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Member Corner

By Julie McPherson, Duncan Solutions, Inc

Accepting credit card payments has become a mainstay for companies both large and small, yet few organizations have the expertise required to effectively manage their credit card payment processing. Without access to the right resources, it can be a frustrating navigating the myriad nuances of this side of their business.

As a case in point, in 2000 I accepted an administrative assistant position working for a small company that processed credit card payments via the web and through Interactive Voice Response (IVR/phone payments).  It wasn't long before I recognized my vision of the position was very different from my supervisors’ vision. While I thought that I would be compiling paperwork and arranging travel, he needed me to set up the web/IVR payments and handle their payment processing.

As a small business owner, my supervisor didn't know much about credit card processing, and was too busy to manage it himself. He was hoping this was a simple assignment he could hand to his administrative assistant—fortunately it worked out, but not without a lot of hard work and research on my part. To accomplish this task, I needed to:

  • get the banking and merchant accounts setup
  • write procedures for the company’s technical and financial processes
  • keep track of the vendor contracts making sure we were being charged the right amount for these services

As I learned quickly, setting up a credit card payment system was not easy. I was swimming in a sea of the unknown and pretty much drowning in misinformation.  Each sales person claimed they had the best process and prices and I had no way of knowing who was telling the truth.  I took it all as a test to see if I could help the company succeed and prove to myself that even the seemingly insurmountable challenge of learning the credit card processing industry was achievable.

More than 13 years later I’m in the same industry and still learning.  It’s important to stay on top of industry trends and understand new pricing models that could save my company money. Recently while researching, I stumbled across a website that has legitimately sound advice.  After spending some time on the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG) website, I found an annual conference where people are discussing and learning the same things I have been continually seeking throughout my career as a payments professional. 

I attended the MAG 2013 Annual Conference and what I found was absolutely refreshing!  Finally, an organization that sought out what changes were coming next and not only told the merchants about them but, opened the floor for discussions with key personnel that could actually do something about their concerns.  An organization that would stay on top of the industry and keep me informed.  An organization that changed the way I spent my time by saving me the trouble of having to ‘surf’ through the never ending sea of information to get to the real point of a change and how it will affect the business I am in.  Most importantly I found a group of the friendliest, like-minded professionals that wanted nothing more than to help me and my company make sense of it all so we can make the best business decisions possible.  I believe that I have found my proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’ by finding the MAG – continuous educational opportunities, endless networking possibilities and the ability to discuss the issues that affect my business with people that have the knowledge-base to answer my questions correctly the first time.

Julie McPherson, Member, Merchant Advisory Group