Joseph Mao on the Benefits of Intuit’s Merchant Service Center [VIDEO]

Many small-business owners struggle to streamline incoming and outgoing payments. This is unfortunate, because manually processing checks or chasing down invoices cuts into time that could be better spent developing new products or polishing services.

Intuit’s Merchant Service Center, a system to help manage one-time and recurring payments, track deposits and fees, and manage services like GoPayment, can help.

MSC eliminates the time and expense of mailing payments as well as checks getting lost in the mail. With the exception of users who regularly engage in transactions over $1,250 (where a plan carrying a $12.95/monthly fee, essentially bundling all credit-card swipe fees that range from 1.7% to 2.7% per transaction, is more cost-efficient), there are no monthly fees. With MSC, “you know you got paid, you know how much you got paid, and you don’t have to wait 30 days,” says Joseph Mao, senior product manager for mobile payments and point of sale at Intuit.

Mao is most excited about the product’s ability to analyze and measure financial success, because it provides a very detailed look at your business transactions. “It’s kind of like your bank account,” he explains. “It’s a place you can go to figure out how much business you drummed up [on any given] day and how well it compares to previous days.”

Small-business owners can customize MSC based on their individual needs. For example, you can add your company logo to receipts and incorporate social media links, including Twitter and Yelp. (Sharing a Twitter handle is especially beneficial for mobile businesses that operate without a bricks-and-mortar location or fixed hours and rely upon social media to spread the word about where they’ll be and when.) You can also print legal disclosures and information about return policies on MSC receipts.

MSC has helped small-business owners work from anywhere and take in money no matter where they are, thanks to its integration with GoPayment. “I could be in the airport and take a payment, or I could be in Hawaii at the beach,” Mao notes. “We’ve seen all kinds of customers use this — everything from Girl Scouts to political campaigns and caterers, plumbers, and dog walkers. You can now customize your receipts more easily and also download information about the people who gave you money.”

In addition, MSC lets entrepreneurs show off product photos to potential customers via an iPad. “Let’s say you’re an artist, but you don’t want to carry around your art. I just talked to a customer who sells sculptures, and this is exactly how he does it,” says Mao.

Since its launch in 2009, MSC grown faster than anticipated, especially over the past 12 months. “Our growth has been a hockey stick, easily 10 to 20 times what we had last year,” Mao says. “We’ve had more merchants coming in last month than we did a good portion of 2011.”

About Kristine Hansen

A Wisconsin-based freelance writer, Kristine Hansen contributes business stories to many food and drink trade journals, as well as, and blogs about mindful travel at Psychology Today. She also dishes out advice for writers at The Writer Magazine about running a successful writing business.
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