After the paperwork hassle, you’ve finally done it. Agreements are in place, the business plan is rocking, financial projections look optimistic. Your online business is all set up for launch. But are you ready to welcome your customers with a smooth payment experience?
Whether you’re a webshop, a gaming merchant or a business that requires pay-as-you-go or subscription-based payments, accepting card payments online from customers is sort of a given in the Internet of Things marketplace.
You do some research online and stumble across some concepts: online payment gateway, merchant account, acquiring banks, card schemes, chargebacks and disputes, payment facilitators. It gets a bit messy and confusing.
As a merchant, you need to take an informed decision. The choice of a payment provider can make or break a startup. High monthly administration costs, high processing commissions, costly chargeback fees and even account setup costs or reserves deposits to cover risk are quite frequent. Startups cannot provide a transaction history. This is fundamental for payment gateways to calculate the commission rate and the potential reserves amount based on previous approval ratios for transactions, chargeback and fraud rates. Without this document, a startup will have to provide financial projections that enables the provider to do an estimate of your business and hence provide you with the pricing.
Even if you are high a risk business, you may still be accepted by your payment processor of choice, if you provide information that can warrant for the legitimacy of your business: licence, proper documentation, a clear business model.
You know you want to accept credit cards on your website.But are there also some very popular alternative payment methods in the geographical regions you are targeting? Like e-wallets, checks, bank transfers? Then you should probably make sure your online payment processor can help you integrate those as well. Mind that the payment experience on your website is crucial for acquiring market share- if you cannot provide your customers with convenience, they will not go out of their way just to buy from you. Do you research long and in advance!
Use comparison sites for online payment gateways.
These websites enable you to look at multiple payment providers at the same time and even ask for a customized offer from several online payment gateways. Such an aggregator site is About-Payments.com.
Look not only at commissions, but at all rates and management costs for your merchant account.
So you know that X company takes 2.9% commission per transaction. And Y company has the same commission. Or slightly more. But what about the other commissions that a payment gateway charges for? Have you inquired over the setup costs? As a startup, you may want to find a payment processor who won’t charge you for the setup. Is there a monthly fee for administration or maybe a minimum monthly fee that you are charged regardless of your volume?
Do you have the technical resources to integrate the API? Well, you might want a company that makes it plain easy to integrate it yourself unless you want to pay your developers to do so. Are you PCI compliant? The PCI DSS regulations are set by credit cards companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) and must be complied with by any business before authorizing them to accept credit card payments online.
Getting a PCI certificate is a long and costly process. The right online payment gateway can provide you with a solution such as hosted page, which allows you to take card payments via the payment gateway’s payment page without having to obtain your own PCI certificate. More cost-convenient, right?
Do some online research regarding customer feedback.
Even so, cost is not everything. There are some giant payment companies with a surprisingly low score from their clients. Some payment processors may be overwhelmed by the number of merchant accounts or may simply disregard some of them- especially the low volume merchants- because of their low profit potential. In the meantime, you cannot afford to wait around for answers while your payment system is down, your merchant account is temporarily blocked or your settlements are on the queue while providers send you their monthly bills.
As a startup, it might be best to team up with another startup- one who has the interest, the time and the dedication to support you throughout the application and further.