First things first. What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway connects your customer’s bank or card brand to your merchant account so the funds can transfer from their account to your merchant account. It is a pretty important step in the payment process!
The payment gateway will store and verify their payment information, ensure funds are available and transfer the funds to you, all while keeping the information secure.
If you want to accept payments online you need a payment gateway, just like if you want to accept card payments in your store you need a point of sale terminal.
Before comparing providers, you need to do an internal audit. A few questions you should know the answers to include:
- Is your business online, brick and mortar, or both? Some payment processors only offer online services. If you process online and in store, you should try to find a payment processor who can do both. Having one account will simplify your payment processing immensely and allow you to pool your business’s total card volume to negotiate sharper pricing.
- Do you already have a merchant account? If you already have a merchant account, you will need to find a gateway that integrates with your bank. Bank neutral gateways plug into merchant accounts from multiple banks. Not all gateways are bank neutral. If you don’t have a merchant account, you will need to compare payment processors by their gateway and their merchant account offerings.
- What are your processing levels? Depending on how much you process you might be able to get lower rates. Be sure to inquire if your processing level meets the threshold.
- Do you plan on using an e-commerce platform? If you are planning on using an online Shopping Cart, WordPress, or any other e-commerce platform, make sure that the payment processor you are considering can integrate with it before signing up.
Time To Compare
Payment processors all facilitate payments but that is usually where the similarities end. To ensure you find the right payment partner we have assembled a handy checklist to review as you shop around:
- How is the payment is taken? Do you configure and integrate a form on your website? Is it embedded on your page, or do you direct customers to a hosted checkout form? What SDKs and APIs are offered and what coding language are they in?
- What payment types do they offer? Do they offer all the leading card types; Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Interac? What about the newer payment types like Apple Pay, Bitcoin and Samsung Pay? Are those important to your business?
- What are the costs? What is the per transaction cost? Does it differ by payment type? Do you have a minimum process fee? Is there a monthly fee, cancellation fee or any other hidden fees?
- What currencies do they support? The beauty of the e-commerce is that people from all over the world can buy from your online store. Being able to showcase your customer’s local currency helps reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase conversions. Does the gateway support different currencies?
- How long does it take to get your money? Settlement varies drastically across payment processors. Ask how long traditional settlement is and ensure to check companies reviews to see if it aligns with what they are saying.
- What does the sign-up and cancellation process look like? Depending on the type of account you get your sign up for it may take five minutes or it may take up to a week. Are you locked into a contract? How do you cancel your account? Is your data portable if you want to switch providers?
- How secure are they? Your payment processor without a doubt should be PCI-Compliant Level One. If they are not, move along. You should also look at their additional fraud tools. Do they tokenize transactions?
- What does their support look like? If you have a question or have an issue processing payments how do you get in touch? Can you pick up the phone and get help? Are you directed to an automated message or is your call picked up from a human? Can you email? Live chat? What are their support hours?
Picking a gateway can be overwhelming. It is important to ask the right questions and understanding your needs before signing any contract. Hopefully, you will only have to do it once, so take your time and compare payment providers.
Interested in Beanstream’s gateway and merchant accounts? Find out more by contacting our sales team. Beanstream is Your Partner In Payments.