The issue of secure payment is fundamental to successful e-commerce websites. Customers expect it and increasingly regulatory authorities demand it. Here are some tips on how to choose the right secure payment gateway for your website.
Secure payment = PCI compliance
PCI is short for PCI DSS – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. In simple terms, it is a set of standards laid down by the payment card industry (basically Visa and MasterCard) to ensure that their products are always used in a secure payment environment. There are many reasons why PCI DSS was implemented but the key point to take away is that it is absolutely non-negotiable. Anyone who takes card payments must adhere to these standards, or face serious consequences. This means that unless you are absolutely confident of your ability to implement PCI DSS yourself, you must work with a partner with provable expertise in the area of secure payment. As it can be challenging for smaller companies to implement PCI DSS themselves, many smaller merchants choose simply to redirect all payments directly to their secure payment gateway, while they focus their attention on their core business.
Do you want somebody to handle all aspects of secure payment for you?
Some providers offer what is basically an all-in-one solution. They take care of implementing the system cardholders use to pay and of managing the mechanics of getting the funds from A to B. In other words, they will have their own merchant account, which can save you the hassle of setting one up. They can also deal with chargebacks for you. This is where a cardholder makes a complaint against you and requests all or part of their money back. As is so often the case in life, some of these claims have merit and some do not. The key point to understand is that the card schemes have very clear and specific rules about them and unless you adhere to these rules, you will lose the dispute automatically. Adding extra payment methods, e.g. PayPal, gives customers more choice and may result in more sales, but it also means more sets of rules to manage. On the other hand, the more any service provider does for you, the more they will charge.
Is the provider a match for your platform and your preferred secure payment methods?
You could save yourself a lot of work by choosing a provider who can give you a plug and play secure payment system which works out-of-the-box with your e-commerce platform. You absolutely need to ensure that any provider supports the secure payment methods you want to accept, particularly if you want to accept niche products, perhaps to cater for customers from a particular market.
Can your secure payment provider offer scalable services at a reasonable price?
If you will pardon the pun, scalability has become a growing issue for merchants over recent years. How flexible can your secure payment gateway be in terms of your changing business needs? What is the length of the initial contract? Do you have to buy everything you could possibly need up front, or can you make at least some changes as you go along? Can you try out additional services, e.g. dynamic currency conversion, for a short period to see if they suit your business model?
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