Answers for Merchant Service RFP Questions

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1 Answers for Merchant Service RFP Questions The Will County Treasurer s Office has received several questions concerning our RFP for Merchant Services and Credit Card Processing. Here are our replies. We have grouped similar questions to eliminate redundancy. We also eliminated questions about office process that we believe are best answered during pre-bid meetings during the week of April 14, Question: Can the Treasurer s Office confirm who provides these services today, and is that contract available for review? The current vendor agreement is with Bank of America Merchant Services. The vendor is not expected to provide copies of applicable agreements. However, all contracts with a municipal corporation are subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, including its exemptions. Service fees are not an exemption under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Question: What charges are currently being assessed by the incumbent pertaining to credit card and ACH processing (i.e., ACH transmission fee, ACH return item fee, Merchant gateway fees, etc.)? Merchant Name: Will County Average Ticket: $2, Contract Term (Years): 3 Years Annual Bankcard Volume: $23,446, Transmission Method: Paypoint Qualifying VS Interchange Level: CPS Retail 2 Pricing Method: Interchange Plus Qualifying MC Interchange Level: Public Sector Fee Collection Frequency Monthly Qualifying DS Interchange Level: Public Services Processing Fees: *Authorization Fee- Per Authorization Attempt **Per Item Fee- Per Settled Transaction Card Type Auth Fee* Per Item Fee** VS/MC/DS Full Service $0.040 $0.000 America Express $0.080 $0.000 Discover Retained N/A N/A PIN Debit N/A N/A EBT N/A N/A WEX N/A N/A Voyager N/A N/A Fleet N/A N/A Discount Rates The discount rate is charged as a % of total gross dollar volume Discount Rate Credit 0.020% % of sale on Visa/MC/DS Full Service Credit Volume Discount Rate Signature Debit 0.000% % of sale on Visa/MC/DS Full Service Debit Volume Other Fees Chargeback Fees $10.00 Per Chargeback ACH Reject Fee $25.00 Per ACH Returned Item Pin Debit Adjustment Fee N/A Per Pin Debit Adjustment Paper Statement Fee N/A Per Statement Mailed Franchise Per Location Fee N/A Per Franchise Location Per Month ClientLine Waived Per ClientLine Sign-On Voice Auth/ARU Fees $0.95 Per Voice Auth/ARU Item ACH Deposit Fee N/A Per ACH Deposit Wire Deposit Fee N/A Per Wire Deposit Billback Surcharge Fee 0.00% % of Sale For Each Downgraded Transaction Additional Gateway Authorization Fee N/A Per Gateway Authorization-All Card Types First Data Global Gateway Set Up Fee N/A One Time Fee Per FDGG MID Set Up First Data Global Gateway Monthly Fee N/A Per Month Per FDGG MID Wireless Monthly Fee N/A Per Month Per Wireless Device MasterCard MIP Connection N/A Per Month Per Connection Visa DEX Connection N/A Per Month Per Connection All telecommunications costs/third Party Fees will be passed through to CUSTOMER. Interchange Schedules and Qualifications Attachments Visa/MasterCard/Discover Interchange PIN Debit Switch and Interchange Fees BAMS.MVD.F11.2.IC_Net Not Applicable 1

2 Question: We noticed that the County is not taking online payments currently. Why did the County take down this option? Does the County plan on taking payments online again? The County accepts payment beginning on May 1 st of each year and ends collection on the day of the Annual Delinquent Tax Sale in December. These are statutory dates. The system is offline between December and May each year. We will open the site and accept payments on May 2, The system will be online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; unless there is a service interruption or the processor takes the system off line for scheduled maintenance. We expect 98% uptime or greater from our vendor. Question: The Treasurer s Office collected $1.67-billion in real estate property taxes. However, tax collected across payment options were approximately $141.8-million. What is the variance? The Treasurer s Office receives payments from a variety of sources, where online merchant processing is but one. Our largest payment source is taxpaying agents, such as mortgage escrow servicers and title companies. Collectively, these agents remitted $654.4-million on behalf of their customers in The next largest payment service is our lockbox which processed $336.4-million in property tax payments. Banks and credit unions collected $193.9-million. The Treasurer s Office also processes payments made in our office. Question: What percent of real estate tax payments are made by the deadline? In general terms, the office collects approximately 99.3% of the total property tax levy each year. By the end of June, our office collects and distributes about 51% of the total levy. By the end of September, collection is near 95%. We collect the remainder during the Tax Sale in December. Uncollected balances are less than 1% historically, consisting of bankruptcies, defaults, and land that is not taxed (forest preserve, for example). Question: How many of the payments are collected online versus in person? Cashiers at the Will County Treasurer s Office processed 89,942 transactions in The number of transactions includes walk-ins, mail, and other internal levy-related processing performed by our cashiers. The tax payments collection by cashiers totaled $344,780,652. Online payments were $125,748,300 on 34,694 transactions. See below for breakdown. Question: Can you provide a separate breakdown of tax collected in dollars and transaction count? The following numbers are current as of December 31, 2013 and may vary from the numbers we reported in our RFP. The RFP report was current prior to the Delinquent Tax Sale. 2

3 Type Transactions Property Tax (Rounded) ACH (Personal Account) 18,660 $ 66,490,270 ACH (Business Account) 5,595 $ 36,010,156 American Express 423 $ 1,463,832 Discover Card 2,421 $ 8,891,845 Master Card 2,891 $ 8,321,613 Visa Card 4,704 $ 13,462,429 34,694 $ 125,748,300 Question: What is included in the ACH payment volume? Are they originated debits, or are they incoming credits from other bank s online bill pay? The ACH volumes are direct debits to the property owner s bank checking or savings account. Online bill payments take place through an elockbox product provided by another vendor which is not part of this RFP. Question: Can the County provide a breakdown of the IVR payments by credit card and ACH? The current IVR system only services credit card and signature debit card transactions. As a result, there were no ACH transactions using IVR. Total IVR payments were $527,332 on 555 transactions. We have no breakdown between credit and debit card. Question: What percent of real estate tax payments are disputed? We understand this question to mean transaction disputes, not tax assessment disputes. Will County had three (3) total payment disputes in All were related to the convenience fee. Question: The Treasurer s 2014 Fee Schedule denotes that Discover Card payments are in-person only. Are you considering processing Discover Card payments both in-person and online? The County has an agreement with a separate vendor to process Discover Card transactions. The provider caps Discover Card fees at $38 on tax amounts greater than $3,000. The trade off for this capped fee is that Will County does not offer Discover Card online. Since we believe the cap benefits the property owner, we did not make Discover Card mandatory for this RFP. If there is a proposal which caps the fee in a similar manner to our current Discover Card fee schedule and allows us to process transactions online, we would welcome the inclusion of such a proposal. Question: The Treasurer does not collect a convenience fee for ACH services and it is expected that banks will not charge customers for the transactions as well. Is it the Treasurer s preference that costs be billed directly or through analysis rather than directly to the customer? The Treasurer s Office has no budget appropriation for such billing. As a taxing body in its own right, the county is one of approximately 360 separate taxing districts. It would be unreasonable 3

4 for the county to bear such a burden on its own. Analysis would be an option, therefore, as it would spread the cost among all beneficiary taxing districts. If proposing institutions leverage the entire payment portfolio in order to lower ACH fees in some other manner, we would be open to such a discussion. However, we are willing to overlook this element entirely because we understand such a constraint would be difficult for financial institutions to achieve. Question: Will County requests a minimum of 72 months of online ACH transaction detail. Will a financial institution be disqualified if it can only provide up to 24 months of data online and the remaining 48 months upon request? We believe such a system would be acceptable and not disqualify an institution. Our objective in this requirement is the ability to research original payment detail in the event the need presents itself several years after the transaction took place. Question: Under the Detailed Proposed Cost, the County has provided a pricing example. The merchant processing fee is represented as a flat 0.35%. Does the County want the proposer to estimate the interchange and assessment cost for each card type in a similar fashion so the merchant processing fee can be added to derive the Total Convenience Fee? We admit that our example was simplified, and that there are many components to the underlying processing fee. We also recognize that the final fee can vary between credit card brands. Our goal is to understand, in bottom line terms, what percentage surcharge a taxpayer can expect to see added to his or her payment as a convenience fee on a payment. In addition to the various elements of the fee, we want to know the bottom line fee for each card brand, ACH or echeck, and Signature Debit Card. These are the fee rates we publish to the consumer as the underlying convenience fee. For taxes collected in 2013, our fee schedule was the following. ACH or echeck: $0.59 per transaction Signature Debit Card: $3.95 per transaction American Express: 2.60 % per transaction Master Card: 2.20 % per transaction Visa Card: 2.20 % per transaction Please be aware that the underlying convenience fee is but one metric under consideration. We expect and will tolerate slight variances from the rates currently paid by property owners. It is our duty as a fiduciary, however, to maintain and insist upon reasonable fees and expenses. Question: How many ACH return items did the County process on average, per month, during the peak tax season? 4

5 Will County processed a total of 250 returned payments in calendar year May June: 126 (First Installment) July September: 86 (Second Installment) October December: 38 (Tax Sale Period) Question: How is the County handling ACH return items? Will County removes payments from our system which then requires the taxpayer to resubmit payment. We consider payments rejected on the Due Dates to be late payments. Question: How many ACH Notification of Change (NOC) items does the County process on average per month during the peak tax season? To our knowledge, Will County did not process any ACH Notification of Change items. Please see the next question for additional commentary on this specific topic. Question: How does the County and the incumbent handle ACH Notification of Changes (NOCs) to ensure compliance with NACHA rules? Our staff was unaware that a receiving financial institution has an option to correct an ACH after the property owner entered incorrect bank information such as a routing or account number. The benefit of correcting the ACH information, in our opinion, means that the originating bank will receive an NOC and update their records with the corrected information, or return the transaction. Either way, all parties would receive notification of the correction. If we understand this process correctly, we would welcome this service as it allows the receiving financial institution to send correcting information without having to return the payment to the property owner. Question: Is online bill presentment outsourced or an in-house developed solution? We define online bill presentment as the process of entering a Permanent Index Number, reviewing the real estate tax bill, confirming its accuracy, and then selecting a payment type. The process described above is an in-house solution. Once the property owner selects the payment type, Will County s IT systems communicate that specific parcel s payment details to the incumbent s processing system via encrypted data links. At this point, the vendor takes responsibility for completing the financial transaction with the property owner. Question: Who hosts the website? Will County hosts the website that a property owner would use up to the point of selecting a payment type. The incumbent hosts the website used to complete the financial transaction. 5

6 Question: Does the County send a pre-registration file containing tax payer information to the incumbent? For online payments, no. These transactions are one-time, ad-hoc hand-offs between Will County and the incumbent. The County does provide a daily file to the incumbent for IVR. Question: Does the incumbent allow multiple properties to be paid in one payment? Not at this time. The inability to make multiple payments is a short-fall within the County s IT infrastructure, not a service deficiency by the incumbent. We would welcome the functionality. Question: Can customers enroll on the site to save payment information, view payment history, etc.? Can customers create one-time payments with date, dollar amount, and reference number or full online enrollment with access to bill presentment in history? Not at this time. Such a solution would be a significant step forward in the payment process of Will County real estate tax payments. We would welcome such a solution. Question: Would the County be open to a terminal solution that will manage a third party service fee model like the ecommerce and IVR environments. The County would be open to a terminal solution. Question: If we supply terminals, how many credit card and debit card transactions may occur? We have no way to quantify an answer. Our best guess is that a statistical analysis would reveal a similar distribution curve as online payments but with smaller volumes. Question: Would the County be open to receiving remittance reporting via Secure File Transfer Protocol (sftp) or secure online access versus . The County would be open to this reporting solution. Question: How does Will County match incoming payments to a consumer s account? The incumbent creates and provides a payment file to our office daily. Our staff combines this data with payment files from other vendors, and then places it into a queue for processing by the county s real estate computer system in the evening. Question: The RFP says a collateralized money market account which utilizes compensating balances to offset fees. Many banks do not offer ECR on MMAs. Please clarify. Settlement can be made to collateralized DDA account. Internally, our staff refers to all cash bank accounts as money markets out of habit. We apologize for any confusion. Question: Please confirm the collateralization requirement for Will County Treasurer s balances. We refer you to our Investment Policy on our website. Specifically, the following link: 6

7 We call your attention to the sections entitled Accepted Collateral Instruments and Collateral Pledge Schedule. There are separate pledge schedules for banks and credit unions. We also discuss the safekeeping of collateral in our policy. Question: Are any other banking services required such as online banking to view accounts, wire transfers, etc? Yes. Banking services for Levy management will require banking services such as online banking, one-time wire, template-based wire transfer, ACH transmit, reporting, stop payment, and etc. We also require current day, previous day, and historical online information reporting. For this assignment, we utilize only one account. Question: Does the county desire fraud prevention services such as Check Debit Blocks, ACH Debit Positive Pay? If so, which services? We are very conscious about protecting fiduciary accounts from fraud, both internal and external. The best answer we can provide is that we would work with the vendor to adopt appropriate solutions given the use and nature of the account. Question: Will there be any wire transfers incoming? If so, what is the annual volume? We do not expect incoming wires. Tax Paying Agents wire funds to a different bank account. Question: The RFP describes the desire for a dedicated processing resolution contact. If a proposing institution does not offer this service, will this negatively impair a proposal? No. Our staff, however, prefers a consistent point of contact empowered to help and resolve time-sensitive problems in our very fast-paced collection process. Question: The County asks for taxes to be collected at a local branch of the financial institution. Is this a mandatory requirement? The County welcomes any opportunity to expand the number of banks and credit unions who collect property taxes as a convenience to Will County property owners. It is not our policy to make collection a mandatory condition for any other service provided by financial institutions. Question: Can the County explain the next step in this process? As described in the RFP, the County has several calendar dates in this process. At we responded to these questions, the next step is the pre-bid meetings during the week of April 14, At the request of financial institutions, our office will schedule meetings for the purpose of learning more about our process. 7

8 April 14, 2014 Pre-Bid Meeting for Questions from Financial Institutions May 5, 2014 Final Date for Receiving Proposals, 4:00 PM Central Time June Call Back Meetings (3-5 Proposing Institutions) July 15, 2014 Contract(s) Awarded August 4, 2014 Implementation Begins May 1, 2015 Go Live Date In June, we will invite between 3 and 5 proposing institutions to make presentations to the Treasurer and his staff. This is an opportunity for us to ask questions and see demonstrations of the solutions being proposed. We will award a contract on or about July 15, We may remain with the incumbent, or select a new vendor. Regardless, contract negotiation will begin with an anticipated August implementation start date. Tax collection under will begin at Midnight, May 1,

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