What Makes a Secure Payment System and Why Your Firm Should Use One
Due to the rising popularity of digital payment options in almost every industry, law firms are increasingly looking for ways to modernize how they accept client payments. Updating payment systems is the only way to accept credit cards, e-checks, and other digital payments—but with so many options out there, it can be hard to know which is the right fit for your business.
While finding a payment processor that’s convenient and user-friendly is definitely important, security should be top of mind when implementing any new payment solution. Choosing the right secure payment system (SPS) is crucial for a healthy law firm cybersecurity strategy and for protecting your client’s sensitive information and your law firm’s reputation.
In this post, we break down the basics of secure payment systems, the key features to look out for, and how they can benefit your law firm.
What is a Secure Payment System?
When making payments online, users are required to enter financial and other sensitive identifying information. A secure payment system facilitates those payments while ensuring all of that sensitive data stays secure from fraud, leaks, or other types of unauthorized activities. While many secure payment services share certain key security features, they can vary in functionality or have specialized capabilities that are tailored for particular industries.
What are the Benefits of Using a Secure Payment System?
Legal businesses have been slower to adopt secure payment services for client payments than other industries. While in the past, there were few payment solutions capable of handling the complexities of legal payments, that has changed. Now, adopting a legal payment solution brings numerous benefits to law firms that far outweigh any setup costs or added transaction fees.
If a client disputes a charge, they could initiate a chargeback by the credit card company that might try and take funds back from the account. For lawyers, client funds are put into a protected trust account, meaning that the fees from a chargeback can inadvertently create IOLTA compliance problems. Secure payment services have many protections against unwarranted chargebacks. In the rare case of a client chargeback going through, specialized legal payment software also ensures that the funds come from the operating account instead of the trust account.
Reduces Security Liability and Complexity
When processing traditional cash or check payments, the burden of keeping a client’s money and information safe falls almost entirely on the firm itself. Working with a trusted legal payment processor helps significantly reduce your business’s data privacy risk since it puts an extra security barrier in place. And since the best payment processors are constantly updating to stay compliant with and ahead of security trends, the burden to keep your customer’s data safe doesn’t rest entirely on your team.
Increases Client Trust
Digital payments have moved beyond e-commerce and are now a regular part of our daily lives. However, as people grow more comfortable with online payments, they are also much more aware of the risks involved. Offering secure payment processing sends a clear message to your clients that you care about maintaining their trust. Additionally, offering a modern, secure payment system is a major factor for many people when choosing a new law firm.
Drive Better Client Experiences
Beyond keeping client information safe, a secure payment service also makes client payments more convenient and easier than ever. Offering secure modern payments makes the client experience better and more consistent with other services they’re using already. The ability to securely store payment methods along with faster payment processing is not only easier for clients, but can also help you get paid faster.
How Do You Know if a Payment System is Secure?
There are many payment processors out there but not all of them are created equal. While on a payment page, there are several ways to check if a payment processor is fully secure. At a bare minimum, any secure payment solution you’re looking at should include these elements:
SSL or TLS Encryption
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates are an integral part of secure payment systems and indicate that a website’s identity is authentic and that payments are handled on an encrypted connection. This added layer of security ensures that any information moving between the payment website and the server stays encrypted. SSL certificates are also visible to most users (usually appearing as a padlock next to your address bar) and are essential for reassuring clients that their online payment is safe. In recent years, many payment providers have started using Transport Layer Security (TLS), a newer version of SSL—and often, these terms are used interchangeably.
Secure Payment Gateway
While similar, there is a slight difference between a secure payment processor and a secure payment gateway. When paying for items in-store, you might swipe your card at a point-of-sale system or use another type of payment processor, which instantly validates and authorizes purchases. However, when paying for things online, you typically go through a secure checkout process, which is an example of a secure payment gateway. A secure payment gateway is a tool that is specifically built to process and authenticate online payments securely. Put another way, a payment gateway acts as a security middleman between your client and the law firm, ensuring any sensitive payment data is processed in a fully secure and ethically compliant environment.
What are the Key Features of a Secure Payment Processing Software?
While security features are the backbone of any payment platform, there are other important pieces of functionality you should look out for when considering legal payment software.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a must-have for any payment software. When you’re looking for an online payment partner, find one that is PCI Level 1 certified—the highest designation possible. PCI Data Security Standards are the industry guidelines that define the minimum standard of security for any company that processes credit card payments. Just by using a modern payment solution that is PCI Level 1 certified, your law firm automatically will have access to state-of-the-art security features that will keep your client payments secure.
Mobile Processing & Flexible Payments
Accepting mobile payment options and digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay is increasingly common and expected by many customers. Not only do people find mobile payment to be more convenient than a credit card but a safer option as well thanks to a number of unique security features. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to look for payment processing systems that support mobile payments.
Today, many customers prefer to use the payment method they’re most comfortable with, whether that’s a credit card, mobile payments, e-check, or in-browser. This makes the ability to offer flexible payment options more important than ever for improving the client experience and future-proofing your business. By giving clients more ways to pay, they are more likely to pay on time, which is vital to maintaining a healthy cash flow. Dedicated legal payment platforms support a number of integrated payment choices, allowing your firm to offer a wider variety of payment options without adding backend complexity.
Integrations with Existing Software
No matter how great a payment processing platform might seem on the surface, it doesn’t help you or your clients if it doesn’t integrate smoothly into your existing software and processes. This is especially important for law firms that regularly use (or are considering using) legal accounting or case management software to help with their day-to-day.
How to Choose the Right Secure Payment System for Your Law Firm
Unlike a retailer or other typical businesses, law firms need to be more picky when it comes to picking a legal payment processor. This is because legal professionals must follow much stricter ethics rules about how client funds, which includes keeping them separate from operating funds. For forward-thinking law firms, purpose-built legal payment platforms like LawPay are the best way to streamline and modernize client payments without adding operational complexity or compliance risk. Leveraging technology that is specifically designed for lawyers brings a number of unique advantages over other payment platforms:
Superior Safeguards: LawPay security utilizes industry-leading data security management and other security features along with regular independent security audits to ensure all sensitive client information is safe.
IOLTA Compliance: Built-in tools ensure client and operating funds are never commingled, including protections against credit card chargebacks.
Robust Integrations: Incorporate modern, convenient payments without disrupting your operations thanks to integrations with other leading legal software and accounting software.
Faster, Easier Payments: Get paid up to 39% faster by offering secure, easy-to-use payment options to your clients.
Enable Seamless and Secure Payments with LawPay
When it comes to implementing a secure payment system at your law firm, you can’t afford to take risks. Join thousands of law firms that trust LawPay to help them update their payment offerings, simplify their accounting processes, and lay the groundwork for the future of payments. Schedule your demo today.