A payment gateway is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar. The payment gateway may be provided by a bank to its customers, but can be provided by a specialised financial service provider as a separate service, such as a payment service provider.
A payment gateway facilitates a payment transaction by the transfer of information between a payment portal (such as a website, mobile phone or interactive voice response service) and the front end processor or acquiring bank.
Choosing the right payment gateway solution for your business can often determine whether or not your online store is successful. If payments on your online store are not optimally set up, you could lose a lot of orders through sales drop offs by unsatisfied customers or end up spending a lot of money on transaction fees and costs. Figuring out the payments end of your online store is key to the long term success of your online business.
While you make a decision about which payment gateway to use, some questions to guide you in the decision making process include:
There are two major categories of payment gateways: Hosted and Shared Gateways.
Hosted Payment Gateways are those that direct your user away from your ecommerce website. While making payments, the customer is redirected to the real gateway page by clicking the gateway link. This leaves your website for some time before returning back. The benefit of these gateways is that you do not need a Merchant ID since no confidential details are needed from your website. Examples here include PayPal, WorldPay and Nochex.
While making the payments, a customer is directed to the payment page and not out of your website. Here, a Post form is used once one clicks on a payment link/button. The payment page is maintained securely by the payment gateway. After all details about credit card and other required fields are complete, the user fully gets back to the main website. The main benefit is that one does not get away from your website thus fast and easy to use. Example of a gateway is eWay.
Even though there are a number of options in terms of online payment processing gateways, one should be careful to consider some key factors. Among the most significant considerations are setup fee, security of customer information and transactions, time taken to process payments, flexibility of currencies and various countries. Another important factor to consider is transaction rates. This includes withdrawal and transfer charges as well as exchange charges.
A good factor that should also be considered is the ease of use and accessibility of the payment gateway. Always make sure you do your due diligence on the gateway of interest. Always consult the experts and do your own research on the internet.