2017 Merchant Services

Posted by Canstar Blue August 6th 2018

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Canstar Blue reviews merchant service facilities from ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac based on their fees and charges, reliability, device functionality, transaction speed, online reporting, customer service and overall satisfaction for small business customers in 2017.

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2017 award for merchant services

Most Satisfied Customers | Commonwealth Bank

Canstar Blue’s 2017 review of merchant services has seen CBA top our customer satisfaction ratings. CBA earned five-star reviews from small business customers across most research categories, including reliability, device functionality, customer service, transaction speed, online reporting and overall satisfaction.

CBA on top for merchant services satisfaction

With plastic cards continuing to replace cash in the lives of most consumers, the need for businesses to adjust and find the best methods of accepting payments has never been greater. For most, this means subscribing to a merchant service facility provided by a bank, allowing you to take card payments with relative ease. But which bank should you go with? With Eftpos terminals evolving all the time – and fees & charges varying between financial institutions – it can pay to do your research. In this review, Canstar Blue lends a hand by showing you how Australia’s big four banks are rated by small business customers.

This year, we surveyed more than 600 small business owners and decision makers to find out what they think of the financial institution that provides their merchant services. Banks were rated on factors such as fees & charges, reliability, device functionality, transaction speed and online reporting, to give you an idea of what to expect should you get on board with them. In 2017, Commonwealth Bank was the only institution to rate five stars for overall customer satisfaction, in addition to most other categories. It was four stars overall for NAB and Westpac, while ANZ achieved three stars.

Five-star reviews were in fairly short supply in 2017. While Commonwealth Bank earned top marks in six out of seven research categories, the only other five-star ratings went to:

  • NAB for customer service
  • Westpac for transaction speed

However, CBA proved a clear winner overall, making it two years out of three at the top of the ratings.

Commonwealth Bank is one of Australia’s most innovative financial institutions, with a suite of merchant devices to make any business sit up and take notice. Its simple merchant plans give you an Eftpos device and monthly plan of your choice, with a strong focus on portability. CBA’s flagship device is called Albert – a fully portable Eftpos tablet that can be carried around restaurants or stores, meaning great flexibility for the business and convenience for the customer. With 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, Albert promises fast contactless payments with a PayPass and payWave reader, while allowing for split payments, tips, email receipts and invoices. Smaller devices called Leo and Emmy are also available, targeted at businesses on the move.

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Drivers of customer satisfaction

While merchant services are becoming more advanced and transactions processed quicker and quicker, it’s the fees & charges that come with the convenience that matters most for small business customers, our 2017 survey found. It identified the following drivers of overall satisfaction in order of importance:

  • Fees & charges
  • Reliability (e.g. of devices and software)
  • Device functionality
  • Customer service (e.g. problem resolution)
  • Speed of service transactions
  • Online reporting

Lots of factors are important in determining overall satisfaction with a merchant services provider, but when you’re considering your options, it’s important to fully understand the fees and charges that could apply.

Merchant services fees and charges

Merchant service fees are made up of several fixed and variable components. The fees are usually based on the number of transactions that are made over a month and can vary between types of businesses. As an example, CBA publishes the following fees that may apply to your business:

  • Merchant Services Fee: The base percentage fee charged by the bank simply for providing the merchant services.
  • Interchange Fees: Fees paid by the acquiring bank to the issuing bank when you process a new transaction. These fees are set by Visa and MasterCard.
  • Credit Card Authorisation Fees: These are fees charged when you validate that there are funds available on a card before you process a transaction.
  • Equipment Fees: These are fees covering the physical equipment supplied.
  • Stationery Fees: Covering the cost of stationery items, such as printer rolls and vouchers.
  • Facility Maintenance Fees: General fees covering the cost of maintaining your facility.
  • Chargeback Fees: These occur when a cardholder disputes a credit card transaction. The issuing bank initiates a chargeback fee against the merchant account.
  • Debit Card Fees: These are fees for debit card transaction. When you process a transaction with a debit card, the amount is deducted from the cardholder’s account and debited by the issuer.

As you can see, merchant service fees can certainly add up. Therefore it’s little surprise that no bank in this year’s review achieved top marks on the subject. CBA and ANZ rated four stars for fees & charges, while NAB and Westpac received three stars.

When asked how much they spend on merchant service fees in an average month, business owners and decision makers reported an average of $410. About six out of ten survey respondents (61%) declared merchant service fees as a concern for their business. In addition, two-thirds of respondents (67%) think they could get a better deal on merchant fees by shopping around. However, there is little doubt about the importance of good merchant facilities as 65% of businesses said the majority of customer spending goes through their Eftpos facilities.

But perhaps the most telling statistic to report is that more than three quarters of businesses surveyed (78%) have always been with the same bank for their merchant services. No matter how happy you are with your current arrangement, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare offers from a range of other providers. It may cost you a little time, but could save you heaps in ongoing fees and charges.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 1,600 Australian small business owners or decision makers (i.e. the main decision maker for the small business) across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have merchant service facilities from a bank to take payments from customers – in this case, 663 small business owners/decision makers.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.