One of the most common questions we are asked is: “what is the best processor to partner with for a payment facilitator?” Having worked a lot with processors on behalf of payment facilitators, we have decided to share our experience of dealing with specific payment facilitator programs offered by major acquirers, so that it can simplify processing partner choice for other payment facilitators (from technical viewpoint).
Vantiv is one of the largest and most popular payment processors, and it has a program for payment facilitators. The purpose of this particular article is to describe technical features Vantiv offers to payment facilitators. (Please note, that we are not affiliated with Vantiv in any way, and this article was not commissioned by any interested parties. The article expresses solely our subjective view of the situation as of the present moment).
For card-not-present merchants Vantiv has an efficient solution that really takes care of all related aspects. However, for merchants that need card-present logic, the matter is a bit more complicated.
Vantiv Payment Platforms for Payment Facilitators
Vantiv has two payment management platforms: Vantiv Lowell and Vantiv Tandem.
Vantiv Lowell platform is intended for card-not-present transaction processing. Vantiv became the owner of the platform after acquiring Litle & Co. Vantiv Lowell is a newer platform in comparison to Vantiv Tandem, which is a legacy platform. Consequently, it offers more functions, intended to meet the needs of payment facilitators. However, its disadvantage is that it cannot handle EMV transactions (although it is capable of accepting magnetic stripe ones).
Vantiv Tandem platform (sometimes also called Vantiv RAFT) supports all transaction types and has native support of EMV payment terminals. However, Vantiv Tandem is a legacy platform, and its capabilities are limited in comparison to Vantiv Lowell.
Let us now compare the two platforms in the context of the main functions they offer to payment facilitators.
Merchant onboarding is one of the key functions needed by payment facilitators. Both platforms have merchant onboarding mechanisms.
Lowell platform allows payment facilitators to onboard merchants through an API, while Tandem platform supports a special file format for merchant onboarding. Although it does not provide the answer to the applicant in real time, Vantiv claims that a decision concerning new merchant onboarding is made within 24 hours of application submission time.
Both platforms support further updates in merchant records in the cases when a merchant’s legal address (or other important data) is changed.
Vantiv Tandem platform also supports provisioning of terminal IDs.
Vantiv Lowell’s API is based on XML, while Vantiv Tandem’s process uses text files.
From our subjective viewpoint, it is easier to deal with Lowell API, however Tandem approach is more in line with what several other processors (such as First Data) are doing.
Vantiv Lowell supports both real-time and batch transaction processing in XML-based format.
Vantive Tandem supports real-time and batch processing as well. However, in the case of real-time processing the format is a flavor of ISO 8583, while in the case of batch processing, it is flat text file format.
In the context of batch processing, the difference between the two platforms is not that significant. However, in the context of real-time processing XML format is easier to handle than ISO 8583 (especially for those who do not have experience of working with the standard).
Card account updater
Traditionally, Vantiv Lowell supported processing of ACH transactions in the US, however, at some point Vantiv stopped offering ACH processing to payment facilitators. So, while there are many existing PayFacs that continue to process ACH transactions, using the original offering, the option may not be available to the new PayFacs. Vantive Tandem does not support ACH processing at all.
Vantiv Lowell platform provides detailed reports on processed transactions, from which you can also get information on interchange rates and amounts. Beside that, you can get an additional file with assessments. This allows you (as a payment facilitator) to get a clear picture of processing costs and, potentially, use “cost plus” pricing model.
Vantiv Tandem also supports a specific format of reconciliation report. It contains detailed information on processed transactions and interchange. However, information on assessments in a “parseable” format is not yet available.
Vantiv Lowell has a portal for chargeback disputing as well as API, allowing you to both get information on chargebacks and dispute them.
Vantiv Tandem provides a file, allowing you to get information on chargebacks, however chargeback disputing can be performed only in a legacy way (i.e. manually, using fax or e-mail).
EMV toolkit issues
Those who want to use Vantiv Tandem platform for card-present transactions need to keep in mind that the company requires you to use its Vantiv Viable EMV toolkit (that we described in one of our previous articles). In contrast to some other processors, that offer you a choice of EMV toolkits, Vantiv limits your choice to this specific one.
If you carefully plan your payment facilitation relationship, you can successfully implement it using Vantiv. However, you need to understand that Vantiv is a large payment processor and respective integrations always take time. In this particular case the process might take several months and this is the realistic term that you should consider when you build plans and forecasts.
Potentially, you can simplify the processes of integration with Vantiv and implementation of its payment facilitation program if you use ready-made software products that are already integrated with the processor’s both platforms, such as UniPay Payment Gateway. Usage of such a product allows you to speed up the overall implementation process and, at the same time, provides you with access to the features of both platforms through a unified entry point (in some cases – through a simplified API).