Business Start-Up Guide: Merchant Services

By Jeremy Reed Tuesday, March 22, 2016

business start-up guide; merchant servicesMerchant services have become increasingly important for start-ups in the information age. In the past, start-ups would market their product or services in their local area and many accepted only cash or checks for payment.

Usually they were within driving distance of their mostly-local customer base so accepting payments using these methods was not an issue. Scammers and forgers seem to have been less insidious in those days.

The world of commerce has since undergone colossal changes, however, and the entrepreneurs of today understand their client base is now all over the world, with information at the touch of a button.

The days of clients coming into your place of business with a check or cash are gone.

Business owners need to be able to accept payments from a world-wide customer base quickly and efficiently. The safest and easiest way to accomplish this is called merchant services.

Merchant services is defined as a category of financial services in the United States authorized to accept credit card or bank debit card transactions online or via Point of Sales systems.

To utilize merchant services, a U.S.-based business must first obtain a merchant account in order to accept customers’ credit card and electronic payments through an e-commerce website. Providing your clients with this method of fast and easy payment using their credit card is easier than you may think, and there are a lot of options out there.

business start-upo guide: merchant services

There are a number of choices regarding merchant services payment types and processing methods.

Some business owners require a merchant account provider as well as a Point of Sale system for their brick-and-mortar retail store while others need a mobile option that can be transported anywhere they may need to go.

Some business owners only need to accept payments electronically through their website while for those in the food service business, a restaurant POS system is essential.

All of these situations can be met by a variety of merchant services. Most service providers offer several different options in order to meet the needs of your company.

Here are some of the industry leaders in each category of merchant services:

  • Flagship Merchant Services offers credit card processing services to most business types.
  • AIMsi is a Point of Sale software system (including inventory management and accounting software) for any type of retail store.
  • Square is a mobile payment option for any type of business.
  • PayPal seems to be the most popular method to securely accept payments online.
  • Touchbistro is an iPad POS system for restaurants (as well as bars, food trucks, restaurant chains, coffee shops, pizza places and stadiums)
  • Dinerware is a Microsoft-based POS system best suited for full-service restaurants


If your start-up company is searching for a means with which to accept payment, you should go online, find a few different potential providers and do your research; any reputable merchant services company should have knowledgeable, patient sales representatives who are able to explain what may work best for your business.

The equipment needed may be purchased or leased, so examine the prices and see what is most cost-efficient for you in the long run.

Be sure to fully explain to a salesperson what type of payments you’ll need to accept; what kind of start-up and brand(s) you are managing; what you expect on the customer service level; and, of course, what you are looking to spend annually for merchant services.

A merchant service account is generally used in conjunction with your company’s bank account, which accepts your payments and transfers the fees due to the merchant services provider, so make sure whichever merchant services provider you choose is able to work in tandem with your bank.


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