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Many developers choose not to build a custom payment processor for their website or app. And why bother? There are plenty of well-known and trustworthy payment processing technologies to use. That doesn’t make them all equally good or right for your website or app. This post will help you find the best one for what you’re building.

The immense growth of ecommerce wouldn’t be possible without payment processing technology. Can you imagine having to process each online customer transaction using an old school point of sale system or credit card processor?

But just like other technologies we use when building websites and apps, there are lots of options to choose from. So which one should you use when setting up your next ecommerce site? You could always opt for PayPal or Stripe since they’re the most popular. But are they really the best choice?

In this post, we’ll take a look at the 14 traits to consider when choosing a payment processor and then go over various options.

14 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Payment Processor

The payment processor you integrate with your shop can seriously impact the user experience and, consequently, the conversion rate and sales generated on your ecommerce site.

Here are some of the most popular payment processing options today:

And here are some payment processors that are rising in popularity. Most of them have positive ratings on Trustpilot, by the way:

Before you settle on one, ask yourself the following questions as you consider the options:

1. Is It PCI Compliant?

Whenever you build a website or app, you have a checklist of security measures to implement before it can launch. Even though you’re not building the payment processing technology, you still have to make sure it adheres to those strict protocols (and more).

The easiest way to do this is by finding a payment processor that is PCI DSS compliant. This means the software has been validated against 12 security protocol requirements. These include things like:

  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus software
  • Password management
  • Cardholder data encryption
  • Security breach monitoring

If a security breach were to take place at checkout, you won’t be able to pass the blame onto the payment processor. You might be able to internally, but definitely not with your customers. If it took place on your site or in your app, then they’re going to hold you responsible.

So choosing a payment processor that prioritizes security and is PCI DSS compliant is a must.

2. Is Fraud Protection Built in?

Another way to secure the payment gateway is with fraud protection. There are different ways you’ll see this implemented in a payment gateway:

Card Verification Value (CVV) is that three- or four-digit numeric code that appears on the back or front of a credit card. This isn’t a foolproof way to prevent fraud since someone could have stolen the actual credit card. However, for a fraudster who only has the credit card number, they won’t be able to complete the transaction without the verification code.

Address Verification Service (AVS) is when the processor requires the customer to fill in their billing address as well as their ZIP code. If it doesn’t match the data the credit card company or bank has on file for the customer, the transaction is rejected.

3D Secure is another way that payment processors authenticate that the customer is who they say they are. It’s basically two-factor authentication that takes place during checkout. After the customer logs in or enters their payment details, they’re sent a verification code either via SMS or email.

There are other fraud protection measures a payment processor might use, but these are the most common ones.

3. Is It Fast?

There isn’t a whole lot of data on the fastest payment processors online, so before officially committing to one, give it a try for yourself. There are a few things to look out for when it comes to speed.

The first is how quickly the cart and checkout pages load. Just as with the rest of your website, it shouldn’t take more than a couple seconds.

Also check to see how fast and easy the checkout form is to use. When customers use the tab key to move from field to field, it should happen instantaneously. No fields should be skipped either.

Lastly is how quickly and smoothly the processing happens. The last thing you want is for customers to fill everything out, hit the “Submit” or “Purchase” key, only to not know if the transaction is processing or how long it will take.

4. Is It Responsive?

The flow from your website to checkout should be as seamless as possible. If you’ve built a responsive and mobile-first website, then you’ll want a payment gateway that looks and feels the same way.

Again, I’d recommend giving the payment gateway a try for yourself. While they might claim it’s responsive, there might be certain aspects of it that don’t feel right on smaller screens.

For instance, I recently was checking out on my smartphone and couldn’t get to the final ZIP code field for some reason. I wasn’t able to scroll down to it nor could I use the tab arrow to get me there. I ended up having to turn my computer on and complete my purchase that way.

5. Is It User-Friendly?

Some payment processors give you their out-of-the-box software and say, “Here ya go!” And that’s it. You’ll of course be able to choose which payment options to display. But what about when it comes to the structure of the checkout page or the form fields?

No out-of-the-box solution will be okay for every customer. Instead, you want to find a payment gateway that you can customize. In addition to modifying the payment methods, the layout of the page, the form fields and other features, you should be able to brand and edit your ecommerce emails.

If you’ve designed a comfortable, convenient and streamlined experience for customers up to this point, don’t let it fall apart with an email branded with the payment processor’s name. Or with a form that’s too long to fill out and with irrelevant fields. Or with a process that doesn’t allow guests to checkout.

You know your users better than anyone. Use software that enables you to design this last step in the process just for them.

6. Is it Hosted or Non-hosted?

Another way your payment gateway might disrupt the checkout experience is if you send customers to a different website to complete their transaction. If the payment gateway is super recognizable, your shoppers might be OK with checking out there. If it’s not, you could see an increase in user abandonment rates.

So take a look at how your payment processor handles this.

Is there a non-hosted option where the payment gateway is integrated directly into your website? This will create the most seamless experience for your shoppers as they’ll stay right where they are to pay.

If there is only a hosted option, what does it look like—is it an embedded iFrame on your site or does it take users to a new domain? Will customers find the processor’s branding instead of your own? Will the look and feel of it completely conflict with the site or app you built?

If you don’t think it will cause too much friction, then this option might work.

7. Does It Support the Types of Products or Services Your Store Sells?

There are a couple of things to look for here. For starters, you’ll want to make sure the payment processor allows you to sell physical products, digital products, services or whatever it is you sell.

Also look to see if they support recurring payments, memberships and auto-renew product sales as well. If you plan on generating recurring revenue, you’ll need a processor that makes it easy to do so.

8. What Other Services and Features are Included?

Different stores and brands have different needs. For example, if you’re building an ecommerce site for a brick-and-mortar store, it would be nice to find a payment processor that offers different technologies, like an online payment gateway as well as physical point-of-sale systems.

It’s not just the types of payment processing you should consider either. Think about what sorts of tools and features will help you or your client better manage their orders and payments. For example, you might need one that can handle chargebacks and refunds with ease.

9. Does It Integrate with Your Other Business Software?

The first piece of software your payment gateway needs to integrate with is your content management software. I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem with that. However, I would check to see if there’s a direct connection between your CMS and the gateway. If not, review the integration process to make sure it’s not overly complicated. You want there to be a strong and stable connection between the two.

Then figure out what other software needs to integrate with your payment gateway. For example:

  • Email marketing
  • Task/project management
  • CRM
  • Helpdesk
  • Shipping and order tracking

By integrating other apps with your payment gateway, you can streamline the flow of payment and order information to other aspects of the business that need it.

10. Which Payment Methods Does It Work With?

It doesn’t happen as much nowadays, but I remember in the past when I’d have issues trying to pay with an American Express card on some websites and apps. It probably wasn’t the vendor’s choice. They most likely were using a payment processor that didn’t support those cards.

So that’s something to look up if your client or employer wants certain credit cards to be accepted.

That’s not all. You’ll want to dig deeper into what other payment methods are offered. For example, you might find that they work with Alipay and PayPal. If you want to accept ACH Direct Debit, that’s something else to look into.

One other thing to consider is if they accept mobile wallet payments. While these payments are commonly made in store, websites and apps should be able to accept them as well. If you want your shop to access more revenue opportunities, choosing a payment processor that works with Apple Pay or Google Pay is a good idea.

11. Which Countries/Currencies Does It Support?

Check to see which countries and currencies are supported. This list will first tell you if you’re even eligible to use this service. Not every payment processor is everywhere. PayPal, for instance, has a blacklist of countries it won’t do business with either because the market isn’t big enough or they have problems with fraud.

This list will also tell you what sort of market penetration you can expect. If you’re building an ecommerce site that’s meant to be for global shoppers, you’ll need a payment method that enables the greatest number of customers to buy from it.

Before you go scratching a payment processor off of your list, though, take some time to really get to know your target users. They might not even live in the areas where you’re unable to take payments from.

12. What Sorts of Fees Do You Have to Pay?

Payment processors aren’t free to use. Some are free to set up while others you have to pay to use. On top of that, there are other fees to consider, like:

  • Monthly or annual charge
  • Setup
  • Electronic transactions
  • International transactions
  • ACH direct debit
  • Extra payment methods
  • Taxes
  • Chargebacks and disputes
  • Instant payouts

Your fee structure may also differ depending on the volume of sales your site or app does. So pay close attention to that if you expect your store to scale rapidly.

Once you’ve settled on some payment processor options, do a search for the company’s name plus “fees.” You’ll find a page that lists out all the nitty-gritty details you need to know.

13. How is Customer Support?

Every company is going to tell you that they offer fast and helpful customer support. If you want to know the truth about what it’s like to use support when you need it, go to Trustpilot and do a search for the company’s name.

When researching this article, I found that some of the most popular solutions (with the exception of Stripe) had abysmal ratings and reviews when it came to customer service. The newer and lesser known options interestingly enough had much fewer complaints.

So if that matters to you, do your research ahead of time.

14. Is It Scalable?

Some payment processors impose minimum and maximum limits. One reason why this matters is because you won’t want to get stuck paying a steep minimum fee when your site or app isn’t generating any sales.

Another reason is because a maximum limit can hamper your ability to scale your business and its sales. You need a payment gateway that works well—even when there’s tons of traffic flowing through it—along with one that works no matter how much you sell through it.


There are two aspects of payment processing to focus on as you go through the decision-making process. First, is the payment processor company trustworthy? Second, is the payment gateway software reliable and can it do everything you need it to do?

The last thing you want to do is to settle on a payment processor, only to find that it keeps you from selling to a specific market or it takes too big of a chunk out of each sale. So once you find a few solutions you like the look and sound of, take them through the 14 questions above and see how they pan out. That should help you find the right one for the digital product you’ve built.

This blog was prepared by Suzanne Scacca in their personal capacity. The opinions or representations expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Progress Software Corporation, or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this blog are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided “as is” with no representations made that the content is error-free.

About the Author

Suzanne Scacca

A former project manager and web design agency manager, Suzanne Scacca now writes about the changing landscape of design, development and software.

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