If you’re selling your products or services online, you should be able to collect payments online. It’s as simple as that. The push to move from traditional payment methods to online payment modes is not going to go away any time soon, so equipping your business to adapt is the best possible option. If you own a business where you offer online payment options, it’s essential to have a payment gateway.
What is a payment gateway and how does it work?
A payment gateway receives the payment request from a website or mobile device and then sends it to the payment processor or bank (and vice versa). You can picture it as the online version of the point-of-sale terminal in your local grocery store. When you integrate a payment gateway with your website, you’re using it to handle all your online payment transactions.
You can learn more about the working of payment gateways here.
Integrating a payment gateway with your website
If you have a website and you’re planning to get a payment gateway to collect payments, you have 3 options: hosted payment gateways, non-hosted payment gateways, and creating your own payment gateway from scratch.
You probably already know whether you want to create your own gateway from scratch, but if you’re trying to decide between hosted and non-hosted gateways, a little more background might help. Here’s how hosted and non-hosted payment gateways compare:
Hosted payment gateways will redirect your customer away from your website to complete the payment transaction. The main limitation here is the fact that your customers could lose interest and navigate away from your website, or find the payment process too time-consuming and leave your website. You will also have limited control over the entire process.
However, these payment gateways are easy to integrate and the transaction security is handled by your payment gateway provider.
Non-hosted payment gateways can be directly integrated your website, so you can keep the customer at your website without redirecting them elsewhere. Unlike with hosted payment gateways, security is an issue you’ll need to address yourself. Since these payment gateways operate on your server, you must ensure complete transaction security and protection against fraud.
Non-hosted payment gateways require some technical expertise, though they come with APIs to be integrated to your website.
The main difference between direct integration and other integration methods is the ability to customize and control the payment process. Though direct integration is complex compared to other payment methods, it’s worth it for the smooth shopping experience it offers your customers.
Here’s how direct payment gateway integration can be beneficial
When the customer is redirected to another webpage for payment, it can be a bit confusing for them. With direct integration, the entire process from purchase to processing payments takes place within your website, so the customer isn’t redirected. The seamless transition to the payment page adds to the user experience and gives the vendor complete authority over the transaction information, from the order details to the customer’s card information.
Direct integration allows you to offer various payment options, and the entire shopping, checkout, and payment process takes place within your website, with no website hops for the customer. With direct integration, you can customize your checkout page and add some branding to it.
Getting started with direct payment gateway integration
Direct integration is a good fit if you own a medium or large-scale business, you’re looking forward to establishing solid branding for your firm, and you have the technical expertise needed to complete the integration.
Once you decide that direct integration is what you want, you should spend some time researching payment gateways. If you sell your products or services on an international level, then go for a payment gateway that will support multi-currency payments.
Make sure you pick a payment gateway that offers technical support via multiple channels (email and phone, for instance) and their working schedules match with yours. It also helps if you can track the status of your support issues and have a good response rate from their support team.
In most cases, the payment gateways will help you by providing the necessary resources and documents needed for the integration. They can also help you customize the checkout page and fulfil other legal requirements. Conveniently for you, payment gateways rarely charge you for the setup process. Instead, you’re charged for each transaction.
Security should be the top priority for any payment gateway. The payment gateway handles encrypting card details, preventing identity theft and fraud, and ensuring complete security throughout the purchase process — a daunting task that needs to be dealt with carefully. Make sure you pick a gateway that’s trusted.
As a merchant, you have security responsibilities as well. You’ll need to obtain a PCI DSS certification before you can collect, store, or process card data on your own systems. Any lapse in security will be solely your responsibility, so it’s important to learn the industry’s security standards and adhere to them.
If you don’t want to obtain a PCI DSS certification, there are payment gateways that tokenize and store customer card details on their own servers. If you offer a recurring product or service, or if you have returning customers, then these gateways allow customers’ card details to be retrieved from the servers using a token and accessed on your website in the customer’s account or profile. If your payment gateway offers tokenization, then you need not obtain the PCI DSS certification.
The bottom line is that if your payment gateway can handle large volumes of transactions, manage chargebacks, prevent identity theft and fraud, and avoid technical glitches, you’re good to go!
What’s my takeaway?
User experience is crucial for any online business, and payment processing and checkout are an important part of that experience. Since direct integration keeps the entire shopping experience within your website, it gives you complete control over the look and feel of the payment process. Picking the right payment gateway and understanding your security responsibilities as a merchant can help you get off to the right start and make direct integration work for your business.