To do business today, companies need to extend their businesses to the Internet. To do business on the Internet, companies need to accept Visa and Mastercard.
"Really, there's no other option [if you want] to be successful," says John Burtzloff, senior vice president of sales with Cardservice International, a California-based business that specializes in enabling credit card transactions for both traditional and Web-based businesses.
But while businesses can easily understand the importance of providing credit card payments, smaller Web merchants often have a tougher time implementing the service. Cardservice's LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway solutions have been designed to meet the needs of those smaller merchants, Burtzloff says. "We've really gone out and tailored it to small and midsize merchants."
Founded in 1988, Cardservice provides credit card transactions to more than 175,000 businesses--both brick-and-mortar and Internet-based companies--and processes more than 125 million transactions each year.
Smaller merchants, Burtzloff says, have more specific needs than larger companies. "Their money is very, very important to them, so having [payments] run through the most secure payment gateway with a very simple formula where someone comes on, pays for the product, and the money goes into the bank account with no worries is important."
Cardservice offers solutions for first-time merchants with limited budgets who want to get online quickly, as well as for those who are already established and are looking for an e-commerce package. At the same time, LinkPoint solutions offer round-the-clock customer service.
Cardservice offers three LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway solutions: Virtual LinkPoint, LinkPoint HTML and LinkPoint API. Each e-commerce solution provides merchants security via an encrypted connection to Cardservice's payment engine. Modules allow Web customers to order and pay for products and arrange for shipping--all in real time. All solutions require a PC equipped with Windows 95/NT and Internet connections via 3.0 browsers or higher.
Super Deluxe, Ultra Deluxe
Virtual LinkPoint offers merchants the Internet equivalent of a point-of-sale terminal without the hardware and software investment. Virtual LinkPoint allows merchants to enter credit card transactions into their Web browser from a non-commerce-enabled Web site, telephone, fax or e-mail. Sales, return authorizations and reports are provided through the LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway. Fraud protection measures include the ability to create a "negative file" for high-risk consumers, as well as the option to lock out specific card numbers and Internet protocol addresses. The solution automatically performs numerous fraud checks by passing the transactions through a rejection test before being processed.
Other benefits of Virtual LinkPoint include real-time record keeping, a full report capability and an optional e-mail notification system that sends a receipt to a customer after completing a transaction.
LinkPoint HTML is a higher-level payment gateway that wraps around an existing Web site to make it e-commerce enabled. The wraparound design enables e-commerce at any Web site by cutting and pasting an HTML code. The solution offers three modes of processing: PayOnly, which only processes credit card transactions; PayPlus, which allows collection of transaction, ordering and shipping information; and FullPay, which handles everything. The PayPlus and FullPay modes offer report capability, and sales are accessed via the browser. An e-mail notification feature gives both merchant and customer pending order information and transaction approval via e-mail. LinkPoint HTML includes all the fraud protection measures typical of the Secure Payment Gateway.
LinkPoint API, a high-level solution offered in the LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway, is designed for software companies, Internet service providers, commerce service providers and merchants with an advanced knowledge of the C programming language. The solution adds Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and the ability to conduct electronic download of digital merchandise to software products or customer storefronts. LinkPoint API provides ordering, payments, tax and shipping calculations. In addition, the LinkPoint API-enabled Web site can offer digital merchandise that can be downloaded onto the customer's PC after the payment transaction is complete. LinkPoint API provides real-time calculation of state and/or municipal taxes and also calculates shipping fees by flat rate or dollar amount and can configure shipping tables based on zones or other factors. The reports and tools interface provides reporting capabilities and gives managers the ability to confirm shipping and issue credits.
Charge it for Buchanan
Merchants aren't the only ones who can benefit from LinkPoint Secure Payment Gateway Solutions. Take Pat Buchanan, for instance. When he made his run for president as the Reform Party candidate in the last election, Virtual LinkPoint enabled Buchanan supporters to pledge campaign funds online from October 1999 to November 2000.
"People were calling in and saying, 'How can I contribute to the campaign? I need to contribute. Is there a place on the Web that I can go?' So we made it easier for the contributors," says Gregory Hahn, database manager at Buchanan Reform.
As the campaign geared up, visitors to the now-defunct buchananreform.com, could offer contributions with the click of a mouse. "The technology of Web sites just makes it so much easier," Hahn says. "[Contributors] don't have to call the campaign. They just go to the secure form that's on the Web site. They don't have to give the credit card number to anybody over the phone. They just plug in the information and the exact amount they want to give."
While the Cardservice solution helped to swell Buchanan's coffers, Cardservice staff also helped Buchanan's staff to resolve a key problem: In order to meet federal finance contribution deadlines, Buchanan's committee had to submit paper copies of contributions on a strict deadline. "We came into a problem trying to get the past data," Hahn says.
As it turns out, Cardservice had been in the process of migrating to a more robust server and had archived much of the material Buchanan Reform needed to retrieve, so restoration was difficult, says Cardservice HTML Supervisor Robin Hunter. "They were getting pretty desperate," she says. "They had called in several times, and no one was able to get the information. The only way to do it was to get the data restored, and keep in mind that we have thousands of merchants."
Finally, Cardservice restored the online data. "It was a struggle to put that information on there, but the solution did a great job," Hunter says. "Whenever it comes to our merchants, it's important for us to provide the best service we can, and we weren't going to be happy until we made them happy."