A warning about FasterPay

FasterPay is a relatively newcomer to the payment processing scene. I used it to purchase a software-development ebook. The merchant offered FasterPay as a PayPal alternative that accepts Visa or MasterCard. I gave it a go, but wish I hadn’t. When I got my credit card statement, I noticed the issuing bank had added a 16% cash-advance fee (on top of the usual forex and overseas transaction charges) and a cash-advance interest fee. Curious about this, I called my bank and I asked about the seller’s merchant code. The merchant code (MCC) is an important piece of data for the banks. It allows them to classify purchases since the narrative (the short one-liner of text that accompanies your transaction shown on the bill) may not give enough detail. A four-digit merchant code can be looked up to give info about the business the merchant is conducting, and potentially allow the issuer to block or impose a condition on a transaction. In my case, the FasterPay transaction’s MCC was 6051 (i.e. Non-Financial Institutions – Foreign Currency, Money Orders (not wire transfer) and Travelers Cheques). So the issuing bank considers it a cash equivalent, and can levy cash-advance fees. This is pretty weird for an ebook on a programming language.
My issuing bank considers a use case for this code as cash-equivalent purchases, like gaming. So be aware of this processor. Due to the MCC and fees, it may be a good idea to avoid unless you have no choice.

Advice for starting a mobile app business

In short, two things: (1) register your sole-trader or similar business entity for tax purposes, and (2) close the Apple contract for paid apps. If you have a decent app idea, do these things as soon as you start development. Apple require developers to show evidence they are registered for local tax before allowing them to sell apps on the app store.
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Overcoming issues attaching SQL Server database files

I’m doing some reporting work against a SQL Server database, and received some files (a .mdf and .ldf file) for evaluation. Starting from scratch with no version of SQL Server installed, the first thing to confirm was: exactly what SQL Server database was used to create these files? There’s no straight-forward way to determine version. It seems the best way is to inspect the .mdf file with a hex editor, go to the location 0x12064, read the 2 bytes there, and convert to decimal.

Hex values

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