Choosing a Payment Gateway

Understanding the ins and outs of choosing a payment gateway that suits your business can be a little daunting. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and the good news is that most people have little knowledge or experience of the payments industry when choosing their first gateway. To help you make the most informed decision possible, we’ve put together a rundown of the type of information you’ll need to know. 

Time for a quick recap! What is a payment gateway?

All technicality aside for a moment, a payment gateway’s primary purpose is to connect your customer’s bank or card details to your merchant account (an account that allows businesses to accept and settle payment card transactions). The gateway enables this transfer of funds – so it’s a pretty important step!

A payment gateway securely stores your customer’s bank/card information and then verifies it. This is another really important step as the verification process ensures that funds are available, before the funds are then transferred over to you. 

Prepare for your background check

Hold those horses! Before you can start properly comparing payment gateway providers, your business will need to go through an internal audit check. This is standard practice before you can accept payments online, and you’ll need to get a few documents and other information about your business ready before submitting the answers.

Use our 4-point plan to help you get started:

1. Define your business operations

How your business operates will dictate the type of gateway you’ll need. Will you be selling products/services online, in a physical store, or both? Some payment processors only offer online services, so if you plan to sell in-store and online it’s recommended to find a payment processor who will let you do both. Not only is this simpler, but it means your total card income will be pooled into one, much more manageable system – enabling you to make smarter decisions. 

2. Do you have a merchant account?

Cool if you do, and no problem if you don’t. If you have an existing merchant account, then you’ll need a payment gateway that integrates with your chosen bank. While bank agnostic gateways (like Bambora) can integrate with merchant accounts from many different banks, keep in mind that not all gateways are bank agnostic. If you don’t have a merchant account, compare payment processors by both their gateway and merchant account functionality. Bambora’s payment gateway doesn’t require you have a merchant account as we can work directly with banks for you.

3. How big is your sales funnel?

Tricky question but consider your current and projected processing levels. For small, or fledging businesses especially, who might not process a significant amount of sales, you might be able to get lower rates. It’s a good idea to ask if your current (and projected) processing levels meet the threshold.

4. eCommerce functionality

Lots of businesses like to use eCommerce platforms like Shopify and other popular shopping carts. This involves integrating their eCommerce technology with your website and will become a fundamental factor in your payment gateway decision. Make sure the payment processor you choose can integrate with existing or desired eCommerce platform.

OK, let’s compare!

You’ve defined how your business will operate so now it’s time for the big comparison. While payment processors might all look at the same at first glance, they’re by no means similar. There’s a fair few details you’ll need to bear in mind, like:

How do you want to service your customers?

  • What do you want your on-site payments process to look like? Consider whether you’d rather have an embedded payment form on your website, or direct customers to a separate, off-site, page. Also consider whether you’d rather integrate the payment form via API through a series of code and what mobile SDK capabilities the payment gateway offers.

  • What payment types do you want to offer your customers? Offering Visa and Mastercard is an absolute must in today’s payments climate, but you may also want to consider the benefits of offering alternative payment methods like PayPal and Apple Pay. 

Do the sums

  • Going back to your sales funnel, work out each payment gateway’s cost per transaction – often these can differ by payment type. Collect information on all fees present; from minimum processing fees to standard monthly fees and cancellation fees.

  • While you might feel local you can expand your business’ reach by offering global currencies. After all, your website can be accessed anywhere in the world, so by making sure you can offer your customer’s local currency will likely increase conversions. Remember to check for any fees or charges.

Quality and delivery should come as standard

  • Find out settlement times to get a good idea of how long you’ll usually have to wait to receive your funds.

  • Consider the onboarding and sign-up process. Some payments processors might take days to set-up while others will be quick.

  • Whether you’re processing payments for the first time or a payments pro, the focus on support should be the same. Check what support services you’ll be receiving: what hours can you contact your provider? Will it be by phone, live chat or something automated? If this is your first foray into payments, support might be a priority for you – especially a human touch.

  • If a provider isn’t PCI compliant, it’s best to look elsewhere. While PCI compliance requirements can vary from business to business, you’ll want to partner with a provider who is Level 1 PCI compliant to ensure the utmost security for you and your customers.

  • Payments providers should offer basic fraud tools as standard, like velocity checks. Additional fraud tools should also be provided and you might want to consider using tokenised transactions – a method that securely encrypts card data.

Choosing a payment gateway is a very important business decision so it’s encouraged to ask as many questions as you can. Really understand your business requirements and take your time to properly compare providers before deciding.

Having an open dialogue with a provider so you can get to know each other a little more is also a good idea. If you’re interested in chatting to one of the Bambora team about our merchant services or our payment gateway, please get in touch!

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About the author: Victoria Galloway is Bambora APAC's Technical Copywriter, and has been writing and producing in the payments and eCommerce space for a number of years, both in the UK and Australia.

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