Vaping is a booming industry whose growth has been driven by consumer demand. It is generating more than $1 Billion per year in revenue and is proving to be a key component in helping people to stop using tobacco. Despite this, banks have never fully jumped on the vaping bandwagon, and with the FDA’s latest regulations , they are more skittish than ever.
Your Local Bank
Unlike the bagel shop located next door, your vape shop won’t be able to go to your local Wells Fargo or Chase bank to get a merchant account, because they won’t approve you, even if you’ve been a loyal bank customer for years. The reason, is that your industry type is considered ‘high risk’ by the payments industry because it is a regulated industry associated with tobacco.
PayPal, Square, etc.
Another place many new vape shops initially turn to, is companies like PayPal, Stripe or Square, because it’s easy to sign up and the approval process is instantaneous. The problem, is that if you look closely at the fine print, those companies don’t accept tobacco, vape, eCig or related businesses. Unfortunately, PayPal, Square, etc. don’t typically review an account for compliance until a couple of months after you’ve started accepting credit card payments, at which point they freeze all your funds without notice. At that point, there’s no arguing that your products don’t actually contain tobacco, or that you need your money to make payroll, you’re just stuck with them potentially holding tens of thousands of your dollars for six months.
So, what’s a promising vape business to do…
A High Risk Merchant Services Company
The term ‘high risk’ sounds shady, but all it means in the payments world for vape businesses is that your industry is regulated by the government. Most big banks like Chase or Wells Fargo don’t want to deal with the hassle of complying with the government’s oversight requirements, and thus won’t write vape businesses or any other high risk business. Same thing goes with PayPal and Square. Smaller regional banks, by contrast, want your business so they’re willing to go through the extra hassle of complying with the regulations, and thus can approve ‘high risk’ merchant accounts including vape shops.
Those same regional banks don’t have tens of thousands of local branches throughout the country to act as their salespeople, so they work with merchant account providers like Soar Payments, to help bring them customers and facilitate the merchant on-boarding process.
Picking a High Risk Merchant Services Company
The fact that your options are limited to high risk merchant services providers doesn’t mean that you don’t still have plenty of choices for your credit card processing. There are over a dozen leading high risk merchant services providers that work with eCommerce and retail vape businesses. So how do you choose among them…
- Read Online Reviews
Just as with vaping businesses, not every high risk provider offers the same quality customer experience. One of the easiest ways to separate the good from the bad is to read third-party reviews of the companies, ideally based on recent customer experience.
- Look for Companies that Specialize in Vape
The vaping industry is in a period of regulatory change, and will be through 2018, as the FDA’s latest regulations take full effect. Having a merchant services provider that specializes in the vaping industry better ensures that you’ll be able to navigate these changes without interruption to your merchant account throughout this process.
- Compare Service Quality
Merchant services is the sort of thing you forget about until something goes wrong. And when it does, you need quality help, immediately. So, even though service quality and responsiveness may not seem like the sort of thing you should care about, for the one time a year your credit card terminal goes down or your payment gateway isn’t functioning properly, you’ll want it.