The Co-operative Bank’s commercial banking division offers a suite of card payment services to merchants large and small. They facilitate payment for online, remote and face-to-face transactions on a number of hardware platforms.
This article will look at the Co-operative Bank’s:
- Service overview
- Merchant account offering
- Business benefits
- Pricing structure
- Review summary
- Next steps for your business
Co-operative Bank Merchant Services Overview
The group partners with First Data Merchant Solutions, who boast 20 years of UK experience and over 6 million global merchant locations, to provide connectivity.
They offer their services to a broad range of businesses, selling solutions tailored for the needs of sole traders, larger retailers and online merchants.
Co-op Bank merchant accounts can perform authorisations for credit or debit cards issued by the following operators:
- Diners Club International
- Discover Global Network
- American Express
As Maestro is not mentioned it can only be assumed that Maestro cards are accepted under the banner of its parent company, MasterCard. All Star, Arval and other fuel card brands, however, are not mentioned so it is unknown if these are accepted.
The Co-operative bank began life in 1872 and has evolved and grown significantly over more than 140 years. It is still listed as a wholly owned subsidiary of The Co-operative parent group.
The group historically focused on retail chains including grocery shops, pharmacies, funeral homes and farms all of which remain an important part of the group today. The Co-operative bank prides itself on its customer dictated ethical policy introduced in 1992, stating that it would not do business with companies deemed unethical.
In 2013, however, the bank and the rest of The Co-operative Group were effectively sold off. 70% was offered to private investors but the 30% controlling stake remained with The Co-operative Group. Although no private investor owns more than a 9.9% stake, the company has nonetheless taken a sharp deviation from its long established roots.
From a hardware perspective, The Co-operative Merchant Services group offers the following 5 styles of terminals, designed to fit specific business requirements:
- The standard counter-top terminal – fully wired and fixed position.
- Mobile terminals – wireless GPRS connection for outdoor or mobile businesses.
- Portable terminals – a wired base connected via Bluetooth to a wireless card reader, primarily used in restaurants and bars.
- Pogo machine – This unit pairs with any smartphone and offers a flexible mobile solution for traders who accept card payments on an occasional basis, in various locations.
- Virtual terminal – allows an internet connected PC to take remote payments such as telephone orders where the cardholder is not present.
On the software side they offer several packages, listed below:
- Connect Payment Gateway – secure payment software for internet transactions. The payment page is customisable with the customers logo and they are able to fine tune their fraud protection settings as well.
- IP Secure – allows multiple handsets to be used through a single router and phone line.
- ClientLine – a monthly subscription based financial statistics and reporting package.
The Co-operative afford their merchants the ability to offer customers Cashback, Tax Free Shopping refund service, mobile top ups and Dynamic Currency Conversion. These are all listed as “value add” and so will most likely come at an additional cost.
Business benefits of a Co-Operative Bank Merchant Account
Should your business choose a Co-operative bank merchant account, then there are numerous ways you’ll be able to benefit. These business benefits apply to companies of all sizes and include:
- Cover all bases – accept & process debit and credit cards from all major suppliers.
- More customer satisfaction – increase the number of payment options for your customers and make it easier for them to pay.
- Save money – relatively low terminal & PDQ machine charges coupled with very competitive rates help to cut your costs.
- No hassle – the co-op bank’s merchant account is quick and simple to set up.
- Play by the rules – rest easy because this merchant account is PCI DSS compliant.
- Safer shopping – proven anti-fraud tools give you peace of mind while protecting your business interests; also helps to decrease chargeback rises.
- Bespoke set-up – create the specific merchant account your business needs with flexible options that can be tweaked around your requirements.
This is a good all round solution for the small to medium enterprise, however larger retailers and corporations would probably find more fitting solutions with larger service providers or banks. There is also no mention of contactless card readers on offer, which many larger retailers are adopting more readily. The Co-operative stores themselves, however, accept contactless payment so this could be an omission on their part.
True to its roots, The Co-operative Bank’s offering caters more to the highly lucrative, small business end of the market. Their first-hand knowledge of the retail sector makes them a good choice for buyers in this arena, although the fact that they don’t seem to accept fuel cards may make owners of independent fuelling stations look elsewhere.
It is unclear if their technical support is 24-7/365, but it is at least both telephone and UK based.
All in all, a good offering and a competitive product set for the SME market, however, problems with leadership and profitability still haunt the group and steps are being taken to sell off certain assets. Although there is no talk of the banking arm being affected by this sale, the uncertainty may be enough to make potential clients think twice about a long term partnership.
Disclaimer: All data quoted in this article are true at the time of publication.
Next Steps: Saving money on a Co-operative Bank merchant account
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All you need to do to get started is complete the form at the top of this page – it only takes about 60 seconds to complete. Then we’ll review your details, give you a call to fine-tune your information and we’ll start matching you to suppliers.