Small Business Takes on the Dodd-Frank Act: Part I

The Dodd Frank act is a point of contention with the recent changes.  With 16 sections and a total of 16 titles containing 243 rules which require 67 studies and 22 periodic reports, this is an immense beast. As of May 25th, a repeal of the Durbin Amendment had been slipped into the Republican anti-Dodd Frank bill. Named after Richard Durbin, Senator of Illinois, the Durbin amendment put price control deemed by the Federal government as “reasonable and proportional to the cost” on fees which banks and credit unions charge retailers for debit card purchases. The purpose of this series is to track the immediate impact of big-picture policy changes on small businesses.

Calculations of Federal Reserve data shows that retailers took in $42 billion because of the Durbin Amendment: the savings are as good as the number sounds for larger businesses and those that sold bigger ticket items. However small businesses are feeling the impact of this form of price control. As Harry Alford, cofounder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, explains

“Before the Durbin Amendment, interchange fees were negotiable, which was a good thing for mom and pop stores. But government regulation as dictated by the Durbin Amendment has set a floor as well as a ceiling for these fees, meaning that some small retailers are paying more for these transactions now than they ever did before the law was drafted.”

So while there are large savings, small businesses did not necessarily experience a positive impact from the Durbin Amendment.  The savings that price controls were supposed to incur were meant to be felt by consumers were nearly not present. Since so many businesses have been losing free checking as well, these businesses are now passing through fees to consumers who end up shouldering the higher costs.

With all that we’ve covered, Jeb Hensarling, Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he agrees with the removal of the provision that would have capped prices stores pay banks when consumers use debit cards. With the huge amount of conflicting interpretations on the who’s who with regards to the Durbin Amendment’s impact, one thing is very clear: large businesses are saving billions while retaining their old pricing, and struggling families are losing financial incentives with America’s small businesses. There is the chance that repealing the Durbin Amendment could possibly raise prices further, but we must also consider the fact that forcibly limiting those costs in one place can effect in costs increases elsewhere for those who needed them lowered the most. Stay tuned as we continue to cover the small business impact of the Dodd Frank act.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

How the New AHCA Health Bill Affects Your Small Business

Last Thursday, AHCA passed by a small margin of votes. It passed so fast after a last compromise that there was no time to study the bill, nor did the congressional accounting branch assess costs and impact before it hits the public. This change would remove a huge amount of regulation: health insurance would in theory be more accessible, cheaper, and businesses would have more flexibility to provide for the needs of their employees. However, the original intention of such an expansive overhead created by the ACA was “to guarantee people in the system that their financial roof won’t collapse with one serious medical emergency.”

Business Insider provides a great example of how this might look: A company could have operations in South Carolina and Vermont. If South Carolina is granted a waiver and drops the lifetime limit on maternity care for insurance plans, the company could use that baseline to put a lifetime cap on maternity care for employees in Vermont as well.”

Ultra-small businesses might not be as heavily impacted by these changes however we might start seeing businesses with over 50 employees provide the hefty yet wide coverage that ACA demanded from businesses. It will be harder for certain small businesses to buy health coverage: this same bill also removes the tax credit available to companies with fewer than 25 employees. It is very worth noting that AHCA also bakes in a very real age tax that would force older adults to pay extremely high premiums compared to their younger counterparts.

As a small business employee or owner, here are some takeaways:

  • Businesses that rely on a core employees will be heavily impacted by a system that punishes older workers

  • The health insurance landscape is about to shift, it will probably not stop changing for a while, so buckle down.

  • Business owners will have the flexibility to drop those protections on their own volition, or keep them. Regardless, the overhead will cost them.

  • Ultimately, the coverage that ACA had previously defined as a given is dissolving: it’ll ultimately be up to business owners to protect their own employees.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

Keep Your Eye on Mobile Payments to Impress your Customers

While mobile payments are relatively new, there’s an emerging group of people who are starting to re-think how they relate to money, and this tech is the edge of this (See accenture page 21).  It’s estimated that mobile payment volume will hit the 75 billion dollar marker with leading the US and China being in the lead for adopters. This number is supposedly small. While growing, most folks are still anchored to traditional payment methods: we are at a point of transition. We are estimating an 80% growth is mobile payment users between 2015-2020.  

Things are moving forward slowly, and large corporate establishments have already started to follow the sound of this quiet tune. US Bank is directly tying their flagship luxury card to mobile, incentivizing users with triple purchasing value over mobile purchasing platforms.  Google and Apple's mobile payment services are still ferociously competing with one another (Apple Pay’s transaction is up 500% compared to Android Pay). Notably, Google and Paypal are buddying up.

RIght now, there is no clear winner of the mobile payment industry, it’s still young, which means there’s room to influence the trajectory of your customer’s perceptions. The current challenge all mobile payment services are struggling with are how to penetrate new  markets, but this is in all likelihood an inevitability (keyword: value). Right now, early adopters of mobile payments appear to be young people and the tech-trendy individuals are going for the newest, most convenient transaction experience with the least amount of hassle. It is worth noting there is a both slow but linear growth in other market segments.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

Celebrating community, prosperity, and our 7th Birthday!

It’s our seventh birthday! We’re celebrating the opportunity to help our clients rest well at night knowing that their businesses’ cashflow is in good hands. Come join us on March 31st at Hobo's in Downtown Portland. This past year we successfully launched our new payroll service with three happy clients. Reach out to learn about our special pricing for sole proprietors and single member LLC’s or S-Corporations.

We’ve always believed that being grateful and showing gratitude is essential in building a solid, lasting business. Since it’s our birthday, and most businesses don't make it their 5th year, we figured we might as well list seven (7) things that we’re grateful for in our lives, one for each year we've been in business:

  1. Our customers, who do cool and awesome things with their time and effort.

  2. Our friends and family who support and love us when we’re not working away at getting you swiftly paid.

  3. The community that supports us on a day-to-day basis (who says business partners can’t also be friends?).

  4. The team at Swiftly Paid for making it possible for me to have reasonable work hours and a vacation now and again.

  5. SPRING! And SUN!

  6. The ever-evolving and exciting world of payment processing. It seems like only constantly moving targets keep my interest.

  7. This year there are many ways you can show your gratitude for others. If you’re inclined to support others, consider making a donation to the ACLU if you’re feeling additionally charitable: ACLU

So whether you’re celebrating the end of your week, taking a break from taxes, or switching professions, come by and say hello! Hor'dourves will be provided and, of course, don't forget your party hat!

Don't forget to RSVP here!

Want To Step Up To Your FLSA Overtime Changes? You Need To Read This First

 

The Federal Government issued a change to FLSA laws and overtime agreements raising the salary threshold for Executive, Administrative, Professional and Computer Employees who are salaried and exempt from overtime from $455 a week to $913 a week or from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year.  The deadline is December 1st, 2016.

Why Should I Care?

The Department of Labor itself managed to muck up its own new rules, actually.  If you’re an employee that makes under 47,476 dollars a year or a small business that pays folks less than 47,476, you’re about to be subject to the changes of these laws.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is.  It’s worth noting the new president-elect wants to make small-businesses exempt from the new policy.  "And there are 85 million hard working Americans who would agree with that," Trump said.  "We have to address the issues of over-taxation and over-regulation and the lack of access to credit markets to get our small business owners thriving again. Rolling back the overtime regulation is just one example of the many regulations that need to be addressed to do that. We would love to see a delay or a carve-out of sorts for our small business owners."  Even though enterprise coverage applies only to businesses with $500,000 or more in annual revenue, current FLSA rules already have a small-business exemption.  The FLSA's individual coverage still applies to any employee whose work relates to interstate commerce.  

What Should I Do?

If you’re an employer watch out for these key things before December 1st.  It wouldn’t hurt to review and document any decisions you’ve made.  The change takes effect December 1—a Thursday—and Tammy McCutchen says employers will probably want to avoid reclassifying an employee as nonexempt in the middle of a workweek. Since calculating overtime would be too complicated in this short of a time span, this would be a great time to think about the way you’ve currently classified your workers:  it’s best to document your decision and the rationale you use to classify workers.  If anything, now is a great time to document your current decisions, in case an audit occurs.  

If you’re an employee, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to check out the overtime updates.  This change is relevant if you work over 40 hours a week,  period.  If you meet very specific conditions, one of those being the $455 a week payment threshold, you are "not exempt," meaning you are already eligible for overtime.  There are a variety of types of exemptions from overtime and the new rule only covers those that fall under "Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees." Specific definitions of those roles can be found in the government’s Q&A.  If you're a teacher, lawyer, or doctor, the new raise in the salary threshold might not apply to you, just as the old salary threshold may not have applied to you either.  

As December 1st comes closer, be wary of any changes the new administration may put in place.  It will be unlikely that they can stop or obstruct the FLSA changes, but it’s very likely they’ll change parts of it.

Resources:

EMV's Birthday!

October 1st was the official debut of EMV cards!


As many of you already know, if you have read our previous posts on the topic, EMV technology is the up-and-coming thing when it comes to payment solutions. In honor of the special “birthday” for EMV cards, we’ll give a recap and mention some important points you may have forgotten.


EMV means “Europay, Mastercard, Visa—these are the head honchos behind this new technology. What these cards do is keep your money more secure, through a tiny chip embedded inside. The chip creates new codes every single time you make a transaction. That’s a far cry from the old, magnetic stripe!


So, this sounds great, doesn’t it? What could be better than more credit card security?


Well, it is important for you, as a merchant. If you are a retailer and you don’t include options for receiving EMV cards as payment, you make yourself liable to incurring the costs of credit card fraud on a magnetic stripe card. In other words, if a customer can’t use EMV at your establishment, and his or her card’s information is stolen, you are held financially responsible!


The cool thing about EMV cards is that the stripe is still on them, so they can be used at non-EMV compatible businesses. Even though October 1st was considered the big day for EMV technology, it’s understood that the transition will be a gradual process, and many merchants will feel uncomfortable adjusting right away. But this is the future!


You would be doing yourself a great service by obtaining EMV payment processing equipment.


Economic Bubbles: How Businesses are Affected

The history of capitalism proves that economic bubbles are commonplace. Their emergence is expected where liquid financial markets exist. We may already be on the verge of another economic bubble which can be dire by all measures. Most of the uninformed speculators wildly guess about the next boom and wait for the next major economic bubble and the inevitable collapse. The boom and the collapse cycle of the economy can be predicted by taking in account various markets and their growth. From asset management markets, stock markets, to debt markets, all indicate whether the economy is on the rise or is at the risk of doom.

INDICATORS OF AN ECONOMIC BUBBLE

Certain factors which indicate the probability of an economic bubble are:

Stock Markets

Stock markets play a vital role in creating an economic bubble. It is the first indicator which shows that an economic bubble is impending.

Liquidity

One of the most plausible factors which indicate the rise of an economic bubble is excessive liquidity in the economic systems. Excessive monetary liquidity includes; easy credit facilities, low interest rates, and large disposable income. Economic bubbles mostly occur when there is too much money available against too few assets, which in result causes both good assets and bad assets to appreciate excessively, thus creating an artificial monetary bubble.

Changes in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The economy’s current health can be easily determined by looking at the GDP. Increase in GDP of any nation indicates a strong economy.

Comparison of Income with the Cost of Living

Within an efficient economy, the cost of living should be in line with the wages and income earned by people. Increase in cost of living should keep up with the increase in income. If income is not increasing and cost of living keeps on climbing, this indicates the downfall of economy.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate indicates the number of people working against the total labor force of a nation. It is an indication of the rise or decline of economy.

Interest Rates

Interest rates change when the economy is strong or weak. It shows the cost of borrowing money.

Currency Strength

With a strong currency, a country’s buying and selling power with other nation is strong.

 

STRATEGIES TO SAFEGUARD AGAINST A BUBBLE

Businesses need to make strategies to safeguard against the economic bubble and its impending doom. Some of the ways businesses can save themselves when there is economic bubble on the horizon are listed below:

Do Not Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Never invest all your funds in one place. Always carry a diverse portfolio. When all your efforts and financial resources are tied down to one project or one sector of your business, its failure can lead you to lose everything.

Low Debt Strategy

Businesses should always focus on low debt strategy. With low debts, when things go wrong due to financial collapse, businesses can pay off their debts easily. If a business deals with high debt levels as compared to its assets, when it is time to settle the debts, business will not have anything left over after paying of the debts. Asset to debt ration should always be high.

Keep an Eye on the Indicators

The most important thing is to keep an eye on the financial indicators which show the rise or decline of the economy. If a business ignores the signs of an economic bubble, it is preparing itself for downfall. However, businesses which keep an eye out for the factors and indicators of a financial bubble can create strategies and implement them to cushion the effect of the downfall of the economy.

Low Risk Investments

Businesses should invest in low risk investments so that when an economic bubble bursts, some part of their portfolio is safe from its effect. Low risk investments though yield low profits, but they are still a safe choice.

The most important thing is to look at key indicators of an economic bubble and implement the strategies as soon as there is indication of a decline in economy.

Card processing Rates are better than Quickbooks' with InstantAccept

Business and trade industries have been in serious need of a powerful and smart payment processing, giving them the ability to streamline credit card transactions while keeping their QuickBooks file updated. InstantAccept is such a new plug-in that provides suppleness and ease. It is simply a point of sale system for QuickBooks.

With InstantAccept you have access to whole client transaction records from anywhere, anytime, without even needing to launch QuickBooks—all you need to have is an internet connection. This liberates you from using a single computer with QuickBooks installed. You can easily assign payments to any client, customer, or invoice without opening your file.

While it provides ease of transactions and recording, it also helps keep QuickBooks from any remote location.

Unlike other systems of point of sale, InstantAccept has exclusive and extraordinary payment method support system. It has ability to support different payment options including online payment, personal payment, phone payment, etc. It offers an individual single user program that can process any sort of transaction through any device including Smart phones, tablets, desktops and laptops.

The diversified payment options of InstantAccept are elaborated below.

  • Check: InstantAccept can easily support payment via Check 21, WEB, ACH, POP, ARC, TEL PPD, ICL, and CCD
  • Cash: Payment through cash in person can also be accessed via InstantAccept
  • Debit/ATM Card: Any PIN and PIN less debit card including Visa, Discover, MasterCard, JCB, American Express, Diner etc are supported.
  • Credit Card: Different credit cards are also supported
  • Electronic Check Conversion
  • Card not present
  • ACH

Whether you have internet access on your tablet, desktop, mobile or laptop, your Instant Accept interface can accept payment via any of the above mentioned type from any location.

With all these benefits, InstantAccept can also be considered the flawless integration of QuickBooks. With the single click of a button, it has the ability to accept as well as record payments and transactions. Merchants can use InstantAccept to extend their business with its simple and easy features and can accept their payments through diversified modes at multiple places. It helps the businesses and owners to relieve their headache of bookkeeping.

The myriad of simple features of InstantAccept plug-in includes:

  • Ease of accepting payment from various different modes, locations, devices and websites
  • Ease of record keeping without even needing to access QuickBooks
  • Ease of securing business, transaction, client and customer’s data
  • Ease of managing POS and storefront with single screen
  • Ease of getting rid of rekeying dealings

InstantAccept is adaptable to any present, past, and future merchandise requirements. It is not only suitable and compatible to QuickBooks, but it can also be used with other record keeping applications like NetSuite, Sage, etc. This ability comes along with the privilege of using a current credit card processor by any merchant. InstantAccept is compatible with various different programs and processors.

It is a plug-in that also keeps the business’s efficiency top-notch. With InstantAccept, credit cards payments can be received three to four days earlier than it used to take by QuickBooks’s Intuit merchant account. Thus, money can easily be applied anywhere, at anytime, without waiting. Instant Accept can be very useful for any retail business. Moreover, it only takes a few minutes to transfer to the InstantAccept system. So, your precious working hours will not be wasted.

Along with providing facility of payment processing, InstantAccept allows you to create new clients and records, open and send invoices via emails, create new jobs, create different receipts, etc.

You can do any type of privacy setting in your InstantAccept profile. You can control your employees business by making individual accounts and giving special rights to each of them. You can give your employees and team the privilege to edit or view customer details or to edit QuickBooks data and record. In short you can allow them anything you want and can also restrict them from anything confidential. Thus, your employees can open or close invoices, accept or reject payment, open and see receipts while keeping the data and record secured.

This outstanding, easy to use, and best-for-business plug-in is being used by the experienced industrial veterans. Their knowledge, experience, excellence, and promises to innovation enabled them to predict the new obstacles, challenges, opportunities, and solutions. InstantAccept derived from the effort of formulating payment and fraud deterrence solutions for the large financial institutions and world’s leading banks.

InstantAccept also has a very good customer care service to help all of its customers keep their businesses at running well. Keeping the customer’s record and data protected within a PCI acquiescent atmosphere is what InstantAccept has to offer.

How Adapting To New Technology Can Benefit your Business

Businesses need to evolve and embrace the latest technologies to cater to their customers. In order to do so, business owners need to adopt every possible strategy that can propel them towards growth and prosperity. Every day a new technology is being introduced to smooth the progress of businesses. To get a cutting edge, it is essential to understand the importance of welcoming the latest technologies -otherwise, businesses will fail in the fast paced marketplace.

The New Generation of Cards

Recently, there has been an ongoing trend of switching to new card processing technologies from old payment methods. This is mainly due to the fantastic business advantages accompanied with these fresh technologies.

It is estimated that by 2017, only 23% of consumers will be paying with cash. This clearly shows that it's high time for every business owner to integrate new card processing technologies in their business. The alternative is to lose out as people rely on these latest payment methods more and more.

Latest Technologies for Making Payments and Their Benefits

Like all other arenas, the world of business is advancing rapidly. Today, we have various kinds of payment methods which have made our life easier than before. Some of the advanced technologies which should be adopted by savvy business owners are the following:

1.     EMV Smart Cards:

The EMV (which stands for the original founders Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) is a global card-security standard that has been widely adopted outside the United States to combat counterfeit cards and fraud. An EMV-enabled card has a chip in it and is specifically designed to make payments more secure and safe. It provides a better and reliable way of shopping to the consumers, as it is difficult to counterfeit. With EMV cards, there are lower chances of fraud and theft than old magnetic strip cards. Because of the genuine benefits, many major credit card providers are switching to EMV cards.

People who avoid shopping with credit cards, due to the fear of their card information being stolen, can now use their EMV cards and shop with more confidence and ease. Millions of customers already use this security feature in their regular shopping. Thus, for business owners, it is essential to incorporate EMV cards in their payment options so that their card carrying customers will not be disappointed.

2.     Coin Cards:

Coin is a recently launched card in the USA, which has a remarkable feature of replacing all kinds of credit cards, debit cards, membership cards, loyalty cards etc. with a single card. It is secure and easy to use, and acceptable at all the shops that accept credit cards. Coin can store the information of about 8 different cards. Now, consumers can take a single card for all their shopping and adventure. This simplicity encourages people to use their Coin card for making payments everywhere.

3.     Apple Pay:

Apple Pay is a new payment method recently introduced by Apple. This payment method utilizes iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch for making payments at different stores, restaurants, and clubs. iPhone users can use this service for experiencing the most secured payment solution ever. As people can make payments by a single touch on their Apple devices and they don’t need to give anyone their credit or debit card information.

People often like the simplest and easiest things, and many iPhone users are opting for this payment method because of the convenience of paying anywhere through their mobile device. Apple Pay could therefore be an invaluable addition for business owners. 

Accepting Latest Card Technologies Can Lead You Toward Success

The usage of advanced card processing technologies is dramatically increasing in the developed countries. It is thought that in coming years, all sorts of shopping and billing will be done entirely by advanced smart devices. Accepting smart cards and other sophisticated paying methods could seem a little intimidating at first, but the incredible advantages become apparent quickly. Many business owners will likely lose their loyal clients in the future if they fail to incorporate the latest technologies with their businesses.

Tax Tips for the entrepreneur

A stressful time for both businesses and individuals, tax season can definitely bring challenges. The IRS has actually been cut back on employees and funding. This may thrill some people, who believe they will now be invulnerable to a tax audit. However, this really means that there will be more automation behind the scenes, so more careful attention to all tax form submissions is essential. One mistake could be the cause of a huge migraine for you down the road. Follow these tips to ensure you're in the clear!

Transparency

A warning sign for the IRS if you are operating a business is if you are not receiving income. Because some people take advantage of tax benefits through setting up inauthentic companies, the IRS zeros in on this. You may receive an automated notice, however, do not necessarily stress out about it. If you are playing by the rules, you have nothing to fear. Simply be honest and upfront with the IRS, and send them back a spreadsheet or form that details your calculations. If it looks sound, they'll leave you alone. 

Accuracy

Double check - even triple check - every little number and important piece of information. If something doesn't add up properly or there is lack of congruency, it won't look good. Remember, the more automation the IRS uses, the less you can rely on human inference from an IRS rep to "connect the dots" for you. Keep everything cut-and-dry and accurate. Go over all calculations.

Verification 

Generally, the more deductions you claim, the more the IRS piques its interest. So make sure to have the proper documents to back up your deductions. This can be a rigorous but important process! Also keep in mind what qualifies as a legitimate deduction. Sandy Zinman, Chairman of the National Conference of CPA Practioners, says "Anything you have to spend money on to make money on is deductible." Does it actually support your business, or is it just for pleasure? Keep it real!

Hopefully, these tips will give you more confidence in filing your taxes. While simple, they are solid and won't fail you. The IRS isn't out to get you, so don't give them a reason to!

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs his company, as well as partnering with a consulting practice taking businesses to market in China. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 866-402-1485, ext 750.