Merchant boarding is the process of passing a business recruited by an ISO to a payment processor to be reviewed and set up with a new merchant account. Every business that signs up for a merchant account goes through onboarding, and while the goals of onboarding are always the same, the process may differ slightly depending on the ISO, its payment processing partners, and its technology stack. 

While traditional onboarding is slow and tedious, today CRM-based merchant boarding tools make sending new merchants to payment processors a quick, painless experience. 


The Goals of Merchant Boarding

The goals of merchant boarding are the same across all ISOs and payment processors and cover two primary areas: transferring the necessary data to the processor and performing due diligence to ensure the merchant isn’t too risky. 

Merchant Processing Application Data Transfer: When merchants apply for a new merchant account, they fill out a processing application known in the industry as an MPA. The MPA is filled out during the recruitment process with the ISO and includes all of the key information about a new merchant, their business history, finances, owners, and more. All that data needs to get to the processor complete and secure, and that’s generally done either through a standalone boarding portal owned by the processor or through an API-connected application plumbed directly to a processor’s boarding system. 

Merchant Underwriting: Every new merchant a processor accepts as a client represents a new risk. Some risk is acceptable and an unavoidable part of doing business, but to ensure they don’t overexpose themselves to potential fraud or merchants who are more headache than they’re worth, processors perform thorough underwriting as part of the onboarding process. Only once a business and its owners have been carefully vetted can they be accepted for a merchant account.


The Process of Merchant Boarding

The process an ISO goes through to board a new merchant depends heavily on what types of technology they use. The traditional merchant boarding process works, but it suffers from some major drawbacks that have led to the development of new, automated boarding tools that are both more accurate and much faster. 

Traditional Merchant Boarding

In the traditional merchant onboarding process, the ISO collects the merchant’s MPA and transfers the data to the payment processor manually. Whether they log in to a processor’s web-based boarding portal or connect to the processor with their own custom-designed boarding gateway, each field of the merchant’s application must be transferred over line-by-line from the original source document to the boarding tool. 

If that sounds tedious, it’s because it is. Boarding merchants manually can take 30 minutes or more, even for seasoned agents and operations staff. Even worse, any time a person has to retype or move data manually, the potential for human error is introduced. Because the onboarding process involves underwriting, any errors in the application have the potential to slow down an application or even kill it altogether. As a result, employees transferring data from an MPA have to be extremely careful – slowing down an already slow process even further. 


Automated CRM Merchant Boarding

The alternative option to the old, tired process is automated, CRM-based onboarding using a tool like IRIS CRM TurboApp. Automated onboarding cuts down the time it takes to board a new merchant by over 80% and also eliminates most of the opportunity for mistakes to creep in. 

ISOs boarding merchants with TurboApp use digital merchant processing agreements that can be filled out without printing, copying, or scanning and electronically signed for maximum convenience. The digital MPA is imported into TurboApp, which instantly configures itself to match the fields required by the selected payment processor, and then automatically fills them using the data contained in the application. 

Rather than manually copying and pasting or retyping data, users can simply review the imported merchant information for accuracy, set pricing, and submit. The entire process takes as little as five minutes, even for brand new users. Better still, IRIS CRM also offers instantaneous one-click boarding that allows low-risk merchants to submit their MPA online and automatically forwards it to the processor with no review or manual submission required. 

Not only does boarding a merchant with a system like IRIS CRM reduce the process to a matter of minutes or even seconds, it also eliminates the potential for typos and misclicks that could slow or sink an application, or cost an ISO money in the case of misentered pricing. 


To find out more about automated merchant boarding with a customer resource management system, reach out to a member of the IRIS CRM team or schedule a free guided demonstration of the system today.