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A minority of independent sales organizations continue to offer free-terminal programs, according to results of a recent ISO&Agent survey. CardLine sister publication ISO&Agent found that 72% of 60 respondents do not offer merchants the option to receive point-of-sale terminals with no up-front costs in exchange for agreeing to use the ISO to process transactions for a specified number of years. Only 28% of respondents offer such programs. These percentages vary only slightly from a 2008 ISO&Agent survey that found 31% of ISOs had free-terminal programs. "The economics surrounding free-terminal programs are not right for everybody," David Fish, senior analyst at Mercator Advisory Group Inc., tells ISO&Agent. "Those still providing them have worked out business models that are likely to sustain free-terminal provisioning." ISOs are rapidly developing other "value-added" services that typically generate greater profit margins than basic card-processing services, Fish says. Examples include POS systems several ISOs offer that include operational functions, such as employee scheduling and profit and loss analysis in addition to processing payment card transactions, he says.

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