Merchant Tips: After Launch
The following information is intended for merchants that are new to Skipjack but have begun processing live transactions through their payment application. If you are a new merchant but have not yet begun processing live transactions, please refer here for important information about configuring and using your Skipjack account.
By now, you have processed several live transactions and are becoming familiar with how the payment process works and with many of the tools that Skipjack has to offer. Please read the following information to help get the most out of Skipjack.
How the Payment Process Works
There are several players involved in the process of obtaining a payment authorization and ultimately receiving the funds in your bank account. It is important that you understand this process in order to diagnose issues and to communicate with the appropriate party should issues occur.
The major players involved in the payment process and their primary functions include:
||Primary Functions |
||Makes a payment for a product or service |
|Merchant Payment Application
||The interface through which a cardholder's payment is made (e.g. payment form, shopping cart, etc.) |
||Securely connects the payment application to the financial network via a processor. Performs a variety of checks. Stores the data. Enables transaction management and reporting. May supply the payment application. Triggers the settlement process. |
||Connects Skipjack to the financial network. Clears authorization and settlement requests. |
||Determines if there are sufficient funds on the cardholder's account to complete the purchase. Performs CVV and AVS checks against the cardholder's account. |
||Issues merchant accounts. Routes funds to the depositing bank account. |
||Receives the funds resulting from the settlement process. May or may not be the same as the merchant bank. |
||Regulates overall industry behavior. May perform merchant banking roles (e.g. Amex and Discover). |
Typically there are two phases to a transaction: authorization and settlement .
The process of determining if there are sufficient funds on a cardholder's account to complete the purchase (and/or if there are any other restrictions on the card that would prevent a purchase from taking place, such as the card being registered as stolen, etc.)
The process of moving funds from the cardholder's account to merchant bank for deposit into the merchant's bank account.
When a transaction is authorized, the payment information is transmitted through the payment interface, through Skipjack (where it is logged and various validations are performed on it) to the processor. The processor sends the authorization request to the cardholder's issuing bank. The issuing bank determines if there are sufficient funds available, performs a CVV check (if CVV value is passed) and AVS check and sends back the appropriate response (Approved with the approval code, or Declined). This information is sent by the processor through Skipjack, where it is logged, and Skipjack sends it back to the merchant application response page so that the cardholder knows whether the payment was completed successfully or not.
All of this typically occurs in less than five seconds.
During the settlement phase, Skipjack transmits all transactions that have been "flagged" for settlement to the processor (in many cases Skipjack flags transactions automatically see below for information. All transactions marked for settlement go into a "settlement batch"). The processor then initiates the appropriate messages to the financial network to trigger the release of funds from the cardholder's account to the merchant bank for deposit into the merchant's bank account. The processor sends the appropriate settlement response to Skipjack (e.g. "settlement successful") and Skipjack updates the appropriate transaction status as "settled".
Understanding Settlements and Deposits
In the Skipjack configuration settings, merchants can choose from three types of settlement: manual/none , manual/daily , and automatic . The characteristics of each of these settlement modes follow:
||Used When |
||Individual transactions are flagged for settlement by the merchant. A command ("force settlement") is sent by the merchant when they wish to send all flagged transactions for settlement.
||Used when there may be a delay in the fulfillment of a product or service and the merchant wants complete control over when transactions are submitted for settlement. |
||Individual transactions are flagged for settlement by the merchant. They will all settle at a predetermined time each day without manual intervention.
||Used when there may be a delay in the fulfillment of a product or service and the merchant wants to avoid manual intervention to submit approved transactions for settlement. |
||Individual transactions automatically settle at a predetermined time each day without manual intervention.
||Used in situations where the goods or service is fulfilled immediately. |
There is typically a delay between the time a transaction is settled and the funds are deposited into the merchant's bank account. This is not in the control of Skipjack. The timeframe between settlement and deposit is determined by a number of factors, including:
Credit Card Type: typically VISA and MasterCard are deposited within 24-48 hours. Amex and Discover may take additional time.
Settlement Time: the earlier the transactions are sent for settlement, the greater the likelihood that the funds will be received earlier.
Depositing Bank: if the funds are being "pushed" from the merchant bank to a different depositing bank, additional time can be required for deposits.
Day of Week: many banks do not make deposits on the weekend or holidays.
Based on the above information, if you feel that too much time has expired between settlement and deposit, please call us and we will help you investigate. We will first verify with the appropriate processor that the batch was successfully received and processed. If that is the case, we will provide you with the necessary information to inquire about the status with your merchant account provider.
If you feel that you are not using the appropriate settlement mode or that your settlement time needs to be adjusted, please contact Skipjack Customer Support and we will make the necessary changes to your account.
We strongly recommend that you reconcile your bank deposits by credit card type to Skipjack's reports. When doing this, please keep in mind the following:
- There will be a time lag between the settlement date in Skipjack and your deposit date
- For some credit card types (e.g. Amex), discount (banking fees) may be deducted at the time of deposit. Skipjack will not reflect these in the reporting tool; therefore, the deposit will be "short" by the percentage fee deducted.
An ideal report to run when reconciling your bank deposits is Skipjack's Date Range Summary report. This report shows you, by credit card type, the total dollar amounts settled by Skipjack by day. Matching your deposit amounts to these values is an excellent way of ensuring that you are receiving all of your funds to your bank account.
Understanding Transaction Status Types
In the course of using Skipjack, you will see various transaction status types depending upon what stage an individual transaction is in. The following is a description of the various types:
||Amount has been authorized by issuing bank (sufficient funds are available) and has passed Skipjack fraud controls. If automatic settlement is enabled, the transaction will be settled at the specified time. If manual settlement is enabled, it will remain in an approved state until submitted for settlement. |
Displayed in Register: Approved
|Pending Manual Settlement
||The transaction has been submitted for settlement while the account is in manual settlement mode. |
Displayed in Register: Approved (with * around the customer name, i.e. *Customer Name*)
||The transaction amount has been submitted to the financial network so that the funds can be deposited into the merchant's bank account. |
Displayed in Register: Settled
||The transaction has had a credit amount applied to it and is awaiting settlement. |
Displayed in Register: Pend Credit
||An existing transaction has been submitted for authorization/approval but has not yet been authorized (common for recurring payments and reauthorizations). |
Displayed in Register: Pend Auth
||Transaction failed authorization by the processor or did not pass AVS. |
Displayed in Register: Declined
||Transaction has been frozen to prevent settlement due to a problem with the transaction or batch, or because the transaction was frozen manually. |
Displayed in Register: Approved (shown in RED)
||Occurs when a batch error is experienced during the settlement process. |
Displayed in Register: Submitted (shown in RED)
||A failsafe measure to restore a transaction when an error writing data to Skipjack's database occurs. |
Displayed in Register: Recovered (shown in RED)
We strongly recommend that you regularly scan your account using Skipjack's reporting tools. In particular, by running a Transaction Report and turning on all status types, you can determine if there are transactions that are in an unusual state (e.g. frozen) that may require further action.
Becoming Familiar with Skipjack's Tools
To get the most out of Skipjack, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various tools that are at your disposal. In particular, the following "advanced" tools may be of interest to you:
Specific users can be given their own login credentials (username/password) and be assigned different access rights to the various Skipjack features. We recommend that each admin user that logs into Skipjack Merchant Services interface has their own unique username and password.
A fraud control measure that allows merchants to set dollar and transaction volume thresholds beyond which transactions will be rejected.
We encourage you to review the various resources/manuals that are available to you as discussed in the previous merchant information section. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at Toll-free: 888-368-8507.