The main goal for choosing an online payment processor is to not only find a service that fulfills a company’s payments needs, but will also seamlessly integrate into a company’s technology and website structure. For example, if the merchant plans on working with specific shopping cart software, it’s more important to choose an online payment processor that can easily integrate with the selected software than to choose a provider that comes with its own shopping cart program. Another factor to consider in selecting a processor is how much customization and complexity is appropriate for a company. While some online payment processors have offerings simple enough to allow merchants to control their shop entirely, others are incredibly sophisticated and require the merchant to both program aspects of the checkout as well as handle sensitive credit card information.
There are typically two types of payment processing options available to merchants: hosted and API. Hosted checkouts take customers to an off-site checkout page hosted by the processor, while API checkouts allow the merchant to customize his or her checkout experience without taking the buyer offsite. All merchants should evaluate factors like technical savvy and branding requirements when comparing the options available; otherwise, you could end up in the scenario described above. Ask yourself the following questions as you peruse payment processing choices:
- Do I want to obtain and maintain PCI certification? If you choose an API payments process, you’ll need to adhere to a stringent set of security standards to be PCI compliant. This is required of any organization that handles consumer credit card information to help protect the public from fraud and data breaches. If you choose a hosted checkout instead, your online payment processor will usually handle all PCI compliance.
- How much control over checkout branding and design do I require? Hosted checkout options provide the least amount of autonomy and maintenance regarding branding preferences; the actual payment information is entered on an off-site webpage hosted by the processor itself. If you would like the maximum amount of customization for your checkout page, an API payment is the better option.
- How soon do I need to be able to accept online payments? While hosted payment options can be implemented within a matter of minutes, API solutions require more development work and will take a bit longer to launch depending on the resources available.
- What is the approval process like? Payment processors require several items from merchants before they can approve sales activity. These can include one or more types of government-issued identification, proof of purchasing volume, and/or proof of business location. Merchants should be aware of their chosen payment processors’ documentation requirements before they begin the application process to ensure a speedy approval and implementation.
Have more questions about payment processors and checkout options? Access our latest free ebook, “How to Pick a Payment Processor!”