The Difference Between Square and Payfirma


This is an updated version of a post originally published in August 2015.

We get often get asked about the difference between Square and Payfirma, so we thought it’d be worthwhile to do a comparison piece to help business owners decide which is right for their business.

The greatest difference between Square and Payfirma lies within the processing models; Payfirma is a merchant account provider and Square is an aggregator. Read a more in-depth comparison of merchant account providers and processing aggregators here.

Each company has unique and different business needs but generally, $40k a year is the sweet spot. Merchants processing more than that would benefit from their own dedicated merchant account, and those processing less than $40k would better suit an aggregation model.

As an aggregator, Square’s pricing is fixed– which makes sense for businesses that are not processing over $40k a year in the way of credit card payments as you only pay for what you process. However, since that rate will stay the same no matter how much you process, it can get costly the more you process. Whereas, merchant account providers, like Payfirma, have the ability to customize rates to unique businesses and processing volumes. Along with tailored rates, merchant account providers do have additional costs but these additional costs come with value-added features such as dedicated customer support, more payment channels, analytics, and more that equip businesses with the tools and support they need to grow.

Both Square and Payfirma have their pros and cons, so let’s take a deeper dive.

SQUARE

Overview

Square is credited with bringing mobile payments to the U.S. market and known for providing simple, easy-to-use, intuitive solutions for small businesses.

Square’s aggregator processor model means they aggregate many smaller merchants under their umbrella to use their merchant account to accept payments. Not processing with your own dedicated merchant account means you avoid the merchant account application and getting set up to accept payments is fast and easy.

Security

But since Square has many businesses, along with yourself, processing under their merchant account, they’re vigilant about potential fraud and have aggressive fraud protection tactics to keep their merchants PCI-compliant and processing securely. They may hold your account, freeze funds, and in some extreme cases, terminate the account if there is suspicious activity.

Customer service

There are many accounts of poor and often inconsistent customer service. Square has email and Twitter support as well as a vast self-serve knowledge base but offers no phone support.

Products

  • Mobile card reader
  • Square Stand (iPad POS)
  • eCommerce
  • Invoicing
  • Reporting
  • NFC/EMV-enabled chip reader

Rates

  • 2.65% for swiped transactions.
  • 3.4% + $0.15 for keyed-in transactions.
  • Square stand: $99.
  • Chip card reader: $49.
  • Mobile card reader: free.
  • No monthly fees or contracts .

Best for

Square is best for businesses that are low-volume and low-ticket and need a robust inventory system. It’s also great for merchants just starting out or for seasonal businesses or businesses that want to accept payments on-the-road, at trade shows, farmer’s markets, etc.

PAYFIRMA

Overview

Payfirma specializes in omni-channel payments, helping businesses accept payments in multiple ways with just one account. Just as Square introduced mobile payments to the states, Payfirma did so for Canada. Our payments platform, PayHQ, and website are very user-friendly and intuitive.

Payfirma sets merchants up with their own dedicated merchant account. This means businesses apply for an account through Payfirma; it’s a process that takes about 3-5 business days.

Security

Payfirma’s security is built for merchants that have frequent and high transaction volume and require bank-level security. Unlike aggregators, Payfirma collects information about your business during the merchant account application – information like high and low processing volumes – to prevent interruptions to your processing activity.

Customer support

Payfirma has industry-leading customer service with 24/7 phone support and was a winner in the Frost & Sullivan 2016 Customer Service Excellence Recognition Program this year. Payfirma offers support via social media channels, email, and live chat and provides many online resources as well as an extensive self-help support center. 

Products

  • Mobile card reader
  • Web terminal
  • eCommerce
  • Traditional terminals
  • Recurring billing
  • Invoicing
  • Reporting
  • Integrations

Rates

  • Payfirma competitively prices each individual business based on their business needs and processing volumes.
  • Access to the entire suite of Payfirma payment and reporting tools: $19/month.
  • One-time set up fee: $25.
  • No cancellation fee for cloud-based services (PayHQ), but there is a cancellation fee of $300-$500 dollars for eCommerce and terminal accounts.

Best for

Payfirma is best for businesses that want to expand their payment offerings and accept payments in multiple ways. Because Payfirma comes with extra-value add-ons, we’re better suited for businesses processing at least $40k/year. Payfirma provides the necessary tools for businesses to grow and expand, helping them accept payments any way customers want to pay.

There isn’t a universal answer to which processor is best; it really depends on your business. You really need to determine what your business needs are before choosing a payment provider. In the meantime, we hope this gave you some insight into the difference between Square and Payfirma.

To help you further explore your options and other payment processors, we’ve created a comprehensive document that summarizes and compares the Top Ten Payment Processors in Canada.