Risk & Underwriting

Payment processing can be risky business! Merchant account providers like Braintree are financially liable for all merchant losses. For example, a provider would be financially liable if a merchant sold an annual membership but then went out of business four months into providing the service. This generally makes providers cautious when it comes to underwriting and risk management.

Risk factors

Certain business models are considered to be higher risk than others based on decades of credit card processing data. For example, restaurants are low-risk while travel is very high-risk. Other high-risk industries include:

  • Auctions
  • Tours
  • Lodging
  • Gaming
  • Events or ticketing
  • Telemarketing
  • Virtual currency

There are also billing methods that increase risk, such as:

  • Annual billing
  • Retainers/account credit
  • Aggregation

Businesses with high risk must demonstrate that they have the financial strength to support their model. However, some industries are considered so high-risk that many merchant account providers will refuse to process payments for them altogether. These can include:

  • Adult entertainment
  • Firearms
  • Illegal drugs
  • Debt consolidation
  • Credit repair
  • Bankruptcy attorneys

How you can mitigate risk

Prevent and dispute chargebacks

Unfortunately, chargebacks are a normal part of running a business, but high-risk businesses often incur more chargebacks than others. It's especially important for these businesses to take additional measures to prevent chargebacks and collect the proper information to successfully dispute them. For guidance, take a look at this support article.

Inform us of any changes

In the case of an unusually high transaction amount or dramatic increase in volume, some merchant account providers have been known to hold all funds or shut down an account until a further review has been completed.

This is a rare practice for us, and we do our best to avoid it by requesting that you fully explain your business model, billing practices, and expected volume during the application process. Most importantly, we ask that you let us know if you are expecting any significant changes (e.g. a sudden spike in transaction volume). This will ensure that you don't experience any unexpected interruptions in processing.

Note: Braintree does not have cyberinsurance, nor does it indemnify. Security is Braintree's utmost priority, but the standard in the gateway provider industry is to not indemnify their customers.

Still have questions?

Chat with the BigCommerce support team today.