Here’s a Way to Keep More of Your Profits and Grow Your Business

For the past dozen years or so, Commonwealth Consulting Group has been supporting businesses with the credit card processing equipment and services they need to be successful, so we know what every business owner knows: accepting credit cards leads to increased sales. But we also know that means our customers have to bear the cost of maintaining a merchant account and processing credit card transactions. That comes with hefty fees that eat into your profits.

What if we told you there is a way to satisfy your customers who enjoy the convenience of using their credit card and still pay less for processing credit card transactions so you can keep more of your profits

Welcome to cash discounting! A cash discount program offsets the cost of credit card processing fees by encouraging customers to pay in cash. When a customer chooses to pay in cash, your system applies a small discount of up to 4% to the product or service price. Customers love a good discount, and there is no easier way than this – they simply have to pay with cash.

If the customer opts to pay with a credit or debit card, our upgraded POS terminal calculates and includes the card processing fee for the transaction. The customer receipt clearly displays the adjustment for not opting to pay with cash and receive the discounts. This message is reinforced with a sign displayed at your register informing your customer that if they pay with cash, they are afforded a discount. If they choose to pay with a credit card, the discount will not be applied.

It’s important to understand that a cash discount is not the same as a credit card surcharge, where the cost of processing is added to the regular price at checkout if the customer uses a credit card. Cash discount programs are legal in all U.S. states and territories as long as all compliance requirements are met.

That’s where Commonwealth Consulting Group comes in. We can help you implement a fully compliant cash discount program. With our free POS terminals and upgraded software, credit card processing fees will be included in the transaction when your customers pay with a credit card. We can also provide you with the required signage to display at your register and inform your customers of their options.

Interested? Let’s chat.

We’d love to tell you more about how other CCG customers are already using the simple, clear payment solutions we can provide. Give us a call today at 800.866. 3944, or email us at info@ccgpays.com and we’ll get you started saving money on your monthly credit card processing fees.


Seasonal ATMs? Yeah, we can do that!

It's September, a time when lots of seasonal activities start to fill our calendar! Back-to-school haircut? Check. A visit to the pumpkin patch? Check. Apple picking at the orchard down the road? Check. Visit to the farm stand? Well, you get the idea.

And if you're one of those merchants who experiences an increase in business around this time of year, or maybe you even do most of your business in the fall or winter, you don't want a lack of available cash to chase away potential customers! Commonwealth Consulting Group is here to help.

No matter what your need for a temporary ATM, give us a call at (800) 866-3944 and we'll have you – and your customers – plugged into an ATM in no time!


MA rolls out SNAP Restaurant Meals Program Pilot – Applications open through August 31 for local restaurants and food trucks

The Baker-Polito Administration has opened a Notice of Opportunity (NOO) to strategically onboard restaurants and food trucks for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) pilot.

The Restaurant Meals Program is a state option to allow certain SNAP clients, who might not be able to prepare meals for themselves or who do not have permanent housing for storing and preparing food, to be able to buy prepared meals at restaurants with their SNAP benefits.

Any restaurant or food truck can apply for the pilot if: they are locally- and privately-owned; not part of a restaurant conglomerate or multi-unit chain (including franchises); provide counter-based service and payment, and meet the reduced-price meal requirement. Reduced price options must not be exclusive to SNAP clients to prevent possible unequal treatment of clients.

Some ways to meet the requirement include consistently offering a reduced-price meal (e.g., value menu, daily lunch special, early bird special) offering a rewards program (e.g., free meal after a certain number of purchases), or reducing all menu items by a flat percent.

SNAP clients who are eligible to participate in this program will have an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that has been coded by the state to allow their cards to be accepted at participating restaurants. An EBT card will automatically be declined if the SNAP client is not eligible.

Participating restaurants and food trucks must have a point-of-sale (POS) device that is programmed to accept EBT cards. If it's not already a feature, Commonwealth Consulting Group can help you add EBT to your service.

Applications are being accepted through August 31, 2022. Businesses will be evaluated on a multitude of criteria, including their ability to service SNAP clients with disabilities and their commitment and ties to their local communities.

The Administration anticipates the option for clients to use their benefits at approved businesses will begin in the fall of 2022. Learn more about the NOO and RMP program at Mass.gov/SNAPRestaurants.

Note: SNAP RMP's are already available in Maryland (Mischelle A. Williams, Director | Email: mischelle.williams@maryland.gov | Phone: 410-767-5504) and Rhode Island (Providence and Washington Counties Only | Bethany Caputo | Email: Bethany.caputo@dhs.ri.gov | Phone: 401-559-7077)


Is BNPL an option for your business?

One of the merchant service trends you may have seen popping up all over the place lately is the process of spreading payments for products and services over a longer period of time. Though it’s not for everyone, “buy now, pay later,” or BNPL, is an idea whose time has come of age for many merchants and your customers.

According to the industry news website pymnts.com, “BNPL is now a growth industry worth more than $125 billion, with projections to grow to $3.3 trillion by 2030,” fueled by consumer awareness of the payment option, economic pressures, and aversion to high-interest rates associated with other credit products.

Many BNPL users see it as a budgeting tool with an opportunity to avoid interest payments. Under this system, the BNPL provider places a hold against an existing credit card for the full amount, but only charges the installment payments, reducing the hold as the payments are made. This approach removes the need for credit checks and can shorten the BNPL application process while permitting consumers to benefit from the high credit limits they have earned without the downside of interest payments and high APR.

If you’re a merchant in a service industry – e.g., auto repair, HVAC, IT, CPA firms, legal services, medical or dental services – you could be losing out on customers who delay using your services because of high cost. BNPL might just be the ideal solution to bring those customers back to the table.

Pay-over-time financing allows service professionals to get paid upfront and in full while helping your clients manage their expenses. You’ll spend less on collections and close faster with prospects.

Commonwealth Consulting Group has the resources right now to help service industry clients get set up right away to easily accept BNPL, along with ACH/eChecks, credit cards, and financing plans all through a simple, secure, and easy-to-use payment portal. Talk to your sales rep for more details or call us at 800-866-3944.


It's Time for Your Credit Card Terminal to Spring Ahead!

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2022. That means it’s almost time for you to change the time on your credit card terminal, unless your terminal is in the PAX-A series and automatically updates the time.
You need to be sure the time is correct for a couple of very good reasons. First, the time stamp matters for authorization codes. If the time that is being sent to the processor is different than the actual time you may get chargebacks.
Second, the auto-settle feature determines how quickly your account gets its funding. If your terminal is off by an hour, you could miss the cutoff time for funding which would delay your deposit by a business day.
To help you change the time on your terminal, we have recorded video instructions for the three most popular credit card terminals in use by CCG business partners. If you have additional questions after watching the video for your terminal, please be sure to call us for additional assistance at 800-866-3944.
Here’s a Tip: Daylight Saving Time is also a great time to change the batteries in any smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors that aren’t hard-wired!

How to reset the time of day on the Dejavoo Z8 credit card processing terminal.
  • Press the green “Enter” button
  • Use the arrow to scroll down to “Utility”
  • Press the green “Enter” button
  • Enter the password: 1-2-3-4
  • Press the green “Enter” button
  • Choose “Settings” using the green “Enter” button
  • Choose “Date/Time” using the green “Enter” button
  • If the current date is correct, press the green “Enter” button
  • Use the keypad to adjust the time
  • Press red “X” button until you return to regular sales screen

How to reset the time of day on the PAX-S80 credit card processing terminal.
  • Press the “Menu” button
  • Choose Option 5 for “System Settings”
  • Choose Option 1 for Date/Time
  • Enter the date
  • Press green “Enter” button
  • Enter the time
  • Press green “Enter” button
  • Press red “X” button until you return to regular sales screen

How to reset the time of day on the Verifone VX520 credit card processing terminal.
  • Press green “Enter” button
  • Select “Setup” (F2)
  • Enter password: 1-Alpha-Alpha-6-6-8-3-1
  • Green “Enter” button
  • Press “More” Key until you get to “Date/Time”
  • Select the Date and Time
  • As long as the date is correct, press the green “Enter” button to bypass it.
  • Put in the time
  • Press the green “Enter” button
  • Press the red “X” until you return to the regular sales screen.
NOTE: If you are making this update after 12 o’clock, it needs to be in military time (that is, 1 o’clock will be 1300, 2 o’clock will be 1400, etc.)


Help! My E-Commerce Site is Attracting Fraudsters!

Increasingly, we're being asked by our clients for help in protecting their e-commerce sites from hackers. One constant that repeats in these attacks is the use of bots to quickly rotate through a list of stolen credit card numbers until the bot finds one or more that are active and have not yet been reported as stolen. As a result, we've come up with a standard list of recommendations that clients can use to add one or more layers of protection to their sites.

Add CAPTCHA

You've no doubt come in contact with CAPTCHA before in your own online transactions. CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Put another way, it's a simple challenge that bots can't solve but real humans can easily figure out. If you want to keep bots away from your login, registration, and other important pages while allowing your customers to proceed in confidence, adding CAPTCHA is a good idea.

CAPTCHA is available in a number of different varieties, some more secure than others. The most common and widely used is the Image CAPTCHA where users have to choose the right image box(es), such as those that contain a traffic light.

Another that you've likely used is the Text CAPTCHA where you need to enter and submit the letters or word shown to continue. If the letters are entered incorrectly, the system will not advance and a new set of letters will be shown.

Audio CAPTCHA is a more secure, but less common variety that requires the user to listen to an audio file then enter and submit the words or numbers they hear. The most challenging and most secure form is the Math CAPTCHA where users need to solve a simple calculation in order to continue.

Add a Card Velocity Filter

Card velocity checking is a process that lets you recognize patterns of normal use and those that may indicate fraud. For example, if a single customers places multiple orders in a single day, it may not be unusual but a velocity checking filter would allow you to set the number of transactions allowed on any given day or alert you to call or email a customers to confirm that they actually placed multiple orders before processing payment.

Add Address Verification Service (AVS) and Card Verification Value (CVV)

AVS and CVV are systems that check the address and numerical code information provided by the customer against the information on file with the bank or credit card company that issued the card. AVS and CVV are additional obstacles for a fraudster to get past, but they're best when used in combination with other methods of fraud detection.

Add Transport Layer Security (TLS) Certificate

TLS is a security protocol for transmitting data online to facilitate end-to-end communications and online transactions. It ensures encrypting of data for communicating between web-based applications and servers. A TLS certificate is a kind of digital certificate (or public key certificate/ identity certificate) issued by the Certificate Authority. The certifying authority authenticates the certificate by signing it, certifying that it belongs to a particular domain name which is the subject of the certificate. A TLS certificate consists of a public key and a private key that interacts behind the scenes during the transactions. They ensure secure encryption when someone visits a website.

You can rely on your Commonwealth Consulting Group representative if you need help adding one or more of the above security features. Just give us a call and we'll be happy to assist you!


What is a non-cash adjustment and is it right for my business?

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. Haven’t they already written to me about non-cash adjustments (cash discounting) before? Why are they writing about it again?” The reason is simple. The past two years have been brutal for many of our merchant partners, and a number of them have turned to cash discounting as a way of reducing their credit card processing costs with very favorable results. A number of other partners are starting to inquire about how to go about setting up a cash discounting program as we prepare to enter another new year, so let’s go over this one more time.

What is a cash discount program?
A cash discount is when a business offers a discount to customers who pay by cash or check, instead of with a credit or debit card. The business owner adds a customizable service fee to all credit and debit card transactions, and then rewards customers who pay by cash or check by giving them a discount. Cash discount programs are on the rise because they can offset payment processing costs for business owners, and because experience has demonstrated that those who have implemented these discounts have seen virtually no negative reactions from their customers.

Is a cash discount program the right choice for my business?
More and more of our merchant partners are opting to offer a cash discount, but is it the right choice for you? If you offer a cash discount, you are likely to see more purchases made with cash or check as opposed to credit or debit card, so you’ll see a sizable reduction in your credit card processing fees. That doesn’t mean cash is free, of course. It will cost you time or money to count the cash and take it to the bank. Small businesses can also be susceptible to theft of cash by employees. In addition, a number of studies have shown that customers who pay with credit cards spend more money, so you may not want to motivate customers to use cash rather than card or check.

Can I offer the cash discount program in my state?
Yes, the cash discount program is available in all fifty states.

Is cash discounting the same as a surcharge?
No. People sometimes confuse cash discounting with surcharging but they are not the same. A cash discount is a reduced price paid by customers who use cash or check rather than a credit or debit card. A surcharge is an extra charge that applies to customers who pay with a credit card rather than other forms of payment, including debit cards, cash and check. Many states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas, plus the U.S. territory of Puerto Rich – do not permit a surcharge.

“A cash discount is a reduced price paid by customers who use cash or check rather than a credit or debit card. A surcharge is an extra charge that applies to customers who pay with a credit card  rather than other forms of payment, including debit cards, cash and check.”


How do I implement a cash discount program?
There are a number of guidelines that must be followed by merchants participating in a non-cash adjustment program, but that’s where we come in. Our technology allows this to happen and keeps you within the guidelines of Visa, Mastercard, and processor regulations. You’ll need a credit card terminal that is pre-programmed with cash discount processing. Next, you’ll need to notify your customers of the service fee as well as the cash discount. We can provide you with signage to help you provide notification at all entrances and points of sale.

Ready to take the next step?
Is a cash discount program right for your business? That depends on many factors, as discussed in this blog post. But if you’re ready to take the next step, we’d like to invite you to learn more about how we can help you get started. Just contact your Commonwealth representative or call us at 800-866-3944 and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

If it's good enough for Gillette Stadium, it should be great for your business!

Think you can’t run your business end-to-end on a handheld device? Think again.

Our Flex system from Clover is a full-fledged point of service terminal and business management system, the ideal all-in-one device that offers built-in capabilities to accept payments, conduct business, and track sales all from the palm of your hand. We were at Gillette Stadium over the weekend and we were impressed to see this hand-held unit in use throughout the park.

With Flex, your customers can pay how they want to pay. Swipe, dip, or tap. Credit or debit. NFC payments including Apple Pay, Google Pay, WeChat Pay, Alipay, and more. Flex comes ready for Rapid Deposit so you get your money faster, and you pay the same low rates for all cards, including AMEX and rewards cards.

Concerned about security? Flex protects your business and customer information with end-to-end encryption and data tokenization, integrated EMV chip sensors, and fingerprint logins.

What’s more, Flex helps you keep your inventory up-to-date with categories, labels, modifiers, and variants so you stay organized.

It’s everything your business needs in one simple, smart, reliable device. You can start taking orders straight out of the box with minimal set-up and training. But not to worry, we’re here to help you with everything from setting up to troubleshooting.

It may be handheld, but Flex gives you the same raw power as larger devices to configure your business the way you need to run it. Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity and a lithium-ion battery give you no-fail redundancy, and since you’re in the cloud, your business travels with you everywhere. All your data, all your info, always at your fingertips.

Have we sparked your interest? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to get you started.


It's Time to Protect Your Business from Growing E-Commerce Fraud

The Covid-19 pandemic of the past year created an increase in the number of online customers as business owners closed, or limited access to their brick and mortar locations and migrated online, sometimes just to survive.

To no one’s surprise, the surge in online activity was accompanied by a major increase in the amount of e-commerce fraud. A recent study from Juniper Research* predicts those losses will total $20 billion in 2021, an 18% increase over fraud-related losses in 2020.

Cyber attackers acquire credit card information along with credentials and go on a shopping spree that costs merchants thousands in lost merchandise and chargeback fees when the order is later marked as fraud.

Here at Commonwealth Consulting Group, we’ve seen local reports of businesses experiencing as many as 150,000 - 300,000 transactions an hour in fraudulent sales resulting from automated threat actors using batches of stolen credit cards.

It's Time for Increased Security Measures

We’d like to urge our clients to work with your website developer to re-evaluate your e-commerce security, determine where you might be most vulnerable, and consider adding one or more extra layers of security checks to your payment platform.

One such security measure would be a CAPTCHA test (see below) that helps your e-commerce platform distinguish between real customers and computer BOTS, such as Google reCAPTCHA, or a WordPress CAPTCHA plugin.

What is Captcha?

A CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a type of challenge–response test used on a variety of websites that want to verify that the user is not a robot. The most common type of CAPTCHA requires someone to correctly evaluate and enter a sequence of letters or numbers perceptible in a distorted image displayed on their screen. The CAPTCHA test helps identify which users are real human beings and which ones are computer programs or BOTS. CAPTCHA works because computers can create a distorted image and process a response, but they can't read or solve the problem the way a human must to pass the test.

Fraud Filters Can Help Protect Your Business

There are many other types of fraud filters you can set up, but some of the more common ones include:

• A daily or hourly velocity filter that controls how many sales may be submitted to your website over a certain period of time. This helps prevent fraudsters from testing credit card numbers after purchasing lists of stolen cards.
• An address verification system (AVS) where you set your fraud filters to decline or require review for orders where the billing and shipping addresses don’t match.
• A card verification value (CVV) filter that looks for discrepancies between a card’s CVV number and the one entered during checkout.
• A purchase amount filter that requires you to review all transactions that fall outside a certain range. Since most businesses know their typical transaction size, you can set the filter to alert you when a transaction is higher or lower than this amount.

Clear Messaging Reassures Your Customers

Remember, enhanced security measures are just as important for customer protection as they are for your business. Be sure to include clear messaging to let your customers know why you’ve increased security at checkout. That should go a long way toward preventing cart abandonment while lowering fraud risks.

* Morrow, Susan, and Nick Maynard. “Online Payment Fraud: Emerging Threats, Segment Analysis & Market Forecasts 2021-2025.” Research Report | Fintech & Payments, Juniper Research, 26 Apr. 2021, www.juniperresearch.com/researchstore/fintech-payments/online-payment-fraud-research-report/subscription/emerging-threats-segment-analysis-market.

 


Introducing CCGConnect

Commonwealth Consulting Group (CCG) is branching out. We have rolled out a new turnkey solution for software developers called CCGConnect that allows business applications, such as point-of-sale (POS) systems or electronic cash registers ECRs) to integrate in-store (card present) payments.

According to CCG principal, Keith Reardon, “most software companies have to spend a lot of time and resources to implement EMV chip-card transactions into their system. This type of semi-integration and PCI certification can sometimes take months, but with CCGConnect, a software company can copy and paste our coding into their system, pair a terminal, and run a test transaction in under three minutes.”

CCGConnect is delivered in the form of a software development kit (SDK) that bundles everything developers need for the software application to integrate with both current and next-generation payment terminals while remaining outside of PCI-DSS scope. The system also offers cross-border coverage; a single integration can serve merchants in both the United States and Canada.

“By integrating CCGConnect into an application,” says Reardon, “developers can eliminate the lengthy certification processes and get to market faster.” The system offers out-of-the-box connectivity with pre-certified payment terminals and no coding is required when new terminals are added.

Once copied into an application, CCGConnect automates the discovery of semi-integrated payment terminals on a merchant’s local network and establishes any required pairing. After a pairing is established, the SDK is responsible for orchestrating the flow of payment operations between the application and payment terminals. All merchant and cardholder-facing screens are provided.

For more information, click on the Developers tab.


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