Digital Transactions News recently featured Merchant Maverick, a website that ranks ISOs and acquirers using a five-star scale. The site also culls salient info from across the web – specifically, from complaint sites, such as Ripoffreport.com, the Better Business Bureau, and from provider’s own pages – to profile each company being rated.
Some of the companies reviewed on the site also link to Merchant Maverick for referrals. Mercator analyst David Fish spoke with Digital Transactions for the story, saying that while Merchant Maverick takes “a fairly comprehensive approach,” the site’s referral policy could be risky if not managed carefully. “It doesn’t necessarily create a conflict of interest,” the article quotes Fish, but the reviewer still has to maintain objectivity when examining the product or firm in question.
Intended to help retailers evaluate merchant-account providers, Merchant Maverick is the product of a 31-year-old e-commerce consultant who stumbled into the arcana of the acquiring business when he and a cousin tried to start a travel-related Web site. The consultant, Amad Ebrahimi, found himself trying to decipher the industry as he and his cousin set out to establish a merchant account. Faced with unfamiliar language and confusing terms, Ebrahimi soon found it nearly impossible to evaluate and compare acquirers. “I said, ‘Why is this so hard?” he recalls. “This seemed like a frustrating industry in desperate need of a problem to be solved.”
Ebrahimi, who often spends hours researching a single review, makes money by earning referral fees from ISOs that get business from his site. He concedes this may appear to some to be a conflict of interest, but he discloses his revenue policy on his site and says it has not influenced his reviews. “If it’s good, I’m going to say it,” he says. “If it’s bad, I’m going to say it. I want to educate people but I have to generate some income as well.”