European Merchant Services (EMS) Review
European Merchant Services or EMS is a joint-venture between First Data, the world’s largest acquiring bank and credit card processing company, and ABN AMRO, a major Dutch bank.
EMS offers a full-service payment solution for in-store, online, and omni-channel sales.
The company is also one of the largest e-commerce merchant account providers, processing over 214 million online payments per day.
Read the 2023 European review below:
European Merchant Services is the preferred payment provider for over 40,000 merchants in 40 countries, accepting 13 payment schemes such as PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, and many others.
While EMS is not based in the UK, the company still has a lot to offer for many merchants, and you may be considering if it is a good choice for your business. European Merchant Services offers:
- First Data’s OmniPay Platform
- Custom Rates, starting from 2%+20p – 3.5% + 40p
- Monthly Fees from £15 per month
- Very strong international support
While European Merchant Services has a lot to offer, you may be wondering if the platform is worth choosing, if the company has any advantages over partnering directly with First Data, and if their services make sense for your business.
Who Are European Merchant Services
European Merchant Services LTD was founded in 2005 as part of a partnership between First Data and Dutch multinational bank, ABN AMRO. The service aimed to bring e-commerce card processing support to the Netherlands and surrounding countries, integrating First Data’s online payment processing with ABN AMRO’s merchant acquisition services and local customer base.
Today, European Merchant Services caters to over 40,000 merchants, primarily in the Schengen zone. The company is one of the largest e-commerce merchant account providers, offering online payment gateways, face-to-face payments, card machines and terminals, fraud detection, reporting, and more. EMS is also the preferred online payment solution for thousands of large businesses, including Monarch Airlines in the UK.
European Merchant Services Rates and Pricing
European Merchant services uses a custom pricing model to offer bespoke prices to customers based on business size, risk, industry, and other information. This means that you cannot see exact pricing for your business until you request a quote and are given a custom pricing scheme based on your business.
However, EMS uses First Data services, so pricing typically follows the same general rates as First Data.
|Transaction Rate||2% + 20p- 3.5% + 40p (standard 2.7% + 20p)|
|Online Transaction Fee||1% + 25p – 2% + 35p (+10p after 500 transactions)|
|Monthly Fee||£10+ per month|
|Online Payment Gateway||£15 + per month|
|Account on File Fee||£5 per month|
|Terminal Setup Fee||£150-£300|
|Terminal Maintenance Fee||£4.75 per month|
|Minimum Monthly Charge||£15|
|PCI Non-Compliance Fee||£35 per month|
|Paper Statement Fee||£5.95 per month|
|Terminal Replacement Fee||£150|
|Terminal Restocking Fee||£250|
|Customer Service Fee||£10 +|
|Early Termination Fee||None|
|Chargeback Review Fee||£250|
These rates aren’t a guarantee, only an average of what you should be able to expect based on what European Merchant Services offers.
What do custom transaction rates look like? First Data charges average rate of 2.69% and 2.29% based on average transaction volume +/- £50,000.
|Contactless Payments||2.69% + 20p||2.29% + 40p|
|Keyed Rate||3.69% + 20p||3.29p + 40p|
Your exact quote may be lower or higher depending on your business size, the risk profile for your business, and which transaction services you’re using. For example, you will almost always pay significantly less for online payments.
Unfortunately, the only way to see exactly what you will pay with European Merchant Services is to request a quote. This means submitting all of your business information, going over options with a salesperson, and spending enough time with the sales team to determine what works best for your business. Most business owners don’t want to put this much time into comparison, but chances are that you will be with a good merchant account service for many years into the future, so it is worth the time investment.
European Merchant Services Offerings
European Merchant Services uses Omni Pay to provide e-commerce payments alongside card machines and a virtual terminal for face to face sales. The company offers a full range of solutions, including strong data management and reporting, chargeback management, online payment gateway, and other services.
ABN AMRO functions as an acquiring bank for face-to-face sales in Europe. In the UK, you will most likely be routed through First Data’s merchant account services.
OmniPay by First Data
First Data’s OmniPay is one of the largest online payment platforms, offering online payment processing for over 5 million merchants in 40+ countries. The solution is available from £15 per month, with 500 transactions included in the base rate. After 500 transactions, you pay an additional processing fee of 25-3p per transaction, with an average rate of 10p per. In most cases, online payments are charged at 1-2% per. For example, 1.5% + 10p is a common transaction rate for online sales.
EMS E-Commerce Payment Gateway – The EMS E-Commerce Payment Gateway is a payment gateway offering compatibility with 50+ web shops and shopping carts, one-click payments, recurring payments, fast checkout, PayPal, and MasterPass checkout. The system supports 13 payment schemes including Ideal and BankContact in the Schengen zone, plus Dynamic Currency Conversion for 25 currencies.
API – While EMS offers a hosted checkout page, enabling you to easily setup a checkout page without worrying about PCI DSS security, the company also offers full API integration. This allows your developers to create custom checkout pages, hosted on your site for more control and more payment flexibility. However, you will have to set up your own security and pay for PCI DSS certification on your own if you choose to use the API.
These offerings make it very easy to set up an online payment gateway with any web shop or shopping cart, integrate your own payment solution into your website, or add online checkout to apps and other services.
Card Machines and Terminals
European Merchant Services offers Ingenico PDQ machines for lease with contracts. Unlike First Data, EMS does not offer Verifone or Clover machines or Point of Sale terminals. European Merchant Services does not advertise their available terminals, but you will most likely have a choice of the following Ingenico card machines:
- Ingenico iCT250
- Ingenico iCT220
- Ingenico iPP320
- Ingenico iWL250G
- Ingenico iWL250G
- Ingenico iWL220B
You will have a choice of countertop, portable, or mobile card reader depending on your needs. If you prefer to use another brand, you can purchase terminals separately and reprogram them to support European Merchant Services.
What About Customer Support?
European Merchant Services has a very low footprint in the UK, with very little in the way of reviews or complaints. With no real social media, no Trustpilot page, and no real online presence other than their website, it can be difficult to determine what other customers think of the service and whether or not you will be happy with it.
However, EMS does have a lot of reviews in Europe, mostly in Dutch from the company’s original operating countries, the Netherlands and Belgium. Here, EMS has surprisingly good feedback, where it is praised for quality customer support, fast response times, and friendly support staff. That’s a rarity for most merchant service providers, simply because most of the reviews that end up online are from disgruntled consumers and happy ones rarely think about leaving reviews.
However, European Merchant Services may struggle with offering quality customer support outside of Europe. The company does not have a local service company in the UK, only in their home-base, Amsterdam, meaning that you may have more difficulty with both customer support and terminal servicing than a retailer with a location in Europe.
Contract Length and Early Termination
European Merchant Services offers a 12-48-month contract with a minimum 18-month terminal lease for PDQ machines. While the company does not advertise setup fees, they typically start from around £250, like sister-company First Data. You also have to consider no contract cancellation. Instead of a termination fee, you will have to buy out the contract if you choose to end it early, pay a terminal liquidation fee, and ship terminals back to First Data in the UK or to European Merchant Services in the Netherlands.
Comparing European Merchant Services
European Merchant Services compares well to most competitors, but stands out in a few specific areas.
|Merchant Account||European Merchant Services||Elavon||Global Payments||Sage Pay||Worldpay|
|Transaction Fee||2% + 20p- 3.5% + 40p||2.55% – 3.5% + 19p||1.1%-3.3% + 20p (negotiable)||1.9% credit cards / 40p debit cards||From 2.75% credit cards / 20p debit cards|
|Online Payment Gateway||£15||£10||£10+||£20.90+||£19.95|
|Online Transaction Costs||1% + 5p – 2% + 40p||NA||0.5% + 10p-3.3% + 20p||NA||2.75% Credit/0.75%Debit|
|Monthly Fee||£10+||£10 + (per service)||£10+ (per service)||£20,90+||£19.95+|
|Payment Processing Time||3-5 Business days||1+ Business Days||2+ Business Days||2 Business Days||7 Days|
|Set Up Fee||£250+||From £25||£150 – £250||None||None|
|Termination Fee||No (contract buyout)||£0||£150 – £500||Yes (Varies)||Yes|
|Contract Length||12-48 months||3- Year||12-36 month||Monthly-36 Month||36 Month|
EMS offers a very strong e-commerce and omni-channel sales support, combining OmniPay from First Data with ABN AMRO for merchant accounting and additional payment solutions. With fees starting at £15 per month and lower transaction rates, European Merchant Services is extremely competitive, especially for online sales. However, you should also compare your options based on business size and offerings. For example, SagePay is more attractive if you run a small business with online sales, Worldpay offers a good mix of value and options for everyone, and Global Payments offers very good rates for larger business.
Who Should Use European Merchant Services?
European Merchant Services primarily works with small-to-medium-businesses (50 employees or more), and are not really a micro business solution. The company’s strong e-commerce solutions paired with international clientele and services from Euro-based ABN AMRO make European Merchant Services best for EU-based merchants, especially those selling online or through a combination of web shop and physical store. Because European Merchant Services supports multiple payment solutions only available in the Schengen Zone, it’s also ideal if you’re selling in the area.
European Merchant Services also has a very good reputation online, which can make the company stand out. Unfortunately, with no real UK customer base, you may get slower support or have difficulty accessing technical help if you’re working with European Merchant Services from the UK rather than in the EU. Therefore, if your business is located in the UK only, you’re probably better off contracting directly with First Data, which offers nearly identical services and prices, minus ABN AMRO support.
European Merchant Services Review
European Merchant Services combines First Data’s online e-commerce solutions and payment gateway with ABN AMRO’s payment services in the EU to offer a very strong card processing solution geared towards e-commerce and omni-channel merchants. With rates and offerings comparable to First Data and an EU-centric payment solution, the company is ideal for merchants looking to expand sales into the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany.
However, if you’re selling in the UK, you may be better off partnering with First Data directly, for improved UK support.