The Merchant Onboarding Experience: Bridging the Gap Between Risk and Revenue

October 25, 2021

merchant onboarding

The payments industry has a need for speed.

A precedent has been set with the likes of Stripe and Square providing approval turnaround times in mere days. Merchants aren’t going to apply to companies unless they step up and offer the same quality of experience and speed in merchant onboarding. But what exactly encompasses the merchant experience, and how do you go about improving the quality of the experience you offer to your merchants? In this blog, we’ll dive into the intricate process of optimizing your merchant onboarding experience.

What is the Merchant Experience?

The merchant experience includes everything from the moment a merchant decides to start their application process onwards, including merchant onboarding, underwriting, and continuous compliance monitoring.

It is important to take heed of this process and how your company approaches it, because merchant experience is a huge deciding factor in whether or not a merchant decides to work with your payments firm.

The Value of Time in Merchant Onboarding

Big players in the payments industry, like Stripe and Square, have stepped up their merchant experience games to offer seamless and quick digital onboarding, with little to no downtime. Not only has this resulted in a better merchant experience for their consumers, but they have also lowered the overall onboarding costs.

Digital onboarding has two major key benefits: it makes your company more profitable because you can save and earn more money. The bottom line here is clear – the more time you can save onboarding a merchant, the more merchants you can onboard, and the more satisfied those merchants will be with your services, resulting in your company both making and saving more money.

Automated digital onboarding software, like the Agreement Express onboarding platform, allows for companies to quickly onboard merchants through dynamic data capture, automated form packaging and distribution, and ability to ensure data is effectively captured the first time around, alongside other product capabilities.

What, then, are some problems that can arise with merchant onboarding, and why do they manifest?

Sources of Friction in Merchant Onboarding

There are many sources of friction in merchant onboarding, and most of them relate back to the quality or type of the tools used to onboard merchants. Firstly, product-specific merchant onboarding processes that lack the ability to be scaled to different industries tend to cause problems for payments businesses. These are a huge lift without having a wide scope of usability and tend to have lengthy integration processes.

Any software that lacks intuition and an easy-to-use interface cause problems for both merchant and employee. Time is wasted and frustration arises when information isn’t where it should be.

Staying up-to-date with ever-changing compliance rules can also be a difficulty, whether your onboarding process is digital or not. Some software does not update to stay automatically compliant, which can pose a hazard when evaluating the risk of merchants before starting the onboarding process. And, continual evaluation of merchant compliance can also be a hindering factor for software that does not constantly vet the current state of compliance of a partner, taking the ‘one-and-done’ approach to underwriting a merchant.

Lastly, non-digital or less-than-optimal digital onboarding processes can have long approval wait times, which can cause a merchant to abandon their application and go to a different payments business with a quicker onboarding experience.

How to Take Your Merchant Experience to the Next Level

The answer is defined by a few characteristics. Look for and implement software that is easy to use and configurable for multiple different merchant verticals. Utilizing software that has tools that identify risk quickly and accurately will improve the underwriting process and speed up time to onboarding.

Offer a digital application to your merchants, so all documents can be kept in one place. This will cut back on the time spent analyzing applications and allow you to spend more time making strategic, data-driven decisions that avoid risk for you and provide a quick turnaround for your merchants.

Don’t know where to find a software solution that covers all these bases? We can help you out.

The Agreement Express Solution to Optimize Merchant Onboarding

Agreement Express has developed software that addresses all of the sources of friction that merchants experience throughout the process of underwriting and onboarding. When a merchant opens, completes, and submits an application, our merchant onboarding platform allows them to submit the documents and fill out paperwork all in one place with secure e-signature technology. It has an intuitive interface to reduce merchant frustration and abandonment.

This dashboard also gives insights into your merchants by continuously monitoring their risk, utilizing merchant monitoring solutions. Our software comes with the added bonus of being optionally white-labeled, allowing your company to completely customize your platform according to your style.

During the merchant underwriting process, our risk scorecard tool, Merchant ScanXpress, ensures that you are approving and denying the right merchants, and that you are able to respond to merchants fast. Merchant ScanXpress allows your underwriters to develop completely customized scorecards for different merchant types, with over 127 risk criteria to choose from and the ability to save an unlimited number of scorecard configurations in our system. In fact, the Agreement Express system’s efficiency consolidates the 3-5 days typically taken to manually complete the 127 risk criteria to 10 minutes.

Merchant ScanXpress has over 127 risk criteria to choose from for underwriters to easily vet different types of merchants quickly and effectively.

The risk scorecard speeds up the merchant experience significantly; it assigns merchants a score based on how they fit risk criteria so underwriters can make data-driven decisions. If there are risk factors that are cause for an instant denial or approval, you can also set up automated approvals or denials in our system so underwriters can spend more time on borderline merchants.

This scorecard feature also helps maintain merchant compliance without you having to think about it; it automatically updates to match current KYC and AML standards.

The Bottom Line

Like we said in the beginning, it is hard to offer the experience and turnaround on approvals like larger companies can without the right resources. Here at Agreement Express, we have those resources ready and waiting for you. Investing in a digital onboarding tool like Agreement Express is the best way to lift the more tedious work off of your employees in order to process more merchants in a smaller amount of time. And it is beneficial for your company because more merchants means more revenue for your company.

Are you ready to accelerate your merchant onboarding experience today? Talk to us to set up a demo. We’ll show you how you can onboard a merchant in minutes.