If you accept donations online, conduct a web-based business, or even if you just have a traditional store but also allow customers to order online, then your website will need a way to securely accept customer payments. The technological means for doing so is usually referred to as a “payment gateway.”
Nearly all web-based businesses use a third-party service provider for these payment gateways, rather than try to build them themselves. Because there are so many options for a business owner to choose from, it’s helpful to understand the ways that the payment gateway service providers may differ, in order to be able to choose between them.
The first thing you are likely to look at is the fee structure for a given service provider. Most charge some mix of a flat or monthly fee, plus a per transaction fee that may be a flat fee plus a percentage, or simply a percentage fee. Unless you’re switching from to a new payment gateway service, and you have a history of online transactions with customers, it can be difficult to know exactly what your transaction volume is likely to be. It’s therefore important to choose a provider that makes it easy to switch to a higher or lower volume fee structure in order to keep your costs as low as possible.
Ease of Integration
Because the actual payment processing will occur on the service provider’s web servers, it will be necessary to integrate the payment processing with your website. In many cases the easiest solution is to select a provider where you send your customer to their website at the point it becomes necessary for the customer to enter credit card information, and the service provider sends them back to you once the transaction is complete. Keep in mind you’ll also need to make sure that any payment gateway provider you are considering can integrate with your website’s shopping cart software. The easier a provider makes it to integrate, the better.
Recognizability and Reputation
You may want to consider the recognizability and reputation of a particular payment gateway provider. Most web shoppers will be familiar with PayPal, some will be familiar with Amazon Payments and Google Checkout, and fewer may be familiar with some of the other services. Users want to be ensured that their personal data is securely being collected and sent across the internet.
You may wish to consider whether a payment gateway service allows you to include your logo or other branding on the customer payment page. This might give your customers an additional level of comfort when they are sent to another site to complete a transaction. Also consider if the payment gateway provides a way to accept payment without having to leave your website.
Quickness of Payment Back to You
Finally, consider the stated practices of each payment gateway service for remitting payment back to you. Look for providers that have a very fast turnaround time, and do a little web research to see if other businesses have experienced any problems with receiving payment, or with chargebacks from customers.
By taking these various factors into account, you’ll increase your chances of finding a payment gateway service provider that you’ll be able to work with for a long time into the future.