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What is a Virtual Merchant Account?

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  • Written By: Bradley James
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Business owners can purchase a virtual merchant account specifically for entering sales online or through an online terminal connection. Businesses that allow customers to make purchases using a credit card are likely to have more transactions than a business that does not accept credit cards. Consequently, business owners require a terminal that can help to process credit cards over the Internet. This online terminal, also referred to as a virtual merchant account, is especially helpful for online or virtual sales.

The only thing a business owner needs in order to establish a virtual merchant account is the ability to access the Internet. This allows business owners to accept credit cards with only a computer and an Internet connection. The transaction platform automatically handles the verification process and documentation, which reduces the need for paperwork or additional equipment.

Used by both traditional brick and mortar and online businesses, a virtual merchant account provides business owners with an increased level of flexibility. With a virtual merchant account, credit card processing can occur almost anywhere. This includes festivals, concerts and trade-shows. It can also be used to capture phone or catalog orders. This flexibility helps to increase operational agility and the rate at which business owners respond to changes in consumer demand. The virtual merchant account platform also provides business owners with a way to centralize and track transactions in one central location.

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In general, users of virtual merchant accounts have three different types of systems to choose from: web portal, software, and wireless. Web portal systems are set up to allow the business owner to fully process an order, from beginning to end, through a particular website. Software systems allow business owners to upload a processing terminal on a computer, laptop or other portable device with an Internet connection. Wireless equipment systems communicate with telecommunications networks to process orders directly with banks. All three systems provide business owners with options that can be tailored to suit the needs of the business.

In addition to providing traditional merchant account services, a virtual merchant account provides users with online access to applications that help to organize and analyze data. Reports are generally produced automatically and are updated as transactions occur. Traditional merchant account data usually has to be analyzed separately and reports are not available on a real-time basis. Consequently, a virtual merchant account can help business owners to better manage the data analysis function which translates into better decision making.

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