High Risk Payment Gateways and the Impact of Transaction Risk to Merchants

High risk Merchant Account

In general, merchants offer products and/or services in exchange for payment from customers, be they consumers or other businesses. The vehicles for merchants receiving payments include (in various forms of packaging); coin, currency, checks, wire transfers, electronic funds transfers, charge cards, internet transition processors (PayPal, Square, Wise, etc.), and Person 2 Person processors (Venmo, Zelle, etc.). Each payment gateway has inherent risks, costs, liquidity constraints and accessibility hurdles for the customer, merchant and transaction processor. In this discussion we will focus primarily on high risk payment gateways and more specifically high risk credit card processing.

Transaction processors encounter unique risks with each transaction type but the transactions with the largest potential for chargebacks due to fraud or disputes are with charge card transactions. These processors are compensated for the time and effort of transferring funds by per transaction charges, dollar volume upcharges (a percentage charge on dollars transacted) and/or income derived by investing funds in transition before being made available to the endpoint merchant.

High risk merchant accounts often erode conventional transaction pricing structures either because they attract customers involved in credit fraud, have a customer base that regularly dispute transactions due to buyers’ remorse or Have sales cycles that are more prone to buyer’s remorse or require longer processing times.  Sin markets such as the sale of tobacco, liquor, gambling and other adult services are often categorized as high-risk credit card processing and charged a premium.

Ecommerce merchant accounts and bad credit merchant accounts (where the merchant is in jeopardy of filing for bankruptcy), are also categorized as high-risk merchant accounts. 

Merchants serving customers with volatile transaction patterns or that are facing a challenging financial landscape generally seek out the services of transaction specialists who offer
high risk credit card processing with tailored risk limiting solutions at affordable rates and reasonable fund availability schedules. These specialists often offer sophisticated transaction approval systems that offer the high-risk merchant account instant approval as transactions are entered and processed on the spot. High risk merchant account instant approvals involve significant data resources to cull out bad credit or fraudulent transactions and yet offer a quick and easy transaction experience to most other customers. High risk credit card processing with instant approvals requires on-line data access at the point of sale for larger denomination transactions. High risk merchant accounts that typically have smaller dollar value but frequent transactions often use fraud prevention databases at the point of sale to reduce transaction times. This may also hold true for
ecommerce merchant account payment processing.

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