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How Will You Make Your Vape Shop Unique?

high end vape shop owner

Will your shop be swanky or gritty?

 E-cigarettes and vape pens are spreading to every corner of the world.

High demand has spawned the emergence of over 200 electronic cigarette brands in just 10 years since the industry began. Today, 12% of middle school and high school students in every state vape or use e-cigs at least once every month.

Are you planning on opening a vape shop? Consider carefully what kind of clientele you want to draw. Over the past 5 years, the vape and e-cig shops cropping up have been as varied as grungy biker/hipster joints to sophisticated, urban lounges.

Use these ideas to put your own imprint on your new vape shop.

  1. The Urban Salon

Ron and Deana Marshall of Bozeman, Montana decided to open a vape shop in the middle of a college town with a population of approximately 65,000. Young adults usually buy e-cigs online, perhaps afraid to be seen in public areas. However, Ron and Deana wished to leverage the added value of personal service. They had a young designer help them choose colors arrange comfortable couches and chairs into cozy enclaves. Given the social nature of the age group, it wasn’t long before students were taking study breaks in the Marshall’s off-beat abode. While there, the Marshall’s offered to let the students sample various flavors and pens. They hope one day choosing these devices and the liquid smoke that goes in them will be as personal and revealing as choosing a car.

  1. The Joy of Eating & Smoking

Any smoker will tell you of the ideal relaxation experienced in smoking after a delicious meal. Texan Kyle Harris decided to go with this already established practice when he opened The Ramble Creek Vape Company and Grill, which offers unique burgers and other comfort food along with the e-liquids they sell.

What began as just offering the e-liquids quickly expanded to actually pairing the dishes with the smoke flavors. Just as a sommelier pairs a vintage cabernet with the right cheese and beef, Harris began suggesting several after-dinner choices that complement the meal. The idea took off and Harris, like the Marshalls, opened up a new store with the same concept in another Texas town.

vape shop with motorcycle

  1. The Niche Appeal

Andrew Poirier felt he was stagnating in his job pouring concrete, but assumed he could never make the same money anywhere else. Further, since it was his father’s company, he hated to admit he wasn’t happy.

On a trip to Arizona, a friend introduced him to vaping. Inspired, he began selling vape pens and e-cigarettes from his car to construction and concrete workers.

Poirier explains, “I was pouring concrete and climbing girders to get vaping products to the steel workers many stories overhead. It was almost comical.” With years’ experience in the industry, his credibility in his target audience was solid. He knew his way around a site and could talk to the managers easily.

As he built his contacts, he began considering opening an actual shop. He rented a space close to where he knew many construction workers lived, and his grand opening was well attended. He continued to appeal to construction workers by putting on events he knew they would enjoy and creating frequent user programs and even competitions that made interacting with his store familiar and fun.

Today, Poirer enjoys a six-figure MONTHLY income. With his own capital, he is considering creating his own e-liquid flavors.

Clearly, involvement in another field doesn’t preclude anyone from opening a vape shop. In fact, your former career can act as a springboard into your life as an e-cig entrepreneur!

Our blog post “E-Cigarette Trends to Expect After FDA’s Recent Ruling” covers how even with something of a backlash against e-cigarettes, the trend is rising. The Research Foundation predicts vaping could eliminate traditional cigarettes all together over the next 20 years. In India today, 10% of smokers have already switched to vaping. Doctors there predict that the smoke-related illnesses and diseases will decrease significantly over the next 5 years.

Use this article to come up with your own fresh version of a vape and e-cigarette shop. Implementing guerilla marketing strategies always give you an edge among competitors.

Before you start, have a clear idea of a well-defined target audiences, as well as their needs, motivations and pain points. Since vapers tend to buy regularly, accepting credit cards is critical. Not only does using this payment method ensure consistent payment, it makes re-ordering convenient for your customers. First Financial specializes in providing the best merchant services for vape shop owners and others in high-risk industries. Apply today!

7 Credit Repair Business Habits for Long-Term Success

credit repair business owner showing clients how to plan on glass board

Provide robust services to your clients and your business with thrive long-term. 

 Ironically, one-quarter of credit repair agents don’t have good credit themselves. But, clearly, they learn every day how to raise their own scores doling out advice to clients day by day.

Opening a credit repair business is more than just having a great score and being skillful in handling other people’s money. Stabilize and maximize your profit when you have these credit repair business basics in place.

  1. Equip Yourself

You’ve probably heard the old quote, “Physician! Heal thyself!” This saying gained popularity because it suggests that professional should look at his or her own issues in the field.

Credit repair business owners should start in their career by studying their credit scores and habits. Study your own credit report and rectify any negative issues.

Tackling each one will be easier if you get some guidance. Read helpful information from sources such as The Consumer Protection Bureau, Bankrate.com, and the industry organization, National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The last is an information source for those wanting to become credit counselors.

As you conduct your research, pay attention to necessary skills, techniques and strategies to master the process itself and the negotiations in order to be successful and to keep clients happy.

Starting out with an accounting, business or finance degree jumps you ahead of the learning curve. It also gives you credibility. Even an Associate’s degree adds to your resume. Some even choose to set up a business as a credit counselor while completing their degrees. This said, getting a bachelor’s degree is not a prerequisite to becoming a credit repair specialist.

  1. Establish Your Credibility

In this type of business, knowing the highest standards and ethics is a go signal for a client. Your reputation spreads fast, so make it a good one. Be open to listening to client feedback. By making improvements as your business matures, you gain confidence in what you have to offer. You become attractive when you know what a credit repair agent should and should not do when interacting with clients. There’s a good change your clients have been taken advantage of before. Their suspicions are warranted. Ease their fears by having them do everything within the law and with diligence.

  1. Polish Negotiation Skills to a Shine

As a credit counselor, you will handle your client’s creditors. This aspect of the job takes assertiveness, verbal dexterity and awareness of the “game” of negotiation. The good news is that anyone can learn how to handle a conflict with poise and effectiveness. Learning negotiation skills through classes may be the best avenue. This skill just can’t be learned as well through strict reading.

  1. Be Informative

One of the most important thing as an agent is knowing all the federal and state credit repair laws. As you’re both working with legal documents, mistakes can result in jail time. In order to be updated with the newest laws, join the National Association of Credit Services Organizations.

Credit score report

 

  1. Market Yourself and Your Service in Person and on the Internet

Display your knowledge and genuine motivation by blogging either via text or video. Familiarize and humanize your business so that potential clients grow to trust you. While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter seem mostly for people to entertain each other, keep in mind that 1.6 billion people go there, often every day. Catching a glimpse of your business name should help keep you top of mind.

  1. Widen Your Network

Open yourself to new relationships by attending commerce events, seminars, free or paid braining. Not only will you build connections and meet potential clients, you’ll keep yourself up to date on new legislation, products and strategies.

  1. Stay Up-to-Date

You should know that laws and regulations change over time so it’s a no-no to follow old regulations and marketing methods in running this business. Also, seek opportunities in today’s trends. In this way, you can also educate your clients with the best and newest ways on how to manage their finances such as recommending new apps to them. Helping them to help themselves will make clients happier.

Mastering these habits will help you build a successful career as a credit repair specialist. Investing effort and building skills throughout the lifespan of your business will give you confidence, which in turn attracts clients. Keep in mind, too, that you will need to accept credit cards yourself to ensure you’re paid consistently on time. Because traditional banks see credit repair businesses as high-risk, you’ll have to get your high-risk merchant account. First Financial is the leader in providing these accounts to worthy businesses across the U.S. Apply today!

 

Successful Marketing Tactics for the Web Design Company

web design presentation

Web designers with a niche can command higher fees. 

 While the growing demand for web design is something to celebrate, it also brings new designers to the market, making competition fierce. The freelance web designer needs to be an able marketer, coder and creative artist to earn a living.

Conquer the marketing aspect of running your own web design company by reading these tried-and-true tactics. 

  1. Get a Niche

Today, the business website is critical not only to bring in new customers, but to establish credibility.

Capturing the true size of the market only starts with every business having a mobile-friendly website. Anymore, businesses are putting up separate websites for events they put on, books they write and communities they establish. Further, every entrepreneur starts one business only to spin off two or three others. As we discussed in our post, Web Design Outlook for 2016 and Beyond, demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024, but the American economy will call for 27% more web developers and designers.

Long story short: there’s enough business to go around. Designers with niches (restaurants, finance, healthcare, retail, etc.) can begin to build deep expertise. They learn characteristics not only of their clients, but their client’s target audiences and referral partners. Further, they learn the legal limitations and opportunities for everything they can say on the website. When a web designer can convince a prospect they learned from the successes and failures of past attempts, they gain credibility . . . and more money. Most businesses would prefer to pay a little more to get the job done right the first time.

 

  1. Network in the Niche

Everybody knows how to network through their Chambers of Commerce where they meet people in all industries. Finding niche networks helps the web designer hear all of the participants’ pain points, complaints, opportunities and successes. This information eventually becomes very valuable, as the informed web designer can explain the prospect’s issues before he or she even has a chance. Networking events also gives you opportunity to meet new talented people, create connections with them and eventually find potential customers.

Putting on a presentation or attending a meet-up in your niche also gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal, face-to-face basis. Even volunteering your skills for an organization showcases your talents to your selected niche.

web designer with client

 

  1. Set up a Good Looking Portfolio

This is the best way to show off all your skills and experience on web designing. This lures customers and make them interested in your capabilities. You can attached this to your own website or any owned social media accounts.

You can go general in your portfolio. Do not just limit your portfolio to skills and experience related to web designing. You can go general and make people see your other talents. They might serve as an additional asset so keep your portfolio versatile.

  1. Make Valuable Partnerships

You can collaborate with field related businesses like web hosting companies or web developers. In this way, you are actually operationally putting your skills to the test. You can also offer more to your clients with the additional features and services from your partner companies, an advantage in keeping up over other competing web designers.

  1. Making it Personal

If you want to make your customers happy, you need to make them feel that you genuinely care for them and can provide them quality service and output with personal intentions even after you are done making your work and have been already paid. There are customers that need to be wooed and need to be given nice gestures, compliments to win them. Gifts and like chocolates and cupcakes, as well as holiday greetings or anything that reflect you as devoted and friendly can win them over. This also includes your way of advertising your service. Try to be a bit provoking and trendy that can catch someone’s attention.

 

These are the 5 most helpful tips in marketing planning for web designers like you to be successful in the industry. Remember that you have to be versatile to new strategies and techniques so that you keep up with the new trends and demands. Attract customers, make them happy, and you will be successful. When you go to collect credit card payments, remember to apply at A+ Rated First Financial, where high-risk businesses like web designers get the best merchant accounts.

 

9 Elements of the Tech Support Business Plan Lenders Love

technology services business plan

 In Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck, released by Harvard Review Press, author Anthony Tjan explains the commonalities among the hundreds of successful entrepreneurs he and his team interviewed over a two year period.

Surprisingly, 70 percent of this fortunate cohort did not start with a business plan. Instead, they dove in feet first, working hard doing the business rather than writing about it.

Did they need one when they got to the point of expansion?

You bet. Lenders don’t even look at a borrower without a business plan. A robustly written document chronicling the business’s history to this point indicates how seriously entrepreneurs take the whole borrowing experience. It also indicates the respect a business affords those willing to lend them money.

Careful attention to each of the ten elements of the technical support business plan increases the odds that you’ll win money from those looking to earn a healthy return.

  1. Business Description

Keep your description concise and straightforward, but include exactly what your company does and where it earns profits. It should also answer:

 

  • why your business was formed? Feel free to include your passion as many lenders will be looking for it. The most successful entrepreneurs have an abundance of heart and drive. They work around the clock because honestly, working their business is their hobby, their fun, their stimulation and achievement. Don’t be afraid to let that show.

 

  • the business’ mission and model: how does your business seek to solve problems of consumers, other businesses or government entities? Be clear on why you started the business: what gaps did you see in the market that desperately needed to be filled.

 

  • products (software) or services (technical or computer support: describe exactly what you sell and the price point of each item, package or service. Remember to cover both features and benefits.
  • people involved: lenders will want to know what each key player brings to the table. They will consider themselves owners of the business to some extent, and as owners want to be able to depend on talented, hard-working people.
  • relationships to be leveraged. When a company principle knows a key player in their market, lenders know they have a shortcut to profits. List all relationships your business can leverage to get to the end user as soon as possible.
  1. When the company was formed and the major hurdles it’s crossed.

This is a follow-up of the previous section, where you discuss more about the history of the company and its achievement so far. It is important not to skip this part because you can trace the business’ development by tracking what it has done since the beginning. Emphasizing that your started small and conservative and then scaled quickly will win points. Jot down when the company reached each of these milestones and the result

  • Initial capital contributions
  • Product/service launch
  • First client
  • First business loan
  • Additional product/service launches
  • Marketing plan roll out
  • Month company made a profit
  • Quarter company made a profit
  • Legal filing (S-Corp, partnership, LLC, etc.)
  • Internet launch
  • Overseas launch
  1. Target Market and Market Analysis

Describe the ideal consumer of your products (software) or services (tech support). The size of the market and how it will grow should also be couched to entice lenders.  That consumer can be other businesses, individuals, non-profits or government entities. Explain their needs and pain points and how your company solves them. Include target demographics like income, gender, family situation, social status, buying habits and more. Include trends and research to indicate your target market will only demand more of your products or services in the years to come.

  1. Competitors and Unique Selling Proposition

No company is without competition. It’s the carefully chosen niche or unique selling proposition that ensures the easiest profits won.

First, list your top competitors, their target markets and unique selling propositions (a.k.a. differentiators). Then discuss what products and services they’ve missed supplying in the market. You can also discuss a niche market they’ve failed to target effectively.

Finally, go back to your milestones and fill in how your unique selling propositions played a part in the achievements the company has won. This step will help deliver a complete picture to the lenders you approach.

 

  1. Business Model

How you make money exactly can be more important than endless Excel spreadsheets depicting every revenue stream and expense. Early estimations don’t carry much weight with lenders as these can be just too hard to predict.

Instead, carefully explain whether your business makes money via subscriptions, transactions or advertising.  Each model has a very different way of bringing in sales. Principles must start from the beginning monetizing the business in the most appropriate and effective way. Have your business model down cold. 

 

business plan checklist

  1. Marketing Strategy

After you have done a market analysis, lenders want to see how you plan to reach out to your ideal audience. After all, “A business with no marketing is just a hobby. A business without a solid product is just snake oil.”

Here, you can either explain your most effective marketing tactics and the agencies or consultants you’ve used so far. If your business is a start-up, explain how you plan to reach your ideal audience via both digital and traditional channels. Demonstrate that you’ve researched just where your ideal audience hangs out these days and whether they respond best to email, television commercials or search engine optimization. This section could require an outside marketing agency or at least a marketing consultant. 

  1. Sales Strategy

Your sales strategy should be as robust as your marketing strategy. More, each element should reference the other. How do you plan to divide your technical support services? Do you have packages in mind for different sized businesses? In this section, you should also include pricing policy. What costs of labor and overhead goes into your pricing policy? Finally, don’t forget to include the sales promotions you plan to include, especially those designed to win new customers.

  1. Funding Sources/Requirements/Projections

In this section, detail the funds your business requires. After writing the fund requirements, describe fund projections. These are forward-looking projections like cash flow statements, balance sheet and profit-loss-statements.

Business plans are indeed very essential in your business. Those who start with a plan can roll out their businesses in an informed way. Also, the business plan helps you keep track of whether you’re meeting your goals or not. Those looking for business loans, merchant services or merchant advances can trust A+ rated First Financial to review their applications and provide an answer with 48 hours.  Operating 100% online, First Financial’s automation and lower marketing costs keep interest rates affordable for all small businesses. Apply today!

 

Ready to Start a Sex Toy Business? Use These 5 Initial Steps!

 While starting a business is riskier than joining in an already established company, some just have the entrepreneur bent.

Research has shown that entrepreneurs regard building their business as their fun. Perhaps that’s why they work 18 hours each day. Also keeping them in the go-go startup environment is the fact that they’d rather take a pillow to the head than enter a bland corporate cubicle farm. It takes all kinds, and it takes another kind all together to start a sex toy business.

A sex toy business involves lower overhead than most. Because manufacturers operate overseas, cost of goods is reasonable. Getting these products to the American audience requires having parties or building an ecommerce site. With Americans’ sexual values becoming more liberal, the future of the sex toy business is bright. Follow these steps to start your sex toy business.

  1. Consider Starting Small

Starting small ensures your capital lasts long enough to spread the word about your business. Starter kits include sexual products like lubricants, dildos and vibrators. Clearly, these appeal to women, but men buy them for girlfriends as well. They are also widely accepted, lacking the squeamishness that comes from the more hard-core products. Review both U.S. and international manufacturers for prices.

CAUTION: If you do start with a website, keep in mind that you can’t sell your products at a price lower than what your manufacturer, distributor or representative sells them for.

2.  Pick Your Niche

With the extent of sex toys available in the market today, finding a niche could be your quickest route to profit. Consider certain angles like all-natural products or essential oils to corner a small but under-served market. Expand from there.

For example, if you want to sell nontoxic and eco-friendly sex toys, you can choose the rechargeable, wood and glass or 100% medical grade silicon sex toys. Themes like LGBTQ, BDSM and others help consumers understand when they’ve arrived at the destination that meets their needs precisely.

  1. Use Private Labeling to Build Your Brand

Most sex toy businesses put their unique, quality logos on the sex toys they purchase from manufacturers and distributors. By lending an air of exclusivity, private labeling leads to higher margins and loyal customers.

Some manufacturers have a selection of pre-made designs that can save you money, but a professional design from a graphic artist could result in more profits. Manufacturers and distributors are accustomed to integrating your design files with their products and packaging. Creating a unique brand is one of the most fun parts of becoming an entrepreneur.

bare-chested man ready to start a sex toy business

  1. Build Your Authority by Educating Yourself on the Industry and Sexuality in General

People are far more comfortable buying from companies with strong, informed leadership at the helm. By empowering yourself, you empower and enlighten your customers. They will appreciate you for it.

Consider how you will create guidelines and provide sex education, an aspect of life that is only touched on superficially in American high schools and very inadequately in magazines. Follow product trends as well so that you can bring the most useful devices to your target market before they hear about it from other vendors.

Most importantly, learn about legal issues you might encounter. More legal entanglements exist in this industry than most.

  1. Think About Business Location

Products that display naked body parts and sex toys have a way of raising the ire of consumers in certain areas. Groups may have managed to make businesses in the sex toy and sex service industry illegal in certain states, counties and cities.

Start by checking with your city’s planning department. Then go to the state level to explore whether you need permits to run your business. You‘ll need to note the specifications required for getting the permit. A Sandy Springs Georgia ordinance, for instance, reads that any “device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs is obscene material.” The whole state of Alabama has outlawed sex toys. If your ecommerce business exists in an area where sex toys are outlawed, your only choice could be moving.

  1. Set Up Revenue Collection Methods

Those with ecommerce businesses and even those without will increase sales and profits if they accept credit cards. Today, 80% of consumers use debit and credit cards to pay for items they purchase. Just 17% use cash and 3% use checks. Businesses operating strictly on the internet—ecommerce—must take some form of plastic to make any sales whatsoever.

Know now that lenders consider the sex toy and any adult-related business to be “high-risk.” It’s not the end of the world, just the news that you will need to pay a point or two higher than your entrepreneurial medical claims, senior services or accounting services counterparts.

First Financial helps business owners get the cash they need at the most competitive rates. Thrilled to be operating in the low-cost, fast-moving digital era, we set up and help you manage your business loan or merchant services account 100% online. A+ rated First Financial specializes in high-risk merchant accounts. Simply click here to apply and you’ll be able to start taking credit cards within 48 hours!

E-Cigarette Trends to Expect after the FDA’s Recent Tobacco Ruling

Every vape shop owner probably knows by now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a ruling bringing e-cigarettes under its supervision.

 With vaping pens and e-cigarettes now categorized as tobacco, manufacturers will have to submit  products for an extensive pre-approval process. Where the FDA estimates this cost to be under $500,000 per product, manufacturers put the price at more like $2 million. Just six years old, the vaping industry is reeling from this decision. Vape shop owners should know how this ruling impacts e-cigarette trends.

Behind the E-Cigarette Legislation

Once touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, vape pens and e-cigarettes have gained in popularity since first coming onto the market in 2007. Now a $1.5 billion-dollar industry, its appeal to teenage smokers has ironically brought about this blow

In 2011, just 1.5% of high school students smoked e-cigarettes. By 2015, that number had risen to 16%. According to Centers for Disease and Prevention, today approximately 3 million high school and middle school students use the devices. The CDC and other powerful lobby groups like the American Lung Association aim to prevent young adults from picking up any smoking habit at all. They pushed the FDA to inspect these devices for premarket approval. This new regulation will cost the companies millions of dollars, pushing perhaps some smaller shops and manufacturers out of business.

E-Cigarettes Prices to Rise

With much higher costs, E-cigarettes, liquid smoke and accessories will get more expensive, particularly those made by boutique manufacturers. Tobacco giant RJ Reynolds (which owns VUSE) will be better able to absorb the approval costs, but smaller manufacturers will struggle. Still, vape shop owners carry both lines: both the esoteric, finely crafted brands for the real connoisseurs and the less expensive for the masses. Shop owners can experiment with which products keep them profits at a maximum.

E-Cigarette Variety to Decline as Some Manufacturers Close

If high quality, boutique manufacturers can’t cut costs in other areas, the FDA’s approval costs could close them down, leaving shop owners with fewer varieties to offer. Consider how Anheuser Busch and Miller make lower quality beer at a low for a large audience. Craft brewers, on the other hand, create high quality, higher-priced drafts for the true beer connoisseurs. The vaping industry has a similar division. This is how the very best products often become discontinued.

Currently, Altria and R.J. Reynolds are the only companies with the best chances of complying with the regulation because they have the budget to fund the testing. These two huge entities just pull budget from the traditional cigarettes. According to the president of American Vaping Association Gregory Conly, the regulation will cut into costs, but not threaten their existence.

Recent Research and Demand Supporting a Healthy E-Cigarette Future

 Despite the challenges outlined above, exciting recent studies have shown that vaping will continue to grow. Current research reveals some exciting health benefits e-cigarettes offer over traditional cigarettes.

First, a study from US-based non-profit organization Research Foundation predicts that after 20 years, vaping might have the chance to eliminate traditional cigarettes all together. Currently, in India, 10% of smokers have already switched to vaping. Doctors there predict that the smoke-related illnesses and diseases will decrease significantly over the next 5 years.

Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center’s extensive study revealed out that using e-cigarettes will lead to a drop of 21% smoking related problems and death a 20% life gain.

While some toxic chemicals do exist in these new products, a Harvard Medical School study found they’re present in far lower levels in e-cigarettes than in traditional ones. Further, study authors predict that the devices will improve in quality and, most importantly, safety over the next ten years. As they do, consumers will be more and more willing to drop their tobacco cigarettes for healthier vaping options.

 

A+ Rated First Financial Helps E-Cigarette Shops STAY in Business

New and established vape shops and e-cigarette vendors trust First Financial to get them the high-risk merchant accounts that enable customers to pay easily. Apply online for e-cig merchant accounts and start accepting credit cards in days. You’ll know within 48 hours whether you’ve been approved.

4 Ways High-Risk Merchants Can Cut EMV Chargebacks

Don’t let chargebacks sink your profits!

 Data breaches at Target, Facebook prompted the major U.S. credit issuers to insist on the EMV chip in October 2015. The move has made it much more difficult for fraudsters to create counterfeit cards, saving both companies and consumers money and headaches. According to Stephanie Erickson, vice president of risk products at Visa, the shift working: merchants are reporting less counterfeit fraud.

We applaud anything that reduces expenses to both businesses and their customers, but EMV has created another, although less costly, issue: chargebacks. Chargebacks occur when the card issuer holds the merchant liable for a payment transacted by a thief using a stolen or counterfeit card. Where once the banks absorbed much of these charges, today they are not so amenable. One payment network reported 250,000 merchants had experienced an 50% increase in chargebacks on card transactions. In effect, the banks, card processors and issuers are putting the burden of vetting for fraud on the merchants.

A few merchants aren’t accepting this responsibility. Claiming a lack of preparation time, they are now suing issuers. Networks counter that five years was plenty of time for even the smallest business to prepare for the increase in chargebacks they warned could follow the shift from magnetic stripe to EMV.

Merchants must know that if they have not yet switched to EMV terminals, they are liable for most of the chargebacks the banks had been absorbing. The top merchants affected have been gas stations, restaurants and quick service merchants like vending operations. It seems that large cities, college towns and border areas are the most likely to be the most tempting targets for thieves looking to take advantage of those who haven’t switched to EMV equipment yet. Smart criminals are avoiding the EMV terminals, another reason to get them into your stores. When a criminal successfully uses a magnetic stripe card at your business, you will get a chargeback and be liable for the purchase.

What can you do?

As mentioned above, Visa, Mastercard, and others have been adamant that merchants pay these charges. However, there are solutions that can limit the damage the EMV shift has brought to your high-risk business.

  • If you are not fighting chargebacks, start now. Won chargebacks do not count against your chargeback ratio. So, it means that a 75 percent win rate lowers your chargeback ratio by 300 percent. A better chargeback rate also helps you to keep your merchant account in good standing.
  • Fighting chargebacks can be a somewhat technical process. Consider getting an expert or service to fight these charges for you.
  • Lock down your eCommerce site or bricks-and-mortar business with front-end fraud prevention measures. These help identify the IP address of the customer by requiring them CVV and AVS. In this way, you filter most frauds and increase your chances in winning fraud disputes in chargebacks.
  • Use a chargeback alerts when you operate a service business. A chargeback alert is a type of alert that notifies you every time a customer initiates a chargeback. You have 24-72 hours to respond to it. If you are a service business such as technical support, you can always cut your losses by stopping your services whenever you get chargeback alerts.

 

Getting your merchant services streamlines is a great relief.

Most of All: Make the Shift to EMV Technology Today!

Magnetic strips on credit cards are just too easy for thieves to copy. Beyond this fact, credit card issuers now levy fees—often in the form of chargebacks—on merchants who do not use EMV technology. They want their customers to feel protected by offering the best, most secure, products. But this system doesn’t work if the merchants refuse to hold up their end.

When considering your options for taking credit cards, know that you’ll need a merchant services processor or merchant service account to safely process your transactions. A+ rated First Financial specializes in high-risk merchant accounts. Simply click here to apply and you’ll be able to start taking credit cards within 48 hours!

 

 

3 Advantages Credit Repair Services Owners Should Emphasize

coins on a credit repair services profit improvement chart 

 Youtube videos, blog posts, friends and family work hard to convince borrowers that they can repair their credit themselves. Where the video and blog owners want to make money in their own right, family and friends simply strive to stop a spender from parting with even more of his money. These well-meaning but misguided sources prevent those with bad credit scores from getting their finances in order. Worse, they are the enemy of the reputable credit repair service.

A credit business owner must take proactive steps to convince the exhausted but skeptical borrower that the credit service really has their best interests at heart. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans use credit repair services to help themselves escape debt and enjoy a better quality of life.

It only takes a few facts to help people understand that a credit repair service is a good investment for long-term financial well-being.  New credit repair agents will win once they get the following advantages down cold.

  1. The credit repair service works hard.

Today, most consumers work long hours and need the weekends to relax and connect with family. Gathering data, reviewing credit reports, updating credits takes significant time and physical and emotional energy. Each agency has its own forms and protocol for addressing it. The service does the extensive leg-work which includes contacting and negotiating not only with the bureaus, but creditors. It also handles the conflicts that can drain anyone.

  1. Credit agents know the law.

Credit agents have a far lower risk of being manipulated and even conned by creditors and credit bureaus. Agents take pride in their knowledge of the current laws and even those laws legislators are currently considering. These laws include:

  • The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).
  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
  • The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA).
  • And other consumer protection statutes.

Professionals leverage federal laws to benefit clients.

  1. Credit repair services start consumers on an upward path.

With debts paid or arrangements made to pay them, creditors immediately begin regarding the consumer more favorably. The credit bureaus understand that the consumer is making efforts to pay his or her bills, rather than simply declaring bankruptcy. Good credit is a positive signal for prospective employers, landlords and lenders.

nest egg in dollars for credit repair services

A+ Rated First Financial Provides the High-Risk Merchant Accounts Credit Repair Services Need

With the economy improving, more and more Americans are seeking credit repair services. Often, these responsible citizens pay up-front fees with a credit card. Don’t miss out on the majority of your prospects.  Get your merchant services account approval today!

 

Where to Get On-Shore & Off-Shore Tech Support Reps

TECH support reps with headsets

 Software and software-as-a-service products have been booming for the past 20 years. Anymore, it’s not just computers and cars that need software. It’s high-end coffee-makers, showers (really!), and the refrigerator. The Internet of Things (IoT) makes it so.

When these ubiquitous household devices need setting up and troubleshooting, chances are, the average American becomes incredibly FRUSTRATED. That’s when they get online with tech support.

IBISworld.com, the leading premiere business industry research website, has found that the tech support industry will grow “faster than the average for all occupation.” over the next ten years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) concurs in its findings that computer/tech support specialist will increase 17% from through the year 2022. The U.S. Department of Labor also mentioned that the computer systems services industry is one of the economy’s “largest and fastest sources of employment growth.”[1]

If the proliferation of the Internet of Things doesn’t convince you, consider the software-as-a-service companies like DropBox, Sales Force, and Google Apps. Even Microsoft Office 365 now lives in the cloud. Downloading a $600 program will be replaced by a $20 monthly subscription that the provider hopes lasts three years or more. Where once, Photoshop and the graphic designers who used it cornered the market, today, consumers have turned to SaaS products like Canva and PicMonkey, much of which can be used for free. And yet . . . they can be confusing to a large portion of the population. U.S. based technical support services have no place to go but up.

The tech support company’s potential is most often hampered by capacity. After all, one forward-thinking entrepreneur can’t answer all the calls 24/7. Every tech support company needs a reliable workforce. Where then, can an American entrepreneur find the professionals who can help him or her competently guide consumers past their set-up instructions and general confusion? More, where can a technical support entrepreneur find people at a labor cost that will keep him or her in business.

Off-shore v. On-shore Technical Professionals

 To pay one-third or less for technical support staff, entrepreneurs must go overseas. Those who aren’t off-shore human resources specialists must depend on third parties who’ve become experts in these fields. A few include:

  • Info link– Provides resources and services for outsourcing technical product and IT support. 915-577-9466
  • Invensis Technologies– Provides outsourced contact center, help desk, IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing services globally. 302- 261-9036
  • J-Curve Technologies – Provides technical and operational callcenter outsourcing solutions. 602-792-6100
  • Nirix – Provides remote IT support, offsite data backup, on-site computer services, managed email hosting. 780-414-1556

Once these services provide you with candidates, you can vet them with you own list of questions. We suggest choosing from the following:

  • What makes you a superior technical support specialist?
  • How do you approach customer service?
  • How do you calm upset, frustrated customers?
  • What positive or negative feedback from a customer has made you a better tech support specialist?
  • What has been your best strategy when you don’t know the answer to a question?
  • How would you go about becoming a subject matter expert for your employer?
  • Scenario: “My software isn’t _________________. How would you help me fix it.”
child surprised after getting surprising tech support answer through computer

Happy embracing couple planning their home kitchen furnishing renovation. Sketch kitchen drawing.

A+ Rated First Financial Helps Tech Support Companies Stay in Business

Anymore, every business owner must be able to process credit and debit cards via the internet, particularly tech support.

If you’ve learned that banks consider your tech support business to be high-risk, you may have to consider alternative merchant services providers to make monthly payments possible. With lower marketing costs and overhead, reliable internet merchant services providers provide all the traditional bank safety at reasonable rates.

Aware that categorization as high-risk can be arbitrary, First Financial specializes in these cutting-edge, often new, industries. The computer hardware industry was once considered high-risk because banks considered PCs and Macs unproven. Now every family has one or more for each member! Apply for our tech support merchant services today here!

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Computer Support Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm

 

Tech Support Industry Outlook for 2016 and Beyond

tech support is open because of merchant accounts

 

 Those in the tech space have been watching the “Internet of Things” approaching for a while now. This development alone ensures that plenty of consumers will be needing tech support in the coming decades.

Evolving technology drives the products software and hardware companies continually release. For any business to remain competitive, maintaining up-to-date computer technology is a must.

New in the 1960s, computers flew off the shelves at the rate of 264 million in 2015 alone! This figure doesn’t even factor in laptops, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other myriad of gadgets that make our world run smoothly today. In fact, the huge proliferation of cell phone/tablet/ipads, etc., means that users are demanding efficient WiFi connections to perform work functions effectively wherever they are. This means the tech support industry will always be in demand.

In God We Trust . . . All Others Must Bring Data

Need some good research to give you confidence?

According to IBISworld.com, THE premiere business industry research website, the tech support industry will continue growing steadily over the next ten years. The report further explains that computer and IT occupations will grow “faster than the average for all occupations.”

In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer/tech support specialist jobs are expected to increase 17% from through the year 2022. This should come as no surprise, considering the constantly changing technical landscape, requiring a constant source of mobile phone assistance, cloud computing expertise, and large data storage.
The U.S. Department of Labor also mentioned that the computer systems services industry is one of the economy’s “largest and fastest sources of employment growth.” The same source added that companies have accepted that the complexity of computer interfacing and connectivity demands means that the business owners “choose to hire an outside IT company rather than hire specialists in-house.”

Endless Possibilities for the Tech Support Industry

This is all excellent news for those in the tech support industry! The services offered in this arena are seemingly endless: network support, IT assistance, custom software design, repair and maintenance, computer programming, hardware and software management, designing integrated systems and even customizing software.

The business world will always need tech support experts, because the average business owner doesn’t have the time or the know-how to keep up with today’s complicated phone/computer updates and troubleshooting. These areas have just become too complex. They must depend on the reliable tech support workers to keep a company afloat.

Another fact that supports the tech support business is how prevalent obtaining low-cost labor can be. An estimated 43% of companies in the US use an overseas outsourcing for a portion of their IT needs. This workforce is fluid and inexpensive, ensuring you can quote by the job.

tech support employee discussing merchant account

The Merchant Account Joins Tech Support and the User

Today’s economy has separated the tech support professional from the user, often by thousands of miles. Sending checks is not longer feasible. Anyone starting a technical support service must be able to process credit and debit cards via the Internet. You may have already learned that your tech support business falls into the high risk category, making it tougher to get a merchant account. First Financial specializes in high risk industries and will make sure you can process the payments coming in. Read about our tech support services merchant accounts here.

Considering Freelance? Website Design Industry Outlook for 2016 & Beyond

FF BP April W1 2016 Image

 Web designers are a lucky lot. Creative colleagues, new projects and ever-changing technology make for constant stimulation and growth.

Those who have been working at agencies or in a corporate setting for a while sometimes feel they need to stretch their wings as entrepreneurs. The freedom and prestige to own your own business can prove irresistible despite concerns over steady income, staying on task and finding affordable health insurance.

Pros and cons fill any career choice. Perhaps the best way to make your decision is to gauge your personality type. Entrepreneurs tend to be tenacious risk-takers, plagued by creativity and a desire to break rules and make something new. For this lot, self-employment satisfies like nothing else. Life as a corporate employee could feel stifling. Each reader has to determine whether they have the capital (typically twice as much as planned), time (typically twice as much as planned), family understanding, tenacity and willingness to work. If so, this post should allay any concerns about the future of the web design industry.


Experts Agree: Web Design, Development and SEO Has a Robust Future

If you’re a web designer, developer and/or search specialist with entrepreneurial spirit, you’ve got some trends on your side.

First, according to research from Graphic Design Degree Hub, the average freelancer makes 45% more than the individual working for an agency or corporation. The average web entrepreneur makes $68,000 where her nine-to-five colleague gets $46,800. Seventy-five percent of all freelancers make over $65,000 per year.

Secondly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ outlook for web designers is glowing. Where demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024 (less than one percent per year), the American economy will call for 27% more web developers (nearly 3% increase per year).

Backing up this need for web design, IBIS world finds that the industry will grow 5% yearly. Currently a 24-billion-dollar market, web design will keep adding another one billion per year of closed business over the next decade. By 2024, web design will be a 35 billion dollar industry.

Google’s preference for mobile-friendly design poured significant revenue into the pockets of web designers who needed to upgrade websites to render on smartphones. Who knows what the next big shift will be? Entranced by technology upgrades, website owners will always need upgrades as platforms and software continue to evolve. These trends only mean more revenues for web designers and developers.

The Entrepreneur’s Two Biggest Concerns: Recession & Responsibility

Many talented employees feel intimidated about going out on their own because the future can seem so uncertain. In 2014, just one in seven web developers was self-employed. Recessions do emerge about every seven years, and they can cut back on business. An economic downturn affects both employees and the self-employed, however. Surprisingly, about half of freelancers report they aren’t impacted by recessions. Further, recessions cause employee layoffs, and in those cases, all income is cut overnight. Finally, since the downturn of 2008, the government has put controls into place to make sure instability never gets to those levels again.

Recessions tend to be beyond the entrepreneur’s control. What about the aspects of entrepreneurship that are within one’s control. These can be just as intimidating.

Budding entrepreneurs handle not only all the creative aspects of the new job, but they are
• the accounting department (handling all estimates, invoices and collections),
• the marketing department (getting new clients),
• the IT department (paying for all computer repair, paper, ink, etc.)
• and administration (handling all calls.)

FF BP April W2 Img 2

Each solopreneur must set up an accounting system, IT solutions, supplies and merchant accounts to accept client’s credit cards. As mentioned above, if wearing 17 different hats feels fun rather than overwhelming, you’re cut from entrepreneurial cloth. Whichever career path the web designer chooses, he or she will have well-paying work for life!

Get Customers’ Contact Info During Busy Holiday Season and Win All Year

Two women shopping
 ‘Tis the season when throngs of holiday shoppers inevitably create increased traffic to your retail or internet-based business. Did you realize that 40% of U.S. consumers plan to spend more even more on their holiday shopping in 2015 than they did last year? It would be a waste NOT to grab those customers’ contact information, so that in the future those same customers can continually be reminded of your products or service. How can you acquire your customers’ coveted contact information without seeming pushy? It’s easy, if you follow these five simple
suggestions.

1. Have a raffle contest
Is there a particularly popular item that your customers are craving? Offer it up as a raffle prize! You can also offer up gift cards or perhaps “50% off!” offers as potential prizes. Have entry forms available for customers to fill out, and then ask for their email and/or home address. You can also hand the entry forms to your customers after they make a purchase. (Be sure to include some text on the form indicating that the customer, by filling it out, is giving your store permission to contact him or her in the future.)

2. Provide email-only coupon deals
Consider placing sign-up sheets in various spots within your retail shop for customers to fill out in order to receive online-only emailed coupons. You can even consider providing a monthly e-newsletter if time permits, in which your customers will be guaranteed exclusive savings if they sign up. This is also a great opportunity for you to tout those new products, and build up momentum for future sales.

3. Have a holiday-themed coloring contest for children
Parents are overjoyed to include their offspring into the joy of the season. This is why you should have a holiday-themed coloring contest where children can color in a picture of, perhaps, a snowman holding your product, or even a Santa figure touting your service. In the event that a particular child should win the coloring contest, parents will be required to fill out their contact information on the lower corner of the coloring sheet, including their email address and phone number. Voila! You now have your customers’ contact information.

4. Encourage your customers to post their holiday photos with your product.
Did you know it is predicted that by 2016, 25% of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will take place through a mobile devices? Take advantage of those cell phone-savvy customers by encouraging them to post their selfies with your product onto your social media locations (i.e., Facebook/Instagram/company website). You can even provide a fun holiday-themed store backdrop for these customers pose in front of. If it’s an online business, ask your customers to post a photo of them holding your product while wearing an “ugly Christmas sweater,” for example. You can then get their coveted cell phone numbers or email addresses, and send them special deals in the future.

5. Just ASK for your customer’s contact information when completing a sale.
Be vocal and ask your customers for their contact information when you’re completing their sale, so that they can receive special discounts or freebies. You don’t want to be too pushy, though, if they refuse. Also, once you get their contact information, don’t go overboard with the email offers. The a monthly or quarterly email deal should suffice. If you overdo those emails, your customers will simply delete all future emails from your business. So exercise good judgment when it comes to making follow-up calls and/or emails.

Gifts Online Shopping Ordering Internet Shop Concept
First Financial Will Help Your Business Attract New Customers this Holiday Season

Take advantage of the holiday crowds, and parlay those customers into future shoppers that will continue to be excited about your products or services. As long as you get their contact information, your business can continue to remind these customers about the wonderful merchandise you carry. First Financial can help your business grow. We are the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts, particularly for the high-risk borrowers. Apply for a small business merchant advance here. It only takes a few minutes. You can also follow First Financial on Facebook for even more tips on how to successfully

9 Smart Steps to Choosing Small Business Merchant Services

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 Industry research confirms what we all suspect and even have experienced: consumers using credit cards spend from 20% to 250%[i] more than those who rely on checks or cash.

The average cash payer at McDonald’s spends $4.50 while those using debit or credit cards part with $7.00. The theory goes that those handing over dollar bills want to conserve them, but those using credit cards focus more what they’re getting from their purchase.[ii] In short, this second set focuses more on that steaming burger than the money in their hand.

American consumers love convenience of credit cards. Where 66% use credit and debit cards to buy both items and services, just 27% use cash. Further, experts expect the number of cash-using consumers to drop another few points to 23% by 2017.[iii]

These statistics lead to one conclusion: even the smallest business needs to accept credit cards to maximize sales. While a large corporation can put a team on finding the best merchant services provider for their needs, small business owners must evaluate competitors in the minutes between running their marketing program, taking calls and re-stocking shelves. It’s not easy juggling so many tasks. We well understand the saying,

“It’s great having a small business.
You get to choose which 100 hours per week to work!”

If you are looking to accept credit cards while maintaining solid creditworthiness for your business, finding an ethical merchant services provider who will be your partner in success is critical. These steps will shorten and clarify your research process.

1. Understand that to be able to accept credit cards you need to create a merchant account with a third party so that the money can move from the customer’s account to the merchant or business owners.

2. Determine your monthly sales volume. This step will weed out the merchant service providers that have a monthly minimum higher than your volume.

3. Determine whether you’ll be processing transactions online or at a bricks and mortar location. Equipment and software options will vary depending on this factor. You may need to integrate your account with third party services that also charge monthly fees.

4. Determine how many times each day will you run cards. Estimating this keeps you from over-buying features you don’t need.

5. Determine whether you’d prefer to rent equipment ($20 to $50 per month) or buy it (several hundred dollars). If you’re not sure about the business viability, renting for the first few months could be your best option.

6. Create a comparison sheet with these features listed down the leftmost column.

• Transaction rates: the majority of small business costs
• Equipment and setup costs
• Customer service: critical for small business owners who are not finance or technology experts
• Contracts and service terms: make sure you have clear confirmation
• Funding and processing time
• EMV capability: for smart cards that read data from integrated chips rather than magnetic strips. Credit card companies switched to this method in fall of 2015.
• Customization
• Simplicity of setup and use
• Possible third-party disintegration
• analysis and reports: to make your costs clear
• Types of processing
• Types of payments they accept: Visa, Mastercard, giftcards, debit cards and more
• Service constraints: what your merchant service provider WON’T provide
• Any additional features and benefits

7. Call the merchants you’re interested in and fill in the details.

8. Make sure the new merchant services integrate with any other ecommerce or other accounting software you currently use. Ask your tech people about the merchant services provider you’re considering.

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A+ Rated First Financial’s Small Business Merchant Accounts
Accept Revenue-Boosting Credit Cards to Ensure Your Business Longevity

First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts, particularly for the highrisk borrowers. Apply for a small business merchant account here. We know that lots of reputable businesses exist in high-risk categories like e-cigarettes, Information Technology, Nutraceuticals simply because they’re new. Fill out the application in minutes. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

How Terminated Merchants Get High Risk Card Processing Services

 Have you been surprised with a terminated merchant notice? You’re not alone. Each year, tens of thousands of business owners get the same notice for both legitimate and unnecessary reasons. Terminated merchants have several options available. Landing in  “Terminated Merchant File” (TMF) doesn’t mean you’re out of business. While these designations are confusing and even infuriating now, rest assured that A+ rated First Financial can help get you back to accepting credit cards fast.

Terminated merchants turn frown upside down

 

Who Controls TML and MATCH?

For a long time, the term “terminated merchant list” served as a casual designation indicating that a merchant has become “black-listed” with even high risk merchant account service providers. MasterCard made the system official by creating a database about businesses and their owners whose merchant account services providers had terminated them. They gave the new system the acronym MATCH for “Merchant Alert to Control High Risk.” At this time, most in the industry use this terminology.

Understanding Why Your High Risk Card Processor Dropped You

When terminated merchants get in contact with us, their designation “MATCH-listed” has come as a surprise. Many only realize their business is on this list after seeking a new credit card processor. The MATCH list was the first place the new processor went when considering this new high risk merchant account. Presence on the MATCH list is the quick and easy way the new processor finds rationale to turn a business down—AFTER collecting the application fees. If you’ve been placed on the MATCH list, the only way of removing your name is by contacting the processor or bank that put you there. Only that entity has the legal authority to remove you. Disputing the designation with the bank or merchant processor may require a lawyer’s help, and some lawyers specialize in this niche. Legal expenses can be worth it considering the MATCH listing remains active for five years. Understanding why your processor placed you on the MATCH list will prevent this hassle from happening again. Generally, the acquiring bank or processor finds out that while you were with your previous processor, you committed one or more “disqualifying acts” that exceeded the level of risk they contracted to undertake. Typically, your contract listed these acts and informed you that committing them qualified as a breach of contract and justification to end the relationship. Disqualifying acts include:

  • Excessive deposits for transactions without cardholders authorization
  • A conviction for credit or debit card fraud in any federal, state or county court
  • Evidence of counterfeit activities
  • Excessive chargebacks caused by business practices or procedures
  • Evidence of money “laundering”
  • Sufficient evidence that merchant is engaging in fraudulent activities.

On the other hand, keep in mind, too, that banks and card processors SOMETIMES MAKE MISTAKES. If you feel your MATCH listing is an error, by all means fight it. Beware “Guaranteed Acceptance” Offers for Terminated Merchants In an effort to bring in application fees, some shady businesses imply or even claim that their high risk merchant account processors accept all terminated merchants. Merchants apply and wait a few weeks or even a month, only to learn that they didn’t qualify after all. First Financial’s carefully screened and selected processors specialize in terminated merchants in high risk industries. These processors are aware from the beginning that the merchant is on the MATCH list. They strive to make the relationship work. Further, A+ rated First Financial merchants get:

  • the most competitive rates in the high risk niche
  • highest levels of security and encryption permitted by the U.S. government
  • the most current processing equipment
  • quick response time and courteous support
  • simple approval process and set-up

The ability to accept credit cards can make or break many businesses. Get your business back on track and earning with merchant account services that welcome terminated merchants!

5 Insider Tips to Get an Adult Related Services Merchant Account

H1 5 Insider Tips to Get an Adult Related Services Merchant Account

High Risk Doesn’t Mean Out of Reach

Reliable Merchant Account Services for Adult and Adult Membership Businesses

 While the adult services industry may be controversial, it is fully legal. Businesses in this niche have the same rights to accept and process credit cards as those in the auto, gift or any other industry. Still, many starting an adult related services business face roadblocks. First, lenders who fear repercussions from shareholders and customers stay away from adult related services merchant accounts all together. Since adult businesses can be quite lucrative, we at First Financial look upon this reluctance as a loss on their end. You should as well.

 A+ Rated First Financial Helps You Through the Hoops

If you’re starting a new adult business or looking to expand, you have considerable planning ahead, as well as a mountain of daily tasks to complete. First Financial has taken the legwork out of finding your ideal adult merchant services account. We’ve explored the field and narrowed our lenders down to those ready to work with you at competitive rates. This said, applying for an adult related services merchant account does take a little more fortitude. To increase your odds for acceptance, follow these tips:

  1. Take some time to clean up your credit rating. Remove what you can from your current credit report. Pay all late payments and liens and then call one of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian) and explain that these payments have been made.
  2. Be ready with an explanation about previous merchant accounts that have been closed, bankruptcies or judgments. These don’t automatically disqualify you. If you pay a higher rate at first because of them, the merchant account provider will most likely be willing to drop your fees and rates once you’ve proven you’re a good risk.
  3. Prepare to pay higher fees and meet certain requirements others do not. While other business owners get better rates than you do, providing easy, non cash payment options will boost your revenue stream and encourage impulse buys. Paying higher is simply “the price of doing business” in the high risk merchant services sphere.
  4. Get enough cash together to set up a “reserve account.” Many providers require that you put a certain percentage of your sales into a separate account accessible to the processor in the instance of future losses. That you’re ready to provide this kind of security indicates you’re taking the businesses seriously.
  5. Get the following documents organized and ready to deliver up front:
    • Application
    • Articles of incorporation
    • Business license
    • Valid government photo ID (driver’s license)
    • Business utility bill
    • Resume for business owner
    • Six latest processing statements with your latest merchant services account provider
    • Three most recent bank statements for your business
    • Voided check for your business bank account

Getting approved quickly sets you up to bring in more revenues, make on-time payments and establish your business as a good risk. The more credit-worthy you become, the quicker your fees and interest rates will drop.

Flexibility & Personal Service Saves You Money & Hassle

While fewer processors serve adult related services merchant accounts, enough exist for you to still be picky. Do not take the first offer. Does your business model turn on ongoing or monthly credit card charges? Many adult services memberships work this way. Others encourage single purchases or one-time, yearly payments. Whichever way you’ve set up your business, A+ rated First Financial’s pre-screened processors can provide you with an adult merchant account for your company’s specific needs.

Ready to Get Your Revenue Flowing?

Call First Financial at 800-950-0212. Apply online for merchant accounts, too. You’ll know within 48 hours whether you’ve been approved.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter for frequent tips about personal and business money management.

Are Mobile Payments Secure?

Mobile Payments Security

Where does mobile credit card processing security come in to play? The main concern is that consumers’ information cannot be breached during any mobile transaction. Processors are concerned that processing transmissions might be targeted for intercepted, making private financial information available to thieves and hackers. Some consumer are concerned that virtual wallets might leave consumers open to fraud if their phones are lost or stolen.

For now, it’s likely that criminals are more concerned with obtaining batches of credit card numbers rather than single numbers. The technologies are moving so fast  that it may be some time before hackers can quickly break into mobile card transactions. There is sure to be a long learning curve for both merchants using mobile card readers and consumers using virtual wallets when they become available worldwide.

Safety concerns go hand in hand with all technological development we see today. Recently Square released a new version of its mobile card reader that uses encryption to safeguard transactions details. The Intuit Go Payment card reader uses secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. This type of encryption is practically impenetrable, some experts say. There’s security for merchants because card information is not stored in their phones and security for consumers because they can see the swipe happen in front of them..

Virtual wallet security, processors will allow you to load credit, debit and loyalty cards onto your phone and then encrypt that information. A PIN will be required for payment, and the mobile phone will need to be held by the user and waved near a reader. This combination of encryption, a PIN number and the phone never leaving the consumer’s hands should add up to a full security system.

 

A Glossary to Help You with Credit Card Processing Jargon.

A Glossary to Help You with Payments Jargon

Have you ever stumbled through a payments industry document? Jargon and abbreviations can be extremely confusing. We know the payments industry isn’t the easiest to understand, but we can give you the tools to speak the language.

Please feel free to bookmark this site and use it whenever you need it.

ACH: Automated Clearing House. A regional organization used by member banks to electronically transfer funds between members.

AMEX: Abbreviation for American Express®, an organization that issues travel and entertainment cards and acquires transactions.

Account Number: A unique sequence of numbers assigned to a cardholder account that identifies the issuer and type of financial transaction card.

Acquirer: A licensed member of MasterCard® and/or VISA® (or its agent) which maintains merchant relationships, receives all bankcard transactions from the merchant, and initiates that data into an interchange system.

Acquiring Bank/Merchant Bank: The bank that does business with merchants enabling them to accept credit cards. A merchant has an account with this bank and each day deposits the value of the day’s credit card sales. Acquirers buy (acquire) the merchant’s sales slips and credit the tickets’ value to the merchant’s account.

Adjustments: Used to process disputes or discrepancies with other financial institutions.

Affinity Card: A credit card issued in conjunction with an organization or collective group; for example, profession, alumni, retired persons association. The card issuer often pays the organization a royalty.

ATM Interchange Fee: The fee paid to the Acquirer Member by the Issuer Member for a STAR® ATM Transaction as established from time to time by the STAR Network.

ATM System: The telecommunications and processing system operated by or on behalf of an Acquirer Member to process STAR Transactions initiated through the Acquirer Member’s STAR ATMs or STAR POB Terminals. The ATM System includes all elements of the processing system from the ATM or POB Terminal to the interface with the STAR Switch.

Authentication: The process by which Authentication Tokens are verified to establish the identity of a STAR Account Holder.

Authorization: The act of ensuring the cardholder has adequate funds available against his or her line of credit. A positive authorization results in an authorization code being generated, and those funds being set aside. The cardholder’s available credit limit is reduced by the authorized amount.

Average Ticket: The average size of a merchant bankcard transaction. Generally used in pricing decisions and calculations.


Bank Routing Number: The first nine digits that appear across the bottom of a personal check; they identify the financial institution.
Bankcard: A financial transaction card (credit, debit, etc.) issued by a financial institution. Batch: The accumulation of captured (sale) transactions waiting to be settled. Multiple batches may be settled throughout the day.
Batch Processing: A type of data processing and data communications transmission in which related transactions are grouped together and transmitted for processing, usually by the same computer and under the same application.
Business Day: A day on which a Federal Reserve Bank to which a member may send applicable items for presentment is open for business, other than a state bank holiday.


Card Issuer: 1) The financial institution or retailer that authorizes the issuance of a card to a consumer (or another organization), and is liable for the use of the card. The issuer retains full authority over the use of the card by the person to whom the card is issued. 2) Any bank or organization that issues, or causes to be issued, bankcards to those who apply for them. 3) Any organization that uses or issues a personal identification number (PIN).
Card Verification Code (CVC): A unique value calculated from the data encoded on the magnetic stripe of a MasterCard card, validating card information during the authorization process.
Card Verification Value (CVV): A unique value calculated from the data encoded on the magnetic stripe of a VISA card, validating card information during the authorization process.
Cardholder: The person to whom a financial transaction card is issued or an additional person authorized to use the card.
Cash Advance: An amount advanced by a bank teller (or ATM) to a bankcard holder against the cardholder’s line of credit.

Cash Back: An optional feature of a purchase whereby all or part of the purchase is returned as cash to the cardholder.
Chargeback: A transaction that is challenged by a cardholder or card issuing bank and is sent back through interchange to the merchant bank for resolution.
Chargeback Period: The number of calendar days (counted from the transaction processing date) during which the issuer has the right to charge the transaction back to the acquirer. The number of days varies according to the type of transaction from 45 to 180 days.
Check Verification: A service provided in which a merchant accesses a national negative file database through their terminal/register to verify or authorize the person has no outstanding bad check complaints at any of the member merchants. This is not a guarantee of payment to the merchant.
Chip: A small square of thin semiconductor material, such as silicon, that has been chemically processed to have a specific set of electrical characteristics such as circuit’s storage, and/or logic elements.
Clearing Account: An account at the clearing bank that will receive a member’s credit or debit for net settlement.
Clearing Bank: A bank designated by the member to receive the member’s daily net settlement advisement. The clearing bank will also conduct funds transfer activities with the net settlement bank and maintain the member’s clearing account. This bank may be the member itself.
Compliance: The procedure a VISA or MasterCard member may use to resolve a dispute between members when no chargeback reason code applies. The challenging member must prove financial loss due to a violation of MasterCard and/or VISA rules by the other member.
Counterfeit Card: A plastic card which has been fraudulently printed, embossed or encoded to appear to be a genuine bankcard, but which has not been authorized by MasterCard or VISA or issued by a member. A card originally issued by a member but subsequently altered without the issuer’s knowledge or consent.
Credit Account: An Access Account which provides for the advance of cash, merchandise or other commodity, in the present, in exchange for a promise to pay a definite sum at a future date, usually with interest.
Credit Card: A plastic card with a credit limit used to purchase goods and services and to obtain cash advances on credit for which a cardholder is subsequently billed by the issuer for repayment of the credit extended.
Credit Limit: The maximum amount the cardholder may owe to the issuer on the card account at any time.


Database: A collection of data organized and designed for easy access, e.g., a collection of customer names and addresses.

Data Encryption: The process of transforming processing information to make it unusable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key.
Debit: A charge to a customer’s bankcard account.
Debit Card: Any card that primarily accesses a Deposit Account.
Debit Transaction: A bankcard used to purchase goods and services and to obtain cash, which debits the cardholder’s personal deposit account.
Decline or Declined: The denial of an Authorization Request by, or on behalf of, an Issuer Member.
Deposit Account: An Access Account, other than a Credit Account, maintained by a Member for processing transactions. Deposit Accounts include checking, NOW, savings, share draft, and such other depository accounts as are legal under Applicable Law.
Discount Rate: An amount charged a merchant for processing its daily credit card transactions.
Doing Business As (DBA): Refers to the specific name and location of the merchant establishment where credit card purchases are made.


Electronic Banking: A form of banking in which funds are transferred through an exchange of electronic signals between financial institutions, rather than an exchange of cash, checks or other negotiable instruments.
Electronic Bill Payment (E-pay): An alternative to paper checks for paying bills. Consumers can use PCs, telephones, screen phones or ATMs to send electronic instructions to their bank or bill payment provider to withdraw funds from their accounts and pay merchants. Payments may be made either electronically or by a paper check issued by the bill payment provider.
Electronic Check Acceptance or ECA: A system that captures banking information off a paper check and converts it into an electronic item processed through the Automated Clearing House network. With ECA, checks are processed similarly to credit cards, and the paper check is returned to the consumer at the point of sale.
Electronic Commerce (E-commerce): The transacting of business electronically rather than via paper.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT): A transfer of funds between accounts by electronic means rather than conventional paper-based payment methods. EFT is any financial transaction originating from a telephone or electronic terminal, or from a computer or magnetic tape.

EMV: EMV, or EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa, is a microchip-based technology designed to reduce fraud at the point-of-sale. Banks are beginning to issue payment cards with these embedded chips, which also support contactless payments. Encryption: The technique of scrambling data automatically in the terminal or computer before data is transmitted for security/anti-fraud purposes.


Financial Institution: Any organization in the business of moving, investing or lending money, dealing in financial instruments, or providing financial services. Includes commercial banks, thrifts, federal and state savings banks, saving and loan associations, and credit unions.
Funding: Refers to the payment to a merchant for his submitted deposits.

Funds Transfer System: A wire transfer network, ACH, or other communication system or clearing house or association of banks in which First Data’s Clearing/Funding Bank is a member and through which a payment order by a bank may be transmitted. Includes: SWIFT, CHIPS, Fedwire, the National Association of Clearing House Associations, MasterCard and VISA.


Interchange: The domestic and international systems operated by VISA and MasterCard for authorization, settlement and the passing through of interchange and other fees, as well as other monetary and non-monetary information related to bankcard activities.
Interchange Fee: Fees paid by the acquirer to the issuer to compensate for transaction-related costs. VISA and MasterCard establish interchange fee rates.
Issuer/Issuing Bank: The financial institution (a licensed member of MasterCard or VISA) which holds contractual agreements with and issues cards to cardholders.


Japanese Credit Bureau (JCB): Issuers of the JCB card.


MICR Number Method: A check authorization procedure that uses the bank routing/transit numbers, checking account numbers and check number encoded along the bottom of the check.
Magnetic Information Character Recognition (MICR): Imprinted banking numbers (routing/transit number, checking account number, check number) at the bottom of the check.
Magnetic Stripe: A stripe (on the bankcard) of magnetically encoded cardholder account information affixed to a plastic card.
Member: A financial institution which is a member of VISA USA and/or MasterCard International. A member is licensed to issue cards to cardholders and/or accept merchant drafts.
Merchant: A retailer, or any other person, firm, or corporation that, according to a Merchant Agreement, agrees to accept credit cards, debit cards, or both, when properly presented.
Merchant Acquirer: A member that has entered into an agreement with a merchant to accept deposits generated by bankcard transactions; also called the acquirer or acquiring bank.
Merchant Agreement: The written contract between merchant and acquirer who detail their respective rights, responsibilities and warranties.
Merchant Number: A number that numerically identifies each merchant to the merchant processor for accounting and billing purposes.


Net Payment: Payment to the merchant for sales drafts less credits minus the appropriate discount fee.
Net Revenue: Discount income less interchange expense.
Net Settlement: The settlement, through an actual transfer of funds, of the net effect of a series of financial transactions involving customers of two or more banks.
Non-Bank: In a payment system, a financial institution not offering retail banking services


Originator: A financial institution that initiates a wire transfer or automated clearing house (ACH) payment.
Outlet: One location of a chain.


PIN (Personal Identification Number): The confidential individual number or code used by a cardholder to authenticate card ownership for ATM or POS terminal transactions.
PIN Authorization Request: A procedure enabling the issuer to validate cardholder identity by comparing the PIN to the account numbers.
PIN Pad: A tamper resistant security module that enables a cardholder to enter his or her PIN at a terminal.
PIN Verification: A procedure utilized by or on behalf of the Issuer Participant to verify the identification of the cardholder as a result of the use of the PIN upon receipt of a transaction request.
Paper: Sales slips, credit slips, cash disbursement slips and other obligations indicating use of a card or a card account. Also referred to as “media.”

Payment Gateway: An e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes payments for e-businesses, online retailers, or traditional brick and mortar businesses. It is equivalent to a physical point of sale terminal located in most retail outlets.
Payment System: A set of instructions and procedures used for the transfer of ownership and settlement of obligations arising from the exchange of goods and services.
Point of Sale (POS): The location of a merchant where the customer makes a purchase.
Point-of-Sale System: An electronic system that accepts financial data at or near a retail selling location and transmits that data to a computer or authorization network for reporting activity, authorization and transaction logging.

POS Terminal: A device placed in a merchant location that is connected to the bank’s system or authorization service provider via telephone lines and is designed to authorize, record and forward data by electronic means for each sale.

Prepaid Cards: A reloadable or non-reloadable debit card that allows the holder to only spend up to the amount that has been pre-deposited into the account.
Processor: An organization that is connected to VISANet and or Banknet and provides authorization and/or clearing and settlement services on behalf of a member.


Reason Code: A code used to provide additional information to the receiving clearing member regarding the nature of a chargeback, subsequent presentment, fee collection, funds disbursement, or request for a source document.
Receipt: A hard copy description of the transaction that took place at the point-of-sale, containing at minimum: date, merchant name/location, primary account number, type of account accessed, amount, reference number, and an action code.
Recurring Transaction: A transaction charged to the cardholder (with prior permission) on a periodic basis for recurring goods and services, i.e., health club memberships, book-of-the-month clubs, etc.
Reference Number: A twenty-three (23) position number assigned by the acquiring member and used to identify a transaction.
Remittance Information: Information required by the biller to post customer bill payments effectively.


Sales Draft: Paper documentation of a transaction. Also called a sales slip, charge slip or hard copy.
Security Compliance Review: A review that is based on an approved checklist and that is performed by a member’s or processor’s approved auditor to verify the member’s or the processor’s compliance with these rules.
Settlement: As the sales transaction value moves from the merchant to the acquiring bank to the issuer, each party buys and sells the sales ticket. Settlement is what occurs when the acquiring bank and the issuer exchange data or funds during that function.
Settlement Statement: A document issued to the merchant, indicating the sales and credit activity, billing information, discount fee and chargebacks (if any) occurring during a particular time frame (one week, one month).
Shopping Cart Software: Shopping cart software allows the cardholder to select items from an online store and place them in a virtual shopping basket or shopping cart. The shopping cart remembers which items are selected while the cardholder views other items within the virtual storefront, keeps a running total, and may calculate taxes and shipping. The items in the shopping cart are eventually ordered if the cardholder chooses.
Smart Card: A plastic card resembling traditional credit or debit cards that contains a computer chip; the chip is capable of storing significantly more information than a magnetic stripe.
Start Up Kit: Supplies shipped to new merchants including sales slips, credit slips, batch header tickets, return envelopes, VISA/MasterCard decals, merchant plastics, imprinter slugs and instructional materials.
Submission: The process of sending batch deposits to Merchant Services for processing. This may be done electronically or by mail.
Support Documentation: The forms necessary to effect a chargeback processing cycle, and any additional material to uphold a dispute.


Telephone Bill Payment: A service that permits a customer to pay bills electronically. The customer gives a corporation the authority to debit his or her account for a specific amount or within a specified range of amounts.
Third-Party Processing: Processing of transactions by service providers acting under contract to card issuers or acquirers. First Data is a third-party processor.
Transaction: Any event that causes a change in an organization’s financial position or net worth, resulting from normal activity. Advance of funds, purchase of goods at a retailer or when a borrower activates a revolving line of credit. Activities affecting a deposit account carried out at the request of the account owner. One example of a transaction is the process that takes place when a cardholder makes a purchase with a credit card.
Transaction Date: The actual date on which a transaction occurs. Used in recording and tracking transactions.
Transaction Fees: Service costs charged to a merchant on a per-transaction basis.


UCommerce: Short for Universal Commerce. UCommerce is the intersection of online, kiosk, and in-store payment enablement, incorporating social media and near-field communications.. With UCommerce, the mobile device is at the center of the user experience.

What do I need to do to validate PCI DSS compliance?

PCI Compliance

For PCI support you are required to call customer service.

Phone: 1-855-532-4891

Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

(EST) Monday – Friday

www.pcirapidcomply.com

Could I benifit from Merchant Services?

Credit Card Processing Accept all major credit cards with guaranteed low processing fees.  Credit card processing bills tend to be filled with cryptic codes and indecipherable information. Our credit card processing services allows a merchant to accept credit cards: over the internet thru their website, point of sale, over the telephone, and thru the internet if the merchant does not have the customer present at the time of the sale.  Credit card processing is available for all types of business based in the US.  Credit card processing also helps you within your business because it will enable you to take your business online.  Credit card processing services are one of the simplest tools out there when you’re looking for opportunities to grow your business.  Credit card processing is a must in any business, as today most people prefer to use their plastic over carrying cash.  Credit card processing has never been faster or safer with contactless payments.  credit card processing equipment With our free credit card machines you can set up a merchant account and begin to accept credit cards today.


First Financial

First Financial ® Corporate Headquarters 2850 Womble Road Suite 100-604 San Diego, CA 92106

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Merchant Services / High Risk Merchant Accounts: 1-800-950-0212 Fax: 1-800-215-0217

 

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