Most Merchant-link customers running MICROS/Oracle Hospitality point of sale have received certified letters and emails explaining their system will no longer be able to process cards as of January. In this letter, explaining the Shift4 Merchant Link Acquisition, customers are informed they can switch to Shift4 for their third-party solution or for all of their processing needs. Because restaurateurs are constantly bombarded with emails and letters claiming the "end of days" is coming, there is little doubt such letters are received with skepticism.
So, what are the facts?
- Shift4 did indeed acquire Merchant-link and is now actively recruiting customers over to their platform.
- You are not required to go with Shift4 - there are several other solutions.
- Shift4, unlike Merchant-link, is a processor themselves. They are very interested in you becoming their credit card processing customer.
- You can use Shift4 to process through your current processor like you did through Merchant-link, but there is now going to be a $0.05/transaction fee billed separately. In the past, this fee was included on your merchant statement, or built into the back-end of your processor. It was there, even if you didn't see it. Not all processors chose to show it. Now it will be billed through ACH monthly as a separate charge.
What does all this mean?
Why did I need Merchant-link to begin with?Especially in the beginning of the PCI compliance era, MICROS was so big, with so many customers on different platforms, Merchant-link provided a third-party "clearing house" and tokenization of credit card transactions to keep the info from residing on each customer's server. Rather than develop their own interface, they outsourced it to Merchant-link as a preferred vendor. MICROS dealers resold these interfaces and the cost to install them for $650-1500 depending on complexity. Merchant-link had fallen behind in the updating of their system, especially in regards to EMV chip transactions. Competitors, like Shift4, Paygistix, Clover, et. al., developed better solutions and swooped in to gobble up those customers by developing other third-party solutions.
Shift4 says I'll have to buy equipment, pay fees, installation and more if I don't use them!Yes, they do. Do you? Not necessarily. You've heard the old adage: Nothing is truly free. Right? Well, that's true. Sure, a processor (like Shift4) might give you free, or severely discounted equipment for you switch your processing to them, but at what cost? Usually the processor is told to recoup that cost in 6 months or less. But after that 6 months you're still paying the higher rate, usually for a 3 to 5 year contract. It is almost always better to pay for equipment upfront and negotiate the lowest possible rate. The equipment will have paid for itself in 6 months or less, instead of the other way around.
Now what?I like/dislike my current processor, but I definitely need to take credit cards after December 2019 or my business will close!
- Option #1: You can keep your current processor, install the Shift4 interface, add chip readers (optional) and pay .05/transaction. This is great for those who are positive they have an amazing credit card contract. Pay the 5 cents and install fee of $800+.
- Option #2: Switch to Shift4 processing and they'll "give" you all that stuff. Probably not a great long term solution. Above all, as a small business owner, your total cost of ownership and processing fees will not be favorable to you.
- Option #3: Is EMV important to your business? Some operators have opted out. There are several direct-drivers for MICROS that will connect directly to processors and are PCI compliant but will not feature EMV or P2P transactions.
- Option #4: Throw out your $18,000+ MICROS system and replace it with something else.
- Option #5: A customized solution which makes sense for your business.