One of the most frustrating and confusing steps of launching a business is navigating the treacherous waters of the online payments industry. The industry is notorious for high pressure sales tactics, sky-high merchant fees, confusing terms and ironclad contracts. I experienced this firsthand when launching an eCommerce site and is inevitable if a business plans to accept credit card payments for their products and services. Although the experience can be intimidating, setting up payment processing doesn’t have to be a necessary evil for small business owners.
Braintree, an all-in-one credit card payment processing service, makes this process simpler, less daunting and, dare we say it, perhaps even friendlier. Founded by Chicago entrepreneur Bryan Johnson in 2007, Braintree is a one-stop-shop for payment processing that focuses on providing pricing transparency, excellent customer service and customer education. As a result, the company has grown to $1 billion in transactions in 2010 and is on pace for $3 billion in transactions in 2011, which is staggering considering the company attributes 99% of new business to word of mouth from happy customers.
Unlike many competitors with single service offerings, Braintree provides small businesses with a bundled gateway solution that includes the merchant account, payment gateway and assistance with PCI compliance. Having one service provider is a big plus from an organization and time management standpoint, both of which are very important for small business owners with little to no staff. It also helps to avoid any headaches associated with possible miscommunication between multiple vendors. In addition to the core bundle of services, Braintree offers recurring billing, global payments and remote credit card storage.
Flexible recurring billing options including: trial periods, discounts, customizable start and end dates, add-ons, automatic failed transaction management and other subscription management tools. Merchants can accept payment in 134 local currencies, making it easy to transact globally without the hassle of establishing and managing separate accounts overseas. The remote credit card storage service, known as the Braintree Vault, simplifies and accelerates PCI Compliance as the handling, processing and storing of credit card data locally is eliminated. Protecting sensitive credit card data from a security breach is not only critical to the customer, it also helps the small business avoid legal fees, regulatory fines and a PR crisis.
One of the main selling points that Braintree really tries to drive home is pricing transparency, even linking to an example of “pricing trickery” from a Costco magazine advertisement for credit card processing. To further reinforce this point, all of Braintree’s fees are listed clearly on the pricing page and offer a detailed explanation of each charge on their pricing FAQ. While their fees may seem higher at first glance, the company stresses that they have no hidden fees and are confident that they are competitive or even cheaper than other service providers.
As any small business owner can attest to, positive customer testimonials are especially important when demonstrating the worth of a business in a cutthroat industry known for unscrupulous practices. As mentioned earlier, Braintree attributes 99% of their new business to word of mouth and let’s its client roster speak for itself. While the company’s services are aimed at any startup or small business that would like to transact online, it has created a niche customer base in the technology space with big hitters such as 37signals, LivingSocial and OpenTable. For small business owners looking to stay ahead of the curve with their payment processing and business operations, it’s a good sign to see innovation-driven tech companies as early adopters.
-To contact the writer on this story: Philip Nowak in Chicago at email@example.com.
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