How machine learning enhances fraud prevention for businesses

Written by https://www.globalpayments.com/insights/2021/04/20/how-machine-learning-enhances-fraud-prevention-for-businesses

Fraudsters never take a break, continuing to find new ways to cause harm to businesses. Yet while they become more sophisticated in their approaches, so are the fraud prevention measures to safeguard businesses. Today, machine learning can be used to enhance fraud prevention, and it’s helping businesses of all sizes avoid major losses.

Machine learning for better fraud detection

Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) where computer software learns from the data it analyzes and its accuracy improves over time as it gathers more data inputs.

Machine learning has now been integrated into platforms to detect and predict fraud patterns for more accurate prevention. It’s quickly becoming a much-needed tool to help businesses combat transaction theft.

Fraud platforms powered with machine learning look for subtle nuances in the payment data that are not readily apparent. They take large amounts of payment data and unearth hidden correlations between cardholder behavior and the likelihood that a transaction is fraudulent. As time goes on, these fraud platforms are able to make adjustments to the algorithms based on changes in the patterns they are “seeing.”

For example, with COVID-19, fraud platforms with machine-learning capability had to adapt to a whole new set of transaction patterns. Suddenly in March 2020, a large amount of consumers were restricted to their homes, increasing the purchases they made online, in categories such as groceries, restaurants, and retailing.

In these scenarios, machine learning is very good at adjusting to the new patterns and can do so much faster than a human could. Traditional fraud platforms for merchants use a static set of rules to determine which transactions to accept, reject, or set aside for manual review. This approach is called rules-based detection. It’s an effective approach, but it requires more time and human intervention to sort through data, adjust the rules, and perform the manual review of the transactions themselves. Machine learning cuts back on these manual processes and is better equipped to find subtle fraudulent events that may not be detected by the rules-based approach.

A comparsion: Machine-learning and rules-based fraud management

On the whole, machine learning helps predict fraud with better precision than other methods. Our solution combines data from more than 68 billion Visa transactions worldwide and over 260 fraud detectors with machine learning of static- and self-learning models. For more tailored targeting, merchants can customize rules to meet unique business needs. It all adds up to maximum prediction accuracy to help prevent more fraud.

Who’s at risk?

Every merchant–from the biggest multinationals to the smallest micro-merchants–is at risk of transaction fraud. Large enterprise businesses without sufficient safeguards are vulnerable. Cybercriminals look for high-value, in-demand goods that can be quickly resold. Smaller merchants are also at risk, as fraudsters typically migrate to the weakest link, those that haven’t yet employed extra layers of sophisticated fraud prevention.

Today, many merchants aren’t doing enough, and have left themselves highly exposed to potential fraud. And unfortunately, merchants often misunderstand the concept of card acceptance liability, which will fall to the seller unless it follows strict card-acceptance rules promulgated by the networks. Common refrains we hear from victims are, “I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve never gotten hit,” and “It’s never happened to us.” Understandably, in volatile economic times such as during a pandemic, merchants might be all-too-eager to process large transactions, which at first glance could make a difference between a mediocre and good month sales-wise.

Yet if a sale is too good to be true, it often is. And it’s the smaller merchants that are typically the least able to sustain big losses. Once fraudsters find a vulnerable merchant and a transaction goes through, they’ll keep hitting the merchant until the business realizes there’s something wrong. We often see single fraudulent transactions ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, which can be crippling for smaller operations.

Make machine learning part of your fraud prevention

At a minimum, every merchant needs a fraud strategy. Merchants that have sustained fraud losses often say that what turned out to be a fraudulent transaction was too good to be true. They accepted it and didn’t trust their gut. But with stronger anti-fraud measures such as machine learning, they can let the vast computer power of a processing network do the hard work, allowing it to flag suspicious transactions with greater accuracy and lower false positives.

For merchants that can’t integrate machine learning at this time, we urge them to use other advanced fraud technology such as 3D Secure 2, which uses biometrics and other methods for quick, smooth authentication on any device. 3D Secure raises the security of an online transaction to the level of a face-to-face transaction at the point of sale. Also, merchants should notify people picking up the goods in person that the transaction will be processed as a face-to-face transaction, which usually stops the fraudsters in their tracks.

Keeping up with the leading fraud prevention technology is protection for businesses of all sizes. After all, fraudsters are constantly refining their tactics. Shouldn’t you?

How to find the best POS system for your small business

Written by: https://www.globalpayments.com/insights/2021/06/01/how-to-find-the-best-pos-system-for-your-small-business

Accepting payments is part of doing business.

But how do you choose the best point-of-sale (POS) system for your small business?

Ideally, it will be the one that not only fits your immediate needs but will also grow with you. One that will help you deliver the best experience for your customers.

Evaluate your business needs

The first step in selecting the right POS solution for your business is fully evaluating your needs. Why? Because a full-featured POS system can help you with much more than just getting paid.

In fact, the best POS system will give you a mix of point-of-sale and payment acceptance capabilities, paired with customer relationship management and reporting tools. Having the right solution in place—whether you’re running a retail shop, restaurant, or service operation—makes all the difference.

So, think about what resources would help you run your business more efficiently.

For example, are you managing your inventory manually? How well do you understand your employee productivity? Do you know what days and hours are your busiest?

These are the types of insights a full-featured POS system can give you.

  • Inventory management saves you from the hassle of manually checking your inventory on a weekly basis. Having a real-time view of your inventory levels helps you stay on top of your stock and manage expenses while preventing a lost sale because you didn’t have a specific item on hand.
  • Employee management includes managing timesheets and tracking attendance for your entire staff. Having that kind of data at your fingertips will help you make more informed decisions about your day-to-day staffing needs.
  • Simplified accounting tools help you set up, track, and manage sales tax on transactions and make filing easier at the end of the year.
  • Customer relationship management is an essential step in growing your business. With tools that help you retain your customer information, you can build out your marketing programs.

Of course, all of these features power your business back-office. But the best POS system should manage your sales and payment data—so you can better understand your business’s performance.

Evaluate your customer needs

Any business decision you make should always consider the impact it will have on your customers. What do they need from you? How can you make sure you’re keeping up with their expectations? How can you keep the sales transaction as seamless and secure as possible?

As much of your in-person customer interaction revolves around payments, a streamlined checkout process keeps the line moving—which is a win-win for you and your customers.

At this point, contactless payment technology is a must-have as more customers adopt digital wallets and wearables. The best POS system will support this preference, along with other popular payment methods: cash, credit, debit, and EBT.

Together, these front- and back-office features and functionalities help simplify running your business, and provide the check out experience for your customers that can be a game-changer for your business—especially when your POS can operate on multiple types of terminal devices.

Select the right POS terminal

With the needs of your business and your customers in mind, you can now make a more informed decision as to which POS terminal suits your unique needs.

If your business is on the go, a mobile POS with a simple card reader and an app could be the best fit. It’s the simplest, most cost-effective solution for the solopreneur.

Alternatively, a compact terminal also works as a flexible, connective solution that already has the POS built in. It also allows for choice to pay-at-the-counter, pay-at-the-table, or pay-in-the-field.

On the other hand, portability might not be your primary need. If you have physical space or multiple business locations, you might opt for a standalone register, or even a mix of terminal solutions—registers, compact terminals, and mobile POS all working together.

No matter where your search for the right terminal solution leads you, having it included as part of a cloud-based POS system will keep everything connected, simplify payments, and handle your back office needs. Ultimately, the best

POS system is one that will grow with you, and provides a seamless experience for you and for your customers.

How Debit Card Processing Works for Merchants [Updated for 2021]

Debit cards are the payment method of choice for 67% of consumers.

In a world where so many consumers are gun-shy about spending money they don’t have, the popularity of debit cards should come as no surprise. Most financial institutions even have apps that let consumers deposit checks remotely and track their debit card spending as they go.

But all debit card processing companies aren’t created equally.

Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of debit card processing and the fees that are involved, so you can learn how to maximize revenue on every transaction.

How does debit card processing work?

When a customer swipes their card or inserts a chip, your point of sale system registers their card info and sends it to their issuing bank for verification. Their bank then confirms that they have money in their account for the purchase, performs a security check, and (hopefully) approves the transaction.

There are two types of debit card transactions you’ll encounter in your business: PIN and signature.

PIN debit transactions are the most popular form of debit card processing services. Debit card networks usually have low percentage fees and high interest rates, so PIN transactions are best for larger purchases with smaller banks.

Transactions are categorized as “PIN” when a cardholder chooses “debit” at checkout, and they require customers to enter a 4-digit PIN number for identity verification. PIN transactions are also called online debit card payment processing, since they use online debit banking networks to process each customer’s card info.

Signature debit transactions use credit card networks to process transactions. Since credit card networks generally have high percentage fees and low interest rates, signature transactions are better for smaller purchases with larger banks.

These transactions happen when a customer chooses “credit” after swiping their debit card, and they require customers to sign a receipt instead of typing in their PIN. Signature transactions are also called offline payments.

Technically, there is a third type of debit card processing:

Keyed in transactions. Keyed in transactions are much more expensive to process, but they only happen in cases where your customer can’t swipe their card or your system is offline for some reason. To minimize keyed in transactions, integrate your POS system with your payment processor or use a modern POS/card reader that can read cards other machines can’t.

How is debit card processing different from credit card processing?

Debit and credit card processing are two totally different processes. They’re even totally different when your customers choose the “credit” option when processing their debit card at checkout.

Credit card processing is more expensive, and it has more moving parts. To process a credit card transaction, your POS system sends information to a payment processor––like Payment Depot––before sending the info to your customer’s card-issuing bank. And once a credit card payment is approved, it goes through your customer’s payment processing company one more time before the transaction reaches your system.

Only payments made with credit cards come with surcharge fees, which makes sense because the payment processor does a lot more work to process those transactions.

Debit card processing fees, on the other hand, are lower, so you can afford to accept debit cards for smaller transactions. But with debit cards, consumer spending is limited to the money already in their bank account, which means there will always be customers who shop with credit cards out of necessity.

When your customer makes a debit card transaction, their 16-digit card number and accompanying data are routed to their card-processing network (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and then to their card-issuing bank to ensure that they have the necessary fund in the customer’s account to make the purchase.

How much are the average debit card processing fees?

Debit card processing costs depend on a few factors: whether the card is regulated or unregulated, the size of the transaction, what type of business you have, and whether it is a signature or a PIN transaction.

Because there are so many variables, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact debit card fees that you’ll pay as a small business. To give you some ballpark figures thought, the card issuer Visa states the following in its latest fee documents:

  • Debit card fees for small ticket transactions – 1.55% + $0.041 (Exempt Visa Check Card Card Present Transactions)
  • Debit card fees for small ticket transactions – 0.05% + $0.21 (Regulated Visa Check Card Card Present Transactions)
  • Debit card fees for retail – 0.80% + $0.15 (Exempt Visa Check Card Card Present Transactions)
  • Debit card fees for retail – 0.05% + $0.21 (Regulated Visa Check Card Card Present Transactions)

Do note that the above debit card processing rates are just your interchange fees, and the fee that you’ll ultimately pay may be subject to markups from your payment processing solutions provider.

More info below.

Debit card processing fees are called “interchange rates.” Your account provider will also charge you a “provider markup” on top of your interchange rate, but how much you pay for that provider markup will vary depending on your merchant service provider’s pricing structure.

There are both tiered and interchange-plus pricing structures. Like with credit card processing, tiered pricing plans charge varying amounts for different transactions, while interchange-plus uses a fixed markup over interchange for each purchase––so you can create a workable budget for card debit processing based on the transactions you typically process each month.

What technology (hardware and software) do merchants need to process debit cards?

To process debit card transactions, you’ll first need a debit card processing machine. The good news is that you can process debit cards with the same POS system, smart terminal, or standard terminal that you use to process credit card transactions.

Keep in mind that credit card processing and debit card processing take place on entirely different networks Debit card processing online requires a strong, accessible WIFI connection.

You’ll want to keep your in-house WIFI network separate than the one that your customers can access for security purposes. You may also want to enable offline debit card processing if your store is located in an area where internet connection is unreliable.

Understand the different payment options

Processing credit and debit card transactions gets really complicated, really fast. But if you take away two key points from this article, let them be these:

  • You will want to be sure that you’re working with a payment processor that offers interchange-plus pricing on debit card transactions, so you can get the lowest rate every time your customers make a purchase.
  • The reality is that payment processing is a complicated industry and, if you’re paying attention to your statement, questions are going to arise. Align yourself with a payment processor that offers 24/7 in-house customer service, so you always have the resources you need to make an informed decision.

Everything You Need to Know about Non-Operating Expenses

Running a small business requires consistent monitoring of day-to-day operations. Understandably, the business owner maintains a strong focus on revenue generation. The owner also keeps an eye on the expenses related to bringing in that income. The term “operating expenses” applies to these business operations costs.

However, “non-operating expenses” also factor into the company’s bottom line. Because these costs don’t figure into the company’s operating profit, it’s easy to overlook them.

It’s important to integrate non-operating expenses into the business’ accounting framework and financial statements. Then, the owner can obtain a more accurate picture of the company’s financial health.

What are non-operating expenses?

Non-operating expenses are costs that don’t directly pertain to the company’s core business operations. Monthly expenses such as debt interest payments are considered non-operating expenses. In addition, one-time costs such as currency exchange expenses and fire damage cleanup are non-operating expenses.

Examples of non-operating expenses

Businesses in different industries may vary in their types of non-operating expenses. A company’s size and type may also factor into the equation. With that said, certain types of non-operating expenses are common to many businesses.

These are examples of non-operating expenses:

  • Business Relocation Expenses
  • Business Restructuring Expenses
  • Depreciation Expenses
  • Expenses from Lawsuit Settlements
  • Expenses from Weather Damage
  • Fire Damage Expenses
  • Interest Expense (or Interest Payments)
  • Inventory or Receivables Write-Downs
  • Investment Losses
  • Losses on Sale of Assets
  • Obsolete Inventory Charges
  • Preliminary Expenses Amortization
  • Write-Offs of Intangible Assets

How do non-operating expenses differ from operating expenses?

Operating expenses (or operating costs) are those costs incurred in the course of everyday business activities. Rent, utilities, building repairs and maintenance, and office supplies are examples of costs related to operating activities. In the case of an income-producing property, for example, real estate taxes would classify as an operating expense. Bookkeeping entries should reflect this expense.

A company’s income statement will take operating expenses into account when measuring the business’ profitability. The business’ earnings before calculated interest and taxes (EBIT) also help to indicate the firm’s profitability. The income statement will also incorporate the company’s operating revenues.

On the business’ profit and loss statement, operating expenses appear directly beneath the Cost of Goods Sold (or COGS). The result is the gross profit on the company’s sales (or revenues)

In contrast, non-operating expenses aren’t directly connected to regular business operations. Rather, these costs relate to peripheral business activities, and may only be one-time costs. These expenses should be taken into account along with non-operating income.

Both types of expenses can be fixed, which means they’re not affected by production volume or service delivery alterations. Or, operating expenses and non-operating expenses can vary according to production or service delivery fluctuations.

What are some benefits of recording non-operating expenses?

A business should consider its non-operating expenses for a given period. Expense management and transparency are major underlying factors here.

  • A company’s accountant should show operating expenses and non-operating expenses separately in the firm’s income statement. The result enables financial analysts to better gauge the core business operations’ performance for a specific period of time.
  • It’s fairly easy to reduce a company’s non-operating expenses, as they don’t have a direct relationship to the company’s core business operations. In contrast, cutting down on operations-related expenses is considerably more difficult.
  • Consistent disclosure of a business’ non-operating expenses signals the company’s willingness to be transparent about its operations. Internal partners (such as employees) and external partners (such as investors) will look favorably on this transparency.

Do non-operating expenses have any potential risks?

Factoring non-operating expenses into company financial statements has three potential downsides. The business owner should discuss these issues with the company’s Certified Public Accountant (CPA) before moving forward.

  • There aren’t any well-defined criteria for separating operating expenses from non-operating expenses. This can lead to confusion and accounting misapplications.
  • One company can regard a specific expense as a non-operating expense. Another company may consider the same cost an operating expense.
  • Accountants can rename an operating expense as a non-operating expense. This would help to increase the net income from the core business operations. Generally accepted accounting principles (or GAAP) should provide guidance in this situation.

How to calculate non-operating expenses on your income statement

A company’s income statement (also called a profit and loss statement) reports the amount of revenue earned during a defined time period. Generally, income statements cover one full year or some part of the year. In addition, the income statement details the expenses linked to the generated revenue.

Operations-related revenues and expenses are grouped together toward the top of the income statement. Below those operating results, you’ll find non-operations revenues and their associated costs.

By using this logical breakout, financial analysts can better state the company’s operations performance. Income statement information may be useful when determining the company’s income taxes owed.

Other relevant financial statements

The United States Security and Exchange Commission lists three other relevant financial statements. Collectively, they provide a comprehensive picture of a company’s financial situation.

It’s important to make decisions after analyzing all three statements together. Business owners should work closely with their Certified Public Accountant to make the choice that will best benefit their business.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet provides fixed-period information regarding a company’s assets and liabilities. Next, a balance sheet also includes the Statement of Shareholders’ Equity. This statement details the rises and falls in the shareholders’ interests during a defined time period.

Cash Flow Statement

This aptly described statement shows the cash flows in and out of the business. Maintaining sufficient cash on hand is important. A company must be able to pay its ongoing expenses and obtain assets (such as equipment and supplies) as needed.

Always stay on top of your expenses

Only 40 percent of small businesses actually make a profit, states Small Biz Genius. To move in a profitable direction, business owners should understand the role of non-operating expenses in their company’s financial cycles. With that knowledge, they can better track the expenses’ impacts on the company’s short- and long-term financial performance.

If you’re looking to lower your expenses, it’s a good idea to look into your credit card processing fees. Payment processing costs businesses hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month so cutting this expense can result in major savings.

Blog post credit: https://paymentdepot.com/blog/non-operating-expenses/

By Francesca Nicasio

How to Track Business Expenses: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Making your small business profitable requires a constant balancing act. On one hand, you must focus on generating sales through your brick-and-mortar store, service business, or ecommerce platform. At the same time, you must also manage your expenses efficiently so that your business is profitable.

Accounting software provider FreshBooks notes that insufficient cash is a major cause of business failure. To avoid that unpleasant outcome, you need to aggressively focus on maximizing your income while consistently tracking business expenses.

If you’re just starting out, business expense tracking can seem to be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this practical guide that covers everything you need to know about business expenses and how to track them. Let’s take a look.

Definition of business expenses

The term “business expenses” aptly describes those costs that arise during ordinary business operations. This description applies to small businesses and large corporations alike.

For accounting purposes, business expenses appear on a company’s income statement. When business expenses are deducted from revenue, the result is the company’s taxable net income. Following are some common examples of business expenses:

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Bank charges
  • Consultation costs
  • Employee benefits
  • Equipment
  • Fees and subscriptions
  • Insurance
  • Labor
  • Office Supplies
  • Rental expenses
  • Utilities (electricity, phone, and internet)

Which expenses are tax-deductible?

If a business is in operation to generate a profit, a portion of the company’s expenses will be tax-deductible. When you claim a deductible expense, your taxable income is lowered, so you’ll pay less in taxes. However, it’s important to know which business expenses are fully tax-deductible or partially tax-deductible, and which aren’t eligible for deductions. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a deductible business expense must be “ordinary and necessary.” Ordinary expenses are costs that are common to your trade or type of business. Necessary expenses are costs that are appropriate for the operation of that trade or business.

Fully tax-deductible expenses

  • Advertising
  • Business-related licensing fees
  • Contract labor
  • Electronics and software
  • Employee wages
  • Insurance
  • Mileage (at standard mileage rate)
  • Office fixtures and furniture
  • Office supplies
  • Professional and legal fees
  • Research and development costs
  • Rental expenses
  • Travel expenses (doesn’t include daily commuting costs)
  • Utilities

Partially tax-deductible expenses

  • Business meals
  • Vehicle expenses (based on a formula)
  • Home office expenses (based on a formula)

Non-deductible expenses

  • Business startup costs
  • Business assets (also called capital assets)
  • Sales tax
  • Property improvements

Why should you track business expenses?

Every company benefits from consistently tracking business expenses. However, it’s especially important for budget-conscious freelancers and self-employed small business owners.

Regularly monitoring income and expenses enables you to obtain updated information about your business operations. Specifically, you’ll get a real-time snapshot of your purchases and other expenditures during a specific period. If you decide it’s necessary to decrease expenses, you’ll have a good baseline for those reductions.

Looking at the bigger picture, good expense records and financial reports can provide a picture of the financial health of your business. Based on that information, you can identify areas for improvement and/or growth.

How to easily track business expenses

Making a commitment to track business expenses means changing the way you approach your company’s operations. By putting a few key components in place, you’ll get a better picture of your finances and business profitability.

1. Set up a business bank account

It’s important to keep your business expenses and personal expenses separate. By taking that essential step, your business can stand as a distinct entity that’s separate from your personal finances.

Keeping a solvent business bank account will help to establish business credit, an advantage when applying for a business loan. In addition, your personal assets will be protected if an audit, lawsuit, or bankruptcy arises.

Opening a business bank account is simple and fast. Ideally, open this small business account at your current banking institution. This makes it easy to transfer funds from your personal checking account if necessary. Deposit all your business income into your business checking account.

Note that sole proprietors are not required to open a business bank account. However, business owners who form a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, or corporation must open a business account.

Company credit card

Your business bank account will likely come with a business credit card. By exclusively making business-related purchases with this card, you can easily track your business expenses. This is especially important when you’re preparing your records for tax season.

2. Choose an accounting method

For your accounting method, you can choose from two business accounting system models. Each system works best for specific types of businesses.

Cash accounting method

A cash accounting system is a good option for sole proprietors, freelancers, and very small businesses. Using this model, you’ll record income when you receive it. When you make a payment to a vendor or service provider, you immediately record it.

Accrual accounting method

An accrual accounting system is a better fit for businesses with employees, expanding businesses, and larger companies. Using this system, you record income when you sell a product, rather than when you receive payment for the sale.

So, when you receive a bill from a vendor or service provider, you immediately record that invoice. You don’t wait until you pay the bill to record that item.

3. Use expense trackers or receipt apps

Come tax time, you don’t want to be frantically gathering paper receipts before your appointment with your business accountant. To end this outdated (and maddening) practice, get an expense tracker app that will get your receipts under control.This handy electronic tool is also called a receipt app, and it’s simple to use. So, when you purchase office supplies, for example, all you need to do is to take a photo of the receipt with your smartphone. Then, upload the transaction through the expense tracker app or via a text message. You’ll have an electronic record that won’t fade or become the victim of a coffee spill.

4. Choose your accounting tools

Time-saving electronic reporting tools can make laborious expense report compilation a thing of the past. However, a 2019 industry study found that 43 percent of companies still manually process their expense reports. Even worse, only 27 percent of these businesses have an in-place method of catching “red flag” expenses.

The report surveyed nearly 600 financial professionals from different company sizes and types. Almost half of the respondents worked as accountants, managers, or controllers.

Surprisingly, the companies that continue to manually generate their expense reports don’t plan to add a targeted expense management program to the mix. In fact, these businesses say that their current systems “work well enough.” This statement seemingly dismisses the high processing costs and looming audit risks associated with manually compiled reports.

Accounting software is the gold standard for tracking business expenses. In certain situations, however, spreadsheet software can adequately serve your needs.

Spreadsheet-based tracking tools

Maybe you’ve just started your business, and have limited expenses. Or, your business is currently an extension of a favorite hobby. In these cases, manually entering a few expenses on a spreadsheet may work. When you begin to incur more expenses, however, it’s better to switch to a full-service accounting software program.

Or, let’s say you’re an Excel expert with a talent for custom spreadsheets. In that case, you’ll probably be able to create an expense tracking template that meets your needs.

  • Excel spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel is a popular spreadsheet software program that organizes and stores electronic data. A competent user can easily manipulate the data and execute mathematical functions. Excel also lends itself well to custom spreadsheets.
  • Google Sheets – This cloud-based spreadsheet program is appropriate for personal or business use. The business version features collaborative features. Google Sheets also sync with external systems such as Microsoft Office (including Excel).

Small business accounting software

Sometimes, even the most skilled spreadsheet user will find it awkward to use that format to track expenses. When you reach that point, invest in a high-quality accounting software program that will perform that (and other) functions for your business.

Use your accounting software program to generate regular profit-and-loss statements. These handy reports will help you to gauge the financial health of your business. The reports may also provide data needed for your business tax returns.

A good accounting software program can generate accounts payable and accounts receivable reports. The software can also track invoicing functions, giving you a real-time look at outstanding bills that represent income to your business.

When should you opt for accounting software?

If any of the following scenarios apply, switch to a full-featured accounting software program. Purchase costs are generally reasonable, and you’ll gain invaluable peace of mind in the process.

1. Several business bank accounts

Let’s say you have bank accounts at multiple financial institutions. You may find it very difficult (and increase the chances of errors) by attempting to track expenses for your different accounts.

2. Business owner travel expenses

As a proactive business owner, you might need to visit your customers or vendors regularly. If so, collecting endless expense receipts is an inefficient method of tracking expenses.

3. Multiple employees’ travel expenses

Maybe several of your employees need to travel on a regular basis. In this case, it’s not realistic to track their business expenses via a spreadsheet.

4. Current or projected business growth

Perhaps your business is (or soon will be) in a growth phase. If that’s the case, manually entering expenses on a spreadsheet will soon become painfully inadequate.

How to choose the right accounting software package

When shopping for accounting software, consider whether it’s compatible with your existing financial tools. Ideally, you should be able to sync your accounting program with your business bank account. You should also be able to add credit card and debit card accounts along with receipt apps.

A good accounting program will also handle employee expense reimbursements. These after-the-fact expenses are difficult to track on a spreadsheet. However, the accounting program will quickly process them and provide real-time account updates.

The accounting software package should also include a mobile app that helps you to easily track expenses. Following is an overview of three well-known accounting software programs.

QuickBooks Online

Small businesses and their bookkeeping and tax professionals most often choose Intuit’s QuickBooks Online accounting software. This full-service program offers numerous accounting features. Online training resources and user forums can provide ongoing support.

FreshBooks

This well-known accounting package caters to service-based businesses with often-complex invoicing needs. The program also provides functionality for proposals, client retainers, time tracking, and client payments. Finally, FreshBooks can handle a company’s basic bookkeeping requirements.

Expensify

This cloud-based business accounting package enables access from any internet-enabled location. Expensify manages financial transactions and business expenses via real-time data processing. This accounting software works with iOS (iPhone) and Android devices.

Professional bookkeeper

If you’d rather not track expenses yourself, you can hire a professional bookkeeper to perform this function. Every month, they’ll spend a few hours importing your receipts and invoices into the proper accounting functions. And, remember that good records are necessary for making business-related tax deductions.

Expense monitoring and analysis

A spreadsheet full of random line-item business costs is an inefficient expense tracking method. To streamline your expense management, separate your purchases into common expense categories.

By sending each purchase record to its proper folder, it will be easier to monitor business expenses and identify areas of concern. Correctly reported expenditures also facilitate accurate financial report generation.

Expense reports and other financial reports provide a useful snapshot of your business’ fiscal health. Your accounting software program allows you to specify a report’s date range and generate the report from your computer or mobile device.

Final Thoughts

Tracking your expenses is an integral part of running a business. Start with setting up a business account and credit card, keep track of your receipts, and choose an accounting tool that suits your business needs. Once you’re able to track your expenses efficiently, you’ll be able to determine how to optimize them as well.

For example, one of the best ways to optimize your business expenses is to reduce your credit card processing fees. Over time, you’ll become a better money manager, and your business cash flow should gradually improve. Then, your company will be ideally positioned for continued business growth.

Payment Depot offers wholesale credit card processing rates that can potentially save your business $400 in expenses every month. To learn more about our services and benefits, get in touch with us today!

Blog post credit: https://paymentdepot.com/blog/how-to-track-business-expenses/

By Francesca Nicasio

Plugging into Payments: Developer Tools, Payment APIs and SDKs to Simplify Commerce

Developing for a commerce business can be challenging today. There are more ways for consumers to shop and buy than ever before, including in-person, online, and mobile to name the big three. But there are others as well: voice-activated payments, for example, or buying groceries from your refrigerator.

Businesses need all of these channels to work seamlessly together so that consumers can shop in one channel and buy in another. To the consumer, this experience should just work. To the business, it requires developer know-how and support.

At Green Payments, we have a developer-first mindset. If developers can’t plug into our payment gateways or easily understand our payment APIs and SDKs, the partnership between your business and us as the payments provider would not be successful. So we prioritize making sure that the documentation and tools are simple to use and easy to integrate.

Prebuilt to fully custom developer tools

Every business has different needs for implementing payments. For example, small businesses tend to need simple plug-ins whereas large multinationals may have advanced customization needs. That’s why our developer tools range from plug-and-play payment SDKs to completely customizable payment APIs. And as your business grows, our tools meet your needs at any stage of growth.

Through our developer portal, we provide the payment SDKs, APIs, libraries, documentation, and sample source code you need to integrate payments into any commerce channel–in almost any development language. For example:

  • In person. Leverage a pre-built and pre-certified EMV application with an API layer that securely handles chip interaction for payments, reducing your PCI DSS scope and eliminating PA-DSS scope for the POS software.
  • Ecommerce. SDKs and APIs to create an online and mobile check out, implement recurring payments, enable gift and loyalty payments, in addition to other major payment types from credit and debit cards and ACH to digital wallets. Along with plugins for leading carts and online ordering.
  • IoT. API and SDKs for payments integration from a variety of payment types including digital wallets, stored value wallets, and subscription payments.

Serious about security

Easy integration is key–and so is security. As you can imagine, when you’re dealing with people’s money and personal information, there are stringent security measures and protocols to follow to ensure your customers’ protection. The governing body for security standards in payments is called the PCI Security Standards Council. They “develop standards and supporting services that drive education, awareness and effective implementation by stakeholders.”

We’re a certified level 1 PCI DSS service provider, meaning that the security protections we put into place meet applicable PCI standards. Our payment solutions come embedded with encryption, tokenization, and/or 3D Secure technology that help guard against fraud and breaches. That way, you can be assured that our payments environments are secure, in every channel. And when new regulations are put into place or old ones are updated, we make the appropriate adjustments to our environment, so you’re covered.

Our payment tools and resources are built so you can work quickly and independently. In some cases, you can be up in running in as little as 10 minutes. But for the head-scratching problem you just can’t solve, we’re always on hand to help. From planning and technical implementation to ongoing optimization, our developers are ready to dig in and get you the answers you need.

Commerce and Payment Trends from the Experts

As businesses navigated through unprecedented change over the past year, digital commerce accelerated at a breathtaking pace. Consumers adjusted the ways they shop and pay practically overnight to digitally-driven means. Payment technologies and solutions to support soaring demand for online and contactless ordering buoyed businesses through months of disruption.

As we shift focus to the year ahead, we spoke with our industry-leading experts from Global Payments, along with Visa, Google Pay and American Express to learn how these pandemic-driven changes will continue to impact commerce as well as other emerging trends in 2021.

Together, we identified five commerce and payment trends that will underscore the need for businesses to remain agile to respond to consumers’ evolving preferences and deliver exceptional commerce experiences.

Trend 1: Contactless payment adoption accelerates

Already on the verge of widespread adoption, contactless payments have gone mainstream. Initially favored by digital-native millennials, the ability to “tap-and-go” is now preferred across generations, including notoriously tech-averse baby boomers. As a result, “Contactless payments have become a driving differentiator,” according to The Visa Back to Business Study.

As more shoppers swap out their top-of-wallet cards for a contactless version, we predict more widespread and sustainable adoption. While safety was a key driver of contactless payment adoption in 2020, convenience and simplicity will drive future growth.

Read the full trend on contactless payments in our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report.

Trend 2: Omnichannel options expand

The pandemic accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years, according to IBM. In 2020 this meant businesses were swiftly rolling out safety-focused solutions like curbside pickup and QR code contactless ordering.

As a result, savvy businesses will need to double down on omnichannel commerce strategies that deliver superior shopping experiences online and in person.

Read the full trend on omnichannel commerce in our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report.

Trend 3: Embedded fintech dominates across industries

Embedded fintech describes the seamless integration of payments and financial services and products into software. With an embedded fintech approach to business, businesses of all kinds — from restaurants to medical practices — can create value well beyond the transaction.

We expect that more businesses will adopt embedded fintech approaches to drive revenue in 2021. Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz estimates that by embedding fintech within the overall offering, businesses will increase a customer’s profitability by up to 5x the original revenue stream.

Read the full trend on embedded fintech in our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report.

“By embedding fintech within the overall offering, businesses will increase the profitability of a customer by up to 5x the original revenue stream.” (Source: Andreessen Horowitz)

Trend 4: Advances in technology help businesses keep pace with digital commerce

The breakneck pace of digital commerce transformation in 2020 will prompt businesses to embrace technologies strategically to drive sustainable growth.

The innovations to watch in 2021? Cloud technology and open banking. Moving to the cloud is not a matter of if, say our experts, but of how. Getting this combination right takes work, but the payoffs are substantial. Open banking technology offers speed and convenience by automating connections between financial entities through APIs. For instance, it can allow a payment provider to quickly and securely check a shopper’s bank account balance in real-time — with the shopper’s permission — before approving a transaction, improving the customer experience and protecting the business from fraud.

Read the full trend on technology in our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report.

Trend 5: A focus on financial inclusion

The same payment technologies and solutions that helped consumers shift to digital commerce during the pandemic are also critical to paving the path to financial inclusion.

Konrad Chan, president of Asia Pacific at Global Payments said, “Digital wallets help everyone participate in commerce, including the underbanked or unbanked.”

A range of innovative payment solutions like digital wallet payments and prepaid products are being leveraged worldwide to help these populations.

However, there’s more work to be done.

Read the full trend on financial inclusion in our 2021 Commerce and Payment Trends Report.

Are you prepared to embrace commerce in 2021?

While the global health crisis ushered in a seismic shift for digital commerce in 2020, the trends of 2021 will take digital experiences to the next level and pave the way for broader participation in the digital economy.

Turn Transaction Disputes Into a Competitive Advantage

It’s time to reframe transaction disputes as an important opportunity to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Not many business owners are necessarily excited when customers challenge a transaction. However, resolving your customers’ questions and concerns before they turn into a formal transaction dispute can transform a challenging situation into an opportunity for greater customer satisfaction.

And remember, when a customer initiates a transaction dispute on their credit or debit account with their issuer, the outcome is usually in their favor. So keep the relationship strong with your customer and save yourself the chargeback fee by resolving matters before the card issuer gets involved.

Considered over the long term, managing disputes well translates into stronger loyalty for future purchases — not to mention a boost to your brand reputation for being responsive and solution-oriented.

Transaction disputes are on the rise

Transaction disputes — when your customer challenges a transaction with their card issuer — are on the rise globally, but recent data from the United States illustrates their runaway growth. Out of 66 billion transactions, about 25 million disputes occur each year, and that volume is on track to grow to 33 million transactions by 2022.

When a customer reaches out to you to inquire about a charge on their account, it’s typically for good reason. Therefore, it’s helpful to approach every customer dispute from a place of empathy and a desire to help. Sometimes it’s an error on the part of your business or employee. Other times, the customer’s financial situation has changed, and they can no longer afford an item. Maybe another family member made the purchase, unbeknownst to the cardholder.

Now more than ever, it’s important to work with your customers to place their experiences at the forefront of your business strategy. Recent research from the University of Newcastle underscores that handling customer complaints adeptly has a tangible dollar value. The return on investment for managing complaints effectively was as high as 1,000%, or $10 for every dollar spent, according to the research, proving that even though you’re having to refund a purchase in the short term, your empathy will pay off in the long run.

All in all, it’s best to issue a refund before it becomes a disputed transaction. If the customer ends up disputing the charge with their card issuer and you lose the case, you’ll be responsible for paying back the cost of the sale, as well as the chargeback fee.

You may also lose a future customer who would have otherwise sought out your business next time they were looking to make a purchase.

Resolving disputes with digital tools

Leading businesses are treating disputes as an opportunity to delight their customers by meeting their needs. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to resolve a disputed transaction, make sure you have the right technology to help you manage dispute responses and reach resolutions quickly and efficiently.

Look for a well-designed and technology-forward disputes management system that:

Harnesses the cloud: Access your disputes activity anytime, on any device, with an intuitive, at-a-glance viewing experience with crystal-clear graphical representations.

Uses artificial intelligence: AI-powered probability scoring can advise on your likelihood of success with any particular dispute. After all, it can take the same amount of time to address a $5 charge as it does a $500 one, which means businesses should prioritize which cases are most important.

Issues timely alerts: It’s tough to stay on track of your disputes activity given everything on your to-do list. Look for a system that keeps you current with automated reminders and can even take action proactively when no input is needed from you.

Stores data for the long haul: Aim to have access to your customers’ data for up to 13 months, so you’re covered if you need to research transaction information in the future.

Uses intelligently guided workflows: It’s important that the workflows in your disputes management tool comply with network standards and processes.

Offers robust reporting: Make sure you have access to reports on milestones and timing requirements at your fingertips.

Transaction disputes can win customers

Disputes can be a hurdle, but keep in mind that resolving your customers’ transaction disputes can actually give you a competitive edge. That ultimately translates into stronger customer satisfaction, creates an improved perception of your brand and frees up time and energy to do what’s most important — run your business.

Small Business Relief Program

Green Payments, a merchant services provider located in Asbury Park, NJ would like to

announce our Small Business Relief Program for trade and professional associations.

There are more than 8,000 trade and professional associations in the United States. These

association members own and work in local businesses building relationships, developing new ideas and creating jobs. We understand how valuable associations that serve these entrepreneurs can be to their growth and success. Additionally, these associations often rely partly or wholly on membership dues and professional fees paid by their members. Collecting those payments involves time-consuming processes like recurring billing, collections and accounting.

With that in mind Green Payments has developed a partnership program that not only helps these associations collect their fees in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner but also allows the association to participate in our Small Business Relief Program.

We are committed to helping small businesses by lowering their credit card processing fees, improving their operations and the means by which they accept payments from their customers, offering working capital and assistance in applying for Covid Relief Programs as well as connecting them with other merchants and customers to help grow their businesses.

Cliff Green, President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Payments said “This program was designed to help reach as many small business owners as possible. By partnering with industry specific associations, we are able to help their members lower their operating costs, implement safer payment acceptance methods to protect their customers and staff and give back to the association itself to help their groups grow.”

Green Payments strongly believes we do not just need to help our local businesses, but we need to support the groups and organizations that bring these business owners together and provide valuable resources for their growth. Our partnership program will allocate 20% of the income we generate from trade association members to be given back to the association as a thank you for participating in the program and a means to help these associations continue to support small businesses.

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a great example of a local organization helping to provide value added services to their members through this program. Their President, Nick Mircaglion said “Over the years Green Payments has been a great sponsor and contributor to our largest industry event Winter Fest and we are excited to help our members and the association.”

To learn more about how you can join this program, please visit www.greenpayments.io or call (800)-567-4729.

Green Payments COO Joins Asbury Park Business Committee

We are excited to announce the addition of Ben Ross to the Asbury Park, NJ Business

Committee. At the January 1, 2021 Reorganizational Meeting of the City of Asbury Park

Council, the City Council appointed Ben Ross as a member of the Business Committee with a term expiring December 31, 2021. 

Ben Ross serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Green Payments. Ben spent the early part of his career in the restaurant and franchise industries. While focusing on new business

development and identifying opportunities for growth he successfully helped scale a global

franchise to over 100+ locations and was vital in helping to facilitate the company’s IPO. 

Recognizing a need for better payment solutions in the industries he was helping to grow, Ben transitioned into the ISV space, spear heading sales for one of the nation’s largest point of sale distributors.

In 2019, ready to utilize his expertise and experience, Ben joined Green Payments to help realize our vision of becoming a leader in the electronic payments industry by providing small businesses with innovative payment technology and superior customer service.

Join us in congratulating Ben and wishing him success in this new year!