Inner Fence offers tools to connect merchants to processors and gateways. Their services stand out, because they offer connectivity with Mac computers and Windows phones.
Innerfence, mostly known as Inner Fence, first hit the market in 2007, before Square. But, Inner Fence doesn't process credit cards, and it isn't an aggregator. Instead, it represents a mobile processing app and vitual terminal (called "Credit Card Terminal"), that works with Merchant Focus and Stripe and other companies for processing and with Authorize.Net for its primary gateway. And, unlike an aggregator, Inner Fence offers a unique merchant account which can cost more than an aggregator for small businesses.
Inner Fence is upfront about their fees and costs. They look delicious on the front end, because they don't charge for early termination, PCI compliance, yearly payments, or minimum transaction fees. Their first swiper is free. But, their monthly charges -- if they apply to you -- may turn you off. Most importantly, merchants also pay for the gateway and other expenses provided by whichever processor the merchant uses.
Founded by Derek Del Conte and Ryan D. Johnson, Inner Fence's staff seems minimal for growth. Perhaps that's the goal -- to keep this company small. With that said, Inner Fence offers credit card processing separately in the U.S. and in Canada, plus offers various pricing packages for high-volume merchants and non-profit organizations. Additionally, they use their swiper and terminals to connect to a number of providers, including First Data, PayPal, Bluefin, Sage, and Stripe.
Below is a detailed review of Innerfence Merchant Services offering. The review is broken down into the following categories.
Depending upon the type of business you own, some of the following features may be very important to you, while others may not matter.
Since Inner Fence connects with so many other third parties for their final service to the merchant, we applied "possible" to most of the answers below. Although Inner Fence doesn't charge for many services (and we noted this below as well), the processor you use with Inner Fence products may charge you for various features. Finally, Inner Fence allows users to connect via Windows phones and Macs, which is usually unheard-of in this industry.
|Microsoft Dynamics GP||No|
|Windows / Blackberry||Yes, Windows|
|iPhone / iPad||Yes|
|Alternative Transaction Types:|
|Snail Mail Orders||Yes|
|American Express (AMEX)||Possible|
|Add Tips to Bills||Possible|
|eCommerce / Shopping Cart||Possible|
|EMV Chip Cards||Yes|
|Loyalty / Gift Cards||Possible|
|eChecks / Electronic Checks||Possible|
|Welfare Benefits (EBT/SNAP/TANF)||Possible|
|Security / Fraud Prevention:|
|AVS Fraud Protection||Yes|
|PCI DSS Secure Transactions||Yes|
|HIPAA Compliance (Healthcare)||Possible|
|Trust Account Debiting (Legal)||No|
|Fleet Cards (Petroleum)||Possible|
|Online Menu Orders (Restaurants)||Possible|
Almost every merchant account services company uses either Interchange Plus or Tiered Pricing (to learn the differences read here). Where companies allow us to disclose pricing information, we show the deals that our secret shoppers were able to achieve. When companies offer both Interchange Plus and Tiered Pricing, we try to get a quote on both options.
We're going to focus on the U.S.-based pricing plans for this article. Inner Fence offers plans for new merchant sign-ups as well as for merchants who already have an existing payment processor, as long as that processor is compatible with Inner Fence's product and services.
The monthly fee probably covers all the items that Inner Fence states are free, including the gateway charges. New merchants get unlimited terminals, one free card reader, and unlimited phone support.
If you already have a merchant account service and you'd like to switch to Inner Fence, you have three options: Individual (which they define as a sole proprietorship), professional, and a business account:
We'll go ahead and show you the high-volume business (over $150,000 per year) and non-profit charges and fees as well:
Currently, Inner Fence offers a free 30-day trial with no credit card required. Additionally, we learned during our call to customer service that many merchants use this account for seasonal sales and close it when the season is over. Then, they can re-open the account to use it again when those seasonal sales are pending.
While some of the prices above may seem attractive, we're concerned that the merchant might not realize that Inner Fence's services include just equipment and connectivity. Other contracts may apply, which means that more costs are added to monthly bills, including more monthly fees and all the other fees that Inner Fence doesn't list on their charges (PCI Compliance, etc.). Inner Fence offers to provide additional card data so the merchant can obtain lower processing rates; but, why go through all that work when other processing companies have everything in house?
|Fine Print Fees:|
|Setup / Application Fee||None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||None|
|PCI Inaction Fee||None|
|Online Reporting Fee||None|
|Monthly Minimum Volume Fee||None|
|Accept International Pymt Fee||None|
|Voice Authorization Fee||None|
|Monthly Min. Process Fee||None|
|Daily Batch Fee||None|
|ACH / Direct Deposit Fee||None|
|ACH Charge Fee||None|
|ACH Return Fee||None|
Think about this cost alone: If you have a chargeback with Inner Fence account, that company charges you $15 for that chargeback. If your processor is First Data, they also may charge you a chargeback fee. The costs are beginning to rack up here (chargebacks for the "high volume" customer come to $30 at Inner Fence).
While your transactions will take place via your merchant electronically, the actual device that you use to swipe a customer's card into is referred to as "the equipment." This equipment includes hardware and, often, software or apps for that hardware to function properly.
Since Inner Fence is all about the hardware and software, we couldn't wait to tackle this subject. However, the solutions are fairly simple...
PayAnywhere currently operates within the U.S. and Canada. Other country options would depend upon Merchant Focus's services or services provided by other processing companies that are compatible with Inner Fence.
We generally don't like to see long-term contracts or termination fees in merchant services agreements, because the ability to cancel a contract keeps the credit card processor on its best behavior (and more likely to try to make you happy if there's a dispute). The ability for the merchant to cancel gives you, that merchant, the ability to choose a better deal that might come along down the road before your current contract expires.
Inner Fence offers a month-to-month contract with no early termination fees. With that said, your contract with your Inner Fence-compatible processor may have other plans for you. Additionally, you'll need to follow contract termination guidelines with Inner Fence, because -- unlike Square or any other services that don't charge monthly fees -- Inner Fence will continue to ding you for that monthly charge, even if you're not using their equipment or services.
The merchant account services industry is multi-layered. Understanding how those layers fit together can be confusing (Read More in this Article). A good thing to know, however, is whether or not your company is a direct processor (good if yes) or, if not, then to know who they process with and whether or not that processor is reliable. The second thing to know is whether or not the service or sales staffs are in-house or outsourced. In-house staffs are preferable for you, as these staff members may have more access to sources that can resolve your issues.
Inner Fence is not an ISO, nor is it a gateway. This company merely offers equipment and connectivity to other Inner Fence-compatible processors. Billing is conducted through Swipe, and their major gateway service is Authorize.Net
Inner Fence doesn't seem to offer any deceptive sales practices or claims. They're upfront about the costs, but they aren't very clear initially on their services.
Inner Fence claims to offer 24/7 support.
As part of our review process, we try to test out the claims made by the Merchant Account Services provider by placing a few test calls, and working through the customer service process.
5/11/2015; TIME: 1:55 pm and 2:00 pm EST
Call to Customer Support
I called twice, and both times I was cut off after an introduction that stated all their customer service reps were busy.
5/11/2015; TIME: 2:04 pm EST
Call to Customer Support
Kyle answered the phone and he was very pleasant. He answered all my questions quickly and succinctly.
Our Take: I was happy with the service I received, even though I had to try several times to contact Inner Fence. When it comes down to using a merchant services account, the ability to contact anyone is a plus.
We scoured the web to find past and current customer complaints about this processor. Then, we investigated those complaints that seemed legit and provide our verdict on how well the processor handled the issues. We discovered two complaints about Inner Fence, both from 2012, which probably means this company is reliable and trustworthy. It may also mean that they have great customer support.
|PCI Compliance Fee||$0.00|
|Online Reporting Fee||$0.00|
Questions About This Processor?
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About the Reviews: These reviews, and for that matter any reviews, are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion, not as a statement of fact. Selecting a merchant services provider is an important decision, and we urge you to use no single source of information as the basis of that decision.
About the Pricing: This pricing is an estimate based on limited available information. In some cases, the Processors' pricing information was provided directly by the company, in others, we obtained it from public information, through calls to the company, or through past or current clients of the company. Where, despite these efforts, we were unable to obtain any information about certain fees, we used estimates based on similar providers in the industry. While we're working, in some cases, with the company directly to get more accurate pricing, even in those circumstances, we can't guarantee the pricing's accuracy. Complicating all of this, is that for some companies individual salespeople are given authority to modify terms on a deal by deal basis. In any case, if you know of an error, please let us know and we'll fix it.
About the Calculations: With respect to your estimated savings, this is based on a lot of factors and some hard math. The reason we do it, along with the "Actual Gross Rate" calculation is that every Processor prices their product differently (e.g. interchange v. 3 tier v. 4 tier v. flat v. membership, etc.) and some make it intentionally complicated or opaque. Trying to convert their pricing structure to a consistent "Overall Cost of Processing" is the only way you, the merchant, can do an apples to apples pricing comparison and know whether an offer is actually a good deal. Our system isn't perfect but we're trying.
Conclusion: In sum, these rankings, ratings, and scores are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion and not as a legal statement of fact. Moreover, use these prices and estimates at your own risk, and make sure to verify the pricing you see here in any formal contract you receive. Finally, if you do find something wrong in our pricing, terms, etc., tell us and we'll try to fix it.
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