Image credit: The Small Business Journal

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business

The pennies you save on transaction costs can add up to massive savings when scaled across your operation. Let's increase your profitability with our pick for the best payment gateways which fit perfectly with small business.
By Kaley Nguyen | EnvZone Staff
on September 03, 2019 | 12 min read
Image credit: The Small Business Journal

In this digital era, payment gateway is no longer a new term for modern entrepreneurs - it hands down one of the most important technologies ever created. These payment solutions are, indeed, essential gateways to a vast array of benefits and convenience that had changed and are continuing to alter the face of finance and business world. 

Acknowledging their significance, more and more payment gateways emerge in the market - they all seem to be doing more or less the same thing, and they all have both glowing testimonials and terrible complaints.  Then, questions arise: How are you supposed to choose the best payment gateway for my small business under these circumstances? Who can you trust?

The decision of whom to entrust your sensitive payment information is always a tough one. But don’t panic! We’re here with top 4 payment gateway providers which will likely do wonders for your small business.

Before diving into the specific ones, let's go through some basic concepts.

Payment Gateway

We may have heard a lot about payment gateways as well as its major benefits, but what is exactly payment gateway and how does it work?

A payment gateway refers to the front-end technology that reads payment cards and sends customer information to the merchant acquiring bank for processing. It authorizes credit card payments in order to support point-of-sale systems. Such a gateway can be situated in an entirely digital atmosphere, where credit card information is routed in from a shopping cart Web page, or from in-store tablet systems, other physical point-of-sale systems in brick-and-mortar retail locations or even temporary sales locations. To be more specific, a payment gateway is great for any e-commerce store, but it also could be used in an event such as a concert, where tickets and concessions are purchased outdoors away from point-of-sale infrastructure. Data goes to the payment gateway, and credit card information is encrypted for delivery. Plus, payment gateways can empower us to verify payments at the bank.

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business - Fig 1
Image credit: Prime Vision

In fact, payment gateway services may be subscription-based, or they may charge fees for each transaction. They enable merchants to more effectively serve customers by providing a middleman service for the financial information which is extremely sensitive and important to protect during these transactions.

Best Payment Gateways For Small Business

Now we’ve figured out the fundamentals of this marvelous payment service, it’s time to move on our pick for top 4 payment gateways among which you could land a seamless match for your small business.

#1 PayPal Payments Pro

Before going into great detail about PayPal Payments Pro, it’s important to first have a look at PayPal and all of its payment plans.

PayPal is always among the top payment gateway choices for small businesses because all of its payment gateway plans seamlessly fit any online selling need. It is notable that accepting PayPal drives a staggeringly 44% higher conversion rate over stores that don’t accept PayPal, based on Nielsen's Online Buyer Insights. In addition to the universal name recognition and positive reputation among buyers, it’s pretty hard to find another payment gateway that possibly tops PayPal when comparing online payment gateways.

PayPal is best known for its three all-in-one payment services: Payments Standard, Payments Advanced, and Payments Pro. Each conveniently rolls credit card processing and a payment gateway into one complete service and charges a competitive rate (at 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction). Through these plans, PayPal delivers a range of all-in-one services tailored to fit the needs of startups and large sellers alike. Along with its all-in-one plans, PayPal also offers two traditional payment gateway plans called PayFlow Link and PayFlow Pro. Each PayFlow plan provides your payment gateway, but lets you use a third-party merchant services provider for credit card processing. And somehow third-party merchant services can offer lower processing rates than PayPal’s all-in-one plans.

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Image credit: Internet Retailing

Now you must have gained some understanding over PayPal, it’s high time that we went through one ideal payment plan – PayPal Payments Pro.

Payments Pro is PayPal’s ultimately successful attempt to introduce a payment processing service for eCommerce users that don’t necessarily have a PayPal account. It is fully devoted to streamlining business transactions, and backed by today’s strongest and best-reputed payment gateway.

Besides, the end-to-end platform supports credit cards (Visa, Master, Discover, American Express), as well as PayPal and PayPal credit payments. Just like other PayPal’s plan, Payment Pro relies on an open API infrastructure to relate easily to any shopping cart or marketplace solution. Plus, it allows phone-based credit card payments and gives users a handy invoicing kit to charge consumers right away. At the same time, this payment plan is flexible enough to be used by small businesses and market leaders, with nearly 200 million customer accounts. Another noteworthy point is that Payments Pro is proven a role-model of the secure checkout. As you’re transmitting money from your local or mobile device, Payments Pro offers you a variety of options to simplify PCI compliance (PCI stands for Payment Card Industry), and adheres to all leading encryption standards to keep payment credentials well-guarded. Regarded as the most international payment gateway, PayPal in general, or Payments Pro in particular, accepts 26 leading currencies, and it is available to use on over 200 markets.

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business - Fig 3
Courtesy: PayPal

Key USPs (Unique Selling Point):

  • A PayPal solution that doesn’t require a PayPal account 

PayPal Payments Pro was developed to support eCommerce users, and allow them to accept credit card and debit card payments and rewards from users without a PayPal account.

  • Custom checkout

As an enterprise-grade platform, PayPal Payments Pro lets the business users customize checkout based on their specific needs, and pleases them with positive checkout experience. For instance, you can integrate all the layout or key visuals that match your business’s theme and brand.

  • Fast mobile payments

With PayPal Payments Pro, receiving money is not limited to office desks and computers. You can easily turn your mobile devices into moneymaking machines, without undergoing complex logging procedures, and sending recurrent invoices.

  • Access to your money within minutes

Once a payment is sent and processes, PayPal Payments Pro takes literally minutes to make it available to you. As usual, you are offered two main options: to keep money on your PayPal account or transfer them to your credit card.

  • Truly integrated payment gateway

PayPal Payments Pro works seamlessly with all leading eCommerce solutions, CRM and sales management tools, and best accounting systems. Plus, it connects to all major shopping carts in the market right off the bat so you can enjoy payment transfer at your ease.

#2 Stripe

When it comes to worry-free checkout security, Stripe should always turn out to be your very first choice. Stripe is an online payment platform that was developed by industry experts who have established partnerships with the wider payments industry: from expected partners— local banks, major card networks, the PCI Council—to the unexpected—the W3C, internet browser providers, and industry associations.

It is highly developer-centric, allowing you to rapidly build production-ready integrations with modern tools, from React components to real-time webhooks. With this in mind, using Stripe’s developer platform means less maintenance for legacy systems and thus, more focus on core customer and product experiences.

Speaking of checkout security, different from their payment gateways, Stripe doesn’t leave checkout security to you; rather, it shoulders that responsibility. In fact, Stripe always hosts the payment portion of the checkout themselves. By this way, payment information is entered directly into Stripe’s secure server and never touches your store’s data.

Together with being top in security, Stripe offers a surprising number of handy features. Besides accepting several currencies, such a payment gateway supports several digital wallets and even Bitcoin. Plus, compared to other available payment services, Stripe has the simplest pricing structure, in which it charges a flat-rate of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction for all of its services. No monthly fees, no add-ons for recurring payments or declined charges!

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business - Fig 4
Courtesy: Stripe

At the same time, it processes charges and displays prices in a customer’s preferred currency to improve sales and help customers avoid conversion costs. The hassle-free all-in-one simplicity of Stripe is exactly what several small businesses need. Actually, Stripe plugs-and-plays with over 51 top e-commerce shopping carts, so it likely works perfectly with yours.

Key USPs:

  • Secure payment processing 

When it comes to revenue optimization, Stripe optimizes routing paths through direct integrations with card networks like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Not only does this pre-processing layer reduce transaction latency but it also improves success rates. Besides, it adds an additional layer of authentication to avoid fraud risks and chargebacks. Dispute handling is automated as well to efficiently submit evidence in case of conflicts.

  • Multiple payment options

Stripe offers a wide array of payment options; thus, you can easily support the payment gateway preferred by your customer. Digital wallets such as Alipay, Amex Express Checkout, and Apple Pay are available for customers who want a convenient way to pay without sharing their card information.

  • Optimized reports and insights 

Stripe enables you to gain access to several optimized reports and business insights. Financial reporting, consolidated reports, and automated accounting support accelerate and streamline reconciliation of transactions. This gives you charge, fee, transfer, and refund information in real time through Stripe’s API and Dashboard. Once a transaction is settled, these also expedite and simplify how you get paid from unified payouts.

  • Customized checkout experience

The UI (User Interface) toolkit gives you elements from Stripe’s own collective experience for front-end, design, and analytics that you can use to build and customize your own payment forms. Also, you can easily embed checkout on your site using only a single line of JavaScript.

#3 Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net has been around since the early days of e-commerce. Being one of the pioneer performers in this industry, Authorize.Net has earned the trust of several small and medium businesses by providing them with an affordable and secure payment solution, delivered as a package which includes a free mobile POS app, a free website payment seal, and a free kit of fraud prevention tools.

In classic gateway functionality, Authorize.Net is quite similar to PayPal’s traditional gateway options. Each is the middleman between your site’s checkout and your payment processor. But there’s one major difference: ease of getting started. How? Authorize.Net readily works with just about every processor, plus provides you an extensive partner list. Thus, you don’t have to hunt down your own payments processor by yourself.

What you will also appreciate about this payment platform is the 24/7 free support provided by knowledgeable professionals. Plus, they will lend you a helping hand when it comes to building custom connections. On their website, you will also find a diverse array of tutorials and training materials, so that you can optimize the potential of the platform.

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business - Fig 5
Courtesy: Authorize.Net

Another striking fact is that Authorize.Net has recently joined the all-in-one bandwagon and now offers a quick-start, flat-rate payment solution comparable to Stripe or PayPal. However, one disadavantage of Authorize.Net is that it tacks on monthly fees, a setup fee, and doesn’t readily handle end-to-end security like the others.  

Key USPs:

  • Robust online payment system 

Authorize.Net’s online payment system accepts credit cards and electronic checks from websites and deposit funds automatically into your merchant bank account, saving time and money for small- to medium-sized businesses.

  • Virtual point of sale system (VPOS)

In a retail setting, Authorize.Net can be utilized as a personalized VPOS. In case you already have a good POS in place, this platform will be easy to integrate with it.

  • A virtual terminal for manual transactions.

This payment gateway has a virtual terminal that allows users who take mail and phone orders from their customers to submit transactions manually. Mobile transactions are also accepted via its free mobile app or a third-party solution that would accept credit card payments securely over a mobile device.

  • Check payments

As regards check payments, Authorize.Net offers an exclusive, fully integrated electronic check payment method that accepts and processes payments from bank accounts directly through the user’s website or the Authorize.Net Virtual Terminal. 

  • Customer Information Manager (CIM)

The platform’s CIM enables users to tokenize and store their customers’ sensitive payment information on Authorize.Net’s secure servers, simplifying the PCI DSS compliance as well as the payments process for returning customers and recurring transactions.

#4 Amazon Pay

With well-established credibility, Amazon offers a secure and streamlined payment service for its client - Amazon Pay. The service is available to both merchants and shoppers to facilitate their online purchases, as it works with the information you've already inserted in your Amazon account to complete check-ins and check-outs.

Simplicity and convenience when adapting this payment gateway are big reasons to choose it. With just a single login, the customer is immediately identified and enabled to complete a transaction - this great feature is also available on mobile devices.  Amazon's A-to-Z Guarantee makes these transactions 100% secure and especially charges no additional fees to do so. As it is with most payment gateways, clients are only charged a fixed percentage of the amount they are transferring.

Within their Amazon Pay package, you are going to find a fully-featured eCommerce suite that will empower you to promote, sell, and manage products and orders. In such a way, Amazon Pay optimizes their marketplace activities and converts them into reliable vendors with a great reputation. To help reach out to international audiences, Amazon Pay operates in several different languages and supports all leading currencies.

Top 4 Payment Gateways Best-Suited For Small Business - Fig 6
Courtesy: Amazon Pay

Key USPs:

  • Streamlined purchasing process

Amazon Pay enables users to easily access their information from the merchant’s site, thus streamlining the purchasing process as they no longer have to enter their personal information such as name, shipping address, and credit card details among others.

  • A-Z guarantee and Protection plan

Amazon is known for implementing very strict protocols when it comes to information security.  Its system boasts of a vaunted security setup that also includes fraud detection and merchant protection.

  • Retail-first

Amazon Pay is designed specifically for online retailers and sellers who want to deliver a smooth shopping experience for their buyers. The package is loaded with tools and features that are built to attract new customers and turn them into repeat shoppers, streamline their shopping process, and improve customer loyalty via customizable recurring payments among others.

  • Transaction-based fees

With Amazon Pay, there are no monthly subscriptions and licenses to worry about. All fees are transaction-based and have a processing and authorization component. The transaction fee is composed of a domestic processing fee of 2.9% and an authorization fee of $0.30, plus tax charged when the purchase is successfully authorized and processed.

  • Improved conversion rates

Shopping is simplified both on local and mobile devices, making it easy to browse through shopping sites, pick what you want, and pay without having to go through the hassles of carts and checkouts. Better customer experiences will result in less cart abandonment – and then boosted conversion rate of your business.

The Bottom Lines:

Almost all small entrepreneurs are busy people, and any hiccup in a key task, such as receiving and processing online payments, can stop the workday in its tracks. Thus, adopting a reliable payment gateway that connects seamlessly with your cart checkout is more than essential to keep your workflow running smoothly. 

Besides choosing a smart payment gateway, keeping your business image visible online is also crucial to the success of your small business. Should you need any help with a dedicated team to get your business well exposed to the digital world, don’t hesitate to get an online presence manager.

This article is also credited to Krista Fabregas and Jenny Chang.

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