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Compare payment processors and secure the lowest payment processing fees for your business


How to Accept Payments Online

eCommerce and internet-based businesses are booming, with an estimated 4 trillion spent on retail ecommerce in 2020 representing a 27.6% annual growth rate.The methods you use to accept payments online will depend on whether you want to:

  •   Accept online credit and debit card payments
  •   Take recurring payments 
  •   Use online invoice payments
  •   Accept cryptocurrency payments

In this guide, we explain how you can set up your business to accept a variety of payment methods online.

How to Take Debit and Credit Card Payments Online

If you want to take card payments online, you have a few options. These include setting up online payment capabilities yourself with a payment gateway and merchant account, or using an eCommerce platform.

1. Use a Payment Gateway and Merchant Account

To set up your own website to take card payments, you’ll need to use a merchant account and a payment gateway.

Using a Payment Gateway

Payment gateways connect your website with a payment processor (in a similar way to the card machines used by physical shops). They allow customers to enter their credit or debit card information, and then confirm whether the charge is approved by the cardholder’s bank.

Payment gateway providers include:

  •   Braintree
  •   Opayo (formerly Sage Pay)
  •   PaymentExpress
  •   TrustCommerce

Payment gateways usually come with a monthly fee along with a per-transaction fee that is often represented as a percentage value of each sale completed using the gateway.

Opening a Merchant Account

Merchant accounts are bank accounts that allow you to accept credit and debit card payments. They are a temporary holding space for money until it can be moved to your general business bank account. Most business banks offer these accounts, although you aren’t restricted to your existing banking provider and will often get better terms from independent sales organisations (ISOs) or full service payment provider covered below.

The company you select will determine transaction fees, monthly minimum fees, authorisation fees, and several other card processing fees we cover here. 

Use a Full-Service Payment Provider

Some specialist payment providers offer a packaged service that incorporates both a payment gateway and a merchant account. The companies that offer a combined payment gateway and merchant account service include:

  •   Stripe
  •   Braintree
  •   PayPal
  •   Ayden

A number of larger full-service payment providers also offer a combined service with both an online payment system and a merchant account. Some of these providers are known as Independent Service Organisations (ISOs), and work with banks to provide businesses with a complete merchant services package. Examples include:

  •   Worldpay
  •   Opayo

Using can full-service payment provider can simplify the process of accepting online credit and debit card payments. You won’t usually need to handle any financial data from your customers, and may be able to access other payment features such as a virtual terminal or the ability to accept payments over the phone.

It’s often more complicated to set up your own separate payment gateway and merchant account, but doing so can provide greater customisation options provided that you have the right technical capabilities.

2. Use an eCommerce Platform

eCommerce platforms offer an easy all-in-one approach to building and managing an online store. These providers not only allow you to create an online shopfront, but also integrate with many leading payment gateways. This means they provide a seamless way to accept card payments online.

Some of the most popular eCommerce platforms include:

  •   Shopify
  •   BigCommerce
  •   WooCommerce
  •   Big Cartel
  •   Magento

Once you’ve set up a digital store, you can take payments online either by using your platform’s preferred payment processing solution, or by integrating your own merchant account.

3. Embed Buy Links or Buttons

You can also embed buy links or buttons on your website for a simple and convenient way to take online payments. ‘Buy now’ buttons are a click-to-purchase solution that will allow you to include a product picture, description, and price for items on your blog or website. When users click these buttons, they are directed towards an online payment system.

Merchant services providers that offer buy links and buttons include:

  •   Square
  •   Ayden
  •   PayPal

4. Use Online Invoice Payments

The process involves sending digital invoices to customers via email that links out to a payment gateway and saves the hassle of waiting for bank transfers or cheques to be sent.

Online invoicing providers include:

  •   Xero
  •   Zoho Invoices
  •   TimeSolv

5. Integrate Mobile Wallet Payments

Mobile wallets are apps that store banking details on your smartphone. Customers can use these to make fast and convenient payments online, provided that your online store is set up to accept them.

There are a number of major mobile wallet payment providers, including:

  •   Apply Pay
  •   Amazon Pay
  •   Samsung Pay
  •   Google Pay
  •   AliPay
  •   WeChat Pay

It’s worth keeping in mind that some mobile wallet apps are specific to certain smartphones made by certain brands. Unless your business only caters to either iPhone or Android users, you may wish to explore multiple options to ensure that customers can pay regardless of the smartphone they use.

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