Card payment and online processing are the lifeblood of many businesses. Even if you operate a solely bricks and mortar store on the high street and have no online presence, you are inextricably linked to the digital world.

We take paying at a card terminal for granted as customers. Just twenty years ago, the majority of us still used cash when we went out to the shops. That’s changed dramatically since the digital revolution and most of us now go equipped with our debit or credit cards. More and more often, new technology such as ApplePay is becoming common – you don’t even need a card, you just press your smartphone to the terminal and payment goes through.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for businesses is finding online payment processing that is highly secure and protects customers when they come onto your site and want to buy something. Getting this wrong can be catastrophic.

In the online world, bad news travels quickly. If your online payment system is compromised, customers are likely to take to social media to complain rather than coming direct to you for a resolution. That can give your business a difficult reputational problem to overcome – if people think you are unreliable, they are not going to spend money or give their personal details.

The problem is compounded by the fact that business need to give their customers effortless ways to pay. This has developed from the traditional cash payment to cards, mobile phones and even direct online transfers from bank accounts.

Businesses, whether they are simple startups or large corporations, need to be security minded. You may think that if you are a small business then you are less at risk. Why would a hacker be interested in you, after all? Nothing could be further from the truth. Malicious programs are generally directed at smaller business because they tend to have less in the way of security and are easier to get into.

Choosing the right service for handling card payments and online transactions is as important as working on the security of your own website or your bricks and mortar store. Pick the wrong payment processing service and you could soon find yourself facing customer complaints if things take a bad turn.

In truth, keeping up with the hackers and phishers out there is a constant battle and reputable banks and financial services have whole teams devoted to keeping on top of the latest threats. That security is constantly being updated and it’s worth looking at any merchant service to make sure that it is doing all it can to reduce risk.

Even with the best security in place, there is no guarantee that the service you use won’t be the target of an attack. Having a robust website security solution is imperative but so is choosing who you do business with – whether that’s a product supplier or your merchant service.

Tying your business to a bank that is less than reputable can have major ramifications – they are not likely to have robust security measures in place and you are highly likely to encounter problems if your system can be easily hacked. Our advice is never to take it for granted that these third-party services are as worried about security as your business. Check them out and make sure they take this key issue very seriously indeed.