Payment Processing without PCI Pain

Tyce McIntosh, Founder of Natural Solutions, LLC
Tyce McIntosh, Founder of Natural Solutions, LLC

Tyce McIntosh began his entrepreneurial venture Natural Solutions, LLC in 1979 then shifted the company to serve the direct marketing industry in 1985 by providing software to handle orders being placed in call centers for catalog companies. As he explained: “Once the order is placed, no matter what the channel or source, the catalog company will pass it on to us and our software will automatically handle all of the customer service, shipping, warehouse inventory control, and even payment processing.” His clients cover a wide spectrum ranging from food processors, automotive, medical, and trophy companies to people supplying teachers.

However, all of that began to change in the nineties when the world first began to understand the concept of disruptive innovation as the Internet opened the world to an entirely new way of handling business; it was a time when we began to shift from printed catalogs, mail orders, and telephones to the explosion of online shopping . . . and the beginning of all the risk and development complications that came with payment information coursing through the wild of the ‘net. Tyce was determined to find a solution that would secure payment data and enable his staff to remain focused on their primary tasks. 

Two challenges became too big

As the new web-based marketplace grew, the team was kept busy with both software development to keep up with the changes as well as growing compliance edicts to keep it secure. 

Compliance changes
Since the Natural Solutions application interfaces directly with payment processors, the company must keep up with changes in PCI compliance. “In addition to annual audits, every time we made even the slightest change in our software we had to go through another compliancy audit!” 

PCI compliance calls for 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and over 400 individual test procedures. Fines for non-compliance could cost your business up to $100,000 per month – and around 80% of organizations are still not compliant.1  Further, the bank will likely either raise your fees or simply terminate your relationship and such fees can be catastrophic to a business.2 

Us e-commerce sales as % of total retail sales
Figure 1: Data courtesy

Multiple processing vendors
Complicating matters further was the company’s insistence on providing client companies with a choice of payment processors. This choice enables clients to shop for the best rate which has saved some as much as tens of thousands of dollars annually in credit card processing fees alone. However, it also meant maintaining relationships with numerous processors. “Our staff was spending an overwhelming amount of time keeping up with feature changes required by each payment vendor then to test for each vendor to remain compliant.”

Strong industry growth added to his concerns. By 2010, Natural Solutions was processing tens of thousands of transactions on peak days as the overall e-commerce market reached $171 billion. “I was redirecting staff away from their primary duties just to keep up with it all. That was when I decided that something had to change.”

Turning to Auric Systems International
Fortunately for Tyce, a payment processor led him to Auric Systems International who provides services that act as middleware. “I called the company and spoke with Ray Côté who explained how their AuricVault® tokenization service secures sensitive financial and personal data and replaces it with tokens.” 

Tokens are random strings of numbers and letters that have no relationship to the stored data. If someone stole all your tokens, they still would not have any of your sensitive data. The tokenization process also includes data separation which ensures that no single entity has all the data at one time. 

“When it came to integrating Natural Solutions software with the AuricVault, we didn’t need any outside consultants or special training. None. We did it all with our own staff.” 

Natural Solutions ERP Software Integration

The Results
Following integration with Auric, Tyce was able to reallocate people back to focusing on what they are good at and let Auric take care of the rest. He explained further that in the ten years since connecting with the AuricVault they have had sales growth without cost growth, a point that became even more important with the onslaught of Covid-19 when online shopping in the U.S. grew 44% in a single year adding $100 billion for a total of $861 billion in 2020 alone. That represents the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in at least two decades.3,4  “Yet, in spite of the spike, we didn’t’ have to staff up to meet it . . . Auric Systems simply took care of it silently in the background.” 

And with those seemingly endless changes imposed by myriad payment processing vendors and the frustrating onslaught of compliancy updates, he no longer loses sleep over it. Tyce explained that he gets a steady stream of credit card processors asking to hook up with his company and he now tells them to talk with Auric. “With Auric handling the credit cards, I don’t have to worry about compliance anymore!”

Story written by Dirk A. D. Smith, the founder of Landfall Research which specializes in the research, analysis, writing and presentation/publication of complex technical knowledge.

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