Updated onApril 13, 2023
10 Min Read
Discover how to start a credit card processing company in this guide. Learn to navigate this fiercely competitive industry, manage taxes, and obtain licensing. Master creating a unique name, devising a strong business model, building a top-notch team, finding your niche, and developing an outstanding marketing strategy. It’s hard to make it in this industry, but it’s doable if you put in the proper work.
- Understand the credit card processing industry by learning the ecosystem, regulations, and competitive landscape.
- Credit card processing firms generate revenue by charging merchants fees for handling their transactions.
- Credit card processing is highly regulated. Secure key licenses, such as PCI DSS compliance and money transmitter licenses, to bypass legal challenges.
- Assemble a dynamic team combining sales, marketing, technology, and support expertise.
- With fierce competition in the credit card processing market, identify a niche and devise a marketing plan highlighting your unique strengths.
Choose a Memorable Name for Your Credit Card Processing Company
Kickstart your credit card processing business by choosing a catchy name that appeals to your audience and boosts your brand. These three easy tips are a good starting point:
- Keep it Simple: Choose an easy-to-remember name that sticks in customers' minds. Avoid complex or difficult pronunciations.
- Target Audience Appeal: Pick a name that appeals to and resonates with your target audience
- Check Availability: Confirm your name isn't already in use within the industry through a trademark or internet search.
Create Something Memorable to Stand Out
Another essential aspect of creating a successful business name is making it distinctive and memorable. Follow these suggestions to pick a name that grabs attention:
- Utilize Alliteration or Rhymes: Alliteration or rhyming words can make your company name more memorable and help it stand out.
- Use Descriptive Words: Include words that describe your company's purpose, such as "processing," "payments," or "solutions.”
- Be Unique: Choose a unique name uncommon in the credit card industry to stand out from competitors.
- Test it Out: Test your company name with a small group to ensure it's catchy, easy to remember, and pronounce.
Develop a Business Plan
A comprehensive business plan is essential for a successful credit card processing company. Create a detailed business plan that conveys your vision to stakeholders and investors and includes elements like:
- Background Info: Provide an executive summary (mission statement, goals, financial projections), a company overview (history, ownership, management, legal structure), and a description of products/services.
- Industry Analysis: Summarize industry trends, growth potential, competitor analysis, target market identification, and regulatory compliance considerations.
- Marketing Plan: Address brand positioning, messaging strategy, marketing channels, pricing strategy, and sales tactics.
- Operations Plan: Outline the technology needed for processing, merchant onboarding, customer support, and internal operations such as fraud prevention and risk management.
- Financial Plan: Forecast income and costs, evaluate cash needs and funding, and monitor key financial figures like profit margin, net earnings, and ROI. Sort earnings by client and transaction type.
- Management Team: Describe your team's qualifications, responsibilities, and experience. Explain the board of directors and advisory committees, and detail a plan to attract and retain staff.
What Other Considerations Should Be in a Business Plan?
Want to make your business plan stand out from the rest? In addition to the usual sections and info, consider including these elements as well:
- Partnerships: Describe how you plan to collaborate with others to unlock new growth and innovation opportunities.
- Risk Assessment and Contingency Plan: Explain how you will prepare for potential disruptions with a risk assessment and contingency plan.
- Exit Strategy: Convey a plan for the future of your business to maximize ROI and minimize the impact on stakeholders.
- Supporting Documentation: Make a strong case for your business by including detailed market research and financial analysis in the appendix.
Select a Legal Entity and Register Your Business
When learning how to start a credit card processing company, learning about legal entities and correctly registering your business is important. Keep these crucial questions in mind to make a smart decision:
- Liability Protection: How much personal liability protection do you need?
- Tax Implications: How will your business be taxed? What will it mean for your personal and business finances?
- Management Structure: Who will manage the business, and how will decisions be made?
- Ownership Structure: Who will own the business, and what will the control structure look like?
What Legal Entity to Choose
Once you answer the above questions and have a clearer picture of your business, evaluate which of the following legal entities work best for you:
- Sole Proprietorship: The simplest and most common form of business ownership but provides no personal liability protection.
- Partnership: Two or more individuals share ownership, profits, and losses, similar to a sole proprietorship but with more than one owner.
- LLC: Offers personal liability protection for owners while offering flexibility in management and taxation options.
- S Corp: Offers personal liability protection for owners while allowing for pass-through taxation and limited liability.
- C Corp: Separate legal entity with shareholders, offering personal liability protection for owners and allowing for unlimited growth potential and flexibility in ownership and taxation options.
How to Register Your Business
After selecting a legal entity, the next step in setting up a credit card processing company is registering your business. Here are some important steps to consider:
- Register Your Business Name: Register your unique, memorable, and descriptive business name.
- Obtain a Business License: Most states require a license to operate a credit card processing business; check with your state or local government for specific requirements.
- Register for Taxes: Obtain a tax ID number and register for any required state and local taxes.
- Obtain Any Necessary Permits: Depending on your location and business activities, you may need additional permits or licenses to operate your credit card processing business.
Secure Startup Funding for Your Payment Processing Business
Starting a credit card processing company requires significant capital. If you can't fund the startup yourself, consider these alternative options:
- Business Loans: Get a loan from a bank or lending institution. You'll need collateral and a good credit score.
- Angel Investors: High net-worth individuals invest their money in startups in exchange for equity.
- Venture Capitalists: Invest in companies with high growth potential in exchange for equity and a board seat.
- Crowdfunding: Raise funds from many people online by offering rewards or equity.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: The SBA offers lower interest rates and longer repayment terms for small businesses lacking access to traditional financing.
Is a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) a Good Option?
Small businesses can also turn to a merchant cash advance to secure funding. However, learn the key aspects and potential drawbacks before going this route.
- How it Works: You'll get a lump sum of cash from a lender in exchange for giving them a cut of future credit card sales.
- Flexibility: Payments adjust based on your daily credit card sales, offering flexibility during slow periods.
- Speed: Funds are typically available quicker than traditional loans, often within days.
- Cost: MCAs often have higher fees and interest rates than traditional financing methods.
- Recommended Providers: Consider using one of our choices in our list of the best merchant cash advance companies to avoid potential drawbacks.
Find a Suitable Location for Your Credit Card Processing Business
Researching how to start a credit card processing company? Location is key. First, pinpoint your business type, then weigh other factors for a smart decision.
- Retail Business: Select high-traffic areas with significant foot traffic for optimal visibility.
- Service Business: Opt for office parks or downtown areas to enhance exposure and reach.
- Virtual vs. In-Person: Retail businesses typically require a physical location, while service businesses can often operate virtually.
- Face-to-Face Meetings: Consider a physical office space or co-working location if your business relies on in-person interactions.
- Remote Communication: A physical office may not be necessary if most client interactions are online or via phone.
Considerations for Choosing a Location
Selecting the ideal office location impacts productivity, employee morale, and long-term success for your credit card processing company. Consider these key factors:
- Accessibility: Choose a location with easy access for clients and employees via public transport and ample parking.
- Competition: Look for areas with high demand for your service but not too much competition.
- Cost: Should you need a physical office, keep expenses in check by choosing a location with affordable real estate.
- Business Support: Check for local resources or support services for entrepreneurs, like networking events or mentoring programs.
- Infrastructure: Ensure the location has the necessary utilities you need, like high-speed internet and a reliable power supply.
- Office Space Requirements: What are your company's needs for space, layout, and amenities? How can you create both a positive and a productive work environment?
How to Search For Top Spaces
If your credit card processing company needs and can afford a physical office, consider the following resources to find suitable space in your target market:
- LoopNet (www.loopnet.com): A leading commercial real estate marketplace with a large database of office listings.
- CREXi (www.crexi.com): Offers a variety of commercial properties, including office spaces, with advanced search filters.
- 42Floors (www.42floors.com): A user-friendly platform specializing in office and retail spaces.
- CityFeet (www.cityfeet.com): Focused on urban commercial properties, ideal for finding office spaces in metropolitan areas.
- Showcase (www.showcase.com): Provides a wide range of commercial real estate listings, including offices.
- Property Owners and Managers: Discuss leasing options, obtain rent quotes, and negotiate terms with property owners or managers. Beware of hidden fees!
- Commercial Real Estate Brokers: Consult tenant-exclusive brokers for industry-specific market insights, rent comparisons, and potential office locations that align with your business.
Register Your Payment Processing Business with the IRS
To start your credit card processing company, acquire an EIN and familiarize yourself with IRS tax laws. Obtaining an EIN is simple:
- Applying for an EIN: Apply online, by phone, fax, or mail to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Online applications are quickest.
- Basic Business Information: Provide your legal name, address, and other necessary details during the application process.
- Receiving the EIN: After applying, you'll receive your EIN immediately (especially if applying online).
Is an EIN Really Necessary?
Yes, an EIN is necessary when starting any business, including a credit card processing company. Understand its role with these key considerations:
- Purpose of an EIN: An EIN is crucial for credit card processors, as it's needed to open bank accounts, file taxes, and hire employees. The IRS assigns it for tax purposes.
- Legal Requirement: Having an EIN is a legal requirement for most businesses, including credit card processing companies, to ensure proper tax reporting and compliance.
- Business Identity: An EIN helps establish your business identity, separating it from your personal finances and reducing liability.
- Building Business Credit: Obtaining an EIN is an initial step in building business credit, which can be beneficial for future financing or partnerships.
What Else You Should Know About Tax Compliance
Obtaining an EIN is just one aspect of tax compliance. For a credit card processing business, fully complying with the IRS involves additional steps and considerations:
- Understand Tax Requirements: Learn about federal, state, payroll, and transaction-specific and location-specific taxes. Consulting a tax expert is always advisable.
- Keeping Accurate Records: Maintain accurate financial records for taxation and business management. Track income and expenses, and consider using accounting software or a bookkeeper for precision.
- Filing Taxes on Time: Submit your tax returns punctually to avoid penalties and maintain good standing with the IRS and other tax authorities.
- Staying Updated on Tax Laws: Tax laws and regulations can change over time. Keep yourself informed of any updates to remain compliant and avoid potential issues.
Open a Business Bank Account for Your Payment Processing Company
Separate personal and business finances, track income and expenses, and pay for business expenses with a dedicated bank account. Follow these steps to open one for your payment processing company:
- Research and Choose a Bank: Find a bank that both suits your business needs and meets their requirements for opening a business account.
- Gather Required Documents: Typically, you'll need your business license, articles of incorporation, and tax ID number.
- Schedule an Appointment: After gathering documents, schedule an account-opening appointment.
- Review Fees and Services: Understand the fees and services associated with the account, such as maintenance fees, transaction fees, and overdraft protection.
- Prepare to Make a Deposit: Ensure you have funds ready to activate the account.
- Set Up Online Banking: Manage finances and payments efficiently by setting up online banking.
What About a Business Credit Card?
Elevate financial management and efficiency for your credit card processing company with a business credit card. Learn why it's crucial and how to acquire one:
- Separating Expenses: Like a business bank account, a business credit card helps differentiate personal and business expenses, simplifying accounting.
- Applying Process: Obtain a business credit card through your bank or a credit card company.
- Required Information: When you apply, provide business details (name, address, type) and personal information (name, Social Security number, birth date).
- Benefits: Once approved, use the card for business purchases and building credit history. Doing so is vital for securing loans and credit lines in the future.
Obtain the Necessary Business Licenses and Permits
Starting a credit card processing company requires more than a great idea and money. Acquiring necessary licenses and permits is crucial for operating legally, and typically involves four key licenses:
- Business License: A basic requirement issued by the local government allowing you to conduct business within the city/county.
- Sales Tax Permit: You'll need this to sell products or services in your state and collect/submit sales tax.
- Federal Tax ID Number: This is required for tax purposes and issued by the IRS.
- Money Transmitter License: Some states require this to process credit card transactions legally.
What Role Does PCI DSS Compliance Play?
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security requirements for businesses handling credit card transactions. Here's why it's important to follow:
- Avoiding Fines: Following PCI DSS helps prevent fines for non-compliance.
- Maintaining Processing Ability: Non-compliance with PCI DSS can lead to losing the ability to process credit card transactions.
- Data Security: PCI compliance ensures the protection of sensitive cardholder data, building trust with customers.
- Risk Mitigation: Adherence to PCI DSS reduces the risk of data breaches and their associated costs.
Get Any Insurance That’s Required for Your Business
Securing the right insurance policies is crucial for protecting your credit card processing business. Consider these points when obtaining insurance:
- Consult an Expert: Seek advice from an insurance expert to determine the most suitable policies for your business.
- Research: Conduct thorough research to identify any required or recommended insurance policies.
- Common Policies: Some common insurance types include general liability, professional liability, and cyber liability insurance.
- Risk Management: Insurance policies help manage risks and potential losses, ensuring your business’s long-term stability.
What Policies You Should Consider
When starting a credit card processing business, consider these common insurance policies for well-rounded protection:
- General Liability Insurance: General Liability Insurance covers bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury caused by your business operations.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Covers medical expenses and lost wages if an employee gets injured on the job.
- Business Interruption Insurance: Provides coverage if your business cannot operate due to a covered loss.
- Cyber Liability Insurance: Protects against data breaches and other cyber threats.
- Professional Liability Insurance: Provides coverage if a client sues for negligence or mistakes...
Buy or Lease the Credit Card Processing Equipment You Need
Before deciding to buy or lease equipment for your credit card processing company, understand the necessary items you'll need. These include:
- Credit Card Terminals: These devices are used to swipe or dip credit cards, and they come in various styles and sizes.
- POS Systems: A point of sale (POS) system is an all-in-one solution that includes a credit card terminal, cash register, and other business management tools.
- Mobile Card Readers: These devices allow you to accept credit card payments on the go using your smartphone or tablet.
- Payment Gateways: A payment gateway is a technology that connects your credit card processing software to your customers' banks.
So What’s Better- Buying or Leasing?
When it comes to credit card processing equipment, the choice between buying and leasing depends on your business requirements and budget. Here are the pros and cons of each option:
- Upfront Cost: Buying outright is generally more expensive initially.
- Long-term Investment: Despite the higher upfront cost, buying can be a better investment in the long run.
- Ownership: Purchasing gives you complete control and ownership of the equipment.
- Best for Payment Gateways: Payment gateways, crucial for online credit card processing, may require purchasing rather than leasing.
- Short-term Affordability: Leasing tends to be more budget-friendly in the short term.
- Flexibility: Offers the ability to try different models or upgrade frequently as needs change.
- Startups: A suitable choice for new businesses looking to minimize upfront expenses.
- Long-term Cost: Despite lower initial costs, leasing can be more expensive over time due to ongoing fees.
Market Your Payment Processing Business to Merchants
After setting up your payment processing business, start promoting your services to merchants by using these strategies:
- Logo Creation: Devote time to creating an effective logo for your credit card processing business. It can boost brand recognition and awareness.
- Website Creation: A well-designed, mobile-friendly website for your credit card company informs customers of your services and makes a strong first impression.
- Digital Marketing: Leverage digital channels like social media, email, and search engines with targeted ads, website optimization, and email campaigns.
- Direct Mail: Send eye-catching mailers, such as postcards or brochures, that showcase your services' benefits and provide contact information.
- Content Marketing: Create and share valuable content like blog posts, infographics, or videos to establish your authority in the payment processing industry.
How Building a Network Can Be Your Best Marketing Tool
To grow your payment processing business, establishing a strong network can be your most effective marketing tool to reach merchants and expand clientele. Here's how:
- Referral Programs: Incentivize existing clients with discounts or rewards for referring new customers to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and organic growth.
- Trade Shows and Conferences: Attend industry events, connect with potential clients, showcase your services, and distribute marketing materials to make a lasting impression.
- Business Partnerships: Team up with related businesses in accounting, POS systems, or e-commerce to widen your audience and increase visibility among merchants.
- Social Media Networking: Use social media to engage your audience and attract new merchants by sharing valuable content and building brand awareness.
- Local Business Associations: Join local business associations, connect with local merchants, attend meetings, and establish yourself as a reliable payment processing partner.
Purchase and Setup the Necessary Credit Card Payment Software
Choosing the right payment software is vital for starting a credit card processing company. Consider these key factors to ensure security and efficiency during setup:
- Choosing the Right Software: Find a solution tailored to your needs and prioritize ease of use, hardware integration, and robust security features.
- Integration with Business Tools: Opt for software seamlessly connecting with accounting and inventory management systems.
- Payment Gateway Compatibility: Verify compatibility with your chosen payment gateway for smooth payment processing.
- Setup and Installation: Follow instructions carefully and test the software extensively before going live.
What Features Should My Credit Card Payment Software Have?
When choosing credit card payment software, find one with features that streamline transactions and promote growth. Consider these essential features:
- Payment Processing Features: You will need software that accepts all major credit cards, handles refunds and voids, and provides transaction reports.
- Security Features: Ensure PCI DSS compliance, and look for encryption, tokenization, and fraud detection capabilities to protect sensitive data.
- Integration Options: Choose software that easily integrates with your existing business tools, such as accounting software, CRM, or e-commerce platforms.
- User Experience: Select a solution with an intuitive interface for both merchants and customers, simplifying transactions and promoting user satisfaction.
- Customer Support: Pick software with reliable customer support to ensure uninterrupted service and assist with setup, troubleshooting, and ongoing maintenance.
- Scalability: Opt for a flexible solution that can grow with your business and accommodate an increasing volume of transactions.
Open Your Credit Card Processing Company for Business!
Well done! Now that you've learned how to start a credit card processing company, it's now time to launch your new venture. Here are some essential things to keep in mind as you open for business:
- Double Check Licenses and Permits: Double-check that you’ve obtained all required licenses and permits from state and local governments to avoid fines or closure.
- Set Up Your Office: Choose a location, set up your workspace, and equip it with essentials like computers, phones, and internet connectivity.
- Build Relationships: Attend trade shows and networking events. Connect with businesses in your target market to establish your presence and attract clients.
- Create Marketing Materials: Develop professional brochures, business cards, a website, and social media presence that highlights your payment processing service benefits.
Most Importantly- Regularly Monitor Your Performance
Starting a credit card processing company is just the beginning. Consistently evaluate performance and foster growth by tracking crucial aspects such as:
- Transaction Volume: Monitor the number of transactions processed to identify trends, peak periods, and potential areas for expansion.
- Revenue: Track revenue generation to assess the profitability of your business and make informed financial decisions.
- Customer Satisfaction: Gauge customer feedback and satisfaction levels to address concerns and improve the overall customer experience.
- Operational Efficiency: Assess internal processes to optimize efficiency and streamline your credit card processing services.
- Market Trends: Stay informed about industry trends and advancements to ensure your company remains competitive and adaptable.
Understand the Industry
Successfully launching a credit card processing business requires a thorough understanding of the industry. Here's a summary of the key elements you should know:
- Payment Processing Ecosystem: To begin, you should understand the payment processing system and the roles of players like acquirers, issuers, and processors.
- Industry Trends and Challenges: Spearhead a successful credit card processing business by staying updated on industry trends, proactively adapting to challenges, and anticipating their effects.
- Regulatory Environment: Learn the rules that govern the heavily-regulated credit card processing industry.
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Ensure payment security, prevent credit card fraud, and safeguard customer data by complying with the PCI DSS.
- Payment Processing Fees: Credit card processing fees can eat into your profits. Understand the different fees like interchange, assessment, and processing.
- Emerging Payment Technologies: To remain competitive in the ever-changing payment processing industry, adopt emerging technologies like mobile payments and digital wallets.
- Customer Service: Optimize success in credit card processing by understanding customer needs, providing prompt support, and cultivating loyalty.
How Do Credit Card Processing Companies Work?
Credit card processing firms facilitate secure transactions between merchants, banks, and card companies. To learn how to become a credit card processor, explore this overview of their operations:
- Merchant Account Setup: Merchants apply for a merchant account number with credit card processors, who evaluate and approve their applications.
- Card Acceptance at Point of Sale: Merchants start accepting credit cards at their point of sale. Customers swipe, dip, or tap their cards, and processors receive the transaction data.
- Transaction Authorization: Processors send data to networks, then banks validate transactions by verifying card details, credit, and fraud alerts.
- Settlement and Funding: Processors submit a request, the network deducts fees, and the merchant's account receives funds in a few days.
- Monthly Statement and Fees: The processor provides a monthly statement to the merchant, summarizing transactions and fees, including interchange, assessment, and processing charges.
- Chargeback Management: The processor aids in handling chargebacks for disputed transactions, which could lead to fees for the merchant if valid.
Is the Credit Card Processing Industry Growing?
Yes, the credit card processing industry is growing and should continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Here are some facts and figures that support this statement:
- Increasing Global Card Usage: According to the Nilson Report, top card issuers experienced a 19.1% increase in 2022, reaching $4.149 trillion in purchases. By 2027, global credit, debit, and prepaid card circulation may also grow from 25.84 to 28.44 billion.
- Growing E-commerce Market: Grandview Research links increased global internet users to surging e-commerce sales, surpassing $5.7 trillion in 2022, potentially reaching $27.15 trillion by 2027 with a 14.7% CAGR.
- Rising Adoption of Contactless Payments: Mobile wallets and contactless cards offer convenience and safety, with the market predicted to grow to $5.42 trillion by 2030.
- Increasing Competition and Innovation: The credit card processing industry is expanding due to new entrants, innovations such as blockchain and AI, and heightened competition.
How Does a Credit Card Processing Company Make Money?
Credit card processing companies generate revenue by charging fees to merchants for processing their credit card transactions. But how do credit card companies make money? Let's dive deeper into the details:
- Interchange Fees: Credit card networks, like Visa and Mastercard, charge interchange fees as a transaction percentage, which processors include in merchants' processing fees.
- Assessment Fees: Assessment fees, charged by card networks for brand and infrastructure usage, are incorporated into merchants' processing fees.
- Processing Fees: Processing fees, charged by card processors for services like authorization, settlement, and chargeback management, vary based on transaction volume, industry, and risk level.
- Additional Fees: Card processing companies may impose extra fees for services like equipment rental, PCI compliance, and statement processing.
- Volume-Based Pricing: Processors may provide volume-based pricing, allowing merchants to pay reduced fees for higher transaction volumes.
Know What to Expect
Starting a credit card processing company can be lucrative if everything falls into place. However, it's a challenging industry, and knowing what to expect before diving in is important. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Know the Industry: Understand the credit card processing industry and its key players like card networks and issuing banks. Additionally, stay current on trends and regulations.
- Understand the Tech: Since credit card processing involves complex technology, grasp its workings and consider collaborating with tech providers or hiring experts for tech-related tasks.
- You’ll Need Funding: Starting a credit card processing firm requires substantial capital; secure funding through traditional methods like loans or investors; or explore alternative options.
- Partnerships are Critical: Forge relationships with banks, card networks, and industry players for success, and seek partnerships with businesses or organizations to expand your reach.
- Follow Regulations: Noncompliance risks fines in the highly regulated credit card processing industry. Understand regulations and work with legal experts to ensure compliance.
- Prepare for Competition: To stand out in the competitive credit card processing industry, develop a unique selling proposition and prioritize exceptional customer service.
- You Need a Team: Build a successful credit card processing business by forming a solid team with experienced technology, finance, and customer service experts.
- Plan for Growth: Have a clear plan for scaling your business as it grows. Continuously assess market demand and adjust your strategy accordingly.
What Does It Take to Start a Credit Card Processing Company?
Knowing how to start a credit card processing company requires proper resources, expertise, strategic planning, and hard work. In further detail, here's what you should keep in mind:
- Research and Planning: Identify demand and competition through market research, create a business plan outlining company goals and strategies, and obtain necessary licenses and permits.
- Financing: Secure financing for equipment, software, and other startup costs and a line of credit for ongoing operational expenses.
- Technology and Infrastructure: Acquire payment processing hardware and software, set up secure data storage and communication systems, and develop fraud prevention and detection measures.
- Partnerships and Relationships: Forge partnerships with banks, credit card companies, and merchants while building relationships with sales agents and resellers to expand the company's reach.
- Compliance and Regulations: Comply with industry regulations, such as PCI DSS and NACHA guidelines, and stay current with regulatory changes, adapting as necessary.
- Marketing and Sales: Develop a marketing strategy to attract and retain customers while building a sales team dedicated to acquiring and retaining merchants.
- Customer Support and Service: Build a customer support team to provide reliable and efficient processing services, assist with troubleshooting issues, and ultimately retain merchants.
What Are the Laws Governing Merchant Credit Card Processing?
Here are some key laws governing merchant credit card processing:
- Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate financial products and services.
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS): These standards aim to prevent credit card fraud and data breaches.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Regulates credit reporting agencies and may impact credit card processing.
- Truth in Lending Act (TILA): Requires lenders to disclose credit card agreement terms to consumers.
- Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA): Oversees electronic fund transfers, including credit card transactions, and mandates specific disclosures.
- Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP): Prohibits unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices towards consumers, including credit card processing.
- State Laws: In addition to federal laws, states may also have laws governing credit card processing, including data security, consumer protection, and contract regulation.
What are the Challenges of Starting a Credit Card Processing Company?
If you want to learn how to start a credit card processing company, understand that you’ll have to overcome many of these common challenges:
- High Barrier to Entry: The credit card processing industry has a high barrier to entry due to the need for significant resources, expertise, and regulatory compliance.
- Competition: The credit card processing industry is highly competitive, with many established players already in the market.
- Complex Regulatory Environment: Credit card processing companies must comply with a complex and constantly changing regulatory environment, which can be challenging and costly.
- Technology Infrastructure: Building and maintaining the necessary technology infrastructure can be expensive and require specialized expertise.
- Payment Security: Ensuring payment security and safeguarding against data breaches can be challenging and costly for credit card processing companies.
- Customer Acquisition: Acquiring new customers can be difficult and require significant marketing and sales efforts.
- Customer Retention: Maintaining customer loyalty and retention can be challenging, particularly given the high level of competition in the industry.
- Managing Cash Flow: Credit card processing companies may struggle to manage cash flow since they have to wait for payments and hold reserves for chargebacks and other contingencies.
Conduct Market Research and Select a Niche
Learn how to start a credit card processing company by mastering market research and selecting a niche with these insights:
- Identify Target Market: Conduct market research to determine which industries or businesses most need credit card processing services. For example, credit card processing companies for small businesses have a target market identified.
- Assess the Competition: Analyze your potential competitors' strengths and weaknesses.
- Find a Niche: Find an underserved and specific niche within the credit card processing industry with unmet needs.
- Evaluate Profitability: Evaluate the profitability of your chosen niche and ensure that it aligns with your financial goals.
- Define Your Value Proposition: Determine what unique value your company can offer that sets you apart from competitors.
- Determine Pricing Strategy: Decide on a pricing strategy that is competitive yet profitable for your company.
- Develop a Marketing Plan: Develop a marketing plan that targets your chosen niche and communicates your value proposition effectively.
- Test Your Idea: Test your idea with potential customers to evaluate interest and demand before investing heavily.
What’s the Level of Competition in the Credit Card Processing Industry?
The level of competition in the credit card processing industry is fierce. Therefore, if exploring how to start a credit card processing company, you will want to know these facts and figures:
- Market Size: The global payment processing solutions market, valued at $47.61 billion in 2022, according to Grandview Research, is expected to grow annually by 14.5% from 2023 to 2030.
- Major Players: According to The Strawhecker Group (TSG)’s latest report, JP Morgan, Fiserv, Worldpay, Global Payments, and Wells Fargo were the top 5 payment processors.
- Market Share: That same TSG report reveals that the top ten payment companies processed $9 trillion in card volume, making up over 90% of U.S. card payments. This figure excludes prominent names like PayPal, Bankcard Services, TSYS, First Data, and Authorize.Net to put the competitive landscape in perspective.
- Technological Advancements: Despite the high competition and barriers to entry, new players can compete for market share thanks to technological innovations in mobile payments and e-commerce.
- Regulatory Environment: Navigating the complex regulations in credit card processing can be challenging and create barriers to entry. Additionally, the regulatory hurdles often favor players with more resources and experience.
Who Are Your Major Competitors?
Starting a credit card processing company means going up against some industry heavyweights. Again, in TSG's latest report revealing the top 10 payment processors in the US for 2022, not even well-known names like PayPal, Bankcard Services, TSYS, First Data, and Authorize.Net made the cut!
- JP Morgan
- Global Payments
- Wells Fargo
- Bank of America
How Can You Separate Yourself from the Competition?
When learning how to start a credit card processing company, employ these strategies to stand out from the fierce competition in the industry:
- Focus on a Niche Market: Concentrating on a particular niche or business category can distinguish you from larger competitors.
- Offer Competitive Pricing: Attract customers by providing competitive and transparent pricing.
- Provide Exceptional Customer Service: To differentiate your business from competitors and increase loyalty, provide prompt customer service and address inquiries and concerns.
- Emphasize Security and Fraud Prevention: Emphasize your company's security and fraud prevention measures to appeal to merchants concerned with data protection.
- Innovate and Offer Unique Features: Innovate to stand out from competitors by creating and offering exclusive features or tools not found in other credit card processing companies.
- Build Strategic Partnerships: Forge partnerships with complementary businesses or industry associations to expand customer reach and enhance credibility.
- Leverage Technology: Leverage technology to deliver swift, convenient payment solutions, such as mobile processing or e-commerce platform integration, to appeal to customers.
- Develop a Strong Brand: Building a strong brand can help you stand out from competitors and attract customers. Consider investing in marketing and branding efforts to build awareness and recognition.
Why Is a Niche Important?
Focusing on a niche market can provide numerous benefits for a credit card processing company. Here's why:
- Less Competition: Concentrating on a specialized niche enables you to lessen the competition with larger credit card processing companies.
- Better Understanding of Customer Needs: Concentrating on a specific market segment helps you better understand client needs and provide tailored solutions.
- Targeted Marketing: You can develop more effective marketing campaigns with a clear understanding of your target market.
- Increased Customer Loyalty: Focusing on a niche can build relationships and loyalty with customers who value your specialized knowledge.
- Higher Margins: Specialized solutions allow you to charge premium prices.
- Growth Potential: As you establish yourself in your niche, you can expand your offerings and grow your business.
Decide the Best Way to Get Into the Credit Card Processing Business
When starting a credit card processing business, assess various entry strategies to find the optimal approach based on your goals, budget, and expertise. Consider the following options:
- Register as an ISO/MSP: Becoming an Independent Sales Organization/Merchant Service Provider (ISO/MSP) lets you sell processing services under your own brand name.
- Become a Digital Payments Agent: To enter the credit card processing business, consider becoming a digital payments agent. One way is to partner with an ISO/MSP and earn commissions for acquiring new customers.
- Buy a Franchise: Buying a franchise will provide guidance and support from an established brand. However, you'll face limitations in how you can run your business.
- Create a Processing Platform: Creating your payment processing platform requires significant resources but gives you more control over your business's operations.
- Buy an Existing Business: Buying an existing credit card processing company might be the fastest way to get started, but it’s quite costly.
Should I Buy a Credit Card Processing Franchise or Start from Scratch?
Choosing between purchasing a credit card processing franchise or starting from scratch necessitates thoughtful evaluation and weighing of several factors. Consider the following:
- Brand Recognition: A franchise comes with an established brand, which can be advantageous in attracting customers. Starting from scratch requires significant effort to build brand recognition.
- Support and Training: A franchise provides ongoing support and training, which can benefit those new to the industry. Starting from scratch means figuring everything out on your own.
- Cost: Buying a franchise can be expensive. Although starting from scratch can be more affordable, it may require a significant upfront investment.
- Flexibility: Starting from scratch gives you the flexibility to build a business according to your vision. On the other hand, a franchise has limitations on how you can run your business.
- Business Model: Franchises come with a predetermined business model while starting from scratch allows you to create your own. Starting from scratch can also be advantageous to differentiate your business from competitors.
- Competition: The credit card processing industry is competitive, and owning a franchise may provide an advantage in brand recognition and support. However, starting from scratch allows for more creativity and innovation.
What Payment Processing Companies Offer Franchises?
Numerous payment processing companies provide franchise opportunities. The following list, though not exhaustive, showcases excellent options. This info may be relevant if you're interested in services like debt collection, e-commerce solutions, point-of-sale systems, or tax refund processing.
- Transworld Systems
- Electronic Payments
- PayHub Payments
- Valued Merchant Services
- EPS Financial
- Card Connect
Find Banks and Merchants to Partner with Your Company
Building relationships with banks and merchants is essential for a successful credit card processing company. It will provide access to a broader customer base, credibility, competitive advantages, and more. In further detail, these benefits include:
- Expanded Customer Base: Collaborate with banks and merchants to tap into their established customer networks and increase your potential client pool.
- Credibility and Trust: Gain trust and credibility by partnering with established banks and merchants. Customers are more likely to trust companies endorsed by familiar entities.
- Discounts and Incentives: Offer exclusive discounts and incentives from partner banks and merchants to make your services more attractive to customers.
- Access to Industry Knowledge: Leverage banks' and merchants' expertise to gain insights into industry trends, regulations, and best practices.
- Competitive Advantage: Secure a competitive edge over rivals by forming strategic partnerships with trusted banks and merchants.
Prepare a Detailed Cost Analysis
Preparing a detailed cost analysis is one of the most important things you can learn how to do when exploring how to start a credit card processing company. Here are some factors to consider:
- Startup Costs: Determine the initial costs of starting your business, including legal fees, equipment purchases, marketing and advertising expenses, and office space.
- Operating Costs: Consider ongoing expenses such as rent, utilities, employee salaries and benefits, insurance, and software licenses.
- Payment Processing Costs: Research the costs associated with processing credit card payments, including interchange fees, transaction fees, and chargeback fees.
- Compliance Costs: Complying with necessary rules and standards, like PCI DSS, may require expenses for security audits and data safeguards.
- Marketing and Sales Costs: Determine the costs of marketing and advertising your services to potential customers.
- Technology Costs: Consider expenses related to purchasing and maintaining technology infrastructure, such as hardware, software, and servers.
- Emergency Costs: Account for an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies.
- Projected Revenue: Estimate your projected revenue based on your expected customer base and pricing models.
- Break-Even Point: Determine when your business covers costs and reaches profitability, considering all expenses and projected income.
- ROI Analysis: Assess the possible return on investment over time, factoring in costs and revenue forecasts.
What Kind Of Credit Card Company Is Most Profitable?
If you're wondering which type of credit card company is the most profitable, it's not a one-size-fits-all answer. It largely depends on business strategy, market, and customer retention. Four common examples include:
- Co-Branded Card Companies: A co-branded credit card is when a card issuer and a business work together to offer customers special rewards. For example, American Express makes money from fees and interest on Delta Airlines and Hilton Hotels cards while users enjoy special rewards.
- Large Issuers: Leading card issuers such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America achieve success by offering diverse credit card options and services to a broad range of clients.
- Payment Processing Companies: Companies like PayPal and Square are go-to credit card processors for small businesses and earn revenue through various fees via their user-friendly solutions.
- International Credit Card Companies: International giants like Visa and Mastercard thrive by offering credit card processing across various countries and currencies. As the world embraces cashless payments, they profit from interchange fees and additional charges.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Credit Card Processing Company?
According to Alliedpay, a small credit card processing business with a physical office needs an average of $50,000 in minimum capital. However, other factors can make this amount higher or lower, such as:
- Licensing and Legal Fees: Costs for getting the required permits and licenses to operate legally vary depending on your location and can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
- Technology Infrastructure: Hardware, software, and network security expenses for processing transactions can vary between $10,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the level of complexity and security needed.
- Partner Fees: Partnering with financial institutions and others may incur various fees depending on the services you need and the partner.
- Marketing and Advertising: Expenses for creating a brand, website, and advertising campaigns can range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Staffing: According to Paycor, labor costs, such as salaries for employees handling operations, sales, and customer service, are the highest business expense and can vary depending on the company's size and wages.
- Compliance: Ensuring compliance with industry and government regulations can cost companies several thousand dollars when hiring compliance experts or consultants.
What Are the Ongoing Expenses for a Credit Card Processing Company?
As you learn how to start a credit card processing company, remember to plan for these crucial ongoing expenses:
- Interchange Fees: Credit card processing companies pay fees to banks for each transaction based on card type, network, and amount.
- Processing Fees: Processing fees are an ongoing expense for credit card processing companies because they charge merchants for using their payment processing services. While processing generates revenue, providing the service is an ongoing expense.
- Compliance Fees: Credit card processing companies must comply with various regulations and security standards, which may require regular security audits and assessments with additional fees.
- Technology and Infrastructure Costs: Maintaining a reliable and secure technology infrastructure is an ongoing expense for credit card processing companies, including hardware, software, network costs, maintenance, and upgrades.
- Staffing Costs: Credit card processing companies may need to hire staff for customer support, sales, marketing, compliance, and other functions. Staffing costs can include salaries, benefits, and other expenses.
- Chargeback Fees: When a customer disputes a charge, the card issuer may charge credit card processing companies a fee. This fee can be a flat rate or a percentage of the transaction amount.
- Marketing and Advertising: To attract new customers, credit card processing companies may need to invest in marketing and advertising efforts, including digital ads, content marketing, events, and more.
How Much Money Can a Credit Card Processing Company Make?
It’s hard to make it in the ultra-competitive credit card processing world. However, earning potential is significant, and you should learn about it when diving into how to start a credit card processing company. Consider these insightful facts and figures:
- Potential Earnings: A credit card processing company's income depends on merchant numbers and processed transaction volumes.
- Revenue Breakdown: Average revenue per merchant ranges from 1.5% to 3.5% of transaction amounts. For instance, a 2.5% fee on $100,000 monthly transactions generates $2,500 in revenue.
- Profit Margin Influencers: Technology, compliance, and customer support expenses can significantly impact profit margins.
- Market Share: Higher market share means higher revenue for payment processing companies.
- Payment Models: Flat-rate pricing averages 2.75%-2.90% per transaction, while interchange-plus and tiered pricing varies.
- Additional Revenue Streams: Offering value-added services, like payment gateways, fraud protection, and point-of-sale systems, can boost revenue.
- Operational Efficiency: Streamlining processes can reduce operating expenses by up to 20%, increasing profit margins.
- Customer Retention: Boosting retention by 5% can raise profits by 25% to 95%, ensuring long-term revenue stability.
Hire Employees to Staff Your Payment Processing Company
Starting a payment processing company requires a talented team to manage various aspects of the business efficiently. Consider hiring for these crucial roles to ensure your company's success:
- Sales Representatives: Skilled in networking and negotiating, they bring in new clients and generate revenue.
- Customer Service Representatives: Excellent communicators with problem-solving abilities; they handle customer inquiries and complaints.
- Technical Support Specialists: Experts in troubleshooting software and hardware issues, they resolve technical problems within the payment processing industry.
- Operations Managers: Responsible for daily operations; they excel in project management, process improvement, and leadership.
- Marketing Specialists: Proficient in social media and content creation; they develop and execute marketing strategies to promote your services.
- Accounting and Finance Professionals: Skilled in bookkeeping and financial analysis, they manage finances and ensure accurate records while adhering to tax laws and regulations.
Tips on How to Sell Your Merchant Credit Card Processing Services
To start a merchant services business can be challenging when it comes to attracting and retaining clients, but with the right strategies, it's achievable. Here are some tips on how to sell credit card processing services and effectively target merchants:
- Identify Your Target Market: Determine which businesses—small or large—could benefit from your services and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.
- Highlight Service Benefits: Emphasize advantages like faster transaction processing, lower fees, and improved cash flow to demonstrate value.
- Build Relationships: Establish trust and credibility by attending networking events, engaging on social media, and offering free consultations.
- Leverage Technology: Promote your services through online payment options and social media. Use customer relationship management software to track leads.
- Provide Excellent Customer Service: Retain clients and generate referrals with responsive, supportive service that exceeds expectations.
Is it hard to start a credit card processing company?
Establishing a credit card processing company is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, with persistence and the proper resources, it's doable. Success hinges on understanding industry regulations, fostering strong connections, and implementing effective strategies.
Can I start a credit card processing company with no experience?
Absolutely! But remember, knowledge is power- don’t go into this blindfolded. If you're venturing into credit card processing without experience, invest time learning the industry, grasping regulations, and discovering effective methods.
Is owning a credit card processing company profitable?
It can be! But it takes work. Credit card processing is a competitive industry with big players dominating the market. To be profitable, find a niche and focus on competitive pricing, efficient operations, strong client relationships, and more.
Why do credit card processing companies fail?
Credit card processors commonly fail due to fraud, system errors causing chargebacks, and poor management, marketing, or expertise. Chargebacks are costly as they depend on interchange fees, and lack of value-added services or adaptation to new tech and regulations add to the challenge.
About the Author
How much money do you need to start a credit card processing company? ›
A credit card processing company typically costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to start. This includes the cost of a merchant services provider, software, and other necessary equipment.Do credit card processing companies make money? ›
They work in the background to ensure each transaction is processed securely and lets the card network know about it. Similar to networks, credit card processors make money from a percentage of each transaction made between a cardholder and a merchant.How much can you make selling credit card processing? ›
Some may sell for payment processors, where the primary objective is increasing usage of their employers' credit card. Credit card machine salesmen earn salaries averaging between $60,000 and $70,000 annually.How to start a credit card swipe business? ›
- Obtain the necessary licenses and agreements. First of all, you will need PCI DSS certification. ...
- Set up the necessary infrastructure and technology. ...
- Establish partnerships with banks and merchants. ...
- Promote your services.