What is an ISO ?
All applications for a merchant account go through an underwriting process to gauge the level of risk for that particular business and business type. Some of these processors are directly affiliated with the member bank and in some cases owned by the member bank. All of these processors must be “registered” as an Independent Sales Office (or ISO) with a member or acquiring bank. Member Banks need ISO’s in order to generate and approve as many merchant accounts as possible. The Payment Card Industry strictly monitors activity at all levels in order to provide retailers and their customers the highest level of privacy and security.
The Independent Sales Office, or ISO, is not only focused on generating merchant accounts for the Processor they are registered with, but are responsible for maintaining their relationships with the merchants that are accepting and processing credit cards through them. An ISO can be anywhere is size from a few people to hundreds and can offer everything from merchant accounts and customer service to technical support and credit card terminals.
As a rule of thumb I tell merchants to do their homework because bigger isn’t always better when it comes to choosing an ISO. One of the main complaints I get is that as the ISO gets bigger, it’s usually at the expense of service or support. Many merchants have told me they are on hold forever and sometimes can’t even speak with a live person. A good ISO will have agents whose job is to create and foster the relationships with businesses and merchants that need brand new, different or additional merchant accounts yet also require a good level of support and service to go with them.
Finding the right ISO and having a good agent to assist you whenever you need will make the whole process pain-free and give you the peace of mind knowing you’re never on your own when you need service or support.
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