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How to Issue an Effective Payments RFP

How to Issue an Effective Payments RFP

Sep 19, 2023
Anthea Taylor

When sourcing a new partner, knowing the right questions to ask is half the battle. When gathering information from a potential partner or vendor, it goes without saying that you need all the black-and-white facts. But not asking the right questions, or enough questions – especially as they relate to your specific business, goals, and pain points – could mean missing out on valuable information and finding the right partner.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) process should be a two-way street. The other half of the battle is arming your candidates with all the relevant information they would need to help you make the right decision – be specific about your request and scope of the job. Remember, an RFP is a chance for vendors to show you their full capabilities and qualifications while also allowing their personalities to shine through.

When it comes to payments RFPs, things can get complex as each business will require its own specific set of tools and requirements. For teams tasked with finding the right payments service provider, we’ve compiled an RFP guide to payments to make the process smoother, easier to evaluate, and help you make the most informed decision for your business.

What is a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a public document that businesses use to solicit bids from potential vendors for a specific project or service. 

The RFP outlines the scope of the project, any specific requirements, deadlines and other criteria that vendors must meet in order to be qualified for the work. They should also provide details about your business, the bidding process, and the terms of the contract. 

In the payments ecosystem, RFPs can be used to procure services like payment gateway solutions, merchant processing, the issuing of credit and debit cards, or any other service related to the management and processing of payments.

How does a Request for Proposal work?

The process of issuing and responding to an RFP generally involves the following steps:

Creating the RFP 

  • Outline the project - the first step is to identify your needs and define the scope of the project. Based on this information, you’ll recruit relevant stakeholders, who will work together to draft the RFP
  • Draft the RFP - now it’s time to draft the RFP document, which typically includes a project overview, project goals, specific requirements, evaluation metrics and criteria, submission requirements, deadlines, and budget

Issuing the RFP

  • Release the RFP - once the RFP is ready, you can release it to the public or send it directly to pre-approved vendors. This is usually done through specialized online platforms, you company’s own website, or directly via email
  • Select vendors - vendors who are interested in the project and that meet the requirements submit their proposals by the stipulated deadline

Evaluation and implementation

  • Evaluate proposals - your company evaluates all the proposals and decides which vendors best meet the project’s needs and criteria. You may shortlist several vendors for further discussion, price negotiation, or demonstration
  • Award the contract - after a final review and perhaps a pilot test, the contract is awarded to the best contractor
  • Implementation - once the contractor is selected, the project moves to the implementation phase, which you’ll monitor to ensure the project meets the RFP's conditions and quality expectations

Why is Request for Proposal important for payments?

RFPs play a vital role in helping businesses select the right payment providers for their needs according to a number of key criteria: 

  • Compliance and security - payments involve sensitive data and financial transactions that need to comply with various security standards like PCI DSS. An RFP ensures that vendors will meet these standards
  • Cost-effectiveness - through an RFP, your business can identify the most cost-effective payment solutions, potentially saving money on things like contract costs and transaction fees
  • Quality assurance - the RFP stipulates strict criteria that vendors must meet in order to be successful, which helps to ensure only the best payment providers are selected
  • Transparency - RFPs create a transparent process for selecting a vendor, reducing the risks of fraud or conflicts of interest
  • Customization - every business has unique payment needs. An RFP allows you to specify those needs and find a vendor that can tailor their services accordingly

How to issue a payments Request for Proposal

1. Should I issue an RFI or RFP?

If you’re just starting to shop around and want to gather information but have no concrete plans or timelines, start by submitting a Request for Information (RFI) to learn more about the payments landscape, what you’re looking for in a provider, and the players in the space based on your key markets and goals.

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, determined key players, and outlined your goals, you’re ready to issue an RFP. We also recommend submitting an RFP only after you’ve established timelines and budgets.

2. The Basics: Tell us about your business

So you’re ready to issue an RFP! Before diving in, be sure to send your RFP candidates an NDA if required.

Provide an overview of your business, your customers, and your company’s mission. This will help us better understand your requirements such as payment methods needed, geographies required, or existing partners to ensure that our solution aligns with your goals.

Provide information including:

  • Overview of your business and mission statement
  • Goods or services sold
  • HQ location and other legal entity locations
  • Number of employees
  • Where your customers are located
  • Where you require local processing

To get an accurate pricing quote, be sure to include the following details:

Submitting a blind RFI or RFP? Blind requests can be tricky. While not uncommon, be sure to still provide enough information so your candidates can understand the general business and scope of requirements. Without key details, you may miss out on valuable information or significantly limit your options.

3. Give us a realistic timeline

Providing RFP candidates with a clear timeline will ensure there are no missteps. Also, building in extra time for candidates to ask clarifying questions can ultimately save time and effort for both parties, and provide you with the most accurate responses tailored to your requirements.

Once you’ve issued the RFP, it’s important to include a timeline that takes into consideration the following:

  • Deadline for partners to accept the request
  • Period for vendors to ask clarifying questions
  • Submission deadlines: Make sure to include the date, time, and timezone
  • When finalists will be selected for the next round
  • When a final decision will be made
  • When you would like the winner to accept or decline the bid
  • Solution implementation date

Include information such as:

  • A clear description of how you currently process today. If you can, include visuals of your processing flows.
  • Third-parties you’re working with
  • PCI status
  • Type of solution you need: ecommerce, POS, or omnichannel
  • Regions you’re currently processing in
  • Currencies you’re processing in

4. Tell us your “non-negotiables”

Tell us your absolute must-haves. For example, if you need to target specific geography or regions, need a particular payment method, or must have a certain payment tool - let us know! This will help us determine early on whether we can support your business effectively. This will also give us the opportunity to share our workaround capabilities, alternative and bespoke solutions, or roadmap. Some examples of non-negotiables include:

  • Must be able to process on POS
  • Must have specific third-party integrations
  • Must have Account Updater
  • Must have local processing in Europe

5. Tell us your pain points or issues you’d like to resolve

Share your pain points. Let us know, in detail, what issues you are trying to resolve or what improvements you’d like to make to your payments process so we can determine the scope of work.

Some common pain points include:

  • Cost and reconciliation inefficiencies
  • Too many third parties
  • Geographic limitations
  • Growing too fast and need redundancies
  • PCI compliance
  • Lack of payment methods
  • Lack of customer support

To save time and ensure alignment across your organization, we always recommend coordinating internally with all parties and departments that would be affected by changes in your payment process.

6. Tell us about your goals

What role will the RFP winner play in your payment process? Be clear and detailed about your expectations and what problems they should be solving for you.

Be as detailed as possible, some examples of goals include:

  • Would like a consolidated “one-stop shop” solution
  • Looking for a new provider or secondary provider
  • Need to boost approval rates
  • Need support for global expansion
  • Need more payment methods
  • Want to improve uptime
  • Better fraud and security protection
  • More revenue - increase sales, increase conversions, or cost savings.

7. Submit your questions

Be as extensive and specific as possible. No question is too big or small; and the more the better. Some examples and FAQs to ask your candidates:

  • Where do you support local processing?
  • What payment methods do you support?
  • What is your disaster recovery plan?
  • What reporting do you make available and at what level?
  • What solutions do you have for PCI compliance?

8. Formatting

Please tell us any specific formatting rules you’d like us to follow. This could mean no attachments, yes/no answers only, no hyperlinks, text-only responses, no images, and no Dropbox/Google Drive links.

  • Additional collateral. Let us know if you’d like additional materials such as an executive summary, a company overview, contact information, or customer references.
  • Delivery method. How would you like to receive responses to your RFP? For example: physical mail, email, Dropbox/Google drive folder or link, or a secure file upload. Also, include the contact information of all recipients you wish to receive the response.

Every business is unique. By providing as much relevant information as possible, your vendors can craft a proposal tailored to your objectives. Asking the right questions will also save time for all parties involved, helping you reach your goal even faster.

How Checkout.com can help with RFP

When it comes to payments, every single element in the value chain matters, and any one, if not up to scratch, could have a knock on effect that could impact your acceptance rate, security, and revenue. 

That's why it’s vital to not only ask the right questions, but to know the answers you’re looking for. You need to understand how any specific vendor will help you business to meet its goals, whether those goals involve conquering new markets or increasing your acceptance rates. And that’s where we can help. 

Reevaluating your payments solution provider? Contact our payment experts to learn more about our solutions or submit at RFP.

Unlock your payments potential today

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September 19, 2023 2:15
September 19, 2023 7:55