Saturday, December 27, 2008

PCI Compliant Customer Data Storage

In a continuation of the post regarding storing of customer data we are going to dive into the subject a bit more.

PCI or the payment card industry doesn't want you to store sensitive credit card information. For example if you sell someone a widget on your site and they pay with a credit card. You are not allowed to store the credit card number without going through the pain of becoming PCI compliant for storage of credit card data.

Virtual Terminal Customer Data Storage
If your just using the Virtual Terminal provided to you from your merchant account provider you should be able to store sensitive customer information quite easily. Normally its as simple as entering in the credit card number on a screen and the next time you want to bill them just click their name. This is the easiest way to store sensitive information, but what if you need more control of your customers?

Storing Credit Card Customer Data
So lets say you want to rebill that customer or you need to credit their account. If you don't have access to the credit card number you will need to ask for it again. Rather than do that merchant account providers are offering to store your sensitive customer information as part of the service packages that they offer. Here's how it works. You send the processor the sensitive information once. They issue a customer token or customer ID say 2345. The next time you want to bill that customer you send to the processor, bill customer ID 2345, $50.00. Its that easy, your now PCI compliant and you have access to bill your return customers.

Integration into your Application
If you need even more control you can integrate your application via web services. For example if you have an existing application that maintains your customer information you can talk to the processors payment gateway via web services to make it a seamless user experience. Most processors offer these basic calls among others.
  • create a customer
  • update a customer
  • delete a customer
  • make a customer transaction
  • update a customers credit card
  • update a customers checking account

Having your processor store your sensitive information makes sense for most merchants. The savings is great when compared to the costs and time required to become PCI compliant to store credit card information. Ask if your processor offers sensitive data storage for your customer data, if they do take advantage of this great service.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Test Credit Card Account Numbers

Here is a list of test credit card numbers. Often used by developers or merchants that want to test their merchant account.

American Express

Diners Club





Saturday, December 13, 2008

Take Donations on the Web

Accepting donations via the web is a fairly new trend that has been gaining a lot of momentum lately. Whether its a one time payment to the donors favorite charity or monthly tithing to their favorite church accepting donations via the web is here to stay.

Automatic Recurring Payments
Rather than ask your donors to mail a check you can simply forward them to your website for payment. It’s as simple as entering the payment information check or credit card and specifying the days to hit the account. The donor likes it because they can choose the day the monies will be processed. The merchant likes it because its entirely automatic. Every month the credit card or checking account is processed and the money is deposited directly into the merchants account. What could be simpler?

Credit cards vs Checks
Credit cards are convenient but on line checks are clearly the winner here. The merchant pays a low transaction fee and that is about it. The customer has the money drafted directly from their account like many other bills they have. Credit cards are going to cost the merchant more for protections the customer may not need for this type of transaction and they have to write a check every month. ACH or Checks are a welcome alternative.

Accepting Donation Payments
Most payment processors offer code the merchant can put directly on their site. The code usually creates a button or link that directs customers to a secure payment page. Recurring or single types of transactions can be done easily by the donor by clicking the link. If the merchant doesn’t have a web site they can send requests for payment via email.

Virtual TerminalsA Virtual Terminal is a web site that allows credit card or check payments to be made, reports to be ran and a host of other things depending on the processor. If the donor isn’t comfortable with sending payments on the web they can provide the payment information to the merchant for them to enter in the Virtual Terminal. Most payment processors offer a Virtual Terminal with the merchant account.

Accepting donations via the web is something every non-profit company should take advantage of. The costs are minimal especially if using an ACH or Check. Recurring donations are a breeze to set up and allow the merchant to more accurately predict future cash flow. From Tithing to fund raisers on line donations are having an impact on all types of charity’s bottom lines. For the better.

Options for Accepting International Payments

There are few choices when trying to set up international payments for your ecommerce website. PayPal and Stripe are great options for those...