Unified Payments Overview

Florida-Based POS Provider

A subsidiary of Net Element, Inc., Unified Payments is a merchant account provider that specializes in mobile and tablet-based point-of-sale systems. Founded in 2010, the company claims to serve “over 1,000 sales agents, referral partners, and value-added resellers nationwide.”

Oleg Firer Allegations

There appears to be some controversy over the business dealings of Oleg Firer, the CEO of Net Element. This website, which was created by someone claiming to be a former business associate of Oleg Firer’s but is no longer operational, previously claimed that Oleg Firer acquired Unified Payments’ custom POS solution, Aptito, but did not compensate its creator as agreed; that Oleg Firer has artificially manipulated Net Element’s stock value through unfunded acquisitions; that Oleg Firer has previously been charged with grand theft in a private real estate deal; and that a Russia-based subsidiary of Net Element called TOT Money has some sort of connection to Russian organized crime. These accusations are severe in nature, and the accuser seems to have posted them on several websites in an attempt to increase their visibility. We do not know whether these allegations are true or false, but we have independently found the following details that may be relevant to these claims:

  • There is evidence that Oleg Firer (here) and Vlad Sadovskiy (here) have faced litigation that accuses them or their companies of defaulting on agreed-upon payments
  • There is evidence that at least some investors in Net Element are dissatisfied with Oleg Firer’s leadership or feel that Oleg is a “scam artist”
  • There is evidence that Oleg Firer agreed to purchase Aptito for 125,000 shares of Net Element stock
  • There is evidence that Net Element has secured a court order prohibiting Gene Zell, the founder of Aptito, from posting any information about Oleg Firer on any website or contacting the company’s business partners and investors

Unified Payments Ownership and Locations

Unified Payments is a subsidiary of Net Elements. Unified Payments is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, California; Esquire Bank N.A., Jericho, NY; and Citizens Bank, N.A., Providence, RI. Vlad Sadovskiy is the president of merchant services at Unified Payments, which is headquartered at 3363 NE 163rd Street Suite 705, North Miami Beach, Florida.

Unified Payments Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: Unified Payments offers a three-year contract with an early termination fee of $750.
  • Complaints & Service: Unified Payments has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: Unified Payments has an “A+” rating and has received 8 complaints and 5 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2017.
  • Sales & Marketing: Unified Payments appears to hire independent sales representatives and has received a few complaints about its sales practices.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Unified Payments
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Products & Services Offered

  • Debit and credit card processing
  • EMV– and NFC-compatible terminals
  • Mobile phone processing
  • E-commerce solutions
  • Sales analytics
  • Gift and loyalty programs

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce
  • Events

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Unified Payments Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

Visa/MC/Discover Rate Interchange + 0.30%
American Express Rate Interchange + 0.50% + $0.10
Virtual Terminal Rate 2.90% + $0.20
Payment Gateway Fee Undisclosed
Monthly Statement Fee $2
Monthly Minimum Fee $25
Early Termination Fee $750
PCI Non-Compliance Fee $19.95 Per Month
Monthly PCI Compliance Fee $3.95
Annual PCI Compliance Fee $300
Equipment Lease Terms 48 Month (locked)

Three-Year Contract

According to the standard Unified Payments merchant agreement and the company’s website, Unified Payments typically offers a 3-year contract with automatic renewal for a 1-year terms an early termination fee of $750, an annual PCI compliance fee of up to $300, a monthly minimum fee of $25, a $3.95 monthly compliance fee, a monthly PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95, a monthly statement fee of $2, and a built-in, non-cancellable equipment lease through First Data Global Leasing. The company also charges interchange plus 0.30% on all transactions except American Express, which processes at interchange plus 0.50% plus $0.10.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Unified Payments also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. The company advertises a rate of 2.90$ plus $0.20 for online transactions.. Additional fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.

Higher-Than-Average Pricing

Overall, these terms are more expensive than industry averages. A multiyear contract with automatic renewal and a built-in equipment lease is basically an average deal, but the addition of a $750 early termination fee makes the company’s contract unfavorable by our standards. Unified’s per-transaction pricing of interchange plus 0.30% isn’t bad for the industry, but other providers can offer similar pricing without long-term commitments or large recurring fees. There aren’t many merchant complaints that describe dissatisfaction with Unified Payments’ pricing, but the hard numbers have lowered the company’s rating in this category to a “D.” Merchants are more likely to see savings with a top budget merchant account provider.

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Response from Unified Payments

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Unified Payments Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

Total Online Complaints <10
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint N/A

Low Complaint Total

We have found only a few negative Unified Payments reviews and two of these complaints are more focused on accusing Oleg Firer of being a scammer than they are on criticizing Unified Payments’s products. Both complaints appear to have been filed by Gene Zell, the founder of Aptito, and their contents have been addressed in the previous sections of this review. Although the allegations they make are worth noting, they have little bearing on the average merchant’s experience with Unified Payments.

Unified Payments Lawsuits

In November 2018, we were made aware of the existence of Discover Data LLC, a subsidiary of Unified Payments which claims to be headquartered at the same Florida address as Unified Payments. According to at least one publicly available profile, Albert Takhalov is the vice president of Discover Data, which may simply be a DBA of Unified Payments. In 2013, Albert Takhalov was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “directing a bunch of ‘bar girls’ to seduce and swindle customers at a string of Russian-style lounges” in his role as “a credit-card processor for [the] clubs.” In July 2016, however, the conviction was overturned by an appeals court due to a procedural error by the original judge.

One important detail of the reports surrounding Takhalov’s conviction is that the ringleader of the entire scheme, Alec Simchuk, was “an admitted Russian mafioso.” The possibility that the vice president of Discover Data may previously have had direct ties to the Russian mafia should be of interest to merchants and industry observers.

At this time, it is difficult to determine what the facts are in either case. However, merchants should be aware of the allegations that have been made against Unified Payments’s executive leadership team and subsidiaries. These allegations do not describe any issues that would have directly affected merchants, but they do claim that the executives in question have engaged in unethical conduct on multiple occasions and may have criminal ties. If you have any evidence that can either confirm or refute the claims posted about Oleg Firer or Albert Takhalov, please share that information in the comment section below this review.

The various civil and criminal suits filed against the principals of United Payments have been described elsewhere in this review, but we have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against the company itself. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

Unreliable Public Reports

The other available complaints describe nondisclosure of fees, fund holds, improper billing, and difficulty cancelling service. They do not point to any single widespread issue with the company, but they do create a net impression that merchants may occasionally encounter unexpected withdrawals or delayed payments when dealing with Unified Payments. In addition, the allegations of falsified testimonials raise the possibility that much of the public feedback about Unified Payments is not trustworthy.

Unified Payments Customer Support Options

Unified Payments offers phone and email customer support contact information on its website. However, these channels are not enough to qualify it as a top-rated merchant account provider for customer service. There are enough red flags around the company’s ownership and operations to lower its score in this section to a “C.”

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Response from Unified Payments

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Unified Payments BBB Rating Summary

Key Points - BBB

Product & Service Complaints 1
Billing & Collection Complaints 6
Advertising & Sales Complaints 1
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 0
Delivery Complaints 0

Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.

Under 10 Complaints

Unified Payments currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been BBB-accredited since August 2017. The company has received 7 complaints in the past 36 months, with 6 related to billing and collection issues, 1 has to do with the product or service, and 1 is categorized as an advertising or sales issue. The company has successfully resolved 2 complaints. The 6 remaining complaints were answered by the company but did not receive a final response from the merchant.

What Merchants Say

Unified Payments has also received 5 informal reviews to its BBB profile, 3 of which were positive and 4 of which were negative in tone. One negative review makes an accusation of fraud:

There’s a fee on my statement that none of the representatives could explain to me and every time they say they’ll call backc they never do and the supervisor is never available. I feel like there’s definitely some fraud going on

Given the company’s troubling legal history this review may have merit. Merchants stuck in a similar situation can benefit from reporting suspicious activity to the relevant supervisory organizations.

A “B” Performance Overall

In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “B.”

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Response from Unified Payments

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

Employs Independent Resellers Yes
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms Yes

Outside Agents and Resellers

Unified Payments appears to market its services primarily via outside sales agents, independent resellers, and strategic partnerships. It is unclear at this time whether the company’s outside sales agents are independently contracted, W-2, or a mix of both. We have located 2 Unified Payments complaints that accuse the company or one of its resellers of nondisclosure of PCI compliance fees and annual fees, but these complaints appear to be isolated events.

Fake Review Allegations

On January 30, 2018, a Facebook user name Vy Chantharasy posted the following review on the Unified Payments Facebook page:

Company uses fake paid reviews and paid fan likes. Very decieving practices. Scroll down their reviews and you will see all there reviews come on May 5th, 2017 within a couple of hours from foreign countries. Pretty slick…unethical practices. Exposed & Reported.

A Unified Payments representative responded to the commenter:

Hello, we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify. On May 5th 2017, we ran a marketing ad campaign asking people to like our page and provide us a review, which is why that day we got an above average amount of reviews.

And the commenter had the final word:

Right…I run 2 research and marketing firms. Asking for reviews on services they don’t use from you qualifies as a “Fake Review”. You can’t get reviews from people that’s never used your service. Comon’. And half the review are not even in the U.S. We reached out to 50 of reviewers to get the real story…in a specific timeframe…only 2 actually used Unified. Did you want us to post the responses here?

The commenter ultimately did not post their proof in this thread, but the overall conversation does suggest that Unified was caught manufacturing positive reviews. Merchants are therefore cautioned to regard all glowing testimonials about the company with some skepticism.

Public Contract Disclosure

As a point in the company’s favor, Unified Payments makes its merchant agreement available to the public on its website and appears to utilize interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent pricing structure available. Unified Payments appears to utilize a sales approach that is typical the industry, but it performs at an above-average level in terms of disclosure. If you suspect that Unified Payments is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.

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Response from Unified Payments

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Unified Payments Logo

Our Opinion of Unified Payments

Serious Red Flags

Unified Payments rates as an average merchant services provider according to our rating criteria. There are multiple troubling reports about deceptive and illegal conduct by the leaders of Unified Payments and its subsidiary, Discover Data. Unified’s customer service and contract terms appear to range from average to below-average, but its sales tactics are generally more transparent than most of its competitors. We will continue to monitor the feedback we receive from merchants regarding this company and adjust our rating accordingly. For now, merchants will be better served by dealing with a top-rated overall credit card processor.

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Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.

Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services

I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.

From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.

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3 Reviews Leave Your Review for Unified Payments Below

  1. Steve Banks says:

    Horrible they said I owed 1000 on a machine I never received. They are crooks and thieves. Dont deal with them . Beware of them


    This post will help: Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

    -Phillip

  2. Alexei Goncharov says:

    More in depth information about the CEO:


    This post will help: How to Report Bad Credit Card Processors

    -Phillip

  3. David Rodriguez says:

    Great rates but terrible customer service, i switch bank account and in the proccess they ask me to provide info to submit and make the change, its been 2 weeks and my money is in hold, i give them extra info plus bank statement to proof that this account is real, today my account is overdraft over 1k cause there is traffic of payments to my vendors and unified payments have not fix or care to get this resolved, this morning i call for a manager, but they transfer me to a voicemail … im very upset with this situation and done with this company.

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