Demystifying the credit card process with CARDWATCH

 The business of accepting credit cards is a bit of a complex  process for first timers. Not surprisingly, Senior Living Communities are not always the most well versed in the ways of being a retailer!  To complicate matters further, new credit card industry rules come into play beginning October 2015 with the roll out of “EMV” and Chip cards.

There are FOUR main parties involved in making credit cards happen through CARDWATCH in an integrated way. 

Credit Card stakeholders 

The CARDWATCH POS application integrates with a 3rd party “payment gateway”.  The gateway solution sits in between the POS application and your credit card processor (eg. Chase Paymentech, Global, First Data, Elavon, Mercury, etc) and ensures compliance with all the complex Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements.  Under the new EMV/chip guidelines, card data is encrypted right at the payment terminal before being communicated to the processor and back so that you (the Merchant) are protected from a security breach of sensitive card data. The use of a chip verifies that the card is valid (chips are near impossible to duplicate).  In future, the use of a PIN will be required (just as it is in Europe and Canada).

PIN Pad Payment TerminalIf your community is already accepting credit cards somewhere (like in the business office), then you would already have a Merchant Account with a card processor.  If not, your business office team can set it up through their bank.  The card processor provides you with Merchant ID#’s (MID’s) and Terminal ID#’s (TID’s) for each payment terminal.  Your bank or card processor will also supply you with an EMV Chip payment terminal.

CARDWATCH support staff would assist in configuring your POS for accepting credit cards.  Test transactions are done and if all goes smoothly, you are ready to take credit cards!


Credit Cards vs Gift Cards

NOW… our recommendation to our customers is to restrict accepting credit cards on campus to a single central location such as the front desk and allow residents, guests & visitors to purchase (load value on) a Gift Card using cash or a credit card much like any other retailer on the planet.  The purchaser can then use that gift card anywhere on campus where you have a CARDWATCH terminal.   Credit card transactions typically cost the merchant about 3% of the sale on average.  Gift Card transactions handled with CARDWATCH cost you nothing.  There are two parts to the typical processor’s fees:  (a) a flat per-transaction fee and (b) a percentage fee.  If a guest buys a $100 Gift Card using a credit card, there is only ONE transaction fee.  If that same person instead made 10 purchases of $10 each using their credit card each time, there would be 10 transaction fees charged.  Food for thought.

Want to know more about accepting gift cards or credit cards at your community?  Just give us a call or drop us an email.