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Mandatory Website Requirements

If using a website to accept payments you must comply with certain website requirements. Please note that as acquiring bank and as Visa and MasterCard rules, they must be rigidly adhered to.

If a website is well designed and easy to use, customers will return again and again and the risk of chargebacks will be greatly reduced. Therefore as part of the application we will need to see your company website. This does not need to be live on your domain and can be a BETA site, however it must be complete otherwise your merchant account application will not be approved.

Please be aware that if we think your website needs certain areas sorting, or we feel you need advice - as certain business sectors must follow specific website rules - we will say so and will not simply reject your application.

Consumer Protection Act and EC Directive

The below requirements form part of the The Consumer Protection Regulations 2000 and The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. Therefore these are mandatory and must be complied with before an application can be fully approved.

Please note these rules prevent Chargebacks, help stop checkout abandonment.

1. Is the content real and not mock design text?

If when having a website built the true content is not available, designers will often use mock, usually Latin, text to make it look like real content. However, certain merchants either forget to replace this or deliberately leave it in. Either way this must be removed and real content used.

Not only does this help a customer know who you are and what you do, it also allows us to fully understand your business at time of application and also gives us confidence that you do really exist and are not simply trying to get the account fraudulently.

2. Are the products and services advertised real and not mock?

As above we must see actual products and services on your website, including all pricing.

"If I'm a new business and I'm selling user generated content such as advertising or webcams etc. how can I add real content if nobody can purchase from me yet?"

This is an argument we often hear and one we understand. In fact we have had the same argument with the banks that we use, as well as Visa, time and time again. Unfortunately they are not that understanding and it can turn into a bit of a catch 22 situation. However, to get an account live we only need to see a handful of real content (we appreciate that once you have the account your website will grow), therefore these are our suggestions to help get the initial content...

  • Offer free advertising for a certain number of months

  • Offer advertising that is only paid for once the site goes live

  • Only accept cash or bank transfers to pay for initial advertising

  • Share initial advertising with another website to gain advertisements

If you decide to 'borrow' someone else's content then please make sure that this is not easily detectable and can not be discovered by means of a simple Google search (one of our biggest due diligence tools).

3. Does your website display a refund policy?

A refund policy should be clearly displayed on your website. This can be displayed anywhere on your site, as long as it is displayed before a customer makes a payment. Your refund policy may vary according to whether you are based in or out of the European Union:

Where you are supplying consumers (i.e. individuals buying for themselves rather than for a business) you should make it explicit that the shopper has the right to cancel within seven days of their contract with you, or seven days of receipt of the goods (whichever is the longer). You must also explain that if the shopper does cancel their order, they will have their payment returned and outline the procedures they must follow to return their goods or services (these requirements ensure you comply with EU regulations). There are variations to these rules where you are supplying services or making customised goods. For information on these rules you should go to: the DTi website or speak with your own business advisor.

4. Does your website clearly show the following?

    • Clear posting of the company's legal name on the website

    • Clear posting of the customer service telephone number and / or email address

    • Clear posting of the Terms and Conditions (if applicable)

    • Clear posting of the Privacy policy

The above should be displayed under their own headings. This makes it easier for the customer to view the relevant information and means that they do not need to spend time looking for it. If this information is collated in just once place i.e terms and conditions, then you will need to separate them accordingly.

5. Are your contact details displayed?

You must clearly display your contact details for your shoppers. These details must include:

  • Clear posting of your postal address

  • Clear posting of the customer service telephone number

  • Clear posting of the customer service email address

Visa and MasterCard require that the address which is mentioned on the company incorporation document is mentioned on the website. However we understand that for some adult merchants, due to security reasons and the fact they trade out of said address, this may not be acceptable. Therefore for adult merchant accounts only, we allow shell addresses...

We recommend www.fletcherkennedy.com for these shell instances, as they're cheap and easy.

6. Is your product pricing clearly stated?

You must provide clear pricing on your website for the products or services on offer. Unless the website it for businesses only and not private individuals, you must show all prices including VAT.

7. Does your website display the logos of the cards you can accept?

Your website must display the logos of the payment cards that can be accepted through your account (Clause 12b - Customer Agreement). If you are using the World Account the payment instruments' logos that you can accept will automatically be displayed on the secure payment page.

In addition, you are required to display on your website the logos of the payment instruments that you can accept. Ideally, the logos should be displayed at the point of entry to your shop. Thus ensuring that your shoppers are aware of the payment instruments that you accept before they make a purchase.

To download all the credit and debit card logos, including our own, please click here

8. Does your website have clear navigation?

Your website must have clear a precise navigation. The navigation must enable a user to easily find their way around the website and find relevant information quickly.

9. Does the website look professional?

A website is an extension of your business. If not your sole business. It is one of the only opportunities to establish, strengthen and maintain your brand in the eyes of prospective customers. A badly designed site will affect the time that your visitors and potential buyers stay on your site negatively and you will not be successful in your online business.

A well designed website will impart professionalism and show visitors that you care about your customers and your business. It will also convey a feeling of trust and people will rather buy your products when you have a good designed website than from a person who does not have a professional looking website.

10. Does your website use banned words or phrases?

Visa, MasterCard and the banks that we use are very strict about certain words being used on a website. The words below are specific to adult content websites, however there may also be certain words or phrases that can not be used in your industry:

    • suffocate

    • slave

    • forced

    • rape - raped - raping

    • intoxication - intox - intoxicate

    • abuse - abused

    • drug - drugs - drugged

    • torture - torturing

11. Is your domain name registered in your own name and legal entity?

Your web address (domain name) must be registered in your company name. The reason for this is that if a shopper searches your domain name, they can see who exactly owns the website they have spent money with. Basically everything needs to tally up for shopper confidence. This also helps stop fraudsters opening and closing businesses every couple of days.

12. Is your website PCI Compliant?

Once your website goes live it will need to become PCI Compliant.

PCI Compliance is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard mandated by the card schemes for the protection of cardholders and transaction details. If you do not comply with the standard you could face substantial fines imposed by card schemes. You could even find yourself being permanently barred.

You can become compliant by using an assessor. To see the current list of PA-QSAs recognized by the PCI Security Standards Council, please see below.

We do not take any responsibility for 3rd party websites and / or services.


Ask yourself - would you make the site live the way it currently looks?

We know this sounds blunt, but if the site looks unprofessional, has missing images, uses mock text instead of real content and you yourself wouldn't want it to go live, then why would we accept it and make a merchants' account active?

Your merchant account application will not be sent to the bank unless the above requirements are met.

What happens if you've set up the account but I am still integrating the website?

If you are still integrating your website, we simply set the account to test mode and do not allow processing until your website is ready. Once ready we set the account live the same day.


Get started today ...
Simply choose and click on your business from the drop down menu and we will redirect you to the account we can provide

Thawte Security
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