone starts talking about a popular news story.  You have nothing to chime in because you didn’t hear about it.  Of course, someone will say, “You didn’t hear about that story??!”

If that line sounds all too familiar, you may want to consider reading news on your mobile device.  Flipboard takes news from all different sources, and lets you save your favorite news to your own magazine.  It’s free.

Blue Jeans

Video conferencing is soon to prevail.  It’s inevitable.  There are a lot of apps for video conferencing, and that can make it difficult if each person from each company is using a different app.  Blue Jeans takes these apps and essentially puts them into one, so people on all different apps can join in one conversation.  You can even share content.  And, it’s free.

LogMeIn

This app costs money, and it’s not cheap.  But I’m mentioning it because it’s extremely useful.  It’s $64.99 per year, but can make up for itself that one time you need a really important file you forgot. LogMeIn lets you access your computer from your phone.  It allows you to control your computer just as if you’re sitting in front of it.  And it’s easy to use.

Understanding Transaction Fees

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Chances are you’re very familiar with transaction fees.  The concept is pretty simple.  It’s that extra money you have to pay on top of the cost of your goods.  That extra money that goes to the credit card company.  If only it could be that simple, though. Lets take a deeper look at them.

When you’re buying something from a business, the business has to pay a fee that goes to the credit card company.  It’s usually a flat fee. It may not seem like much, but even if it’s 25 cents on every transaction, it can add up.  That’s often the reason you can’t buy a one-dollar candy bar with a credit card at a gas station.  It just doesn’t make sense for the owner of the gas station.  There’s usually a minimum amount you have to spend.

However, beginning just about one year ago (January 27th, 2013), a settlement agreement with MasterCard and Visa now allows for merchants in certain states to charge an extra fee to customers for using a credit card.  It can only be up to 4 percent though.  And it excludes debit cards. There are actually a number of restrictions, but basically the idea is that the business can cover the fees owed the credit card company.  It’s called a “checkout fee.”  It basically sounds like a win for businesses, right?

Not always.  First off, you can’t just slap on a checkout fee any day you feel like it.  You need to let MasterCard or Visa know you’re doing it 30 days prior to it happening.  Second, you need to let customers know you’re doing it, and it has to be clear.  You absolutely cannot try to hide checkout fees.  And third, checkout fees could shy people away from your store.

If you’re a consumer, you usually won’t have to worry about transaction fees unless you’re doing some traveling abroad.  As if paying for things in a foreign country isn’t enough of a hassle, you may get stuck with a small fee every time you swipe.  That’s why people often find it worth it to get their currency converted over before the trip. If you ever plan to travel abroad, talk to your credit card company and find out what you’ll be charged.

Web Payment Software Client Testimonial

We recently spoke with one of our long time clients, William Yankus of Arias-U.S.  Arias-U.S. is a not-for profit association.  They promote improvement of the insurance and reinsurance arbitration process.  Arias-U.S. has been using Web Payment Software for more than a decade – since 2003 to be precise.  And before that, they used SimplePay, an earlier version of Web Payment Software.

Arias-U.S. uses our payment pages for a variety of things that require money, including annual dues, conferences, seminars, and an ethics training course.

With their online ethics training course application, they use our application interface (API) to tightly integrate a payment solution.  This allows them to offload the Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standards requirements for online payments to a large extent.

Basically, by using the API components of Web Payment Software, the ethics course app doesn’t have to meet the rigors of PCI-Compliance.

William noted that overall, users found the payment pages customer-friendly.  Well… very customer friendly.  There have been two or three issues in the 10+ years he’s been using our payment pages.

Our competent Web Payment Software team can set up these pages, but if you choose not to go that route, William mentioned that the payment pages look very easy to set up.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to inquire, you can feel free to contact us.

Understanding Payment Gateway Transactions

“Payment gateway transaction” is a fancy term for a fairly simple concept.  Assuming you did a lot of holiday shopping at a physical store this year, you probably used a “point of sale terminal.”  It’s that little machine at the checkout counter where you, or the cashier, swipe the credit card.  It’s very secure.  An online payment gateway is basically the same thing as a point of sale terminal, but it’s what you use for e-commerce.  With the Web Payment Software payment gateway, you get to accept credit cards and e-checks. But how does it all work?

Order Submission

First, a customer will submit their online order.  Once they press that submit button, their info gets sent to you, the merchant’s, web server.  It’s sent through a secure-socket-layer (SSL) encryption.  Websites are SSL-Secured if you see that little lock next to URL at the top of the web browser.

Payment Gateway to the Processing Stage

Once you receive the info, you send it to the payment gateway.  Again, this is SSL-Secured.  The payment gateway will then take that transaction to the payment processor.  This is (most of the time) the third party company appointed to handle credit card transactions.  They check for anti-fraud, the card’s country of issue, etc.  These are security measures that take just a few seconds.  From there, the transaction info is sent to the credit card company that is being used.

Credit Card Companies

If a customer used Discover or AmEx, the processor will act as an “issuing bank.”  Issuing banks gave the customer their credit card in the first place.  It’s also the same bank that pays the acquiring bank — and the acquiring bank pays you!  In the case of Discover or AmEx, the processor will directly approve or decline the transaction.  If the customer used a Visa or MasterCard, those companies send the info to an issuing bank.  The issuing bank will either approve the transaction, or decline it and provide a reason, such as having insufficient funds.

Processing Back to the Payment Gateway

The processor then takes the response, and then forwards it to the payment gateway.  The payment gateway takes the response and turns it into a legible explanation for both the merchant and customer to view on the computer screen.  As you probably know, the entire process is extremely quick — a matter of seconds.  At this point, the merchant knows if the order is cleared to ship.

Get Paid!

At the end of the business day, merchants submit their approved authorizations to the acquiring bank.  The acquiring bank deposits the money you’ve earned into your account a few days later.  And there you have it!

To summarize, the whole process looks like this:

how the online credit card process works