I'm starting up a company that currently uses Stripe as a payment processor. However, their fees cut a huge chunk our of our margin and they don't offer the full functionality we need, specifically for international payments, so I'm considering doing payments processing ourselves. I only would do so with advice from a lawyer, but I have no idea where to look.

I'm currently a grad student in the Los Angeles area.

  • You won't do better. Yes I know the merchant account salesman promises 1.4%, that's fantasy and doesn't include numerous surcharges: rewards cards, surcharge for ATM, per-trans fees, pre-approval fees, "failing to get pre-approval" fees, card-not-present fees, batch fees, monthly fees... on and on. We're talking retail, haven't even started down the PCI-DSS rabbit hole. Pizza place can easily wind up paying 6% net of all fees, furniture store might get down to 2.5%, which doesn't beat PayPal Here's 2.70% (+0/trans) by enough to matter. Nov 6 '17 at 5:05

I'm considering doing payments processing ourselves...

You will be dealing with information security regarding servers and hosting that is FDIC and FFIEC compliant, software security and insurance for the transaction application itself and how it interacts with your chosen banks; you also need to comply with US federal and state banking laws regarding secure information storage and all laws regarding international financial transactions with all of the multiple countries you will accept payments from.

So look for a lawyer or a firm who can cover all those bases in terms of Internet and software security, and banking and financial transactions for all countries involved.

IANAL, but stick to one of the many existing 3rd party companies - such as Stripe, Square, PayPal, and/or US banks who provide payment processing (List of Credit Card Processing Key Industry Players - Business Insider) - as to not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in development and legal fees rolling your own e-commerce and payment processor.

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    Yes, the reason they charge the fees they do is because compliance is expensive.
    – Dale M
    Aug 22 '17 at 21:52

Your would need a larger multinational law firm (typically 100 lawyers plus) that does banking law. Expect to pay hourly rates of $400-$1,000 per hour. You should expect to pay something on the order of $500,000 to $5,000,000 a year in legal fees to get your own payment system processing up and running, probably on the high end of that if international payments are involved.

Lists of the kinds of firms that could handle that work can be found here and here and here. From a regulatory perspective, the work is similar to that involved in setting up a new commercial bank from scratch.

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