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Do I Need a Merchant Services Provider?

How important are merchant services to my business?

The evolution of technology and culture is waiting for no one - Merchant services included...

So, with digital making our lives more convenient and more connected - companies and brands need to keep up with technology and culture to cater for customer expectations.

If your company is unable to accept forms of payment that your customer has become accustomed to, you lose out on sales. That's it.

If you plan on catering to the 4.5 million active credit and debit cards in Ireland, you're going to need a merchant service provider, or payment processor, to help you to securely and reliably manage your transactions.

man at bakery counter - considering card payment terminals

This merchant services article looks to answer:

  • Do I need a merchant services provider?
  • How do I choose the right merchant services provider for my small business?
  • What are the benefits of using a merchant services provider?

Do I need a Merchant Services Provider?

Merchant service providers are essentially payment processors. When a customer makes a purchase at your premises, or online store, using a credit card, debit card, or other form of digital payment, a merchant service provider or payment processor is the middle man that manages the transaction.

African/African-American man thinking - how to choose merchant service provider

Today, there aren't many reasons why a company selling products or services wouldn't use some form of payment processor, or merchant service provider.

Over half of all customers in Ireland are actively using credit and debit cards every day. The trend is growing and credit and debit card usage continues to rise.

"Irish consumers showed their continuing preference for credit and debit card usage with transactions up 9 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, now standing at €17.2 billion." (irishtimes, May 2019)

So, if you want to accept payments from a large portion of Irish customers, you're going to need a merchant services provider.

What does a merchant services provider do?

Merchant services providers ensure payments are processed securely and reliably from your customers bank account to your bank account. When a customer makes a purchase at your business premises, or on your website the transaction will appear immediate - Your merchant services provider will handle all the heavy lifting. 

So, what does a merchant services provider do?

  1. Your merchant services provider will communicate with your customer's bank and ensure the funds are available.
  2. The money will complete the transaction and store the funds in your merchant services account.
  3. The money will usually be transferred to your business bank account within 3 - 5 working days.

How do I choose the right merchant service provider for my small business?

To choose the right merchant services provider for your small business, you'll need to do your research.

man thinking at laptop - how do I choose the best merchant service provider

As we're dealing with money, much of your decision will be determined by price. Unfortunately, most companies don't list their payment processing fees on their website, and so you'll need to talk to merchant service providers to receive quotes.

But, talking to various merchant services providers is important and worthwhile. All businesses are different and have different requirements. And, all business have changing requirements at different stages of their growth.

For example, a restaurant may require 6 portable bluetooth card payment terminals, while a book store may require just one desktop payment processing terminal.

Additionally, an early stage business with relatively low transactions, may benefit from a 'no-monthly-fee' card reader (with higher % transaction fees), but low commitment. While a larger company with higher transactions (€1,500+ /m) may see more value and lower costs overall, using a merchant service provider with a monthly service fee (but much lower % transaction fees).

So, choosing the right merchant services provider for your business will take some thought and some well considered questions to ensure you're getting the best service and best price suited to your business needs. 

So, how do I choose the best merchant service provider for my small business?

  1. Choose a few merchant service providers that appear to be 'saying the right things' based on your needs and values.
  2. Arrange a consultation with your chosen providers.
  3. Get quotes for payment processing fees, transactions fees, and monthly or annual service fees.
  4. Ask questions about payment terminal functionality and technology.
  5. Ensure that your merchant services technology and the service offering is fit for purpose for your business.
  6. Make your decision!

What are the benefits of using a merchant services provider?

woman sitting on large stone hand sculpture - benefit of merchant services

Merchant service providers and card payment processors will allow your business to accept credit card payments, debit card payments, and other forms of digital transaction at your premises or online store.

If you want to cater to customers of all ages and in all circumstances you will need a way to accept digital transactions. And, your merchant services provider can help you to do so. If you choose to only accept cash in your business, the digital trend is showing that your customer base is becoming smaller and you risk increasingly turning customers away.

By accepting credit and debit card payments, you can increase sales and customer experience. By providing convenience and catering to demand, you can ensure your business has the best chance for success.

Digital transactions are secure and reliable, whereas cash can be stolen or misplaced. Security is paramount when it comes to your business. When payments are deposited directly to your bank account, you don't need to worry about hiding cash, or travelling to the bank with a lot of cash.

The benefits of using a merchant service provider

  1. Increase sales at your business, where customers may not have cash
  2. Provide a great customer experience with convenient payments
  3. Digital transactions dramatically improve accounting workload
  4. Transactions are deposited directly to your bank account
  5. Digital transactions are more secure and harder to steal than cash


The decision as to whether you need a merchant services provider for your business, remains with you. However, the demand for digital forms of payment and the continuous rising trend of technology and services in the fin-tech space, appear inevitable.

So, it would appear that we are moving gradually towards a cashless society. At which point, businesses will either need to accept digital forms of payment, or close their doors.

If you want to keep up with customer demands and increase opportunities to sell your product or service using digital payments, you're going to need a merchant services provider, or payment processor.

Of course, that decision will always be yours.

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