Software that facilitates a transaction by communicating transaction information and in this sense of the word applies to the equivalent of a physical point of sale that is located in retail outlets.
A payment gateway authorizes the payment by credit cards for online retailers, brick and click stores, traditional stores, and for ecommerce businesses. The payment gateway protects the details on a credit card by encrypting the sensitive information it holds. This process ensures that personal private details are passed securely between the customer and the merchant.
A payment gateway is part of the “magic” that occurs in the background when a credit or debit card transaction takes place. By sending information securely between the website and credit card network for processing and then returning transaction details from the payment network back to the website it is a primary component that enables ecommerce to function.
If you have a website and are interested in accepting credit card payments either online or through a mobile device you will need a payment gateway. It is the bridge between your product sales and your customer.
There are any number of providers that can setup a payment gateway for you, so how can you choose the right one for your business? The first step is to research features and when you’re doing this consider the following:
Security of the network. A secure network should be your number one priority when looking for a payment gateway. Your customers must be able to have trust that their financial information will remain secure when purchasing from your store. Look for PCI-compliance, as this is critical when accepting credit cards online.
The customer experience. Besides being secure, the process for payments should be smooth and make purchasing from you convenient for your customers. If it becomes cumbersome, requiring too many steps, too much time, or too much personal information, your customer may abandon their purchase and go looking elsewhere. You should look for a payment gateway that allows you to accept all major credit and debit cards, as well as being integrated with all major shopping carts. In today’s world it is also crucial that the payment gateway is optimized for mobile users.
Internationally acceptable. Unless you are only expecting to accept payments from your local market you should ensure that the payment gateway allows for international acceptance. The internet is global and crosses all borders, and your customers might come from any corner of the globe. Don’t limit yourself with a payment gateway that doesn’t allow for global payments.
Fees. The fee structure at each payment gateway will differ, so be sure it fits in your budget, and that it isn’t excessive compared with other payment gateway offerings.