There is a great deal of confusion regarding acceptance of payments online. Our simple guide below aims to clarify the differences between the two main approaches commonly adopted.
merchant bureau service
This means you are not directly able to accept cards payments as a business, rather the provider is allowing you to make use of their merchant account and then passing the payments on at a later date.
This is suitable for customers who may not be able to obtain their own merchant accounts, however this option has many negatives. For one, the provider will hold onto your money for as long as 4 weeks
(which helps them to cover themselves against chargebacks) and also the service and transaction fees are typically very high. All bureau services use a hosted payment page model which means that at
the point of payment your customer is re-directed away to their site for payment. A much slicker approach is to use an "inline" payment approach which means your customer never has to leave your website.
If you are looking to create a professional impression online these services do not provide the best solution and may deter customers from ordering.
merchant account and payment gateway
The most professional and flexible approach to online payments. You will need a merchant account from a UK acquiring bank and then you have the option to process payments through a range of available gateways.
The acquiring bank will agree a percentage charge on all credit card transactions and typically a fixed cost on any debit card transactions. You will then need to pay a monthly fee for a payment gateway to process the online authorisation service and either a flat rate for each transaction (better option) or a percentage of the amount.
Having a separate merchant account means you have more flexibility in how you process your internet payments as you are not resticted to using the banks own services or any specific gateway. Most gateways offer an "inline" payment model that means your customer is kept on you website rather than being redirected away to a hosted payment page; this provides a better shopping experience for your customer. Card details are not stored on your site, merely passed through to the gateway for processing, and then the response is captured and handled accordingly. Your payment page needs to be secure so therefore an SSL certificate is also required which we will arrange for you.
payment service provider integration
supported third party payment gateways
If you wish to use a third party payment gateway with your ecommerce solution please see a list of supported gateways below: