How to choose a payment gateway
Stage 4: Deliver
Dan Matthews
24th April 2014
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With a vast array of payment gateways to choose from – e-commerce hosting site Shopify, for example, supports more than 50 – finding the gateway that’s right for you and your brand can be a time consuming process.

To help you get to grips with what’s available and some of the factors you need to take into account when shopping around, here are some of the main things you should consider when choosing a gateway.

Read On:
Introduction to payment gateways
Why do I need a payment gateway?
How to set up SMS payments

Sign-up fees

If you’re on a budget, or just starting out, then it’s worth looking out for a payment gateway with no sign up fee. However, if you expect to sell a large volume of products, or need particular features, then gateways with a sign-up fee can be more effective in the long run.


Transaction fees

Transaction fees eat into your profits, so the lower the better. That said, the best known gateways typically have higher transaction fees, so it can be worth paying the extra fees for the sake of establishing trust with your customers.

Countries and currencies supported

The internet has created a global marketplace, which can be worth tapping into if you’re selling a product with a global demand. Digital products in particular are worth selling internationally as you don’t have to worry about shipping costs.


On the other hand, if you’re only planning to sell in the US, then you’ll have more options on choosing your payment gateway.

On site or off site?

With on site payment processing, a customer never leaves your site while making the payment. Off site payment gateways take customers away from your website and onto their website. PayPal is an example of an off site payment gateway.

For small companies, off site payment processing may not matter, but bigger brands looking to create a consistent online experience may prefer to keep customers on site at all times.

When do you need to be paid?

Some payment gateways allow you to set up recurring payments, which can save you a lot of time if you’re selling services or products on subscription. Some also allow you to set up payments to be taken in the future.


What products can you sell?

If you’re selling services or digital products, check the terms and conditions. Some payment gateways only allow you to sell physical goods.

Debit Card and PayPal Processing

More people are switching from using traditional, usually high-interest credit cards to Visa or Mastercard-compatible debit cards or using PayPal to pay from their bank.

However, managing a debit card transaction is different from managing a regular credit card charge, so your service needs to specifically support debit cards. Similar to a debit card, processing a PayPal transaction is entirely different than processing a credit card charge, so make sure your service provides this functionality.

Processing APIs and Site Testing

While you can include standard snippets of code in your website that will allow payment gateway capability (generally provided by your processing service), some businesses still want to write their own custom code for this purpose.

If you’re interested in that route, you need to contract with a provider that provides processing APIs for your developers. Once everything is compiled and ready for business, it’s also good to use a provider that allows site testing before going live. This means the service will let you run a series of test transactions through your site and their processing engine without any money actually changing hands.

Digital Security

With all the recent headlines concerning the theft of not only online but also POS-based credit information, ensuring that your service provides adequate security is more important than ever. Data encryption is a minimum.

Additional key features include support for VeriSign SSL certificates, transaction billing address and CVV2 verification. Some services offer even deeper security, such as more-complex encryption algorithms and restrictions on data sent and stored.

In the past, businesses have often considered these features to be more trouble than they were worth, but, in the face of rising information theft, you might want to seriously consider going beyond the bare minimum when it comes to information theft and fraud protection.

Customer support

Check out the levels of customer support provided. Do you prefer to speak to an actual person when things go wrong? If so, make sure they provide telephone support.

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Author: Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a business journalist and author with more than 10 years’ experience writing in print and online. He is also experienced in online marketing and web project development, having created and grown several successful websites.
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