Friday, December 4, 2009

Underwriting, what is that? & How does it impact subscription based merchants?

It is wonderful that new business is the engine of our economy. It also means that individuals who start these businesses often have gaps in their experiences. For example, one of the most common questions I get is - why does it take weeks to get approved for a credit card merchant account and why do they need copies of my personal tax returns, etc.?

Merchants need to understand that their credit card acquirer/processor is taking responsibility upstream for their viability. For old world face-to-face merchants selling physical goods this was less of an issue than it is for ecommerce merchants and especially those selling intangible goods and/or services. And, it is doubly true for those delivering those services over an extended period of time.

If you take a payment from a consumer for a 12 month subscription to a service, you get paid within 2-3 days. If for some reason, your business fails in month 6, and the consumer files a chargeback to get their money back, if your business is gone, it is the acquirer/processor who has to cover that cost.

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