- Merchant Services: The company responsible for your league's credit card processing. Your league has an operating agreement with your merchant services provider that governs the processing and per-transaction rates charged to the league.
- Payment Gateway: The 'back end' of any merchant services account is a payment gateway that is responsible for "settling" transactions every day. The gateway is the connection between the merchant services account and the issuing bank for a particular credit card. There are only a handful of payment gateways that most every merchant services provider uses, e.g. Authorize.net or Firstdata. Up until the Fall of 2019, all merchant accounts used Firstdata as their payment gateway; these accounts are in transition to Authorize.net. See inLeague moves to Authorize.net below.
- Unsettled Transaction: When a credit card transaction is submitted, it joins a "batch" of the day's transactions at your payment gateway. At the end of every day (and sometimes sooner), the payment gateway will "settle" the transaction with the issuing bank for each card in the batch. A transaction that is unsettled may be voided - this cancels the processing of the transaction and means that the league will not be charged for processing it. This is different than a refund or a return, which can only be processed on settled transactions and which may incur normal fees. When issuing refunds within inLeague, you will have the option to void a transaction if it was submitted on today's date; typically, when the option is available, it is best to use it (and sometimes required).
- Settled Transaction: After the payment gateway has cleared the day's transactions with the issuing banks for each card, the transaction is settled. At this point, it can no longer be voided; refunds are issued via the normal return or credit mechanism for your merchant service provider.
- Invoices, introduced in the Fall of 2019, represent one or more amounts owed to a league by one or more families, and they may be paid all at once or over time through recurring billing.
Whom do you recommend?
inLeague's current recommendation for Merchant Services is Paysafe:
- Account contact: Marcell Teleau - firstname.lastname@example.org - 617 580 3649 (Eastern Time)
- Iindicate that your league is a client of inLeague and part of AYSO
- Customer Support: (800) 324-9825
- Flagship Merchant Services (our previous recommendation) was bought by Paysafe; they are the same entity.
inLeague's Role - Transaction Broker
The inLeague system is designed to broker transactions between leagues and participants (parents and volunteers). This means that we package up all the relevant data for a transaction and send it to your credit card processor, and then record the response. We do not charge a fee for this service; it is part of your regular subscription to our software.
inLeague does not ever store credit card or billing data beyond the absolute minimum required to facilitate transactions between your league and your merchant account.
inLeague does not have a relationship with any merchant services provider and receives no incentives for steering leagues to one provider over another. Given the importance of processing credit cards to every organization that collects fees, we do have an interest in a smooth and successful business relationship between our constituent leagues and their merchant services provider -- and to that end, we periodically act as a consensus-gatherer and representative on our leagues' behalf so that we might leverage the buying power of all of our customers. This is a service we provide as a courtesy; inLeague does not process credit cards, collect fees for processing credit cards, or hold any capacity beyond advice with respect to your league's merchant services account.
May we use any merchant services provider?
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of companies providing merchant services on the Internet. It makes no difference to inLeague which merchant service provider you use; however, they must support Authorize.net as a payment gateway. Please note that support for Firstdata merchant accounts is ending in 2020.
There are three advantages to using the same merchant services provider as other inLeague regions:
- Because your account will be under an inLeague 'umbrella', you will receive advantageous rates if your league can be grouped together with other leagues. This is strictly for rate negotiation; your merchant account cannot be accessed by another league or AYSO National.
- inLeague handles PCI compliance for all Paysafe accounts. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, and inLeague is not able to provide any support to assist with compliance with non-Paysafe accounts.
- Customer support: inLeagues have a single account representative that understands your business and ours.
How much does it cost to accept credit cards?
The rates depend on your merchant services provider, the type of agreement your league has with that provider, and the type of card being processed.
Most merchant providers will offer two types of pricing structures. Please note that the following examples are meant only to illustrate concepts; please consult your merchant services representative for an explanation appropriate to your service.
- Interchange Plans are typically promoted as the most cost-effective, but it can be difficult to determine your average rates. There are dozens if not hundreds of different rates not just for the major card brands like American Express or Mastercard, but also significant variety in rates between product lines and issuing banks. For example, instead of "the Mastercard rate" or even "The Capital One Mastercard rate," there might be one rate for "Capital One Professional" and another rate for "Capital One Quicksilver Rewards." Under an interchange plan, the merchant services provider charges a fixed percentage over and above the applicable rate set by the issuing bank for the particular card used in the transaction. The advantage is that you know your merchant service provider is only taking .05% of each transaction; the disadvantage is that you have no way of knowing what rates the issuing banks are charging for any particular card until after the transaction has settled. Not only are there hundreds of interchange rates, but they can and do change all the time. Nevertheless, most merchant services providers will recommend interchange plans for leagues that do not expect corporate, government, or international credit cards to be used very often.
- Tiered plans divide all cards into a much smaller number of categories, typically qualified and unqualified transactions, where qualified transactions might consist of any card that is not a government or international credit card; these receive a preferable rate to unqualified transactions. All transactions will be billed at one rate or the other, regardless of the rate charged by the issuing bank. This seems (to us, anyway) more manageable, but at the cost of what might be higher rates across the board.
Is it possible to maintain multiple merchant accounts?
Yes. inLeague has the following mechanisms to collect funds:
- Registration payments (submitted by registered users)
- Event payments (submitted by registered users)
- Team-level or 'tournament' payments (submitted by registered users)
- Standalone donations (submitted by anybody)
- Sponsorships (submitted by anybody)
- (New for 2019) Invoices (submitted by registered users)
Unless otherwise specified, all payments will be submitted by the merchant account configured in your inLeague control panel as the system default. Team-level payments, also called tournament payments, may be configured to use separate merchant accounts in the Competition Setup function for each competition -- in other words, you can have funds submitted for teams in your travel program processed separately from funds submitted for teams in your core program.
Similarly, individual events may be configured to use any available merchant account on the 'new event' or 'edit event' pages.
To segregate donations or sponsorships into separate accounts, please contact inLeague Support.
Invoice Templates and Authorize.net: Changing How Parents Pay
- As of Fall 2019, inLeague's payment system had processed about $44,000,000.
- inLeague maintains a record of zero security 'accidents' or data 'leaks.' Nevertheless, as security standards evolve, inLeague had an opportunity to improve both the customer experience and embrace current best practices for handling customer data.
- While the previous payment system is reliable, it doesn't support recurring transactions.
- inLeague's previous recommended merchant services account, Flagship, was purchased by Paysafe, and Paysafe encourages (though does not require) all their customers to migrate from the FirstData payment gateway to Authorize.net. inLeague was already familiar with Authorize.net, which was the runner up when inLeague last investigated payment gateways in 2012.
Authorize.net, owned by Visa, fulfills the same functions as FirstData, and they have the most customers of any payment gateway. Leagues who have used both Authorize.net and FirstData reported that the customer experience for the merchant account holder was superior with Authorize.net.
Does this matter to the typical inLeague user?
Yes, because the payment experience is changing. Instead of entering credit card information into inLeague, parents will get a Manage Payment Profiles button that will open a small, mobile-friendly window directly onto Authorize.net, where inLeague will automatically and seamlessly create a user profile for each inLeague user. Parents can enter one or more credit cards into their secure profile, and the only data that inLeague saves is a unique code for their profile; that code is useless outside of transactions made for the league. Parents will not have to log in separately to Authorize.net; they will be automatically authenticated on the basis of their existing inLeague login.
When inLeague users need to submit a payment, they will see a list of their payment methods on an inLeague payment form, and simply select the one they want to use. As far as the user is concerned, it appears as though inLeague is saving more payment-related information than it did previously, because users will not have to re-enter their billing details for every transaction; in fact, it is saving less.
Will all inLeague payments use the new system?
For the Fall 2019 launch, only the new Invoice Templates system will use (and require) the new Authorize.net accounts. Registration, team payments, event payments, and donations will all be retrofitted shortly thereafter, such that by the end of 2019, all inLeagues should have successfully migrated to Authorize.net.