September 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

New site helps e-retailers find reliable credit card processors

E-retailers looking for a secure and dependable credit card processor at a good price now have some help. Transparent Financial Services has launched a shopping comparison site that lets merchants shop for processors and review their ratings.

E-retailers looking for a secure and dependable credit card processor at a good price now have some help. Transparent Financial Services has launched a credit card processing shopping comparison site that lets merchants shop for processors, review processor ratings and enter details in a price calculator to see if they are getting a good deal.

The online card processing calculator allows merchants to enter information about their business and retrieve a rate they should be able to secure, says Sean Harper, co-founder of the company. The tool asks about 15 questions including how a merchant accepts cards-over the phone, via the Internet or in person- the retailer’s industry, its number of monthly card transactions and its average transaction size.

If a retailer is in the market for a new processor, it can submit more information including a copy of its last processing bill. Transparent shows a small amount of data from the bill to the card processors it works with and they can bid for the merchant’s business. Similar to a comparison travel site like Orbitz, merchants can compare prices and see processor ratings.

“The best thing about it is that it forces processor to present pricing in a way that is easy to compare,” Harper says. “Processors usually make it as difficult as possible to compare prices.”

Visitors aren’t required to register at the site, but do have to enter their e-mail address to comparison shop. Merchants are sent a link to the results, Harper says. Card processors pay Transparent a commission to be members of the network, Harper says.

The site was made available to the public in February. One hundred merchants have used the comparison shopping tool since the web site’s launch. Six processors currently bid for customers, but Harper says Transparent is adding more every day.

To build up its original database, Transparent pulled information from card processors and Visa and MasterCard. “We have data from more than just the 100 merchants that have submitted bills,” Harper says.

Transparent is particularly focusing on building out its processor ratings systems to help merchants find reputable companies.

Harper, who used to own an online store, and a friend who also was a business owner, decided to launch the site after becoming frustrated with the lack of transparency involved in choosing a card processor. “We saw it as a real problem and we wanted to do something about it,” he says.

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