Why is it still so hard for MLM companies to get a merchant account to accept payments?
Many are household names that people have come to trust. And they offer useful, high-quality products that consumers have been purchasing for years. People may be surprised to learn that most of the top 10 MLM companies have been around for decades! In fact, only 2 of the top 10 producing MLMs were founded after the year 2000. Amway, a consistently top-grossing company, was founded in 1959. Mary Kay, another continued member of the top ten list, opened in 1963. The list of the top 10 grossing MLM companies also contains such familiar names as Avon, Nu Skin, and Herbalife.
This longevity proves that Multi-level Marketing is an enduring and successful business model. They're also a significant contributor to our economy. In 2019, the MLM industry represented $35.2 billion in retail sales and serviced almost 37 billion customers. Despite this, they represent a significant risk to the reputation and financial stability of the banks that would serve them. And it's this potential risk that makes traditional banks shy away from providing an MLM merchant account to these businesses.
A sordid past and questionable business operations give MLM their high-risk status.
In the past, MLM became synonymous with pyramid schemes. But pyramid schemes differ in important ways. They often offered low-quality products or useless services. Their primary focus was to make money by recruiting new members instead of selling their products.
A legitimate MLM is not a pyramid scheme. Multi-level Marketing companies are highly specialized companies with complex business operations. An MLM company offers individuals the opportunity to become a distributor or representative and sell directly to the public. In addition, they can offer an opportunity for people to also become new distributors. However, a legitimate MLM company will offer solid products and the prime focus will be to sell those products directly to consumers.
Reputable MLM companies are also members of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). This is a national trade association specifically for “companies that market products and services directly to consumers”. The DSA helps to police, protect, and legitimize the MLM industry.
MLM companies that are members follow the guidelines set by the DSA for legal business actions.
Unfortunately, multilevel marketing has had its fair share of bad actors putting a long-enduring cloud over the entire industry. Companies that focus on recruiting and forcing those recruits to purchase a minimum amount of products have garnered the reputation of being a “pyramid scheme”.
These companies would experience rapid growth at first as they sign new distributors quickly. But because they don’t provide quality merchandise, they can't sustain the company. They generally fail because of a lack of customer sales and attrition. This leaves many unhappy customers and recent members wanting their money back with nowhere to turn. The only recourse is to file a chargeback with their credit card company. But, because the company went out of business, it leaves the processing bank responsible for all the outstanding disputes.
This whole scenario makes it a very risky business for the acquiring banks offering a merchant account for accepting MLM payments.
Aside from costing the merchant a ton of money, high chargeback ratios cost banks thousands of dollars in fees and penalties. Major card brands hold the processor responsible for their merchant’s actions. Credit card companies will impose a fine against the processor for continuing to serve problematic merchants. This is why we put such great importance on managing chargebacks and keeping chargeback ratios at a sustainable level.
Consumer’s positive attitudes towards MLM opportunities are fueling growth.
Multilevel Marketing and direct selling are experiencing newfound public interest and acceptance. Over three-quarters of Americans want more flexible income-earning opportunities. And that interest increases significantly when it comes to the younger generation just looking to enter the workforce.
Millennials and Gen Z make up 59% of the global workforce, a number that will continue to rise as Gen Z ages up. Both generations are already driving the changing landscape of the traditional workforce. They’re naturally more open-minded and entrepreneurial. When asked, 91% Gen Zers and 88% Millennials say they're interested in entrepreneurial opportunities. Millennials want more work-life balance and look for opportunities to work on their own terms. Gen Z are entrepreneurial at their core. They’re very socially involved and care about product consumption. They are also naturally tech-savvy. They're not happy climbing the ladder, they going to make their own way.
The opportunities offered with the MLM business model speak to their desires. They want a work-life balance but are highly productive. MLM offers flexibility, independence, and financial opportunity.
We understand the unique needs of the MLM industry...
We’ve done the due diligence needed to service the MLM industry with integrity. We have over 20 years of experience in providing high-risk merchant accounts for hard to place businesses. We have established strong relationships with banks that are prepared to serve the industry. And we’ve sourced the best technologies there are to help reduce chargebacks and fight fraud.
MLM business growth is in a constant state of ebb and flow. They will have growth spurts where processing volume is great and slow times where volume is lower. A lot of processors will charge MLM merchants very high per-transaction fees and put limits on processing volumes. As an experienced MLM merchant account provider, we don't have to do this to protect ourselves against risk. High fees undermine profits. Volume limits hinder growth.
We offer a fair and transparent pricing structure that centers on the merchant’s success. To that end, we know that large holds and long wait times for funding only hinder an MLM’s ability to operate efficiently. You must have a processor that releases your funds quickly so you have greater control over cash flow. For most merchants, we can provide 24 hr funding.
Our global payment gateway is 100% PCI Compliant with the most up-to-date security standards for secure payment transactions everywhere. Integrating additional fraud prevention tools such as 3DS 2.0, AVS, and CVV2 provides strong detection of potential fraud. This helps distinguish the bad transactions from the good without affecting the speed consumers expect. Merchants effectively mitigate the risk of fraud while securely processing payments for their customers.
Your robust gateway integrates seamlessly and streamlines recurring billing and memberships for ease of operations. International MLMs need to accept all the forms of payments preferred in each country they are operating in. They need to be able to accept multiple currencies. With our merchant account, you can accept multiple currencies and pay members through dynamic currency exchange.
Robust chargeback prevention tools are a must for MLM businesses.
Exceptional customer service and an excellent refund policy go a long way to reduce transaction disputes. But businesses that are prone to excessive chargebacks must also employ a strong chargeback management program. Many chargebacks are preventable if they are addressed properly. Pre-chargeback alerts are a tool that allows you to address the situation before a chargeback has been processed. This way merchants can decide if it's worth the time and effort it takes to fight the dispute or move on to disputes that are saveable. Not only will this reduce lost profits and merchandise, but also the fines and fees paid for chargebacks. Managing and reducing chargebacks helps you stay under the allowed thresholds and has a positive effect on your bottom line.
Bankcard International Group treats each MLM company as an individual. It's true that there are many unscrupulous MLM companies operating unlawfully. We won't let their actions stop us from providing merchant accounts to reputable, law-abiding MLM companies.
Specialized business models require specialized solutions. At Bankcard International Group, we have those solutions. We’ll provide you a legitimate and transparent solution at a fair price so you’ll finally have a merchant account you can count on. In short, we want to give you the last merchant account you will ever need.