Businesses often receive payments in a variety of ways, which can cause headaches when it comes to tracking and managing transactions, says Greg Hammermaster, president of Sage's payments division.

"Payments for businesses are very fragmented. It's very common for a business to have a hard time knowing who they are doing business with," says Hammermaster.

To address this need, Sage developed Exchange, a payment management system that consolidates all business payment activity into a single platform designed to monitor and manage Web, phone, and mobile and store payments.

Through a single sign on, businesses can handle credit cards, gift cards, digital payments and checks. The platform supports administration and reporting with different payment accounts and devices. It also integrates with accounting and other business management products.

Sage disclosed two users of the new product: Zephyr Hardware, a Columbia, Md.-based mobile point of sale services for restaurants; and Scottco, an Amarillo, Texas-based plumbing, heating and air conditioning repair company. Scottco says it has 20 merchant IDs for payments that is has combined into a single system, and can also perform the all batch processing in a single location; while Zephyr says it has eliminated the separate logins for collecting payments and accessing reports.

"There is a lot of fragmentation for businesses that are trying to manage an ecosystem of different payment types," says Don Weary, a vice president at Sage.

In consumer financial services, institutions use single sign on to centralize different services such as online banking, P2P payments and social networking.

In business payments, the use case for ingle sign on is similar, Hammermaster says, adding business often use separate programs to deposit paper checks, use mobile point of sale hardware to accept payments remotely or in-store, and receive payments via phone or the Internet.

Sage Exchange's mix of functions allows a business to avoid connecting its website to Sage for processing, while using another Sage product such as Virtual Terminal to pull reports and match payments against orders. All Sage payment solutions customers receive a base version of Sage Exchange for free. There are enhancements to Sage Exchange that a customer may choose that have additional costs, the company says.

Sage is also using Virtual Terminal as a way to bundle payment processing with other merchant services. "We can also link into the enterprise resource planning platform, which ties transactions to a store's staffing and resources," Weary says.

Bundling is becoming necessary for payment processors and point of sale technology providers to compete.

Square recently added a credit product to its growing list of offerings, Leaf enables integration with multiple processors and operates an app store for merchants, and Roam has partnered with Cynergy to offer a wider range of services to its mobile point of sale clients.

Vantiv and NCR have also partnered to tie payments processing to point of sale systems at small businesses, and has long been active as a seller of a dashboard that gives small businesses a view of incoming and outgoing payments, integrated with transaction tools.

Among technology vendors, Fiserv recently launched Biller Advantage, a product designed to allow companies to send and receive payments via the Web, a mobile app, an automated phone system or customer service center.

"There are new technology players that are trying to fill gaps with bank offerings that often aren't very user friendly, so the small businesses are going elsewhere," says Christine Barry, a research director at Aite Group, who adds vendors such as Yodlee are also offering small-business hubs to manage payments and other tasks. "It's a great convenience for small businesses. Time is a shortage for them, so anything that can save time is useful."

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