Getting creative with payment processing

A while back, Braintree was offering a special – process $50K worth of payments for free.  You bet I signed up!  And at a standard 2.9% rate, this represented a $2500 savings over the lifetime of the offer.  But all good things must come to an end, and I noticed that last week, I started paying fees on Braintree transactions. Ouch!

So what’s an entrepreneur to do?  My suggestion would be to get creative with your best customers, and ask them to use fee-free bank-to-bank payment options rather than a credit card.  Here are a few you can check out:

  • Venmo – Venmo has been around for a while and was acquired by Paypal in the Braintree acquisition of 2014.  Venmo is heavily tilted towards mobile/Facebook, so it makes sense if that’s your demographic.
  • Zelle – Zelle is pretty new and supported by a wide swath of big banks.  I think it might take off and become a Venmo-killer.
  • Google Wallet – You didn’t really think I wasn’t going to talk about Google, did you? 🙂  Google Wallet is interesting because they offer more fraud protection than many vendors do – if this is a concern for you, take a look.

These payment methods are really more designed for individuals rather than businesses, so don’t hold your breath for an integration with your favorite shopping cart, but you might want to offer these methods for settlement with your best customers, and split the fees with them.  Who wouldn’t want to save 1.5%?  – on $2,000, that’s $30!

2 series Mastercards and your Zen Cart

You may have already heard that Mastercard is rolling out cards that start with a “2” instead of the traditional “5.”  You’ll want to check your version of Zen Cart to be sure you can handle this.  Versions 1.5.5b and above have built in logic for the native payment methods (such as Authorize.net); if you are running a lower version, you will need to merge in the changes from the latest copy of includes/classes/cc_validation.php.  If you are using an extension to manage credit card payments, be sure to test with Mastercard 2223000048400011.  Then you can have confidence that your cart properly processes “2” series Mastercard cards.

Zen Cart Optional Payment Method

Getting payments by Paypal is incredibly convenient for me – it means I can roll up dozens of small transactions into a single checkbook update showing the transfer from Paypal.  But some people don’t like Paypal, for a variety of reasons.  So I want to have a payment mechanism that will work for them.

Well, as I said in Monday’s blog post, I have a LOT of payment methods, but for the folks who just want to use a credit card, I use BrainTree.  Here’s the BrainTree Zen Cart integration, which works well except for one small bug in version 4 that I documented a fix for in this Zen Cart forum post.

But I don’t show two credit card payment methods at checkout, and I want to encourage people to use Paypal.  So what I did was create the Optional Payment Method module for Zen Cart, which allows you to enable only specific customers to see the optional payment module, and hide it from the rest.

Hopefully this contribution will help other folks too.

New Payment Methods for That Software Guy!

Most people pay me by Paypal, either directly or via my store.
But some people don’t like Paypal – for a variety of reasons. For a while, the payment alternative I offered was Google Checkout, but Google killed that product off. So now I offer three non-Paypal options for people to make payments or donations:

I also offer, for select customers, credit card processing via BrainTree.  More on this topic tomorrow!

Challenge for Zen Cart store owners: are you making it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you?

Getting the most out of PayPal

Some are critics of PayPal; I’m a fan. My business simply could not run without it. And with just a little effort, you can get a better deal than most:

  • As soon as you start making money, sign up for the Money Market fund. It’s the link labelled “Money Market” at the bottom of the PayPal page after you log in. Instead of having your PayPal funds be dead money, they start earning interest at a rate comparable to most other Internet banks.
  • The month after the first month you make $3000, apply for Merchant Rates. This reduces your transaction fees. It’s a bit tricky, though, so be careful:
    • Don’t do this until you have made $3000 or more in the previous calendar month. If your application is rejected because you didn’t bother to count, you are not permitted to reapply for 30 days. They will not waive this rule, so don’t break it. 🙂
    • You must actually apply to get this rate; you don’t get it automatically. To apply, look at the bottom of the PayPal page, and find the “Fees” link. Click this, and then click one of the links under “Premier/Business Account” on the row that says “Receive Payments.” At the bottom of the page is a link to an application form you must fill out.

Don’t have a Merchant Account with PayPal yet? Click here to get one!

The Mashable gang has even more ideas for using PayPal.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Internet Retailer’s Guide to E-Commerce Technology

Guide to E-Commerce TechnologyInternet Retailer’s Guide to E-Commerce Technology is a who’s who of firms working in the e-commerce space, from affiliate marketing to web monitoring. The format is quite interesting – it’s laid out as a directory, but each page is bisected and each firm gets only half a page (so the entry for IBM is the same size as the entry for Zoovy). Many firms provide pricing numbers, and SMBs need not be intimidated since a variety of price points are represented.