The Summer 2021 Merchant Services issue includes strategy, operational and compliance updates. View the summary version.

Progress on Key Initiatives 

This is an exciting time for the Merchant Services Transformation Project team. Here are the key actions taken to date:

  • Front End Solutions Redesign: Part of the overarching Merchant Services redesign strategy is to reduce costs and administrative burden related to meeting PCI requirements to the greatest extent possible. To accomplish this goal, we must first redirect any eCommerce sites that are running on the Stanford PCI Network. After careful analysis of the nearly 40 websites, the first set of Merchants to convert have been identified. Interviews with FMS business analysts to develop scope and requirements have been scheduled for June and July. Go live for the new eCommerce sites are planned for late summer and fall.
  • Payment Gateway Discovery: A Payment Gateway is the first stop a credit card payment makes on its way to the intended recipient. Different gateway providers deliver different services. We are finalizing our selection from the top three respondents to the RFP. Currently we are reviewing new solutions that improve the user experience and are scoping any potential impact on merchants or service providers that a change might create.  The selection and more information about this change will be shared through multiple channels, including future newsletters, Fingate and the MS Community of Practice.
  • PCI Compliance/Merchant Services Website Integration Update: To improve clarity and transparency for users, Merchant Services is migrating some of the content from the website to the Merchant Services pages on the Fingate website Over the summer and fall, we will be working on rebranding the sites while taking this opportunity to simplify and update selected policy requirements.

To stay up to date on the project, visit the Fingate News page, which will provide real time updates as the project progresses.

Welcome to Our Newest Team Member 

Linda Huynh has joined Merchant Services in the role of Operations Manager as of June 1. Prior to this new role, Linda had been the Assistant Division Manager providing operational and logistical support to the division of Primary Care and Population Health within the School of Medicine. She has nearly 20 years of robust Stanford experience progressing her business operations skills through various roles working in several schools and departments. 

Linda’s new role will directly support the merchant community and will focus on operations and efficiency for existing and evolving work flow processes. She can be reached at 

MS Community of Practice is Live!

The Merchant Services Community of Practice (CoP) was successfully launched in March 2021 with a growing number of members joining the Slack channel and virtual monthly meetings. Topics have ranged from pivotal ways of conducting business due to the pandemic, meet & greet with the new PCI compliance team from the Information Security Office (ISO), and best practices when using softphones to process telephone order transactions.  We are monitoring the topics raised on the Slack CoP channel to address as topics for our monthly meetings so please keep those ideas and questions coming!

  • Join the CoP Slack channel at #Merchant-Community-Forum for asking questions, making comments, addressing timely issues in between meetings
  • Visit the CoP Meeting Resource page to learn more about past topics and register for upcoming monthly events

Billing Address Not Always Required for Card Payments

The billing address is the residential address where cardholders receive their monthly statements.  As a best practice, we recommend that merchants ask their customers to provide billing address information prior to payment checkout. When standard authentication fields such as street number and zip/postal code are combined with Address Verification checks, it helps prevent chargebacks, card fraud, or identity theft. If the customer enters information that does not match what is on file with the card-issuing bank, then the payment gateway service may block or decline the payment. Additionally, if the billing address is left blank, there will be higher processing fees associated with those transactions.

However, while collecting this billing information works well for preventing fraud for most domestic credit or debit cards, it sometimes poses a problem with gift cards, prepaid cards, and international credit cards, since these cards may not have a registered address attached to them. There is no requirement for Merchants to reject a transaction due to missing optional information or missing billing address as there are many reasons why they may not match. It is then left up to the merchant to balance fraud risk against consumer satisfaction, by deciding whether or not to collect billing addresses (see table below). It is a business decision that each merchant must address for their individual processes.

Card Issuing Location

Billing Address

Address Verification (AV)

U.S. bank issued card (domestic)

US billing address

Works well for most transactions; does not work for gift/prepaid card, or  U.S. issuing bank not support AV

U.S. bank issued card (domestic)

Non US billing address

May not work if address format does not match defined fields

Non U.S. bank issued card (international)

US billing address 

Does not work as non U.S. issuing bank not support AV

Non U.S. bank issued card (international)

Non US billing address

Does not work as non U.S. issuing bank not support AV


AMEX Processing Fee Is Less Expensive

Contrary to popular belief, American Express processing fees are less expensive for Stanford merchants than those of all the other major brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover). Most Stanford merchants qualify for the education business category which has a flat rate of 2.5% to process American Express. This may sound high, but after factoring the banks’ charges and fees plus the interchange rate, merchants end up paying more overall to process the other card brands which have an effective rate of 2.75%, making American Express a less expensive option.

Chargeback Notification Requires Prompt Attention

Chargebacks occur when a cardholder disputes a merchant’s charge on their monthly statement. Many times chargebacks are associated with fraudulent transactions, but sometimes cardholders will dispute a charge if they are not satisfied with the goods/services received, or were overcharged, or simply forgot about their purchases. 

Merchants not only risk losing the sales revenue, they are charged a $10 administration fee for every chargeback initiated. In daily operations, merchants should do everything possible to avoid chargebacks by addressing any customer concerns in a timely manner, promptly issuing refunds, and processing all transactions in a compliant way. Merchants should take immediate action within 10 business days upon receiving a chargeback notification sent through a support request ticket from Merchant Services. Learn more about Credit and Debit Card Chargebacks.

Reminder! Certain Registration Fee Increase 

As previously communicated, the Certain event registration fee will be increasing from $2 to $4 per registrant effective September 1, 2021. The Office of the Treasurer (OOT) is adjusting the pricing to better reflect the cost of doing business with Certain. The new fee will apply to any registration which occurs on or after September 1st regardless of when the event will take place or whether the event is free or not. Please incorporate this fee increase into your FY22 budgeting process.

New! Offering a Fraud Service for a Monthly Fee, the payment gateway that integrates with Eventbrite, will begin charging $5 per month for its Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS) services on July 1, 2021.  AFDS is the automatic default for Eventbrite merchant account set ups. It provides various fraud prevention filters such as - address verification checks to identify billing address mismatches. If merchants do not wish to use this service, please call at 1-877-447-3938 to disable the functionality. 

Eventbrite Customer Support Change 

Due to the pandemic and the severe drop in event and registration activity, Eventbrite has updated its customer support model and training with the following resources:

  • 24x7 Customer support team via live chat 
  • Library of how-to & best practice videos 
  • Weekly virtual classroom sessions and webinars
  • Help Center articles to find the answers you need, when you need them

Departments who are interested in setting up an Eventbrite account for paid events must submit a support request to Merchant Services for an initial consultation and merchant account. To learn more, visit the Eventbrite Event Management page. 


The Merchant Services Community of Practice meetings are a dedicated, collaborative place to discuss operational experiences, share best practices and network with other merchants. To accommodate summer plans, we will not meet in June. Join us next month on July 22 at 11am.

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