No Ethics In Merchant Payment Processing?

As new parents, and each of us busy business owners, it’s interesting what passes for a date with my wife these days.  This morning it was an insurance ethics class, held an hour away.  As a financial advisor, my wife is required by the State of Illinois to attend a three hour class every two Salesmanyears to retain her insurance license.  It’s a very basic classic that is intended to teach insurance agents right from wrong.  I personally feel the class is common sense and anyone with moral fiber doesn’t need the class and if they don’t have a moral compass, they won’t learn it in a class room.  For heaven’s sakes, if that were the case, we could just send our politicians to a class for three hours and all our problems would be solved!

There were several points I found of interest in comparing my wife’s profession to my own in the merchant services industry.  The first being that although both industries are in the financial sector, her industry is highly regulated, while in my profession there is virtually no oversight.

What do I mean by that?  Well, in order to be in her field, there is a considerable amount of educational expense, time, regulated testing and numerous different designations required.  Renewals, reporting and oversight are a never ending part of her business.  Each company that she represents also has a compliance department that oversees every advertising piece as well as a suitability department that inspects every contract she writes.  In my field, there’s…nothing!  Absolutely no requirements or license to be an agent in my field means that a majority of the agents that are making calls to merchants in person and on the phone have inadequate training as well as no background checks!  These are agents that are quoting rates, making big promises and collecting sensitive information.  The only designation available in the payments field is completely voluntary and that is the Certified Payment Professional, accredited by the industry association, the Electronic Transaction Association.  To achieve the Certified Payment Professional (CPP) Designation, there is considerable requirements and regulated testing and ongoing licensing requirements.  I’m very proud to have been a part of the inaugural class when the program started nearly two years ago.  I am a member of an elite class of professionals numbering a total of twenty-two in the state of Illinois.  Out of tens of thousands of agents nationally, the number of CPP’s are less than 600!  (The registry can be checked online at

With no oversight and minimal self regulation, the standards that my wife sees in the insurance industry are non existent in my field.  That means that there is no oversight board, no fiduciary responsibility to the client, no fines or repercussions for unethical or incompetent work, no confidentiality policies of priviledged information, no background checks, etc.

In my years in the business I’ve seen numerous examples of these unlicensed merchant services representatives causing undue harm to merchants.  While a three hour ethics class probably wouldn’t eradicate such issues any more that it’s prevented unscrupulous financial advisors to slip through the cracks, I do believe that there should be some regulations to help protect unsuspecting merchants.  Until that day, I’ll say as I’ve always said, know who you’re doing business with!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  1. Great post Robert. Ethics can never be assumed and in your industry it is vital to have a reputable person to trust.


  1. […] making a costly mistake.  If you still have doubts, contact your processor directly or seek out a Certified Payment Professional’s […]

  2. […] is a screening process that less than a tenth of a percent of all agents have achieved.  It is a strong indication of integrity and experience in the field.  This can be checked at the national CPP Registry to see if an agent […]

%d bloggers like this: