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June 19th 2019

Card Acquiring – Seven Reasons an Invoice Audit Could Save You Millions

As the global payments landscape continues to change, the fees that merchants pay to acquirers, networks and banks become ever-more perplexing. Anyone familiar with the inherent complexity of these fees will know all too well the difficulty of understanding exactly what they’re being charged for.


It’s therefore unsurprising that we see 1 in every 2 card acquirer invoices contains substantial errors: and CMSPI analysis has found that many merchants are being consistently overcharged by millions of pounds/euros every year.

Working with some of the world’s largest merchants to conduct thorough invoice audits, we’re consistently identifying alarming levels of overcharges – and many of our clients have now achieved a six or seven-figure rebate from their suppliers.

Here are some of the key reasons why your Merchant Service Charge invoice could contain substantial errors:

Misapplied rates

The varying rates applied to your transactions may be incorrect, as different payment types, channels and transaction values will incur different fees. With many charges being hidden in complex management information and opaque reporting data, having true visibility into whether these various rates are being charged correctly is extremely difficult with just monthly invoices.

Umbrella charge

In some instance, smaller fees may be blended together on your invoice under an “umbrella charge”. Merging these fees together ultimately allows for a premium to be added to the headline rate, so it’s essential that you understand the individual components of these charges.

Rounding up

Although it may seem unlikely to constitute a significant cost, rounding up fractional fees can result in a substantial overcharge – particularly for merchants processing large volumes of card transactions.

Phantom fees

Because your payments profile is inherently complex, your invoice breakdown will be just as complex. Different transactions will incur different fee types – leaving room for phantom fees to go unnoticed.

Keying errors

There are hundreds/thousands of different possible charges that you might see on your invoices, and these are changing constantly. This doesn’t just mean that keying errors are possible: it means they’re actually likely.

Pass-through fees

Charges that card processors pass on to merchants from the card networks can often contain hidden premiums. These pass-through costs are extremely complex, including factors such as exchange rate fluctuations; settlement timescale differences; and variations in pricing structures.

Non-standard transactions

Transactions that don’t fit into a distinct charging category can often incur excessive fees and, due to the complexity of the hundreds/thousands of possible rates, these too often go unnoticed by merchants.

Prashani Samaraweera

George Willis

SVP, Global Business Development

These complexities make it impossible for merchants to independently audit their merchant service charge.

Without the necessary information – as well as the internal resource and knowledge to navigate through that information – and without the industry insight needed to accurately benchmark what fees should be applied to what transaction, many merchants are overpaying by substantial six and seven-figure sums every year.

It’s important to note, these excess costs aren’t necessarily lost forever. By conducting a thorough historical invoice audit, merchants could achieve significant reclaims – and in a landscape where payments fees are ever-increasing, merchants can’t afford to assume their invoices are error-free.

1 in 4 invoices’ is an estimate based on CMSPI’s client base