Virtual Terminal Merchant Accounts: Why Every Business Needs One

Virtual Terminal Merchant Accounts: Why Every Business Needs One

We don’t do it often, but we’re going to toss our opinion out there. We think every merchant – e-commerce and point of sale – should take advantage of virtual terminal merchant accounts.

In the past, we’ve blogged ad nauseum about how every business – e-commerce and brick and mortar – should offer check solutions and ACH: They’re secure, easy and reliable when more current payment methods go offline or malfunction.

We feel the same way about virtual terminals. Theoretically, many merchants can get away without using a credit card POS machine, as long as they’re not dealing with an outlandish volume of payments (in which case a credit card payments device is a necessity). As long as a merchant can get the consumer’s 16-digits, expiration date and CVV code, the transaction can be completed (though it may take a few seconds longer). A secure internet connection is all a virtual terminal merchant needs.

The industries ideal for virtual terminals

For seasonal and mobile businesses, call centers and small businesses whose payments volume is suitable, virtual terminal merchant accounts are ideal. The challenge, also a sign of the times, is making certain that access to the internet is secure (preferably not shared). We see virtual terminal use at the many trade shows we attend. They’re also popular among charities and easy for soliciting donations. Any merchant that is conducting popup or mobile business, a virtual terminal is a model solution.

Virtual terminals might be difficult to obtain if…

We find the number of viable options decreases when merchants approach us about obtaining a virtual terminal merchant account to be used for international transactions. For example, we have solutions for a European-registered business — contingent on the industry type — which seeks a virtual terminal to accept credit and debit card transactions from European consumers.

We run into problems when a business in, for example, Indonesia, needs a virtual terminal to accept credit card payments from other countries. That is a significant amount of risk — that acquiring banks simply do not want to assume.

Why banks might seem lukewarm to offering virtual terminal merchant accounts

More than ever, we’re seeing merchants — we suspect fraudulent ones — requesting virtual terminals to commit transaction laundering or credit card fraud by getting consumer credit card data. We recently blogged about the several reasons unseedy merchants launder transactions: to sell illegal or illicit goods online under the guise of a legitimate product or service. Occasionally, we’ll have a merchant contact us about payment solutions for an ‘online dumpster’ business, when s/he is really a tech support merchant (but doesn’t want to pay tech support payment processing rates).

And we’re seeing more and more of it.

The KYC documents a virtual terminal merchant needs to show us

When a merchant requests a virtual terminal merchant account, we’ll need to see the regular/required KYC documents – 3-6 months of payment processing history, business bank statements, photo identification, etc…. In addition, we will also need to see the merchant’s website as well as any other marketing materials – mailings, fliers or other promotional materials – they plan to use, especially if the merchant is working without a website. The marketing materials are further proof the merchant is selling what s/he says they’re selling.

Discuss virtual terminal payment options with us

With 5-10 minutes of your time, Instabill merchant account experts can detail the best acquiring banking options for your business. With a vast network of banking partners assembled from our first years as a provider of virtual terminal merchant accounts, we know the banks which best work with your industry. Our merchant account managers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, U.S. eastern time.

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