Q&A with Karen Auer at Suncorp

Over the last year, Payments Consulting Network has supported over one hundred businesses implement least-cost-routing (LCR) and achieve savings on merchant services fees.  Clients often approach us as their bank has only been willing to pass on fee savings of 0-10% when enabling LCR. One bank that is an exception to this rule has been Suncorp, which has consistently achieved substantial fee savings for our clients by enabling LCR combined with lower rates (particularly on eftpos transaction fees).

Payments Consulting Network Managing Director Mangala Martinus recently had the opportunity to speak to Karen Auer, Executive Manager – Business Deposits & Payments at Suncorp, to discuss the company’s merchant services business.

You can read the highlights of the conversation below.

 MM: Please provide a brief high-level overview of your business

KA: For over 100 years Suncorp has been supporting local businesses of all sizes, from family-run operations to large-scale development finances. We offer a broad range of banking and insurance products for our customers. Currently, we have approximately 20,000 merchant terminals operating across Australia. We understand that cash flow is key for every business and EFTPOS is the lifeblood for many of our customers, therefore setting up the right payment system and having the right EFTPOS solutions in place from day one, is at the heart of what we do.

MM: What payments services do you offer merchants and not-for-profit organisations in Australia?

KA: We offer many payment service options including transactional banking, integrated software solutions, Health Point, Mobile EFTPOS, Virtual point of sale, BPAY and business payment solutions.

MM: Are there any industry sectors or client types that you focus on for merchant services?

KA: We cater to most business types from small businesses right through to larger commercial operations. We also offer specialised solutions for the health industry.

MM: What do you see as your key strengths with respect to merchant services?

KA: Least Cost Routing and competitive pricing. At Suncorp, we understand that being able to help process card payments the most cost-efficient way is such a simple, but important way we can make a difference to a business. We also provide our customers with the latest terminal models from our partner Ingenico, along with the option to settle internally through to a fee- free transactional account or externally to any Australian bank. We also provide a fantastic Technical Support guarantee to our customers and access to our dedicated merchant services support team located in Brisbane. The team are always on hand and ready to assist customers with their merchant enquiries.

MM: What do you see as your key differentiators with respect to merchant services?

KA: Again, our Least Cost Routing and competitive pricing, along with having access to a dedicated specialist for merchant support are our key differentiators. It’s important to know, that as a business customer, you can pick up the phone at any time and speak to a merchant specialist. We also offer a broad range of banking and insurance products for both retail and business customers.

MM: What were your key achievements over the last 12 months in merchant services?

KA: Our key achievements over the last 12 months have been the success of Least Cost Routing. We now have more than 3,000 of our merchant customers benefiting from LCR, which is great and it’s also really nice to know really nice to know that we are making a difference for their business. This has been particularly important over recent months when customers and businesses have shown a strong preference for card-based payments. Other highlights include our Health Portal offering to customers, making it simple and convenient for them to use and our dedicated in-house merchant services contact centre specialist team.

MM: What merchant services innovations do you have on your product/service roadmap for the next 12 months?

KA: Multipay is a new solution for business customers which we are introducing early next year that will provide our customers with the ability to manage their customer relationships, in addition to receiving payments via multiple transaction types such as Direct Debit, BPAY and Credit Card processing, as well as bulk credit payments using Direct Credit and BPAY Batch.

MM: What industry changes or trends do you see occurring over the next 2-3 years that will have a major impact on your business and/or your clients?

KA: A continued accelerated shift to digital payments and a cashless society. Rapid technology advancement by banks and FinTech’s will see some solutions will stand the test of time whilst others will be tested within the market and not sustain. More focus on SME customers and value-add solutions be that by payment solutions, data analytics or partnering.

MM: What key criteria or features should a business consider when evaluating payments service providers?

KA: Support is KEY – what might look like the most convenient or cost-effective solution now may not be if you aren’t able to contact anyone for support when you need it. Reliability of payment solutions is important, so take the time to understand the company and their history of payment services. Also, take the time to understand the pricing – many customers don’t review interchange costs and only look at headline rates which may cost thousands in the long run. Lastly, Least Cost Routing is a huge financial benefit for a lot of customers which should be explored.

Author: Mangala Martinus, Managing Director, Australia, Payments Consulting Network and Merchant Advisory. 


Suncorp is a member of the Payment Service Provider Panel and supports the Pricing Comparison service.


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