Q: What is Parallels Payment Network?
A: Parallels Payment Network is both a merchant account and a credit card processing service—and it’s got all sorts of convenient features that are designed specifically to meet the needs of Web hosters and Internet service providers.
Q. What countries does Parallels Payment Network support?
A: Right now, it supports the U.S. and Canada, but we’re working on adding support for other countries and hope to make some announcements in that regard soon.
Q: Why should I use Parallels Payment Network?
A: Because it offers low rates and is a convenient way to add merchant services to your business. Parallels has negotiated on your behalf to help you eliminate entry fees and annual fees giving you the low transaction and monthly fees.
Q: Can’t I get a product like this at my local bank?
A: Many banks offer merchant processing services. However, most banks aren’t set up to work with online merchants: they require a physical credit card and a credit card reading machine. We don’t—because Parallels Payment Network accounts are designed specifically for online merchants.
Q: What’s the difference between Parallels Payment Network and programs such as 2Checkout, PayPal, PaySystems, and WorldPay?
A: One big difference is cost. These types of accounts are all third-party gateways—that is, they all involve redirecting your customers to a third-party website. While their low initial costs may make them seem attractive, their higher transaction and discount fees will end up costing you significantly more than Parallels Payment Network over the long haul—even at very low volumes of transaction processing. Aside from cost issues, using a third-party provider may convey a lack of professionalism to your customers, who may associate these processors with consumer-only transactions and may have had less-than-professional experiences with them—in which case these negative impressions may rub off on you. This is a huge issue, especially If you plan to do reselling or business-to-business transactions.
Q: Can I customize the look of our invoices and receipts, so they reflect our branding?
A: Absolutely—and that’s another key difference between Parallels Payment Network and third-party gateways. With Parallels Payment Network, you design your own documents, so your invoices and receipts can display your company’s logo, name, address, and any other information you’d like to add.
With third-party gateways, in contrast, you have no control over the appearance of your documents: invoices and receipts will always reflect the identity of the processor, because, in essence, you’re sharing their account. This can result in confusion on the part of your customers, causing them unnecessary anxiety and increasing your support costs. Also, because the phone number listed will be the provider’s number, not yours, if your customers have concerns, their first contact will be with the processor’s office. And the processor’s main concern is preventing chargebacks—not ensuring customer satisfaction.
Q: What about selling merchant accounts to my customers—can I do that with Parallels Payment Network?
A: You sure can. As a Parallels Payment Network customer, you’ll automatically be able to resell general e-commerce accounts to your customers. While your customers will pay a bit more than you do for a merchant account, these accounts are still a better deal than can be found in many places locally—and your customers will appreciate the convenience of being able to get their merchant accounts from the same source that provides them with Web hosting or Internet service. In contrast, if you use a third-party provider for your credit card processing, the provider not only won’t offer you the ability to sell merchant accounts to your customers, but will be competing with you, trying to sell their merchant accounts to your customers.
Q: How convenient is Parallels Payment Network for my customers?
A: Very. We understand that customers of online services have come to expect automation in all their transactions and, if forced to do more work than necessary, will move on to a better solution at the first opportunity. That’s why we offer options like recurring billing, which minimize the effort required of your customers (see recurring billing, below).
In contrast, the default mode with third-party gateways is to send customers an invoice each month. When customers get the invoice, they have to click through to the processor’s website, where they will have to enter their personal information—every month. This approach gives your customers the opportunity to reconsider their association with you every month, resulting in higher churn. Plus, if you should decide to switch to a different provider once you realize that the promised low initial monthly payments are not generating the cost savings you expected, you’ll be giving your customers another opportunity to leave you. Not good—especially when you can avoid it by choosing Parallels Payment Network to begin with.
Q: Does Parallels Payment Network support recurring billing?
A: Yes, and this is another big difference between Parallels Payment Network and third-party gateways. For services such as Web hosting and domain registration, we give you the flexibility to billy our customers in a recurring fashion. In contrast, while third-party gateways offer something called “subscription billing,” that approach requires customers to preauthorize a fixed sum. Only Parallels Payment Network gives you the flexibility to implement promotional strategies such as coupons, offering the first month at half price, etc.
A larger problem with subscription billing is that you have no protection from impulsive cancellations: your customers can cancel your service at any time, without your knowledge or permission. If customers are having problems, you’d probably like the opportunity to work with them to solve the problem. With third-party gateways, you won’t have that opportunity. With Parallels Payment Network, you will.
Q: What about other types of price changes?
A: In addition to supporting promotions, Parallels Payment Network lets you change prices in other ways, as well. For example, a bandwidth billing feature allows you to bill customers extra if they exceed a specified amount of usage; and an a la carte feature lets customers enhance their service with add-ons and upgrades. In contrast, the subscription system used by third-party gateways offers no pricing flexibility, limiting your marketing options.
Q: How about one-time payments—will I have to set up separate order forms for those?
A: Not with Parallels Payment Network. Whether you’re accepting payment for consulting fees, Web design services, or a customer add-on, a built-in virtual terminal makes it easy to process one-time payments without having to set up an order form or Web page—and that means lower support costs for you.
Q: Who controls my customers’ information?
A: With Parallels Payment Network, you do. With third-party gateways, all the control is in their hands. They hold your customers’ billing information, so you won’t have access to their credit cards to bill for late fees, overages, add-ons, and one-off purchases. And every time you want to initiate a new transaction with a customer, you’ll have to set up a webpage with your processor to complete the sale. That’s a huge headache for you.
But that’s not all. Say your customers need to update their credit card information—like if their current card has expired, or has been cancelled due to fraudulent activity on the account. With third-party gateways, there’s no effective way for customers to do that—which means further delays for you in receiving your funds, as well as increased support costs.
And if you ever decide to move to a different processor, you won’t have your customers’ credit card information, so they’ll have to enter it all over again. That’s not only a hassle for them, but a convenient escape hatch if they’re thinking about leaving.
Q: Can I integrate payment processing with my website?
A: Yes, Parallels Payment Network lets you completely integrate your billing solution with your website. Whether you’re using Parallels Payment Network with Parallels Plesk Billing or with a shopping cart, your customers will be able to use the integrated order forms and payment windows without ever leaving your website. That’s not the case with third-party processors, which require your customers to leave your website to complete any transactions. And when they do, they’ll encounter pitches to buy other services, such as merchant accounts from the provider—with links to the provider’s website.
Q: How quickly will I receive my money?
A: This is a key difference between Parallels Payment Network and third-party gateways. We pay daily, and you’ll get your money within 48 to 72 hours—with no holdbacks. In contrast, third-party gateways generally deposit funds into your merchant account only twice a month—and they typically hold back as much as 5% of the total as protection against chargebacks and fraud. (These holdbacks are not prominently noted in their promotional literature, by the way. Yet they often hold this money—your money—for extended periods of time.) In addition, with third-party providers, you typically won’t be aware of chargebacks until it’s too late to do anything about them—a situation that results in further loss of funds.
Q: What about account management—how easy is that?
A: With Parallels Payment Network—very easy! As opposed to the limited account management tools available with third-party gateways, our robust management interface offers you extensive reporting and management tools that give you tight control over your business. You can also down-load our stored information and import it into your accounting software—a capability that’s not available at all with third-party gateways.