Beanstream Internet Commerce Review
Canadian merchant accounts have historically not been very competitive with US-based accounts. While the current industry trends seem to point toward expanding into the international market, you’ll still find fairly few service providers specializing in Canadian merchants. Beanstream, however, has helped keep the Canadian market competitive and progressive for over a decade, working to pioneer ecommerce merchant services as we know them today. So while Beanstream truly excels at Canadian processing, the company has no trouble supporting US-based merchants either, offering solid competition with internet-savvy payment companies like Stripe and Braintree.
How qualified is Beanstream? Well, for starters, they’ve provided white-label solutions for prestigious companies like First Data Canada and TD Bank. It’s a pretty big deal when highly successful businesses in the payments sector are turning to you for solutions. For those of you who don’t know, a white label solution is when one company (like First Data) commissions another company (like Beanstream) to provide a product or service. That service is then marketed under the paying company’s name (First Data in this case).
While Beanstream was acquired by Digital River in early 2013, I have seen absolutely no evidence that this compromised the service in any way. You’ll still get the same high-quality service as we’ve seen in the past. They offer month-to-month agreements, competitive rates and uncomplicated fees along with adept customer support and honest sales practices. Good. Deal.
A few more fee disclosures and public discussion of pricing models (like interchange-plus) would be nice. I’d also like to see a solid knowledgebase/FAQ developed, as it is conspicuously absent at the moment. Still, end of the day, big picture, Beanstream is an industry leader in terms of service quality and customer satisfaction. For Canadian ecommerce merchants, don’t even give it another thought. This is the company for you. And for other merchants, Beanstream is well worth considering if you need an internet-intensive, developer friendly payments solution.
I’m keeping Beanstream at a perfect 5-star rating, and I see no signs of this changing in the near future. Check out the rest of the review for more details!
Products and Services:
Beanstream offers a set of products and services geared toward all ecommerce businesses along with solutions for small in-person sellers who can get by with a mobile setup. Overall their offerings are high quality.
- eCommerce payment processing: While you could use Beanstream for retail, card-present processing, that’s not really their gig. They set up ecommerce accounts exceptionally well, however, and have specialized in this sort of account for over a decade. Their new mobile processing system is the exception to this rule, since it is certainly conducive to card-present processing.
- Payment gateway: This is covered in-house, and can be utilized with a merchant account from another processor if you’d like. This include a virtual terminal, so you can process cards from any internet connected computer.
- International processing: For US-based merchants, Beanstream supports up to 140 currencies, and will set up accounts in Canada or the US.
- Mobile/limited use processing: This type of account is the go-to service for low-volume merchants, with more and more service providers offering it in this capacity. With this service, you do not actually get a merchant account, you just get access to processing. This is how Square works also, and many other mobile processors. While initial account stability suffers under this model, it’s a smart and economical option if you don’t process much. You won’t get a free mobile reader though ($50 each).
- Developer tools: This includes their Developer Portal and APIs. While Beanstram doesn’t market this as forcefully as Stripe or Braintree, they do, without a doubt, offer very capable tools here.
- Recurring billing service
- Interac/debit support
- Advanced fraud tools
- Online event registration services
- Shopping cart set up
Fees and Rates:
Beanstream doesn’t disclose many rates or fees on their site, leading me to believe that they are not completely standardized. As far as transaction fees and rates are concerned, this makes sense to me. Your business type, location and processing volume will dictate this. I would have liked to see some more fee disclosures, however, but can forgive this because they actually charge very few fees. Many of their services are optional, offered ala carte, so you’ll only be charged for what you use.
Beanstream offers two different processing service models:
1. Start-Up! Account (Canada only)
- 2.75% card present (swiped)
- 2.9% + $0.30 card no present (keyed)
- No setup fee
- No monthly fee
- No monthly minimum
- No early termination fee
Since this option is entirely pay-as-you-go, it’s a good choice for merchants who don’t need to process much or who only process sporadically. The rates are in line with other similar aggregated accounts (where you don’t open your own merchant account), maybe even a little better than average. You have to consider, though, that this does not include the $50 card reader that you’ll need in order to pay the “card present” rates.
2. Merchant Account
- No monthly minimum
- No early termination fee
With this option you get a traditional merchant account. Your monthly fees, set up fees and processing rates will all depend on your business and the services you need, but I can say with confidence that the cost will be competitive and overall a good value. Your account rep will most likely want to set you up with a tiered pricing model here, but I’d suggest asking for interchange-plus, even though it might come with a monthly minimum sales amount. Beanstream does not disclose any standardized rates or fees publicly for this type of account.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
Since the Beanstream contract has no early termination fee, it is ostensibly month-to-month. You’ll sign an agreement for about three years, but you can cancel any time with no penalty. Still, that said, always read the contract before signing, ad make sure a termination fee waiver is attached if needed.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Despite an overall lack of specific disclosures about pricing and fees, the marketing put forth by Beanstream far exceeds the industry standard in terms of honesty and quality, and overall the company appears to act with integrity in the sales department. They don’t make a whole lot of promises or disclosures publicly, but sales reps for this company have a reputation for honesty and fairness.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Phone support is available weekdays from 6AM to 9PM, Saturdays from 8AM to 4:30PM, and Sundays/holidays from 7AM to 3:30PM (all times are in PST). You can get in touch with the company publicly via Facebook or Twitter for first-line, informal support.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find an FAQ or knowledgebase anywhere on the Beanstream site. After a web search, I found this secondary FAQ, but it doesn’t look up to date.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
You’ll have a hard time finding any complaints for Beanstream on the web. The have zero complaints with the BBB in the past three years, which has earned them an A+ rating. The rest of the web is likewise devoid of complaints against Beanstream. To keep a reputation this clean for over a decade takes both quality service and excellent customer support. There is simply no other way to appear this flawless – at least not that I know of.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
While I wish Beanstream would provide some intensive case studies or at least quality testimonials, they do at least offer a very solid collection of key clients. Some of these clients do not use the Beanstream processing service, clearly, since among them are First Data Canada and TD Bank. Still, to see such high profile and industry-elite businesses entrusting in the solutions offered by Beanstream boosts my confidence big time.
As of late 2013, the company started a “Showcase” blog, showing off some of the developer-driven achievements of their partners and clients. So far only one post has been made, but hopefully it will flesh out in 2014.
I had a very hard time tracking down user reviews for Beanstream’s services. If you have experience with or insight into this company, please leave us your feedback. Make sure to review our comment policy beforehand to ensure your remarks are publishable.
It’s easy for me to pigeonhole Beanstream as a Canadian ecommerce provider – and they do provide for that demographic exceptionally well – but really, this is an all around high quality company with services and marketing that far exceed the industry standard. They’ll work with companies of all sizes with the same level of fairness and respect, and provide solutions for complex technical problems far beyond the standard payment processing necessities.
I’d float Beanstream’s name out among businesses like Braintree and Stripe. Lack of name recognition and hype aside, Beanstream works hard to provide a developer-friendly platform. They’ve been working with big, successful business to provide ecommerce-based solutions since 2000 – which is a whole lot longer than most internet-intensive providers today. And through all of that innovation and growth, they’ve barely had a single complaint registered anywhere. That is a serious achievement that should not go unnoticed.
I highly recommend Beanstream to all internet-based business, especially those in Canada. Anyone looking to process cards in a card not present environment needs to give this company serious consideration. And those interested in developer-friendly options should put Beanstream on the shortlist as well. We’ve only given out a handful of 5-star rating to merchant account providers – and Beanstream is one of them. Check them out.
Thanks for reading. Please let me know your thoughts about or experiences with this company in our comments section!