format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Merchant Account Life Cycle

In the world of accepting credit or debit cards for payment when selling goods and services online or in person, or to accept donations, or to sell event ticket or seminar registrations, the person or organization accepting the credit card for payment is known as the “merchant”. Each merchant must be issued a merchant account in which the credit card payments can be identified and converted to a cash deposit.

Merchant accounts allow a school or department to do business and to act as a merchant location to accept and process credit/debit card payments. The Office of the Treasurer (OOT) has mandated that all university departments use Wells Fargo Merchant Services (WFMS) unless an exemption is approved. All university department merchant accounts are set up and managed by the Stanford Merchant Services (MS) program which is part of OOT. A department may request an exemption from this requirement by providing a business case justifying an alternate vendor or process to OOT. The business case will be reviewed by the members of the Merchant Services Strategic Advisory Committee (MSSAC). The department shall not enter into an outsourcing agreement with a third-party provider, including software applications for credit card processing, until the business case is approved.

To request a merchant account, the department should contact Merchant Services and arrange an initial meeting to discuss the line of business, processing methods, transaction volume, go-live date and previous experience with credit card processing. If a third party vendor is considered, the department should follow the Third Party Service Provider Evaluation Checklist to obtain the necessary approvals. 

  • Dedicated Merchant Account: You must complete the Merchant Account Application form and submit a Support Request to MS. Allow up to three business days for MS to review your request. If approved, you will be able to receive the account information within one to two weeks. If not approved, MS will contact you to discuss the questions or concerns.
  • Loaner Terminal Rental: If you do not need a dedicated merchant account and have infrequent events or other occasional uses to take credit/debit card transactions, you can rent a loaner terminal(s) from MS. Please complete the Loaner Terminal Application form and submit a support request. Upon receiving your application, MS will reserve the terminal(s) subject to availability and coordinate the delivery schedule with you. Refer to POS Terminal Rental to learn more about this program and to reserve a device. 

Payment card settlements from point-of-sale (POS) terminal receipts or eCommerce web-based reports should be reconciled against the financial ledger reports and merchant account statements. Reconciliations must be performed at least monthly and daily reconciliations are strongly recommended. For more details regarding the reconciliation process, refer to How To: Reconciling Merchant Account.

  • Daily reports and reconciliations: Check transaction detailed reports daily to verify whether or not your transactions have been processed successfully. Reconcile the amount processed with the amount deposited in the bank. Resolve chargebacks in a timely manner. 
  • Monthly monitoring and reporting: Reconcile your monthly merchant bank statement to the revenue and processing fees recorded to the designated Stanford PTA in Oracle. Review and confirm if Payment Card Industry (PCI) fees are being properly charged. Monitor historical financial and operational trends to ensure the card activities meet expectations. Review refund transactions to ensure appropriate approvals are in place.

Department merchants are responsible for managing all aspects related to their merchant accounts. When changes occur, merchants can submit a support request to update the accounts along with their department manager’s approval. 

  • Update account information: Change merchant account name, business location address and key contact information (e.g. account owner, finance contact, PCI contact)
  • Update merchant environment: Change processing methods (point-of-sale, mail-order-telephone-order, eCommerce), change third party vendors or switch to point-to-point encryption solutions.
  • Update GL string for your merchant ID: Change the Project-Task-Award-Object (PTAO) code associated with the merchant account. You must provide your Merchant ID (MID), new PTAO and effective date.
  • Manage user access: Add, modify or delete user access to a merchant system (e.g. Cybersource,, Business Track/Clientline, Clover web portal). Request new user for PCI awareness compliance training.
  • Point-of-sale terminals: To order supplies or new equipment and periodic software updates, please refer to Resource: Point-of-Sale Merchants.
  • E-Commerce: For payment gateway technical support, please refer to Resource: E-Commerce Merchants.

If a merchant account is no longer needed, the department must submit a support request to terminate the MID and cease accepting credit/debit cards as payment for goods or services. Once a merchant account is closed, any future requests to accept credit/debit cards must be re-approved by MS before acquiring, contracting or utilizing a payment processing method.

Within 30 days from the effective close date, the department merchant must: 

  • Call Wells Fargo helpdesk at 800-622-0842 or your third party provider to request transaction data be erased on all POS equipment.
  • Contact Surplus Property Sales (SPS) to arrange a pick up time to dispose of the POS equipment.
  • Destroy by cross-shredding if you have any paper media containing payment card information.
  • Contact your IT department if you have any electronic files or media related to payment card sales. This includes any spreadsheets, word, PDF files and databases that contain customer name, card number, expiration date or other sensitive card information.
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2023