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How Might Payment Methods Change in 2017?

“Faster” and “Easier” are two goals always being pursued by the payments industry. They are important, but safety and accuracy must always be considered as well.

As we start a new year there are a number of new technologies hoping to make a splash. It will be interesting to see which becomes a reality, and which ones we’ll still be discussing when it’s time to preview 2018.


Consumers already have several payment methods available to them. New financial technology is striving to make these processes more user-friendly.

Digital Wallets

Mobile payments continue to increase in popularity, particularly among Millennials. This may hasten an evolution away from swiping debit cards and toward NFC technology.

Same-Day ACH

ACH payments typically take 1-2 days to clear. Last year, the National Automated Clearinghouse Association (NACHA) began efforts to accelerate these transactions, with the ultimate goal of making funds available by banks to recipients in the same day. The objective was to have this system in place by next year.

The Challenges

All of these breakthroughs are great for consumers but not immune to vulnerabilities. How secure are digital wallets from being compromised on a user’s smartphone? What if a user inadvertently downloads an application that accesses his or her phone data and bank transactions?

Will service always be available and consistent? Or can hackers disrupt functionality with billions of illegitimate requests? People need to know they can rely on whatever payment method they select.

As we make our way gradually toward a cashless economy, Cliq will be there to answer your questions, provide you with safe, accurate, easy-to-use payment options, and introduce new products and services when we are certain they meet our standards, and the standards of our customers.

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ACH by Cliq®

Combining efficiency with ease of use, ACH by Cliq delivers the payment processing services merchants need to handle these vital tasks quickly and safely.

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Our solution integrates with your existing products and processes, so you can start saving money even faster (though lower returned check fees and overhead costs). And the system is backed by 24/7 support – we’re there when you need us.
Find out more about ACH by Cliq®

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Card Transaction Surcharges- What You Need to Know

Nobody reacts well to the word “surcharge.” It implies paying more for something to cover someone else’s expenses. But some merchants believe these fees are necessary as a way to recover all or part of the transaction fee from a card purchase.

The situation is further complicated by different terminology (the surcharge is called a “convenience fee” in some industries) and by varying state laws. Since 2013, VISA has allowed merchants to add surcharges in all but 10 states, but the legal settlement that established that precedent was recently overturned by a federal appeals court.

If and until new legislation is passed, here is some information about surcharges that may be helpful.

According to VISA Core Rules and VISA Product and Service Rules, U.S. merchants cannot impose a surcharge in circumstances where it is prohibited by other card brands. Surcharges are not allowed on debit cards and prepaid cards, including gift cards.

Notification of the surcharge and the exact amount or percentage must be made at the retailers’ point of entry and at the point of sale, and the amount must appear on the transaction receipt. For purchases not made in-store, such as via telephone or website, cardholders must be informed of the surcharge and have an opportunity to cancel the purchase.

The 10 states that do not allow surcharging under any circumstances are:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Straight Answers From Cliq

Sadly, some of the confusion around surcharges emanates from less than scrupulous point of sale device providers. Some of these companies try to gain a competitive edge by telling retailers that surcharging is allowed on all card types, and that some surcharges can only be applied by using their “patented” system. They also charge retailers more – perhaps as much as $150 per terminal per month – to access this bogus privilege.

Retailers that are taken in by these schemes not only wind up overcharging customers and paying much more than they should for merchant processing services, they are also breaking the law.

This is why it is important to choose a merchant services provider like Cliq that will give you straight answers and make certain that your business practices in this area are in accordance with surcharge regulations as they exist now.

Since the possibility exists that laws will change, or that VISA and other card providers may withdraw their surcharging practices altogether (as American Express already does), some merchants have abandoned surcharging services now, figuring it may ultimately cost them more than what they’ll get back.

Talk to a Cliq representative about this issue if you have any additional questions.

The False Positive Puzzle

For retailers, perhaps the worst unintended consequence of fraud detection is how many sales are lost from good customers whose transactions are mistakenly flagged and rejected.

These missed opportunities, known as false positives, not only subtract from a company’s profits, they can also alienate honest consumers.

A study from Javelin Strategy & Research finds that one out of every four declined transactions happened with someone who just wanted to buy grandma a new sweater. Where actual fraud losses amount to approximately 7% of the total cost of fraud management in ecommerce, losses from false positives total 19%, according to the 500 ecommerce merchants surveyed.

It’s no mystery as to why these incidents are on the rise. As fraud detection tools screen every transaction more carefully, their filters sometimes catch legitimate sales as well, because of characteristics and patterns deemed suspicious. Having been burned too often in the past, merchants are now erring on the side of caution.

As thieves shift their efforts toward online transactions and away from stealing credit and debit cards (now that chips have made them safer), false positives will continue to occur and likely increase. And retailers will continue to endure them as a necessary evil.

It’s unfortunate, but protection against fraud is essential, and every retailer should have advanced tools in place to keep them safe. That starts with a secure and dependable payment processing solution.

Looking for the best way to protect your business? Check out Cliq’s retail merchant services solutions.

‘Tis the Season…for Online Payment Fraud

The holiday season is a time of joy, especially for many retailers that rely on a boost in end of year sales. But it’s not all good will toward men as Christmas approaches, as one security expert predicts that online fraud is about to hit an all-time high.

The California-based company ThreatMatrix, Inc. stopped 130 million online attacks From July through September, a 40% increase over the previous quarter and up 90% over the same three months in 2015.

Those behind the attacks are attempting theft on a massive scale. Stolen identity data is being used in attempts to place thousands of orders at multiple major retailers. The company is now predicting as many as 50 million weekly attacks on retailers during the peak of the holiday shopping season.

The switch from magnetic strips to EMV chip credit and debit cards was supposed to help curb illegal activity and it has achieved that goal, since these new cards are nearly impossible to counterfeit. Compared to last year, Visa has observed a 43% decrease in the amount of counterfeit fraud among merchants who have upgraded to EMV-compatible payment systems.

Thus, those who like to get stuff without paying for it are moving away from using physical cards at the point of sale, and focusing exclusively on cyber-attacks with sophisticated bots. At times, the attempts to defraud ecommerce merchants actually outnumbered legitimate sales transactions.

The requisite warnings have been issued to consumers on how to protect themselves from identity fraud. But as the war between cyber-security and cyber-thieves continues to escalate, there will sadly always be opportunities available for those looking to steal.

How can you protect your business? A secure payment processing system is a great start.

Find out more about Cliq payment solutions

Tips, Fees, and Time-Saving Solutions*

In restaurants and hair salons, hotels and taxicab companies, tipping is part of the everyday practice of doing business.

But as much as employees love receiving tips, business owners would rather avoid the headaches of creating tip pools, calculating tip payouts, and keeping accurate records, for both the IRS and other government agencies that oversee how and when these funds can be collected.

As there has recently been more action in the courts concerning the Fair Labor Standards Act requirements for tipped employees, this seems like a good time to review the current laws on who can participate in tip pools and whether certain deductions may be made from tips.

1. Minimum wage is required – but can also be avoided

Employers are allowed to take a “tip credit” for employees who regularly receive tips, allowing them to reduce their hourly salary to as little as $2.13. This may be acceptable only when combined income from wages and tips is equal or above minimum wage, and when all tips go into a tip pool.

2. What constitutes a tipped employee?

A decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stated that any employee could be included in a tip pool if it can be expected that the customer intended the employee to receive a portion of the tip. But how can you be sure of that? You can’t, of course, so some businesses try to clarify the designations by only including employees that have some direct contact with customers. In other words, if you serve the cheesecake to the customer’s table, you’re in the pool. If you put the whipped cream on top of the cake back in the kitchen, you may be left out.

3. Can employers deduct fees from tips paid with a credit card? 

Another Fifth Circuit decision decided that employers could retain 3.25% of tips paid by credit card. Some restaurant owners tried to take even more, to offset the costs of purchasing and using equipment that processes credit cards. The court said no.

Tip Processing Made Easier

Given all of these other considerations, business owners can benefit from anything that makes the tip calculation and payment more accurate and less time-consuming. That’s TIPS by Cliq®. More than just a tip reporting system, it’s a simple, easy to use solution for owners/managers that also provides tip distribution to employees on a VISA® payroll card.

Find out more about TIPS by Cliq®

Satisfying Buyers and Suppliers with ACH

The best outcome in any business transaction is one that makes all parties involved happy.

With B2B payments, it is often the case that what vendors need most to manage incoming payments may be a different priority from those shared by business owners or corporate buyers.

Suppliers always want to be paid yesterday. Buyers prefer to control payment terms in whatever way makes it more convenient for them.

Fortunately, there is one solution that delivers for both: ACH.

Now buyers who want more extended payment terms can still rely on the ages-old custom of writing a paper check, which they can send out when its convenient, knowing they still have a day or two to make sure it’s covered.

That may generate some cash flow issues with suppliers but ACH makes it easier to manage them. An electronic payment solution tracks when money comes in and goes out from a bank account.

While commercial cards offer the same visibility, they also require an interchange fee that industries with low profit margins would prefer to avoid.

Speed, cash visibility, and no added cost burdens – that’s why ACH may be the best option available for satisfying buyers and suppliers.

Find out more about ACH solutions available from Cliq

Paycards and the Unbanked

Let’s face it – paycards have their supporters and their detractors. But while these discussions take place among financial experts and industry observers, there are tens of thousands of people who rely on a paycard every day to support themselves and their families.

These are the unbanked. Their reasons for not wishing to have a checking account may vary, but that decision should not stand in the way of getting paid for the work they do.

These folks have other options, such as getting paid in cash. But that can be dangerous, especially for workers who leave their place of employment late at night, and may have to walk or take a bus home. Street crime is a sad reality in our cities and if someone has their cash stolen there is no way for that loss to be reimbursed.

Those funds are protected when they are added to a paycard. There is a paper trail from the employer and a means to stop payment should the password for a paycard be stolen or hacked.

Checks are also safer than cash, but the unbanked employee still needs a place to cash them. Check-cashing businesses charge a fee for their services – why should these employees be penalized for not having a checking account?

Fortunately, while paycard debates may continue, their popularity continues to increase, and not just among the unbanked. Many millennials prefer the convenience of cards to cash and checks even if they have a bank account. That trend is likely to continue and will have a positive impact on the unbanked as well, as there will be less of a stigma over ‘special treatment’ afforded them when it comes to payday.

One thing is for certain – there will always be a percentage of the population that is looking for other options. Paycards provide a fast and easy way for them to join the workforce and access their funds.

Find out more about Cliq’s paycard solutions

Why the Smallest Business Still Needs Automated Payment Processing

“Time is money” may be a cliché, but in business it’s also indisputable.

Automated payment collection and processing offers a faster solution than the old-fashioned method of collecting payments through invoices. But today’s small companies may not think it makes that much difference. In fact, one industry expert estimates that no more than 5% of small service providers in the U.S. are currently using end-to-end automation for payment processing.

The irony is that these are the types of companies that would benefit most from ditching their manual business processes.

A small company only has a few employees, so every hour spent on invoicing, running back and forth to the bank and other tasks is time taken away from servicing current customers and finding new ones.

Without an automated system, the billing process takes longer and is subject to more errors. And since employees may not have time to chase down every late payment, some invoices typically never get paid at all. For a company that may require every incoming dollar to expand or even just to stay afloat, that type of loss can be devastating.

An automated payment processing solution is not only convenient but also affordable, and once these company owners realize how efficiently they can now collect customer payments, without the tedious administrative work and with no lapses in cash flow, they will wonder why they didn’t make the switch sooner.

With a small business, whether there is ten employees or just one, every customer counts and every job deserves fast payment. Automated payment processing can play a critical role in keeping these businesses in business.

Find out more about payment processing solutions from Cliq

More Customers Opting for Mobile Pay – Even At the Store

According to a report issued earlier this year by Bank of America, the number of consumers using their phones to make purchases is now at 40%, up from 34% in 2015.

What is particularly intriguing about this is that the trend cuts across all age groups, so it’s not just the Millennials that grew up with smartphones opting for mobile payment. These stats also are specific to in-store purchases – further reducing the number of customers still paying with cash or by check.

Good old-fashioned money is still the most prominent method of paying for goods at a checkout counter. But if these trends continue that won’t be the case forever.

Such payments are referred to NFC – near field communication. That term describes the technology that allows two devices, in most cases a customer’s smartphone and a company’s payment terminal, to communicate with each other when they are in close proximity.

Businesses that want to accept these payments will need a NFC-enabled payment reader. When a payment is initiated, the NFC-enabled reader and the smartphone pass encrypted information back and forth to complete the payment. This process only takes a few seconds, and is typically faster than an exchange of cash or even the chip cards now replacing magstripe debit cards.

If you’re a merchant, you need to be ready to accept payment however your customers wish to provide it. Do you have the ability to take NFC transactions, of the kind being so actively promoted now by places like Apple Pay? If the terminals at your business are not set up for this, you may run the risk of losing business from those who prefer digital payments.

Cliq can help – contact us today.