Merchant portals, the new way acquires interact with their customers
We have implemented several merchant portals in the last years. Recently, we finished our work on the Concardis myconcardis portal. I want to share some insights and thoughts about creating a merchant portal.
A new way to communicate
Merchant portals seem to be the way acquirers want to communicate with their customer’s. Instead of mailing thousands of payment advice letters everyday, handling charge back inquiries manually, sending offers on paper, or handling complaints and issues through phone calls, it is much easier to do all of this through a merchant portal. Actually the modern customer (merchant) expects such a service of the acquirer. Other industries like the Telcos have been offering such services since many years. As a user, you are able to receive your bills electronically, upgrade your service or book special options e.g. roaming packages through a portal. Now the acquires also want to go this way and offer digital services to their customers.
But how do you get started with such a project? And what do you need to make your portal successful?
Most acquirer infrastructures are extremely heterogeneous. This means that they consist of many different systems. Usually, there are the following systems:
- Payment gateways
- Authorization systems
- Acquiring systems (Settlement processing etc)
- Customer Relations Ship (CRM) systems
- ERP systems for Accounting and Billing
- And usually also some special systems for some special cases (things just grow during successful business years :-))
Whit so many systems, the relevant information is spread among the whole infrastructure. A key challenge is to decide where to attach the merchant portal. To the CRM, the acquiring system or the the ERP? And if you start thinking about what data from which system you want offer your merchants, it gets even more complicated. How do you want to handle users and where shall these users be stored (we are talking several hundred thousand users)? Based on what criteria and how to grant access rights? Where do you want to give read or write access and how does the merchant portal interfere with your existing business processes?
Creating a merchant portal is not a one time project. It is a journey towards better communication to your customers and to get happier and more loyal customers. Continuous improvement also leads to leaner internal processes which lets you run a more profitable business.
One last question: why do all the Telcos have very good customer portals that are used by their customer’s on a daily basis? Because they started 15 years ago with their development and they continuously improved their services and optimized their processes for better and smoother communication with their customer’s. Something the acquiring industry should also do. Start now and get better every day.
We have a lot of experience in this matter and in answering these questions. We can help acquirers to quick start into a merchant portal project. We spent days and weeks to find solutions for the various problems. An experience that is of high value for our customers.