Explore the top payment gateways and compare online payment systems. Find the best fit for your business in our comprehensive guide.
Selecting the right payment processor is of paramount importance for businesses as it directly impacts financial stability, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency. A well-suited payment processor can offer competitive rates, transparent fee structures, and dependable customer service, all of which contribute to cost management and positive cash flow.
Choosing a processor with features tailored to your business's specific needs, such as in-store or online capabilities, enhances the overall customer experience and increases sales. Considering factors like industry compatibility, transaction volume, and size ensures seamless payment processing that aligns with a business's unique requirements.
Ultimately, the right payment processor can foster trust with customers, streamline financial operations, and drive growth, making it a critical decision for any business.
Front-end payment processors, often referred to as payment gateways, are essential components in the payment processing ecosystem. They serve as the initial point of contact for online or in-person payment transactions, acting as intermediaries between the merchant's point of sale or e-commerce website and the financial institutions that handle fund transfers.
Their primary functions include securely capturing payment data from customers, encrypting it to ensure data security, obtaining transaction authorization, and routing the payment request to the appropriate payment networks or banks.
Front-end processors play a crucial role in enabling businesses to accept various payment methods, such as credit and debit cards, ensuring the transaction's security and compliance with payment industry standards, and enhancing the overall customer experience by facilitating swift and hassle-free payments.
Back-end payment processors, also known as back-end processors, are integral components of the payment processing infrastructure, working behind the scenes to manage the complex, behind-the-scenes aspects of financial transactions.
These processors are responsible for the settlement of funds, reconciliation, and the transfer of money between various financial institutions, including banks and payment networks. They ensure that the funds collected from front-end payment processors and multiple transactions are appropriately distributed to the correct accounts and merchants, handling tasks like batch processing, transaction clearing, and reporting.
Back-end payment processors play a vital role in the overall integrity and efficiency of the payment processing system, ensuring that payments are settled accurately and in compliance with industry regulations, which is essential for businesses and financial institutions to manage their finances and maintain a smooth payment infrastructure.
Choosing the right payment processor is critical to the success of your business. It’s important to review the key considerations that can help you make an informed choice, ensuring that your payment processing solution aligns with the unique needs and objectives of your business.
Pricing is important, but comparing the pricing of different payment processors can be tricky. There are different pricing models and additional fees (such as payment markup) to consider, and the format in which they are presented can make it difficult to compare them accurately.
It’s important to ensure that the payment processor you choose is compatible with as many operating systems as possible, as you will never know which operating system or device your customer is using.
Ease of integration is key! The smoother the integration process, the quicker your payment acceptance can get up and running. Seamless integration reduces the likelihood of payment processing complications, which can cause payment delays and create friction with your customers.
The payment methods your company should support are often influenced by the specific market in which you operate. Different regions and even demographic groups within the same international markets may prioritise various payment platforms or methods.
It's essential to select a payment processor capable of accommodating the range of payment methods your customers may prefer, including mobile payments, bank transfers, digital wallets, online banking and more.
Next in line for consideration is the encryption standard, something that cannot be overstated. Given that a Payment Gateway is entrusted with customers' financial information, a single breach in security could wreak havoc on their financial well-being and severely tarnish your company's reputation. It's imperative to know that the payment gateway you opt for uses exceptionally robust encryption protocols.
Alongside encryption standards, fraud detection is critical. It’s beneficial for both your customers and business to ensure that your chosen payment processor offers excellent fraud detection capabilities.
The last thing you want to have to deal with if issues arise with your payment offering is poor customer service. You just want to get things sorted, and quickly, so ensuring that you get quick, expert support is key.
It’s crucial to ensure that your payment processing service offers reporting features which allow you to thoroughly examine and gain a good understanding of your received payments by reviewing transaction activities.
Another valuable attribute to consider is the inclusion of a built-in billing feature, which can significantly benefit your business as it simplifies the entire payment process and eliminates the need to rely on third-party services.
It’s a common misconception that all payment processors are identical or that their offers are universally interchangeable. Simply going for the lowest offer is not the right approach when selecting a payment processor.
In order to find the ideal processor for your business there’ll need to be a thorough vetting process. You're not merely seeking a payment processor; you're in search of a business partner who will safeguard your most valuable asset: your revenue.
Trust should be the cornerstone of your relationship. Even in a relationship built on trust and respect, it's essential to negotiate a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA), secure the necessary scalability for potential international expansion, and obtain a cost-effective arrangement.
We have chosen the leading payment processing companies by carefully evaluating several crucial criteria, such as competitive rates, transparency, excellent customer support, valuable features, widespread availability, and global presence. The ideal option for your small business will vary depending on your specific industry, typical sales volumes, transaction amounts, and whether you prioritize in-person or online sales. Below, you'll find our top recommendations.
Worldpay is a global payment processor that provides businesses of all sizes with a wide range of payment solutions, including payment gateway, merchant accounts, card terminals and fraud prevention.
Worldpay is the largest full-stack payment processor in the UK and together with Barclaycard, it handles approximately 70-80% of card transactions by volume and 60-70% of card transactions annually.
Worldpay’s benefits include global reach; Worldpay accepts payments from over 140 countries and in over 150 currencies, alongside security and fraud prevention, reliability and scalability.
Teya (previously known as SaltPay) provides merchants with a variety of ways to accept payments, including face-to-face card terminals, pay-by-link, point-of-sale systems, and mobile payment apps.
Teya is known for its affordable pricing, easy-to-use products and services, and excellent customer support. It has been recognized as one of the leading financial technology companies in Europe and has won numerous awards for its innovation and growth.
Established in 1999, Windcave stands as a high-growth, innovative leader in payment technology. They offer a seamless, global platform catering to a diverse clientele including corporate, banking, and SMEs. By consolidating payment needs through a single provider, Windcave streamlines payment processes, ensuring superior experiences for countless global brands. Their services span online, in-store, and unattended environments, boasting features such as global acquiring, tokenization, data insights, cross-border services, and support for all popular payment methods.
Windcave is a popular payment gateway in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Europe and the UK, and is also available in other countries. They typically work with larger businesses (mid-market to enterprise) and are known for offering EMV P2Pe unattended terminal payments and IVR phone processing, alongside offering complete end-to-end solutions; including designing and owning all their terminals (attended and unattended).
Helcim is a well-regarded payment processor known for its secure, efficient, and cost-effective payment solutions, with a strong focus on transparency and customer-centric services. Their offerings encompass credit card processing, online payments, point-of-sale solutions, and e-commerce integrations.
What sets Helcim apart is the commitment to straightforward pricing, with no hidden fees or long-term contracts. Helcim's user-friendly interface and comprehensive reporting tools enable businesses to manage transactions and gain financial insights easily. They prioritise security and data protection, ensuring that businesses can process payments confidently while adhering to industry standards.
Helcim is a trusted choice for businesses seeking reliable and customer-focused payment processing.
Square is a versatile payment solution provider renowned for its accessibility and simplicity, ideal for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Their range of offerings includes iconic square-shaped card readers, mobile point-of-sale systems, and e-commerce integrations.
Square stands out with its transparent pricing, absence of long-term contracts, and user-friendly interface, streamlining the onboarding process for businesses. Additionally, it offers comprehensive business management tools, such as inventory and sales tracking, serving as a one-stop solution for various operational aspects.
Its adaptability has made Square a valuable resource for industries spanning retail, restaurants, service providers, and online businesses.
Stripe is known for its adaptability and developer-friendly approach. It offers a comprehensive range of payment solutions, making it a top choice for e-commerce and subscription-based services.
Stripe simplifies complex payment processes and allows businesses to customize their payment experiences using developer-focused tools and APIs. With global reach and support for multiple currencies, it's ideal for international expansion. Security and compliance are top priorities, ensuring businesses can process payments with confidence.
Stripe remains a pioneering force in digital payment innovation, gaining popularity for its reliability and versatility.
Stax offers transparent, subscription-based pricing and user-friendly payment solutions, gaining recognition for its innovative approach and commitment to simplicity.
One of the standout features of Stax is its subscription-based pricing model, which eliminates the traditional per-transaction fees and offers predictable, flat-rate pricing, making it an attractive choice for businesses seeking cost predictability.
As Stax continues to expand and refine its services, it remains a promising option for businesses looking for a fresh approach to payment processing.
Shopify Payments, tailored for the Shopify e-commerce platform, simplifies online payments by seamlessly integrating payment processing and store management. It offers convenience for both businesses and customers, supporting major credit cards and ensuring transaction security.
With competitive fees linked to your Shopify plan, it's a compelling all-in-one solution for businesses aiming to establish and oversee online stores efficiently.
Its built-in security measures, such as fraud analysis, enhance the safety of financial transactions, making it a hassle-free choice for online businesses.
PayPal’s PayPal Checkout is a popular product that enables businesses to seamlessly accept payments on their websites, offering a secure and convenient checkout experience.
It offers various payment options, including credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal's own digital wallet, making it convenient for customers with diverse preferences. PayPal also provides robust fraud protection and a reputation for ensuring the security of financial transactions.
Its versatility, global reach, and familiarity have made it a preferred choice for e-commerce businesses and online shoppers alike.
Chase Payment Solutions is a reliable and secure payment processor, catering to businesses of all sizes with tailored in-store, online, and mobile payment processing services. They offer versatile features like point-of-sale systems, e-commerce integrations, and virtual terminals to accept various payment methods. Advanced fraud prevention and risk management tools enhance transaction security.
It's a trusted choice for businesses seeking dependable payment processing services with a strong focus on security and customer support.
Payline offers flexible payment solutions, including credit card processing, online and mobile payments, and point-of-sale systems. What sets Payline apart is its commitment to delivering customizable pricing models, allowing businesses to choose plans that align with their unique needs and budgets. With a focus on transparency, Payline ensures that there are no hidden fees or long-term contracts.
Their feature-rich platform and security measures make them a reliable choice for businesses of various industries.
Known for its ethical approach to payment processing, Dharma Merchant Services offers transparent and cost-effective payment solutions while supporting social and environmental causes. Dharma provides credit card processing, e-commerce solutions, and point-of-sale systems. Their distinctive pricing model focuses on interchange-plus pricing, eliminating hidden markups. Additionally, Dharma donates a portion of profits to charitable organisations, making it an attractive choice for businesses with social responsibility goals.
With a strong emphasis on transparency, fair pricing, and philanthropy, Dharma is a payment processor aligned with businesses seeking ethical and sustainable financial transactions.
Wide range of features
Reliable, 24/7 support
Pricing is not transparent and can be complex
Contracts are long-term
Affordability (no auth or PCI fees)
All-in-one solution for small and growing businesses
Easy to understand payment rates
Good customer service and support
Only operates in a few markets (this includes the UK)
Only offers blended pricing
Unattended, in-store and online payments
Risk and fraud management
Next business day settlements
Consolidating all payment channels under on contract, one invoice and one support team
Not suitable for merchants processing less than £200k
All inclusive platform
Can be expensive for smaller or lower volume businesses
Flat right pricing
Free POS systems
No early termination fees
Doesn't run on Windows devices
Doesn't offer advanced POS features
Can integrate in-person payments with online
Prioritizes online merchants
Developer experience required
High volume sales
No markup on interchange rate
Pricing isn't as transparent as competition
Not suitable for low volume businesses
Shopify eCommerce users
Easy to set up and use
Transparent pricing with flat rates
Customizable checkout page
Accepts multiple payment methods
Must have Shopify eCommerce plan with monthly fee
Charges for use of third-party payment gateway
Comprehensive invoicing and payment management
Reputation for being quick to suspend accounts for suspected fraud or violations of its terms of service
Limited customer support
Responsive customer service
Easy to integrate
Strong customer support
Higher fees than competition
Complex pricing structure
Wide range of features
Good customer support
Higher fees for small businesses
Complex pricing structure
Uses an interchange-plus pricing model
Wide range of features
Good customer support
Higher fees for small businesses
Minimum monthly fee
Complex pricing structure
Navigating the complex landscape of online payment systems and payment gateways demands careful consideration of various factors to ensure that the correct system is chosen.
The choice of the best payment gateway or online payment system hinges on the unique needs and priorities of businesses and individuals alike. Whether prioritising ease of use, cost-effectiveness, or robust security measures, we hope that this comparison serves as a valuable resource to help make more informed decisions.
As the space continues to evolve, staying abreast of these options will empower individuals and businesses to adapt to changing trends and embrace the most suitable payment solution for their specific requirements.
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