Hero Section Review: Five High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

We’re looking at an industry with about a dozen pretty established or emerging providers. It’s an industry that isn’t entirely new; high-risk businesses have always needed to process payments, but many providers are less than a decade old.

So the first question to raise here is, are we selling good soup or free bags? Do companies need to convince people to get a high-risk merchant account or do we need to convince clients to get a high-risk merchant account at their company? I believe it’s the latter, so these home pages should highlight these companies’ USPs.

But do they?

Let’s see. (video at the bottom)

Durango Merchant Services

My first impression of this home page isn’t too bad. It’s not overwhelming, and there aren’t too many colors. But when I pay closer attention, some things start to bother me. The contrast isn’t great, for example. The title is a bit hard to read, and the CTA button barely stands out.

The biggest problem with this page is the lack of copy.

  • No subtitle
  • No social proof
  • Generic CTA on the left

The biggest positive takeaway is the CTA button in the menu. It shows a desirable outcome, and I wonder why it wasn’t used in the hero section.

Another lesson from this home page is the background image. The people in it are looking at the CTA button. It’s a great yet subtle way to get more clicks.

Host Merchant Services

Host Merchant Services doesn’t just do high-risk accounts, they accept all sorts of merchants. This means that the copy’s super general and actually speaks to no one.

The biggest pain point for me is the overload of actions people can take (from top-left to bottom-right)

  1. Call the number
  2. Visit their social media pages
  3. Click one of the menu options
  4. “Get Started”
  5. Learn more about HMS via “Why Choose HMS?”
  6. Request a quote
  7. Engage with the chatbot

I’d love to share a positive element, but I can’t.

Soar Payments

Compared to the previous two, Soar Payments does a better job. Actually, it’s one of the better home pages across the three sessions I’ve done so far (1. newsletter landing pages and 2. fintech home pages).

While the copy isn’t optimal, they do a better job at differentiating themselves. They even underlined the words that set them apart.

Compared to HMS, you also see the number of possible actions is much more limited.

To optimize this page, I’d make the copy more result-oriented. “Safely accept payments at competitive rates”, for example. “Find out more” is also pretty lame.

SMB Global

SMB Global is competing with HMS for the title of “worst company home page that has passed before my eyes”.

It’s not inviting to read, and I doubt anyone without serious interest would even start reading. There’s no visual, everything is white, and there’s a wall of text. I’ve only just noticed the CTA button on the right for the first time (and I’ve already made a 5-minute video breakdown).

And that’s probably not the biggest issue. I’m sure they can do better than “learn more” for the CTA. This entire home page, including the copy, has a very templatized feel.

Is there anything good about this page? Yeah, the subtitle is promising. It’s too long, but it might convince a few people who care to read it.


PaymentCloud’s home page looks pretty clean from the start. The colors work, the design is pretty simple, and I see social proof.

But when given a closer look, two problems stand out.

  1. The brand doesn’t stand out. The copy is boring and does little to address the customer.
  2. The CTA copy is vanilla and not specific enough.

There’s one super interesting element here that I would recommend to any large company with a phone number on their home page: showing a 0-minute waiting time and high availability of agents is motivating to give them a quick call. (The number of agents changes on the website, btw)

So what have we learned from these high-risk merchant account provider home pages?

In an industry with some competition and high stakes, I believe the first two elements are crucial. The other three are nice-to-haves.

  1. Reduce friction. Remember how Paymentcloud makes it so easy to get on a call?
  2. Add social proof. Add logos of your partners, places you’ve been featured etc.
  3. Limit options. Consider if you need all of these and how many of each you need…
    1. Menu
    2. CTA buttons
    3. Chatbox
    4. Social media links
    5. Phone number
  4. Use relevant visuals. It’s best to show a product demo or a video.
    1. If you’re using people (or animals), make them look towards the CTA button.
  5. Stand out in the crowd. People don’t need to be convinced to get a high-risk merchant account. They have no other option. So you don’t need to sell high-risk merchant accounts, you need to sell your high-risk merchant accounts. Get the difference?

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