Acquirers & Processors

Acquirers and merchant processors offer important services to their merchant clients including processing IIAS transactions and use of the 90% program by their participation in SIGIS. Additionally, acquirers and merchant processors play an integral role in certifying their client merchants as meeting IIAS requirements. Merchants must be a customer of a SIGIS member acquirer or merchant processor to join and use the SIGIS standard; as such it is important to acquirers and merchant processors to be SIGIS members to support their merchant customers.

Acquirers/merchant processors have access to the following programs once a SIGIS membership is established:

SIGIS IIAS Transaction and Data Retention Specification

The SIGIS Specification outlines the requirements needed for merchants, acquirers, processors, card issuers and plan administrators to support an IIAS.

IIAS Certification

A process which enables merchants to certify that they meet the requirements to operate an IIAS. There are two types of merchant IIAS certification:

  • TPS Merchant Certification - Merchants that use a SIGIS certified Third-Party Servicer (TPS)/POS Vendor for their inventory and point-of-sale register systems may qualify for a simplified IIAS certification.
  • IIAS Merchant Certification - Merchants that elect to implement an IIAS using the standard published by SIGIS must complete a Merchant Self-Assessment / Checklist and complete certification with their acquirer.

IIAS Certification for POS Vendors/TPSs

POS vendors/third-party servicers (TPS) may certify the inventory and cash register/point-of-sale software services that they offer to client merchants as meeting IIAS requirements. SIGIS has developed a special IIAS questionnaire to support the requirements of TPSs. Once a TPS is IIAS-certified, its client merchants may use a simplified online IIAS certification approach.

90% Rule Merchant Attestation

For drug stores and pharmacies that primarily sell prescriptions and eligible medical items, the IRS permits plan administrators to approve FSA/HRA card transactions without the drug store/pharmacy having an IIAS. SIGIS has developed a registration program for eligible drug stores and pharmacies to register as 90% Rule Merchants.

SIGIS provides additional support through our Help Desk that is available to answer any questions regarding the programs listed above.

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Related FAQs

While being SIGIS IIAS Certified enables a merchant to be in compliance with IRS guidelines in accepting FSA and HRA cards, SIGIS IIAS Certification does not guarantee 100% acceptance of cards.

However some employer benefit plans may require a level of transaction detail that is not supported by the SIGIS IIAS Standard, thereby, preventing acceptance even at merchants with a fully SIGIS certified IIAS solution.

To maximize authorization rates, merchants should support partial authorization, rx amount and non-eligible items when implementing an IIAS.

Merchants that have implemented IIAS systems may continue to see declines on health care benefit cards that are standard payment card declines (insufficient funds, closed account, etc.). Thus, if the card transaction declines, it is most likely that the decline is valid.

Please see our list of Most Frequent Valid Decline Reasons for why properly formatted IIAS transactions at an IIAS merchant may be validly declined.

No. A merchant is not required to implement an IIAS; however, FSA/HRA card issuers will not be able to approve FSA/HRA card transactions when a merchant does not support an IIAS. If you are a merchant and choose not to implement an IIAS, you do not need take additional steps.  Merchants that are pharmacies/drug stores and primarily sell prescriptions and medical items may qualify under the IRS rules as a “90% Rule” merchant.  See the 90% Rule Merchant FAQs for more information.

For merchants that would like to accept the FSA/HRA cards from their customers, the IRS requires Merchants selling health care eligible products to support an Inventory Information Approval System (IIAS). The IIAS system is a combination of inventory management and point-of-sale systems that can verify the health care eligibility of items purchased with an FSA or HRA debit card, generate a payment transaction that contains the required IIAS information, and includes an information archive system that allows the merchant to respond to an IRS audit(s) as required. As noted above, for Drug Stores / Pharmacies where 90% of the sales on a store-by-store basis qualify as FSA-eligible, a 90% Rule registration program is an alternative option.

Merchants have the option to not become a Member of SIGIS by establishing their own IIAS standards or 90% Rule Exemption and working with third-party plan administrators individually.

With the IIAS Certification developed by SIGIS, a non-profit standards organization, a broad range of participating merchants have been able to implement a solution that is recognized industry-wide, which enables acceptance of most FSA/HRA payment cards. Likewise, third-party plan administrators have implemented a common set of procedures that are applied to IIAS transactions at participating merchants.

Upon notification of completion of the SIGIS IIAS Certification Process, a merchant should follow up with its acquirer/processor to obtain the card network's transaction control id numbers. The acquirer/processor is the only entity able to retrieve these numbers. A merchant must obtain these identification numbers before FSA/HRA Card transactions will process correctly.

A merchant’ s acquirer is the company that actually processes its bankcard transactions. Many merchants have relationships with Independent Sales Organizations or Banks, but the actual processing is done by another company. If a merchant doesn't have a direct relationship with an acquirer, the company with whom a merchant does have a relationship can help you identify its acquirer and should facilitate the gathering of the information needed to complete its registration.

Merchants might need new equipment or just updates to existing software to support IIAS processing. A new POS solution could be required for merchants that do not have a POS system that can support electronic inventory management, UPC scanning, and the additional fields used in the IIAS transactions that are required. A number of POS vendors for the supermarket, chain drug store, and related merchants have updated their POS systems software to support IIAS processing. For clarification or confirmation, a merchant should contact its processing acquirer and/or POS software provider, the organizations providing your credit card / debit card solutions or the bank that provides credit card processing. Vendors will work with merchants to install any necessary updates.

Additionally, merchants can review the SIGIS POS Solution Provider list.

Acquirers receive an email when a merchant submits a certification form.  If an Acquirer needs to change the email address that receives those notifications they will need to Log In to their SIGIS account and access the Certification form link on the right side of the page.  Under the Contacts sections a contact can be selected or deselected to receive email notifications. In addition, a generic email can be added to receive the notifications.

As a paid Member of SIGIS in good standing, a merchant is able to confirm the status of its SIGIS 90% Registration or IIAS Certification status by visiting the Publications page.

Please note that the 90% Merchant list is updated each Monday morning and the IIAS Merchant list is published at 5 am PST each business day.