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Integrated Payments: What Are They and How Do They Make Your Business More Efficient?

By April 15, 2022January 23rd, 2024No Comments

Integrated payments are a hot topic – but what are they, and what do they really mean for your business? Russell Gilmer, Curbstone’s Sales Manager, takes us on a deep dive to provide a better look at the impact. Find out why more and more merchants are integrating their payments for faster and easier transactions.

First things first: what are integrated payments?

Integrations connect the payment processing function with other systems and software. This makes transactions a seamless, embedded business process.

In Curbstone’s case, we integrate payments into the programs that our customers run on their IBM i/iSeries/AS/400. Sometimes, that’s a commercial ERP system. Other times, that’s a custom-built application for one specific business process, such as order processing or accounting. In either case, integrated payments put an end to manual processes, daily reconciliation, and disjointed data across separate software systems.

How does integrated credit card processing compare to the traditional alternative?

Non-integrated payments are much more time-consuming and disjointed. Let’s say your customer service reps are responsible for processing payments when a customer places an order. With a non-integrated approach, they’d have to start the order in one software system, then open a separate system to re-enter the transaction amount, customer name, and billing address. With Curbstone, all of the transaction information is populated from the existing order. There’s no manual re-keying.

What are Integrated Payments?

Integrated payments can also make life easier for your finance team. Without an integration, your accounting staff has to manually reconcile payments that are not tied to specific orders. This can take hours each week. However, when everything is connected, your order entry system already knows when an order has been paid. This streamlines workflows for multiple back-office departments.

So: integrated payments are primarily a way for a merchant to increase efficiency?

Definitely. With companies today prioritizing efficiency over almost everything, we see considerable improvements in terms of speed, accuracy, and visibility.

The benefits aren’t just for the merchants, either. Your checkout and fulfillment processes get faster, which means your customers don’t have to wait as long to buy what they need and get their products. As it becomes increasingly important for companies to become as easy as possible to do business with, integrated payments improve the experience on the customer side as well.

In today’s world, most merchants sell on multiple channels – for instance, in a retail store, where they use traditional credit card terminals, and online, using an e-commerce website. How do integrated payments work when a merchant processes payments in multiple ways?

It can be less complicated than it sounds if you use software that’s designed for omni-channel payments. (In more straightforward terms, that just means a single payment platform that can accommodate in-person sales, online sales, and mail orders/phone orders.)

The actual payment processing methods and technologies are still going to be different for each channel. For instance, checkout staff at a retail store will have customers insert or swipe their cards at a physical terminal; customer service reps in a call center will manually enter the customer’s payment data using a secure portal. However, when one platform serves as the foundation for all of a company’s payment processes, it’s much easier for a merchant to deploy the right technologies to support their business while keeping everything tightly integrated.

That’s another important point to make. Merchants need an integrated payment solution that can grow as they grow.

There’s a good chance that you change the way you process payments over the next five years. Maybe you’ll improve your order processing workflow, launch a new e-commerce website, or start to accept newer digital payment methods beyond standard credit and debit cards. As those changes take place, you’ll need an integrated payment system that can accommodate your new ways of doing business. If you have an inflexible solution, you’ll have the stick with the processes your platform can support, which cancels out the main benefits of integrated payments.

That sounds like it could get complicated.

It’s way less complicated than it sounds. Curbstone provides unique technologies and APIs for almost every situation – from online transactions to EMV transactions. You don’t have to re-work your business processes or data structures in order to adopt integrated payments. (Unfortunately, that’s often the case with less flexible payment gateways.) If you run into problems or need help with your implementation, our support team is standing by to help you get back on track.

What about the integration process itself?

It can take a considerable amount of work to build a payment integration from the ground up. That’s why it’s important to work with a solution provider that has specialized experience on a specific platform.

At Curbstone, we’ve been focused on the IBM i for so long that we can make payment integrations happen quite efficiently. We’ve developed several out-of-the-box software integrations – for instance, for InTempo Enterprise and Iptor DC1, IP1 and Pharma1  – that require no custom programming at all. Users can add the payment function to their existing software without having to build a whole new integration from the ground up.

But, even for merchants that use different ERP packages or AS/400 applications, RPG-native APIs make the integration process faster and less complicated. Our customers don’t have to spend as many of their resources on development; their RPG programmers don’t have to deal with the steep learning curve that they would if they were using a different payment solution. Again, our support team is standing by 24/7 to help.

That sounds like a great way to quickly develop a payment integration.

On that note – how do merchants make the business case for integrated payment processing? It has to be more than just promising leadership that new software will make things more efficient, right?

Transaction efficiency can be a hard thing to quantify, but it can be done. You primarily need to focus on the time savings, as well as the reduced risk of processing mistakes. However, Fortunately, Curbstone also provides additional benefits that can be much easier to quantify.

By reducing your credit card processing fees, for instance, our technologies can quickly pay for themselves. We’ve seen customers save more than 2 percent on their fees, which – for high-volume businesses – can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

Additionally, our payment processing technologies significantly reduce PCI scope and reporting requirements. This accomplishes two very measurable changes:

  1. Your IT team spends less time on PCI compliance and reporting.  This is easily quantified – and a great way to get support for a payment integration. Time not spent on complicated security audits means more time to spend on other projects.
  2. You greatly reduce the risk of loss of credit card data. Data breaches can cost a company millions of dollars. Some of the most recent breaches have included:
    • Target credit card breach – 18.5 million
    • TJ Maxx credit card breach – 40.9 million
    • Equifax data breach – 425 million

Our goal in sharing this information isn’t to use data breaches as a scare tactic; however, the cost of a potential incident can help drive home the importance of a solution that keeps your customers’ payment data safe. That’s not just true for massive enterprises like the companies I mentioned above – it’s also true for small and mid-size businesses like the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers we work with every day.

Last question: what advice do you have for a merchant that’s looking to integrate their payments for the first time?

Take your time. Payment integrations can touch almost every portion of your business. Building a quality integration can carry you decades into the future!

Also – lean on industry experts for advice as much as you can. At Curbstone, it’s what we do. We’re here to share best practices, proven methods, and real-world solutions that have worked for other merchants. Our expertise lets you reduce the amount of trial and error that goes into modernizing your payment operations.

Want to learn more about integrated payment solutions? Let us know how we can help.

Learn More About Integrated Payments

This article is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about your specific compliance requirements, please consult with your PCI-certified Qualified Security Assessor (QSA).