Dental Office s Guide to Merchant Payment Processing

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1 DJR DENTAL CONSULTING PRESENTS Dental Office s Guide to Merchant Payment Processing Office: Cell:

2 DENTAL OFFICE S GUIDE TO MERCHANT PAYMENT PROCESSING Today almost every dental office processes credit and debit cards for payment of services yet few understand the process and more importantly, how they are being billed for such services. As a result, with a little explanation, there is potential for many offices to save significant money with relative ease. How the System Works in General In Canada, the major credit card companies notably, Visa and MasterCard are structured in accordance with what is known as the four-party model, the parties being the Cardholder (buyer), the Merchant (product or service provider), the Card Issuer (bank or trust company) and the Payment Processor (such as Pivotal Payments or your current provider as per your merchant payment services statement). A fifth participant is the credit card company itself. 1) To begin a credit card transaction, the Cardholder (in this case the patient) who wishes to pay for dental services presents the Merchant (dental office) with his or her credit card. The dental office sends the cardholder s credit card and transaction information to the Payment Processor typically by way of a terminal device, who then forwards it to the card issuer for payment authorization.

3 2) An authorization received by the Merchant from the Cardholder s Issuing Bank via the gateway indicates that there are sufficient funds available to be held for subsequent payment or alternatively, the request for funding may be declined for a number of reasons. 3) Typically at the end of each day the Merchant batches out the day s transactions (amounts, credit card numbers and corresponding authorization codes) by sending them to the Merchant Processor s Bank (via the terminal) who in turn sends each transaction to the appropriate Cardholder s Issuing Bank for payment. 4) The Card Issuing Bank verifies the authorization code and deducts the funds from the cardholders account and initiates a transfer of funds to the Merchant Processor s bank account. 5) Funds are then transferred from the Merchant Processor s Bank to the Merchant s Bank who then deposits into the appropriate Merchant s Account. 6) At a later date, the Cardholder is required to pay the full value of the purchase to the Card Issuer plus any interest if applicable. In summary, the credit card processing service provider (Merchant Processor) charges various fees to act as a liaison between the aforementioned parties. Types of Cards Processed Qualified Credit Cards: are called such as they qualify for the lowest rate to process based on their perceived quality level and associated lower cost of processing. The cost to process these cards is calculated as a percentage of the total transaction. Mid and Non-Qual Cards: are perceived higher risk cards based on the holder s credit worthiness, manually entered transactions and rewards cards that raise the overall cost of processing. Thus they do not qualify for the lowest or qualified rate. As such, they are charged a surcharge rate on top of the qualified rate for an overall significantly higher cost of processing. It is these types of cards that generally provide the best opportunity for savings when comparing the cost of processing between different service providers. Debit Cards: although not technically credit cards, they are also processed through the same network infrastructure at a low fixed cost per transaction rather than as a percentage cost. Processing Fees In general, fees and other costs are incurred at various points in the credit/debit card transaction network to cover to the financing of interest-free periods, credit losses, fraud and fraud prevention, authorizing, receiving, verifying and reconciling transactions. Merchant Payment Processors typically send monthly statements which summarize the monthly transactions that they have funded on behalf of the Merchant along with a breakdown of the various fees they have incurred and charged back to the Merchant to provide this service. Each Payment Processor has their own specific way of billing for their services but the following is a list of typical charges: Qualified Base Rate Fees: This is the percentage rate processors charge on every credit card transaction. The rate is set by Visa and MC every six months but processors are free to charge any markup above their cost on this rate. These fees usually make up the bulk of the cost of processing but it does depend on the Merchant s card mix as seen below.

4 Mid and Non-Qual. Surcharge Fees: This is an additional percentage rate that is charged on cards that don t meet the qualified criteria (low cost, low risk). Most Processors charge a different rate for each type of card which can add additional complexity to the billing statement. Dental office card processing profiles reveal that typically 50% or more of the credit cards processed are of this card classification and thus represent the best opportunity for savings as previously mentioned. Assessment Fees: This is a small rate (typically.1%) that is charged by most processors on all credit cards processed to ensure at least a small profit margin. Transaction Fees: Is a small flat fee charged to each credit and/or debit card transaction in addition the above rate fees. Authorization/Settlement Fees: Small rate fees to cover authorization of each transaction and/or settlement of transactions (fund transfer). Admin. Fees: Typically a flat monthly fee to cover administration costs. Statement Fees: A flat fee per month to provide statements either on paper, electronically or both. Batch Settlement Fees: A small flat fee charged to send out each batch of card transactions. Interchange Differential Fees: These are additional rate fees some processors elect to charge for processing non-qualified cards and represent another potential area of significant savings. Terminal Rental/Lease Fees: The monthly fee to cover the cost of using processing terminals. In summary, each Payment Processor chooses which fees to separate out and which to include (imbed) in another category. The simplest way to determine the true cost of processing is calculate the effective rate which is the total of all processing costs divided by the total dollar volume of processed transactions. (Debit transactions should not be included as they are not billed on a rate basis and as well only represent a small fraction of overall processing costs) When comparing processing costs between merchant processing providers, the most valid way is to run the exact same card profile through the various plans to determine which plan yields the lowest effective rate. As can be seen, the common practice of simply comparing the rate charged for qualified cards will not yield an accurate comparison since there are many other charges to consider.

5 As illustrated, the merchant payment processing industry is complex as can be the myriad of potential charges for using such services. The good news is that most of what is required to process transactions is transparent to the user. Secondly and more importantly, with the choice of the right merchant payment services provider, the billing of these services can be significantly simplified with the net result being lower costs to dental offices. DJR DENTAL CONSULTING AND PIVOTAL PAYMENTSTEAM UP Who is Pivotal Payments ( Pivotal Payments is Canadian and in the top 25 of North American merchant services providers. Founded in 2003, today over 400 employees, over 1000 agents and more than 50,000 merchants boarded. Processing $10 billion+ in annual transaction volume -sustained company growth of >20% per year Financial Partner: Goldman Sachs 2003 Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 Finalist for Canada s Top 50 Best Managed Companies Pivotal Payments CEO named one of Canada s Top 40 under 40 for 2009 A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau Who is DJR Dental Consulting ( DJR Dental consulting is a practice management and technology focused company that provides products to maximize clinical efficiency and services that save dental offices money every day. As such, Founder, David Rajczak represents Pivotal Payments as an agent to provide dental offices with high quality, simplified merchant payment processing at the lowest possible cost. Lowering your costs with Pivotal The first step is to receive a Pivotal Payments savings analysis by providing a copy of a recent merchant payment provider statement. The same card profile is run through the Pivotal plan which illustrates the potential savings by switching plans as well as the consolidation and simplification of the various billing elements. Savings Analysis Explanation 1) The total volume of Visa and MC credit cards are multiplied by a base processing rate as illustrated 2) This same group of cards is also charged a nominal percentage assessment fee. 3) All credit and debit cards are billed a small transaction fee per transaction 4) The Mid and Non-Qualified cards as identified on your statement are charged one weighted average rate rather than a separate rate for each type of card. This rate is determined by your credit card profile and billing volumes as determined from your provided statement. The benefits of this method of billing are twofold: an overall reduction of the cost to process these types of cards and a simplified billing statement. 5) A small batch fee of $1.00 is charged under the assumption that there will be on average 20 batch submissions per month at a cost of $.05 each 6) A small month statement fee is listed to cover the partial cost of providing statements

6 7) The final fee represents a minimum fixed cost of providing the monthly service and includes the use of new terminal/s. The commitment to this fixed amount is what allows for the application of the lowest rates on qualified cards and a low-weighted average rate on mid and non-qual cards which result in a net overall saving. 8) The total fees charged under the Pivotal plan are then deducted from the total amount charged under the current plan to produce the monthly overall savings. What Else You Should Know 1) There is a one-time application fee which is usually recoverable after less than one-month s savings is realized 2) Minimum monthly fees are $10 for debit transactions and $25 for credit cards. 3) The contract period is 3 years (as is industry standard) with an early cancellation fee of $400. The contract is automatically renewable in 2 year periods but can be revoked with prior notice. 4) The fixed amount quoted (which includes a terminal lease) is for a 5 year non-cancellable period unless otherwise indicated. The period can be reduced to three years at a higher amount per month. 5) The terminals are warranted for a period of one-year which includes repair or replacement and shipping costs (during the first 30 days). The customer has the option at any time of a terminal maintenance program of $5.95 per terminal/month (which covers shipping after 30 days) or $9.95 per terminal/month which also includes replacement paper. 6) Proof of insurance coverage for the terminal/s is necessary in the event that replacement is required for theft or damage. Pivotal can provide coverage for an additional fee if necessary. Terminal Options The following are the various terminal options available: Hypercom Dial Up: This terminal transmits claims via a telephone line connection and also requires a power cord. The transaction details are entered by staff member and then the terminal is handed to the patient for transaction completion. Hypercom Dial Up/IP: This terminal transmits claims via an Ethernet cable internet connection and requires a power cord. Transactions are entered in the same way but the advantage is the terminal has a dial up back up option should an internet connection be temporarily unavailable. Pin Pad Option: This is an additional device attached to the above terminals that allows the staff member to enter in transaction details that are then transmitted to the terminal thus eliminating the need to pass the terminal to the cardholder for each transaction Hypercom Cordless Internet: This terminal connects wirelessly to the internet to computer systems equipped with a router. It is powered with a rechargeable battery so the advantage is there are no cords required. It does not however have dial up backup capability or make use of a pin pad.

7 Virtual Terminal Set up: This configuration does not in fact use a terminal device for data entry but rather software accessed through a web browser. The staff member enters transactions via the computer keyboard. The real advantage is cardholder information can be stored in an the dental office s merchant account so that recurring transactions such as those that occur in a high volume orthodontic office can be billed automatically. The potential time savings by not having to enter in each recurring transactions need to be compared to the additional transactional costs to determine the viability of this type of set up. The Switch-Over Process 1) The Pivotal application along with a void cheque (from the bank you are currently using for processing deposits and charge withdrawals) and at least one merchant payment statement from your current processor is submitted to Pivotal for approval. Approval is usually 2-3 days at which point your new terminal(s) are shipped. 2) A toll-free terminal activation line is available to call for guidance on how to set up the terminal which generally takes 5-10 minutes per terminal depending on the terminal type. Alternatively, your Pivotal agent can come on-site to set up and test the terminal for you. Either way, testing is done to ensure that the terminal has been configured properly and is capable of sending valid transactions. 3) During this transition time, transactions can continue to be processed using your current payment provider and terminal. 4) In the mean time, training is available over the phone to review various transaction protocols, reporting capabilities and batch processing although many users who are already familiar with payment processing find this step unnecessary since the Pivotal system is so easy to use. 5) The next day is usually targeted as the day to switch over. New transactions are now processed using the new Pivotal terminal and the old terminal can be prepared for return. 6) Once confident with the new Pivotal processing system your previous processor can be contacted for cancellation of service. You may incur a cancellation fee although in many cases the processor chooses not to enforce it or in the worst case scenario, the fee is usually recovered in savings during the first couple months of processing with Pivotal. 7) A toll-free support line is available should you experience any problems with your terminal or if you have any questions regarding your billing statement and bank deposits/withdrawals. Deposits and Charge Withdrawals Deposits for the day are typically made the next one or two business days into your bank account depending on when your bank chooses to deposit the received funds, the time of day you submit batch of claims and who the card user s issuing bank is. There are two accounting methods Pivotal uses for depositing funds into and withdrawing corresponding processing fees from your designated bank account: Daily and Monthly Billing. Daily Billing: Deposits each transaction amount daily less the calculated percentage processing fee. Additional fixed charges such as statement fees are withdrawn at month end. Monthly Billing: Deposits the full transaction amount daily but accumulates processing fees and other fixed charges to be drawn out at the end of the month. This method makes it easier to reconcile deposits with daily accounting records as well as the month end Pivotal statement. Thus it is recommended in most cases to request monthly billing although it may require additional previous merchant statements as part of the approval process.

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