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The Best Online Payment Systems

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of ecommerce with online transactions now accounting for more than 30% of retail sales in 2020 the UK. If you’re looking to capitalise on this growth and start taking payments online for the first time, or you’re looking to improve your existing online payment system, we’ll give a run down of some of the best online payment systems to consider.

What Are Online Payment Systems?

Online payment systems include the elements required to accept online payments for goods and services. An online payment system will usually be made up of a number of 3 main components:

  1. Payment gateway
  2. Payment processor
  3. Merchant bank account

These individual elements can come separately or packaged as a single service so you may not realise you are receiving all three from one company offering an online payment system.

At a very high level, a payment gateway is a form of software that securely transfers information between the card network and the  payment processor.

Businesses will also need aa merchant bank account that allows them to accept credit and debit card payments but this is normally provided by the payment processor.

The right solution for your business will depend on its size, card transaction volume, and a number of other factors. Some specialist providers allow businesses to host their own checkout by using an API (Application Programming Interface) solution, but most SMEs will be better served by an out-of-the-box hosted solution.

How to Set Up a Bespoke Online Payment System

If you don’t want to use one of many 3rd party online payment system providers that will provide the functionality you need out-of-the-box, it is possible to set up your own solution. Doing so is no simple task, but by following these steps you can create a fully bespoke system for your organisation:

  1. Work with industry experts, programmers, and lawyers to plan and create a fully coded, secure, and compliant solution2. Set up a standalone hosting platform, and apply for a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. To do this, you’ll need to set up a server, generate a Certificate Signing Request, and submit it to a certificate authority.
  1. Build the front-end payment page where customers will enter their credit or debit card details.
  1. Work with a payment processor who will process the various payment methods that you wish to accept via your platform.
  1. Open a merchant bank account (if this is not provided by your payment processor), and connect it with your payment page and processor to facilitate online payments.

Online Payment Methods vs Online Payment Systems

Many lists of payment systems can be regarded as a list of options to accept payments online that can be combined into a single online payment system.

For example, eCommerce platforms such as WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to choose from (and even combine) multiple online payment methods including PayPal, Klarna, and Amazon Pay while using a merchant account such as WorldPay, Global Payments, or First Data to process and bank the revenue you generate.

Hosted Online Payment Systems vs Self-Hosted Systems with API

Before deciding which route is best for your business, it’s important to understand the difference between hosted and self-hosted online payment systems.

Hosted online payment systems are easy to set up and manage, since the checkouts and infrastructure are already designed. This means that businesses can use hosted solutions without the need for extensive coding experience. These solutions are offered by eCommerce providers such as Shopify, along with numerous payment processors such as Stripe.

Self-hosted online payment systems may offer more extensive customisation options, but this comes with added complexity. Businesses will need to have some coding capabilities to manage a solution using an API (Application Programming Interface), and this option is arguably more suitable for those with a higher turnover and the need for flexibility. Providers of self-hosted online payment systems include Ayden, Braintree, Stripe, and Checkout.com.

Although you may be left with less control over your payment processing by using these integrated eCommerce payments, they do simplify the entire process. This is why many small businesses choose to work with an eCommerce platform that can provide them with the functionality of an online payment system without the need to create their own infrastructure.

Online Payment System Providers

Online Specialists

Stripe

Online Payment Systems stripe logoStripe is a major international payments platform that has become popular amongst start-ups and growing businesses of all sizes. While it can be complex to set up using its API, Stripe comes with extensive customisation options and can be customised  to meet your business needs.

Transaction fees are  transparent and lower than many of the other providers that publish fees (although still higher than most businesses can get by integrating with their own payment processor / merchant account which we can help with). There are no set-up fees or monthly costs. Businesses should, however, be aware that Stripe applies a reasonably expensive rate to non-European card transactions.

Payment System(s)Online payment gateway and payment processing solution for integration with an existing website or eCommerce platform.
Functionality Offered

Payment Gateway

Virtual Terminal

Invoicing

Recurring Payments

Integration with Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay and more

Speed of PaymentsFunds reach merchant accounts within seven working days.
Integration

Self-hosted with API

Hosted with Stripe Checkout

Prebuilt payment interfaces from Stripe Elements

Fees

No contract or monthly fees

1.4% + 20p charged on European card transactions

2.9% + 20p charged on non-European card transactions

0.5% charged for recurring payments

2% currency conversion charge

Best Suited To

Businesses with strong technical capabilities that require customisation options and flexibility, including:

Marketplace platforms

Membership-based services

SaaS Providers

Ayden

Online Payment Systems adyen logo

Ayden is a well-regarded payment solution provider that’s used by some of the world’s largest brands including Netflix, Uber, and Spotify. It facilitates easy international business payments, but may be a little expensive for businesses with lower transaction volumes.

The all-in-one solution accommodates a huge range of international payment options, and is suitable both for online merchants and those with a bricks-and-mortar presence.

Payment System(s)Online payment gateway and payment processing solution for integration with an existing website or eCommerce platform.
Functionality Offered

Payment Gateway

Virtual Terminal

Invoicing

Recurring Payments

Integration with Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay and more

Speed of PaymentsFunds reach merchant accounts within seven working days.
Integration

Self-hosted with API

Hosted with Stripe Checkout

Prebuilt payment interfaces from Stripe Elements

Fees

No contract or monthly fees

1.4% + 20p charged on European card transactions

2.9% + 20p charged on non-European card transactions

0.5% charged for recurring payments

2% currency conversion charge

Best Suited To

Businesses with strong technical capabilities that require customisation options and flexibility, including:

–    Marketplace platforms

–    Membership-based services

–    SaaS Providers

Trustpayments.com

 

Online Payment Systems trustpaymentsTrustpayments.com offers a wide range of payment solutions, including a payment gateway and a number of support tools for eCommerce businesses. While the pricing structure can be difficult to make sense of without consulting with their team, the fintech firm provides an all-in-one payment gateway and processing solution that is geared towards merchants who need customisation and integration options.

Payment System(s)Integrated system for online, in-app, point of sale (POS) and in-store payments.
Functionality Offered

Rapid and secure ePOS solution

Payment tracking

International payment capabilities with processing of over 100 currencies

Shopping cart integration for Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and more

Speed of PaymentsThree to five business days depending on merchant services provider. Faster settlement times available dependent on merchant services account and package.
Integration

Integrated service through TRU Connect SME

Self-hosted API available

FeesBespoke pricing on application.
Best Suited ToSMEs that want to add a customisable e-payment capability to their online commerce site.

Checkout.com

checkout.com logoCheckout.com is a global fintech firm that offers a single API that can be developed to provide one united payment gateway and processing solution. Processing over 150 currencies with domestic coverage in more than 45 countries, merchants benefit from detailed data analysis, advanced anti-fraud tools, and the ability to cope with high transaction volumes.

Although Checkout.com does offer a highly competitive service, reviews indicate that the provider may be less willing to work with smaller businesses than some competitors. Its service may therefore be more suitable for larger merchants with higher monthly revenue figures.

Payment System(s)

A unified payments platform, with an eCommerce plugin that works with Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify and more.

Functionality Offered

Payment Gateway

Full PCI compliance

Accepts multiple international currencies.

Advanced fraud protection

Capable of integration with Shopify, Bigcommerce, and other eCommerce platforms

Speed of Payments

30 minutes using Fast Funds, or up to 48 hours otherwise.

Integration

Self-hosted API available for a unified platform.

Fees

Bespoke pricing on application.

Best Suited To

Larger businesses requiring support with a high volume of transactions and a customisable payment solution.

PayPal Commerce Platform

PayPalOnline Payment Systems paypal 784404 960 720 is the first name that comes to mind for most of us when we think about online payments and this counts for your customers, too. It’s probably the easiest way for merchants to start accepting online payments quickly – although there are a few compromises.

Notably, PayPal is not the cheapest payment gateway and processing option, and becomes more economical for businesses that are dealing with high revenues and transaction volumes.

Payment System(s)

A fully customisable system that accepts major credit and debit cards, along with PayPal and PayPal Credit.

Functionality Offered

Payment gateway

Payment links

Buy buttons

Virtual terminal

Invoicing

Speed of Payments

Immediately to online accounts

Up to two working days for manual transfers

Integration

Fully integrated payment solution

API available for broad customisation options

Fees

No contract or monthly fees

2.9% + 30 pence fee for UK card transactions

0.5% – 2% cross-border fee + 2.5% currency conversion fee for non-UK card transactions

Best Suited To

Sophisticated businesses that need near-universal payment system integration and high-volume capabilities.

Full-Service Payment Processors

Worldpay

Online Payment Systems worldpay logo smallWorldpay is a well-regarded online payments provider that processes over a third of UK card payments. Plans are created on an individual basis and account for your sales volume, business sector, and the specifics of the online system you require.

With virtual terminals, Pay by Link, and a variety of other payment solutions on offer, Worldpay can provide a comprehensive package to suit almost any commercial requirements.

 Worldpay
Payment System(s)Online payment gateway that connects with multiple eCommerce platforms. A variety of business tools come at no extra charge.
Functionality Offered

Payment gateway

Payment links

Virtual terminal

Recurring payments

Speed of PaymentsOne to three working days.
Integration

Integrated service

Self-hosted API available

Fees

30-day rolling contract, or custom agreement

Bespoke pricing on application

Best Suited ToBusinesses that need a robust and comprehensive payment solution and customisation options

Opayo

opayo payment gatewayPreviously known as Sage Pay, Opayo is an established market player that offers a complete payment solution for online businesses. Merchants can rely on fast remittance times, transparent fees, and a number of business support features including payroll and accounting functionalities.

Payment System(s)Complete payment service provision including online payment gateway, processing, and additional business tools.
Functionality Offered

Payment gateway

Payment links

Virtual terminal

Recurring payments

Speed of PaymentsTwo working days or less.
Integration

Integrated service

Self-hosted API available

FeesBespoke pricing on application.
Best Suited ToBusinesses that require a single, cohesive payment solution that unites online and in-store channels.

Square

Online Payment Systems square logo 195Square is a ready-to-use payment platform that offers reasonable rates with a full range of free online payment tools. With no contract or monthly fees, Square is ideal for businesses that process a limited number of transactions each month.

The platform handles all payment processing and a simple set-up process, along with rapid transfer speeds.

Payment System(s)Online payment gateway that stacks with free eCommerce and business features. 
Functionality Offered

Payment gateway

Virtual Terminal

Invoicing

Recurring payments

Payment links and buy buttons

Click & collect

Speed of PaymentsFunds reach merchant accounts within one to two working days, or immediately with Instant Transfer enabled (1% extra fee applied).
Integration Integrated with Square selling tools, with APIs available to connect with external eCommerce platforms.
Fees

No contract or monthly fees except for online store plans

1.9% charged on European card transactions

2.9% charged on non-European card transactions

2.5% charged for virtual terminal transactions and invoices

2% currency conversion charge

Best Suited ToSmall businesses with low card transaction volumes online or in-store.

eCommerce Platform Providers

 

Shopify

ShopifyOnline Payment Systems Shopify POS offers a comprehensive eCommerce platform, allowing businesses to create their own websites and choose from thousands of integrated apps and plugins. The Shopify payment gateway is easy to set-up, and allows for integration with over 100 other independent payment gateways.

It’s arguably the simplest and most widely known all-in-one eCommerce solution that allows you to create a store, sell your products, and accept payments – all from the same software platform.

Payment System(s)Integrated eCommerce payment gateway.
Functionality Offered

Ready-to-use payment gateway

Website builder

Inventory management

Data insights

Shopify mobile app

Abandoned shopping cart recovery and conversion

Speed of PaymentsPayments for UK-based stores reach accounts within three working days.
Integration (Hosted or Self-Hosted with API)Integrated, with the option to use over 100 independent payment gateways.
Fees

Monthly cost based on store plan:

Basic Shopify – $29 per month, with 2.2% + 20 pence fee for card transactions and 2.0% fee for use of other payment providers.

Shopify – $79 per month, with 1.9% + 20 pence fee for card transactions.

Advanced Shopify – $299 per month, with 1.6% + 20 pence fee for card transactions.

Monthly charges are made in USD for UK customers so GBP amounts will change with FX rate.  

Best Suited ToOnline businesses that need the full eCommerce package, and those who do not already have an existing website.

BigCommerce

BigCommerceOnline Payment Systems BigCommerce logo dark is a highly customisable eCommerce platform that enables users to create online stores and scale them rapidly. Unlike some other eCommerce providers, BigCommerce does not handle payment services themselves, and instead facilitates full integration with a wide range of online payment systems.

Payment System(s)eCommerce site builder that accepts payment gateway integration from numerous payment solutions providers.
Functionality OfferedIntegration for a huge variety of payment gateways including 2Checkout, Ayden, Amazon Pay, Klarna Payments, and PayPal.
Speed of PaymentsDependent on chosen online payment gateway provider.
Integrationn/a
Fees

Essentials (Hosted) Packages:

Standard: $29.95 

Plus: $79.95

Pro: $299.95

They offer optional partnerships with Braintree (1.55% – 1.85% + 18p per transaction depending on package) and Barclaycard (1.75% + 15p per transaction). It may be cheaper to integrate with your own payment processor / merchant account.  

Best Suited ToBusinesses that want to create an attractive and feature-rich online storefront, with separate provision for a payment gateway.

 

WooCommerce

Online Payment Systems woocommerce logoWooCommerce is an intuitive and highly customisable eCommerce site builder that allows users to create an attractive website and choose from over 100 payment gateway providers. With their own WooCommerce Payments option, it’s easy for businesses to set up and start taking payments – although the set-up, design, and development of a WooCommerce eCommerce store can present a steep learning curve.

Payment System(s)eCommerce site builder that accepts payment gateway integration from numerous payment solutions providers.
Functionality Offered

Full-service eCommerce site builder with own brand payment processing functionality

Wide variety of online storefront management tools

Payment processing for over 100 international currencies

Speed of PaymentsDependent on chosen online payment gateway provider.
Integration Fully integrated plugins from over 100 payment gateway providers.
Fees

No set-up costs or monthly fees

Costs dependent on chosen payment gateway provider

Best Suited ToMerchants with design and development capabilities that require extensive control over their online store.

Magento

Online Payment Systems magento logoMagento is a well-regarded self-hosted eCommerce platform that’s recommended to larger retailers who need extensive customisation options. It’s a powerful system but can be difficult to use without the assistance of an experienced design and development team.

Payment System(s)Ecommerce platform built on open source technology which provides online merchants with a flexible shopping cart system.
Functionality OfferedIntegration for a wide variety of payment gateways including PayPal, Braintree, and dozens of others using extensions available through its marketplace.
Speed of PaymentsDependent on chosen online payment gateway provider.
Integration 

Dependent on chosen online payment gateway provider

Self-Hosted with API recommended by Magento

FeesDependent on chosen online payment gateway provider.
Best Suited ToLarger businesses with high revenues that require full control of the customisation of their eCommerce site.

 

International Focus

2Checkout

Online Payment Systems 2checkout2Checkout is one of the biggest names in online payment processing, and has a strong track record for providing stellar support for international payments. While the company’s rates may be higher than some providers, they do offer a transparent service that’s easy to set up and use.

As one of the original companies to offer online payment processing, 2Checkout provide a user-friendly service – but it’s worth keeping in mind that the market has expanded significantly since they first started, and other options are available.

Payment System(s)Online payment gateway and payment processing.
Functionality Offered

Payment Gateway

Full PCI compliance

Accepts 87 currencies in 15 different languages

Advanced fraud protection

Easy integration with Shopify, Bigcommerce, and other eCommerce platforms

Recurring payments

Speed of Payments

Two to five business days using wire transfer

Instant checkout to PayPal

One business day for pre-paid 2Checkout MasterCards

Integration (Hosted or Self-Hosted with API)

Integrated service

Self-hosted API available

Fees

No set-up or ongoing monthly charge

2Sell Package for global eCommerce – 3.5% + 0.25p per transaction

2Subscribe Package for recurring payments – 4.5% + 0.35 pence per transaction

2Monetize Package for sale of digital goods – 6.0% + 0.45 pence per transaction

Best Suited ToSMEs that require international payment support and are not concerned about spending more on transaction fees.

Authorize.net

Online Payment Systems authorize.net logoAuthorize.net is one of the oldest names in online payments and still one of the favourite choices for online retailers around the world. Its key selling point is its robust international payments functionality and this makes it another option for retailers selling to multiple countries.

In terms of features and pricing, there isn’t much to complain about but Authorize.net has a mixed bag of reviews from existing and previous customers. The platform is, however, one of the few that can deal with a high volume of overseas transactions.

Payment System(s)Integrated payment processing via website, mobile app, or manual transaction. API available via developer centre for full customisation.
Functionality Offered

Payment gateway functionality

Capable of handling high volumes of overseas transactions

Support for a wide variety of global currencies

Advanced fraud detection

Extensive API customisation options

Integrates with a huge range of eCommerce platforms

Speed of PaymentsThree to five business days depending on merchant services provider.
Integration

Integrated service

Self-hosted API available

Fees

No set-up fees

Monthly gateway charge of $25 USD

Transaction fees of 2.9% + 0.3 USD per transaction for all-in-one option, or $0.1 per transaction + $0.1daily batch fee for payment gateway only

Best Suited ToBusinesses that need international payment support for high volumes of overseas transactions.

Choose the Right Online Payment Provider for You

Which online payment system is right for your business will depend on a variety of factors including costs, transaction volume, and the products and customers that you deal with.

An integrated solution will suit the vast majority of SMEs, but businesses that require further customisation options may benefit from a self-hosted online payment system developed using an API.

It is often best to avoid online payment systems offered by merchant acquirers like Worldpay, Opayo etc as they don’t have the tech skills to produce the quality of online payment systems provided by the specialists.

Their merchant accounts may well be worth considering due to their fees but we’d advise avoiding using their default online payment systems and just integrate with one of the systems above or another payment gateway.

If you fill in our short form we can help you, find the most suitable online payment system for your business and save you a significant amount in transaction fees.

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