We have released our new payment processing system for the Member Assembler which allows your members to sign up for a payment plan to automatically pay for their CSA share over time, allows you to bypass Paypal & Google Checkout, and get better rates on your credit card transactions.
Automated Scheduled Payments is a no-fuss way for you to spread the cost of your CSA over time -- which allows more financially-sensitive customers to join your CSA -- while ensuring that you get your money without a huge accounting nightmare.
For example, say your CSA costs $500. On February 3rd a customer signs up and pays the required $100 down payment, which leaves a balance of $400. With Automated Scheduled Billing, the customer will authorize their card to be billed (for example) on a monthly basis for 4 months:
March 1st: $100
April 1st: $100
May 1st: $100
June 1st: $100
On those dates, our system will automatically attempt to bill the credit card on file for the amounts shown and, if all goes well, you will simply receive a receipt and the funds will trickle into your bank account. If there are problems with a declined or expired card, the customer will be asked to provide new credit card details without farmer intervention.
The system also allows for full payment up-front and one-time payments so you can take payments for add-ons and extras each week if necessary.
You don't pay anything extra to us to use this system -- just your normal per member cost of the Member Assembler -- however you do need to have an account with a payment gateway called Authorize.net which allows all of this to happen on the credit card processing side.
The costs of an authorize.net account are typically $30/month fee no matter your level of transactions and then 2.1% of the transactions + 0.10 per transaction. These per-transaction fees are much lower than Paypal or Google Checkout (at 3% + 0.20 per transaction), but it does add on the monthly fee.
So, in essence, an Authorize.net account makes more sense for CSAs with higher volume transaction needs. The break-even point between an Authorize.net account and a Paypal account is approximately $50,000/per year. That is the point at which the lower transaction cost covers the monthly fee. However, for CSAs doing less than $50,000/year in transactions, the extra cost may make sense due to the extra service provided by Automated Scheduled Payments that saves you time and makes your CSA more financially accessible.
If you already have a credit card processing system for your business (ie a swipe machine in a farm stand), then an Authorize.net account should be very easy to get because it is one of the standards in the business. On the other hand if you do not, that is no problem; we'll help you get it all set up. Plan the application and approval process to take about 7-10 days. Either way, contact us and we'll guide you through the process of getting the Authorize.net account set up with the right options.
We are very excited to get farmers using this new system, so we'd love your feedback and just let us know when you are ready to get started. This new service is due to the hard work of our capable new web developer, Will, who we'll introduce in a blog entry soon! He has been up until the early hours of the morning this week getting everything ready for launch.