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18
Oct

How to take card payments online to boost your business profits

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One of the principal concerns of any business is to increase the sales of its goods and services. An essential part of making those sales is providing your customers with the means of making payment for the goods and services they buy.

The following briefly explains how to arrange for your customers to be able to make credit and debit card payments online – thereby increasing your potential for sales and business profits.

Card payments

The principles of setting up card payments online are very similar to those for setting up card payments through a physical point of sale terminal (say, in a shop, restaurant or any other business premises) – each uses slightly different technology.

Although a common perception might be that card payments – through a physical terminal or online – have become almost universal, the fact is that an estimated two-thirds of Britain’s small and medium sized enterprises do not accept this method of payment, according to a report on the Real Business website recently.

Such a failure to provide customers with the method of payment they want – since one third of customers who are unable to pay by card simply decline to make the purchase – amounts to lost revenues of an estimated £10 billion.

Costs

One of the reasons for businesses apparently being so slow in providing customers with methods of payment they prefer is the perceived cost of installing and maintaining contracts for the use of physical terminals and online payment gateways.

Given the potential for considerably increased sales as a result of accepting card payments, however, the costs are probably overestimated.

Besides, this might be precisely the kind of one-off business expenditure for which a finance loan may be perfectly suitable. Business loans from Everline do just that –sums of anywhere between a few thousand and up to £50,000 may be borrowed over the relatively short term of a few months up to 24 months. The ease and speed with which such borrowing may be set up through an online application may make this an ideal source of funding for your card payment installation.

Terminals

Terminals come in different types, depending on the business requirement and may be fixed countertop, such as for use in a shop, or portable, often used in restaurants.

Because the security of payments and of course the cardholders personal details is so important, you might want to ensure that any terminal you install meets the current Payment Card Industry (PCI) Date Security Standards (DSS).

The ongoing cost of running such a terminal depends on the type of machine you choose and the number of customers who use it. The cost is made up of a contract with the supplier, a charge for each transaction made, and insurance protection for the terminal.

Online payments

In order to accept card payments online there is of course no access to any such physical terminal.

Instead there is something called a payment gateway which acts as a service provider for the authorisation of card payments. The gateway effectively takes the place online of the physical terminal you might find at a retail point of sale and provides the same degree of security for protecting cardholders’ information and for the details of the transaction to pass from the customer to the business and from the business to a designated payment processor (the third party agent appointed by the business to handle card transactions).

With the aid of technology, the following bewildering series of steps allows your customer to make a card payment online for the purchase of your goods and services:

  • the customer signifies the purchase by clicking on a button on your webpage labelled “Purchase” (or something similar);
  • the customer’s web browser encrypts his or her transaction before the details are passed to your webserver;
  • you forward these transaction details – again encrypted – through your payment gateway and the payment gateway forwards it to your chosen payment processor (bank);
  • the payment processor directs the transaction details to the relevant card association, such as MasterCard or Visa;
  • the bank that issued the card receives a payment authorisation request and gives its response back to the payment processor, which forwards the answer to the payment gateway;
  • the payment gateway is then able to authorise the purchase that has been made online.

Incredibly, this whole process takes little more than two or three seconds and then it is then over to you to fulfil the customer’s order. Once that is done, the final steps are taken to ensure that the funds authorised by the card issuer and payment processor are deposited into your bank account.

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Trevor Wetherly lives near Birmingham and spends his weekends renovating a small cottage. He intends to retire there and enjoy the quiet life very soon.

17
Oct

A handful off great small business apps that integrate with Quickbooks and Xero

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In the tech-world, a single company coming up with multiple solutions to too many problems never works out. Apple wouldn’t be Apple without developers creating billions of apps for its store, and smart TV manufacturers would be pretty stupid if they didn’t rely on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon to integrate with their hardware.

The same goes for accounting software. Running a business today is more than just accounts receivable and payable. It’s about sharing files, making your e-commerce site easier for customers to pay and simplifying your payroll process. That’s why it’s no surprise that Quickbooks and Xero — two popular pieces of accounting software — both offer integration with many apps.

Xero, a relative newcomer when it comes to accounting software, integrates with more than 300 business apps. Quickbooks has about 60 right now, but is adding more.

So what are these apps? Here are some of our favorites:

Square

For small businesses that have a retail store, there’s a good chance Square is being used as a main form of payment. The company plugs into an iPhone or iPad and lets customers swipe their credit card, tap in a tip and sign their name using their index finger. Square charges 2.75 percent for all major credit card swipes.

Both Quickbooks and Xero offer integration with Square’s app. The Square Quickbooks and Xero integration imports all Square sales seamlessly, automatically updating the books and keeping transactions organized.

Concur

For now, this small business expense reporting app only integrates with Quickbooks.

It automatically creates expense reports from credit card charges and syncs with your existing books in Quickbooks.

Concur lets employees download their mobile app to submit everything from lunch receipts to mileage. Everything inputted into that mobile app, again, syncs with your accounts in Quickbooks.

Expensify

This app, for now, is only for Xero.

Expensify’s tagline is “Expense reports that don’t suck.” The app’s easy-to-use interface and simple design makes expense reports fun again… if they were ever fun to begin with.

Expensify is used in 169 countries by more than 2 million people and 300,000 companies — it’s proven. Your Xero chart of accounts is imported into Expensify as expense categories, helping you easily categorize all your expenses into a comprehensive report.

Other apps

Intuit, the creator of Quickbooks, is continually adding more apps. For now, they are behind Xero, who can integrate with the likes of PayPal and eBay.

Xero currently has partnerships with Bill.com, (cash flow), Deputy (timesheets) and Kabbage (funding), and is always adding more.

Quickbooks is leaning on a few key apps as well, including Shoeboxed (expenses and documents) and Transaction Pro Importer (invoices).

Both companies understand the importance of integration, which will only push developers to create more apps that make running a business more efficient. If you want to learn more about app integration with these softwares, go to Xero and QuickBooks to learn more.

16
Oct

Five Reasons to Open a Savings Account

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You’ve always gotten along fine with just a checking account, so you may be wondering why open a savings account? There are actually several benefits to opening a savings account. If you’ve never seen the value before, consider these five benefits:

 

  1. It’s a safe place to store money A deposit account held in an FDIC-insured bank or credit union is one of the safest places to keep your money. Keeping the money in your home still leaves it vulnerable to theft. On the other hand, keeping all of your money in your checking account but trying to consider some of it “savings” may not be enough to resist spending it on more immediate needs.
  1. You can set and save for goals Once you’ve opened a deposit account, whether it’s a savings account, money market or certificate of deposit, you can then monitor your savings easily online. This will help you get an up-to-date picture of your finances and set savings goals. You might consider opening more than one savings account so that you can save separately for things like education or maybe an expensive purchase like a new computer or TV. Here again, opening a savings account gives you more options and more motivation to save then stashing it in an envelope or your wallet.
  1. You will earn interest
    Interest is probably the best part of opening a savings account – letting your money earn money. And, depending on which deposit accounts you choose to open, you can earn varying amounts of interest. Generally, the highest interest rates are found in certificates of deposit, then money markets and finally savings accounts. (This is because the access to your funds is more restricted in that order as well.) Regardless, when you open a savings account, you also open the possibility of earning more money just for doing so.
  1. It will help your credit
    Having a savings account that is well-stocked and growing can do good things for your credit score. Potential lenders like to see that you are responsible with your money and have some at your disposal beyond your checking account. Keeping your savings in cash won’t allow them to find it when they run your credit.
  1. You can access the funds when you need them
    Finally, if you had hesitated in opening a savings account because it seemed restrictive, no need to worry. Savings accounts can be as liquid as you need them to be. A traditional savings account at the same bank as your checking account is easily accessed. You can transfer funds between the two accounts at will. And, with online banking so common now, you can do this just as easily between financial institutions.

So, if you’ve been on the fence about opening a deposit account, debate no longer. Open a savings account sooner rather than later to start seeing the benefits.

Sponsored content was created and provided by Citizens Financial Group.

16
Oct

Taking These Steps Will Rid You Of Credit Card Debt

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Photograph Courtesy Of Flickr

Photograph Courtesy Of Flickr

There are millions of Americans that are carrying thousands of dollars of debt on their credit cards. The interest charged on these debts earn the companies issuing the cards billions of dollars – dollars that could be better spent supporting your family or saved for your future needs. If you want to begin building wealth, you must first get rid of the debt that is draining away your income. Taking the following steps will help you rid yourself of your debt and give you strategies to prevent the accumulation of debt in the future.

Stop Using The Credit Cards

When trying to get rid of credit card debt, it is important to stop using the credit cards until your debt is under control. While this may seem like common sense, many people make the mistake of putting every dollar that they can spare towards their credit card debt, leaving them with nothing in reserve when an unexpected expense arises. That forces them to use the credit card to handle the situation, which ultimately prolongs the amount of time they remain in debt. Putting 20 percent towards your savings account and 80 percent towards your debt will give you a cushion of savings to fall back on in the event of the unexpected occurring.

Reduce Your Spending

While you are trying to pay off your debt, find ways to reduce your spending so that you can contribute as much as possible towards reaching your goal. Examine your budget for any areas where spending can be reduced without dramatically changing your lifestyle. Consider taking your lunch to work instead of purchasing fast food or refraining from going to the movies until your debts have been repaid. After a couple of weeks, your changes will become regular habits that you can use to save more money for years.

Always Pay More Than The Minimum

It will take you forever to get rid of your credit card debt if you only pay the minimum amount required each month. Most of the money paid with a minimum payment goes towards paying the interest for the month, with very little going towards the principal, so your principal remains roughly the same each month. Every dollar that you can put towards paying down the principal reduces the length of time you remain in debt and lessens the amount of interest you will ultimately pay to the credit card issuer.