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July 17, 2017

8 Common Misconceptions About Setting Up a Merchant Account

merchant account set upWhen you run your own business, staying in touch with the times isn’t just a good idea. It’s a necessity if you’re serious about succeeding. This is especially the case when it comes to the payment options you offer your customers. Cash and checks are becoming less and less common by the day. In fact, many consumers don’t even carry them anymore. They simply assume they’ll be able to use their credit or debit card wherever their day happens to take them.
In other words, you need a merchant account if you want to stay relevant. If you’re not willing or able to offer your customers the convenience they’re looking for, you can bet your competitors will be. The good news is getting a merchant account isn’t nearly as complicated or difficult as you may think it is. Let’s go over a few of the most commonly held misconceptions about the process and address the truth behind each one.

1. Merchant accounts are too difficult for certain types of businesses to get.

Back in the early 2000’s, ecommerce was a relatively new concept. Not only were consumers not yet used to doing the bulk of their shopping online, but the entities in charge of granting merchant accounts weren’t sure what to make of it either. It didn’t exactly help that the only real way to set up a merchant account was to go through a traditional brick and mortar bank. There were certainly a lot of hoops to jump through if you were in ecommerce or ran any other business that could be considered high risk.

These days, that’s no longer the case. To begin with, there are lots of different merchant account providers to choose from when you’re ready to open yours. Many of these specialize in setting up accounts for small businesses or ecommerce companies.

Also, the requirements attached to the process are relatively easy to satisfy. For instance, registering your business as a sole proprietorship instead of incorporating is a great option for self-employed service providers. Modern business bank accounts can be obtained with little hassle and at a very low cost. Even registering a business name is pretty simple and inexpensive. You don’t need much else to qualify for a merchant account here in 2017!

2. You can’t get a merchant account if your business is a start-up.

Traditionally speaking, a bank sees a start-up business similarly to the way they’d see a person with no credit history. Although there’s no tangible reason to think that business isn’t a good risk, there’s no positive track record to definitively prove it is one either. In the past, this made getting a merchant account notoriously difficult if your business was still just getting started.

Today, people are more entrepreneurial than ever and many merchant account providers recognize this is a chance to connect with an emerging market. Some of those providers actually specialize in working with smaller, newer, or independent entities. They pride themselves on their ability to provide personalized service, strong client relationships, and unique solutions designed to help start-ups succeed.

3. The application process is always difficult and confusing.

In actuality, the application process could be difficult if the criteria attached to your unique business are very complicated. However, in most cases and for most businesses, the application process itself really isn’t that daunting or complicated. The key to success lies in making sure you select the right service provider.

A good merchant account provider that’s right for your business will pride itself on simplifying the application process for its would-be clients. Many allow you to begin the process online by entering basic information about your business via a web form. They then use what you’ve told them to prepare the correct documents for you. All you need to do is read them, sign them, and return them along with anything else you’re asked to send (i.e. a void check).

4. Merchant accounts are expensive, both to set up and to maintain.

Here we have another myth rooted in a distant past when ecommerce businesses still weren’t understood or accepted as a valid concepts. This meant they were almost always considered high risk ventures by default and high risk often also means high cost.

These days, all sorts of people are in business for themselves and the fees associated with having a merchant account often reflect that. Many account providers provide options that don’t call for set-up charges or continuing monthly fees. Instead, you pay a small fee each time you actually process an associated transaction – perfect for very small businesses or sole proprietors that only process credit card transactions occasionally.

In other words, there are options out there that were designed with your business and budget in mind. You no longer have to be a big corporation or a large company doing lots of volume when it comes to credit cards to benefit from having a merchant account.

5. It takes forever to receive funds attached to a credit card transaction.

Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for credit card processing agencies to deliver a merchant’s deposits once a week or even once every other week. The perceived risk attached to a given transaction was a lot higher then. Holding onto funds a little longer gave that processing company a bigger buffer against possibilities like chargebacks, fraud, or merchants that closed their accounts while still owing service fees.

The more common credit cards, debit cards, and the like become as payment options, the lower the perceived risk of such transactions. Here in a day and age that finds most consumers using credit or debit cards to complete their everyday transactions, processing companies are often on a daily (or near daily) deposit schedule. Depending on where you bank and who you work with as far as credit processing, you’ll probably see funds hit your account within 48-72 hours of the original transaction.

If you choose the right merchant account provider, you’ll have some choice as to when and how often you receive your deposits though. Most business owners do prefer to receive daily deposits, but if you actually prefer weekly deposits instead, that can be arranged.

6. Establishing PCI compliance is also difficult and expensive.

If you’re exploring the possibility of opening a merchant account, you may already be familiar with the concept of PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. The term refers to the standard every merchant needs to meet in regards to data security if they’re going to accept credit cards as payment options.

The cost and effort required to continuously meet that standard can be complicated or costly… for some businesses. For others, this is hardly the case. For instance, you’d expect a really big retail company like Macy’s or Wal-Mart to have more different tech requirements to meet than an independently owned dress boutique across town. You’d also be right to expect that. What is often super involved for a large business is usually pretty simple for a small one.
Again, your choice in merchant account providers can really help you here. Look for companies that go out of their way to educate clients about how to achieve PCI compliance and make the process simple. Many are happy to provide individual clients with additional help or advice if needed or desired as well.

7. Processing rates are the only factors that are important.

Ask a business owner that still isn’t accepting credit or debit cards as payment why they do things that way and they’ll probably tell you they don’t want to waste money on processing fees. They assume they’re being smart and saving while money is actually walking right out the door in the form of dropped sales and lost business. It’s not uncommon for such business owners to assume processing rates are all that matter when it comes to a given merchant account option.

As you would when opening any other kind of financial account, it’s important to look at the big picture which includes monthly minimums (if there are any), possible cancellation fees, and setup fees. Sometimes additional fees are charged for online access or changes made to your account as well, so make sure you’re looking at your final tally when evaluating options.

8. One merchant service provider is as good as another.

Just as there are lots of different ways to price merchant services attached to an account, there are lots of different providers out there. Some will be better fits for you than others. Some specialize in working with specific types of merchants like non-profits or businesses in a certain industry. Some focus on customer service as a selling point while others may offer clients free equipment, flexible rates, or other incentives.

Just take the time to carefully evaluate each of your options from top to bottom. No matter what business you’re in or what your needs are, there’s a merchant account provider that’s just right for you. Explore the possibilities today!

MobiusPay specializes in high-risk merchant activation, domestic and international processing. MobiusPay helps online businesses with payment processing, high risk merchant accounts, chargeback & fraud prevention, online check ACH processing and with maintaining PCI compliance. Please visit https://mobiuspay.com/ to learn more.

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June 30, 2017

What to consider when applying for a personal loan?

loans for personal reasonsWhat is a personal loan?

Personal loans are unsecured loans. A lack of collateral, like a car of house, is what makes unsecured loans different from secured loans. Unlike a mortgage or student loans, a personal loan is personal. And unlike like other loans, it can be used at your discretion.

Personal loans are most ideal for long-term purchases. Which is unlike something like a payday loan that is more short-term. Personal loans can also be used for debt consolidation, to finance vacations, or even unexpected expenses like home repairs. They can even be used towards real estate, like one of those forest beach homes for sale.

A personal loan, that you can use at your discretion, sounds good. But there are some things to consider before taking out such a loan.

Does it make sense for me?

Before you consider a personal loan, you need to ask yourself why you need the loan. And if a personal loan is the type of loan you need. As mentioned above, a personal loan is ideal for more long-term purchases or consolidating high-interest debt. If you’re not looking to consolidate debt, or need a little help purchasing one of those forest beach homes for sale, it might not be worth it.

Do I qualify?

After you’ve considered whether a personal loan is right for you, next is to determine if you qualify for one. These qualifications can vary by lender. For example, credit ratings, maximum debt-to-income, and interest rate. Typically requirements can be:

A credit rating between 640 and 750
A maximum debt-to-income ratio of up to 45% (depending on loan amount, income, and credit rating)
An interest rate from 8.5% to 18% (which also depends on your credit rating)

What are the Interest Rates?

A personal loan could be a great way to save on high-interest debt from credit cards. Depending on your credit rating you could be eligible for low interest rates on your personal loan. A lower interest rate could save you a lot of money in the long term. It might even be beneficial for you to shop around, to find the best deal available to you.

Are the fees and terms associated with the loan?

When a applying for a loan, it’s important to do your research. Before you sign to anything, make sure you’ve read and understood everything outlined in the loan agreement. Is there a term agreement? Or are there any fees associated with the loan?

A personal is debt!

A personal loan sounds great on paper, and in the grand scheme of things. It has the potential to offer you a great solution to a problem. But it’s important to remember that it’s still a loan, and therefore a form of debt. Debt that eventually needs to be paid off.

How do you plan to pay it off?

As mentioned above as great a solution a personal loan sounds, it’s important to remember that it’s still a form of debt. And like all debt, it can easy for it to get out of hand. When you’re looking into getting a personal loan, it’s important to have a plan for paying it off. A personal loan has the potential to simplify a sticky situation, and if not used appropriately it could make a sticky situation stickier.

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June 16, 2017

Coming to Terms with Bankruptcy

details about bankruptcy filingIt can be difficult to make the decision to file bankruptcy because most people are afraid of the unknowns associated with actually filing a bankruptcy claim and becoming insolvent. It’s scary to think that you could lose your house or your car, or any other valuable asset you have, and so a lot of people put off filing for bankruptcy for as long as possible; unfortunately, this usually only perpetuates the situation. What’s more, some people finally make the decision to file for bankruptcy and then find out they don’t actually qualify for it. It’s important to get the facts straight so you can decide what is right for you. Once you do make the decision to file for bankruptcy, you’ll want to start working toward the rest of your life.

Get Passed the Shame

There is no shame in reaching out to a Licenced Insolvency Trustee to discuss the option of bankruptcy. Once you have discussed your options and it is decided that you will file for bankruptcy, your credit counsellor can help you determine how to move forward. They will talk you through what the next few weeks, months or even years may look like for you in terms of your financial standings, and you can start to put together a plan to get back on your feet.

Work Toward Goals

Now that the bankruptcy has been filed, it can seem overwhelming to think that you need to start rebuilding your financial status. It’s important to have a list of things you want to work toward; for example, make a long term plan for holding a credit card again. Make a short term plan of building a savings account for yourself so you can cushion unforeseen financial issues in the future.

Talk to Your Family

Part of declaring bankruptcy is that you’ll need to attend some kind of counselling sessions; it will be important to your claim that you do this. What’s more, you should have a frank and honest conversation about your finances with your closest family members so they can understand what is happening to you and perhaps can help you. At the very least, having someone to talk to about what is going on can help you deal with it.

Don’t Give Up

Some people think that filing for bankruptcy is the end of the world. It is just a process by which you can hit the refresh button on your finances – in its simplest terms. Good and honest people often find themselves having to file for a bankruptcy because their finances have gotten out of their control. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or you don’t deserve to have anything ever again. A series of bad choices or circumstances got you here, but you don’t have to stay in that place.

If you aren’t sure if bankruptcy is right for you, consult a Licensed Insolvency Trustee and they will walk you through the criteria and help you determine if you need to file a bankruptcy claim. While it seems like it’s very unfortunate, you will be able to get through it with the help of your credit counselor.

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April 16, 2017

Burgeoning Financial Trends for 2017

financial trendsThe new year and the new presidential administration has ushered in a host of fiscal changes that could impact your wallet. Safeguard your money and act in the best interest of your household or business’s bottom line by learning more about the growing financial trends in 2017.

Rising Interest Rates

Interest rates are on the rise in 2017, creating a financial environment that is geared more toward saving than borrowing. In fact, people who put money into personal savings and retirement accounts have the opportunity to create and grow their wealth. Alternatively, people who need to borrow money face paying higher interest rates and making larger payments on their loans each month.

The higher interest rates correlate to the expanding economy and the creation of more openings in the American job market. As unemployment rates go down and American workers may more money, they have the unique opportunity this year to save money and take advantage of rising interest rates that could lead to greater personal wealth. Capital management services offered by professionals like James Dondero are also expected be more in demand this year.

Freelancing in Retirement

This year also has the makings of being the ideal time for retirees to make some extra cash doing side gigs. It is no secret that retirees are living longer and often outliving the money they have set aside for this time in their lives.

Until recently, however, people in this age demographic had few chances to earn extra cash. Many employers did not want to invest time and effort into training employees who would leave the workforce sooner rather than later.

However, thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft that rely on freelancers, senior citizens now have the opportunity to work for themselves as independent contractors and earn money that will not put their Social Security incomes in jeopardy. Along with driving for Uber or Lyft, they also can freelance as writers, artists, tutors, and other independent contractors.

Investment Portfolio Automation

This year also shows signs of increasing the demands for investment portfolio automation. This automation makes investing with financial pros like James Dondero easier and essentially creates an ideal if not passive way for people to put money into the stock market without putting forth any unnecessary effort on their part.

Further, this automation shows promise of being tax efficient and low in cost. Moreover, it costs the same if not less than an exchange-traded fund.

About James Dondero

James Dondero began his career in the financial industry in 1984 and has since become one of the leaders in capital and investment management. As the co-founder and president of Highland Capital Management, L.P. in Dallas, Texas, Dondero also serves as the CEO and chairman of the board at HCM Acquisition Company. Before founding Highland Capital Management, L.P. he worked for top financial companies like American Express and Protective Life.

He graduated with top academic honors from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with dual degrees in finance and accounting. He is certified as a Certified Management Accountant as well as a Chartered Financial Analyst. He also volunteers for Dallas-based charities and organizations like the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Institute, Education is Freedom, Snowball Express, and the Perot Museum of Natural Science.

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March 26, 2017

Why Wealth People Are Buying In Citizenship By Investment Schemes

wealth investment schemesThese days, many wealthy people are buying their citizenship in locations where it is easy for them to preserve their wealth. There are actually numerous countries that allow what is called an immigrant investor program. These programs are set up by the countries’ governments in order to bring wealthy people into their ranks, and benefit from those people.

Countries with Immigrant Investor Programs

Countries like Cyprus, Spain, Malta and Australia have these programs. It is likely that in the future, more and more countries are going to begin implementing these types of programs. Especially as more countries are feeling the strain of the global financial crisis. This can help energize their economies. The most popular locations are in Europe, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean.

An example of this type of program can be found in Malta. Their program is called the Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme. This program grants ‘naturalization by investment to reputable individuals and their dependents, after a rigid and thorough due diligence processes that make a significant contribution to the social and economic development of the country.’ What are the benefits? After five years of buying property in Malta, this will be tax exempt on sale. There is also no inheritance or death taxes, no estate duty, no net worth or wealth taxes and no municipal taxes, rates or real estate taxes. Dual citizenship is also available.

The examples above for Malta are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits for the wealthy related to immigrant investor programs. These programs are specifically aimed at the very wealthy. The investments required can range from $500,000 to several million dollars. For those that do make this kind of investment, this is a very small amount. In Europe, Bulgaria requires a $700,000 investment in government bonds for five years, whereas in the Caribbean, St. Kitts& Nevis requires a $400,000 investment in real estate or the sugar industry.

Why are the wealthy investing in new citizenship in this manner?

So if the investment is minor for these investors, then what makes them want to participate in this type of investing? The main reason for doing this is the tax benefits. The super rich are always looking for ways to keep their money out of the hands of their government, and hold onto as much of it as they can. In this instance, the countries offering these programs, like the ones mentioned above, offer lower income taxes, and, more importantly, inheritance taxes.

There are other incentives as well. These include:

• Access to better education
• A desire to escape political instability or disagreement
• Better passport or visa-free travel to more countries, especially those in Europe as part of the European Union
• Higher standards of living
• Tax advantages

There are even some of the very rich who try to avoid taxes altogether by bouncing between countries around the globe with different citizenships and residence permits.

Who are these extremely wealthy people making this type of investment?

Those who are gaining citizenship through investment are from all over the world. Generally, many of these wealthy are from the Middle East, India, South Africa and China.

So how can the not-so-wealthy take advantage of these programs?

There are a few countries that do not require as large of an investment, like Bulgaria, in order to invest in citizenship, but gain all of the benefits. Dominica, for example, is the most inexpensive deal. With only an investment of $100,000 plus some fees, citizenship can be bought. Even St. Kitts and Nevis has a cheaper program than the $400,000 mentioned above. For only $25000, you can make a non-refundable donation to the St. Kitts & Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation to get access to citizenship.

There are also many countries that offer citizenship for an investment below one million US dollars. These include Malta, Portugal, and other EU countries where you can also gain all the benefits of the EU. Of late, citizenship by investment in Malta is gaining popularity due to various benefits. Moving and living in Malta has become so popular also due to the economic boom there is on the island

The least expensive of them all may be Latvia, where with a five-year residency costs merely $96,000. The benefits associated with this program include a common visa policy shared by twenty six European countries, but there is no telling how long this deal will last.

More countries are now offering this type of Immigrant Investor Program to help their economies bring the wealthy, and not so super wealthy, into their citizenship.

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