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26/03/2024

Integrating Stripe, PayPal, and More: A Comparative Analysis of Payment Gateways

PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay… The choices are endless. But which one is right for your e-commerce business? Our article cuts through the confusion and helps you choose the best solution.

Paulina Twarogal

Content Specialist

Andrzej Puczyk

Head of Delivery

With the rise of e-commerce, the payment gateway market is thriving and expected to reach $106.4 billion by 2030. However, did you know that nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout? This translates to billions of dollars in lost revenue for e-commerce businesses every year. Reasons for this may include mandatory sign-ups, unsatisfactory payment methods, high commissions, complex checkout processes, or inadequate security.

One solution to increase the number of completed transactions is by integrating a user-friendly and dependable payment gateway. Which ones are worth considering, though? Let’s compare top payment gateways to give you some insights into which might be the best payment solution for your business.

What are payment gateways?

Payment gateways are secure services that act as middlemen, processing payments between customers, businesses, and financial institutions. They enable businesses to accept various payment methods securely and efficiently across websites, mobile apps, and even physical stores. Payment gateways go beyond transactions, offering data insights for smarter business decisions.

Payment gateways handle different tasks:

  • Checking funds (authorization): Before finalizing a sale, the gateway verifies if a customer has enough funds to pay for an ordered item. It’s used for orders that might take some time to ship or manufacture.

  • Capturing funds: After confirming the order, the gateway collects the payment from the customer and sends it to the merchant’s account.

  • Regular payments (sale): This combines both checks: verifying funds and then collecting them right away. It’s a regular payment for immediate purchases.

  • Refunds: If a purchase needs to be canceled, the gateway returns the funds.

  • Cancellations before transfer (void): It’s similar to a refund but can be done if the funds haven’t been processed yet.

Main types of payment gateways

There are four main types of payment gateways. Each of them offers different levels of control and integration complexity.

Hosted payment gateway: In this case, customers are taken away from the merchant’s checkout page. When they click the gateway’s link, they’re redirected to the Payment Service Provider (PSP) page to enter their payment details. While offering a simple setup, hosted payment gateways provide fewer options for customizing the checkout experience. The most well-known examples include PayPal and Amazon Pay.

API-hosted payment gateway: This method provides greater control compared to hosted gateways. Here, customers enter their payment details directly on the merchant’s checkout page. Payments are processed using an API or HTTPS queries. With API-hosted payment gateways, you can create a tailored checkout process. But, it requires greater technical know-how for implementation. Stripe is an example of this type of gateway.

Self-hosted payment gateway: With this option, you have the highest level of control and customization. You can handle the entire payment process on your own server. This gives you maximum flexibility. However, it demands considerable technical expertise, security measures, and PCI compliance to ensure safe transactions.

Local bank integration payment gateway: It’s region-specific and directly links with a local bank’s system, skipping the usual payment gateway process. While efficient for busy businesses, it may lack global reach and functionality. Some examples include Klarna in Europe, UnionPay in China, and Rede in Brazil.

How do payment gateways work?

payment gateway

Payment gateways serve as secure intermediaries in online transactions. They manage the exchange of information and funds between merchants and customers. Here’s a simplified breakdown of this process:

  1. Customer checkout: At checkout, customers proceed to the payment page. Here, they enter their payment information, including the 16-digit card number, cardholder name, expiration date, and CVV number.
  2. Encryption and transmission: The payment gateway securely encrypts the customer’s card details and conducts a security check before forwarding them to the payment processor.
  3. Authorization request: The payment processor acts as a bridge between the gateway and the customer’s bank. It sends an authorization request to the issuing bank to verify if the customer has sufficient funds and if the card is valid.
  4. Authorization response: The issuing bank checks the customer’s account and sends an authorization response back to the processor. This response indicates whether the transaction is approved or declined.
  5. Transaction processing and fund transfer: If approved, the processor sends a signal to the gateway to capture the funds from the customer’s account. The funds are then transferred from the customer’s bank to a merchant account held by the payment processor.
  6. Confirmation and completion: Once the transfer is complete, the payment processor sends confirmation messages to both the merchant and the customer, finalizing the transaction. Typically, this entire procedure takes less than three seconds to complete.

Payment gateway integration: What to start with?

How can you integrate a payment gateway into your website or application? Well, there are a few steps to follow

First, you need to choose a payment gateway that aligns with your business needs. So, it’s important to consider aspects like transaction fees, supported payment types, security measures, and compatibility with your e-commerce platform. 

Depending on the payment gateway, you might also need to set up a merchant account. However, some payment gateway providers offer both payment gateway and merchant account functionalities for simplified payment processing.

After signing up with the payment gateway, you’ll need API keys. These keys connect your website to the gateway securely, allowing communication between them. Then comes a decision point: you’ll need to choose between a hosted payment page or custom integration

Once you’ve made a decision, you’ll have to develop the technical connection between your website and the gateway. For a hosted page, you might simply embed a button provided by the gateway. For custom integration, you’ll need to develop code that securely transmits payment information to the gateway using API credentials.

Before you unleash your payment gateway on the world, thorough testing is essential. Use test data to simulate transactions and ensure everything works smoothly, including handling failed payments. Finally, with everything tested and ready, it’s time to launch the integration on your live website. 

Choosing a payment gateway provider

There are some important things to consider before choosing a provider. This involves prioritizing your business’s specific needs and understanding your customers’ requirements.

Transaction fees are a major consideration, as they involve multiple financial entities. Like any service, a payment gateway comes with fees for using third-party tools to approve transactions. These fees vary based on factors like transaction amount, location, and product type. Payment solution providers, on the other hand, have their own terms and costs, covering setup, monthly gateway, merchant account setup, and transaction processing. Compare different providers’ fee structures to fit your budget and transaction volume.

Supported payment methods: Not all gateways support every payment method. Consider the methods most popular with your target audience. Will they need credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, or maybe buy-now-pay-later options? Ensure your chosen gateway offers the options your customers expect.

Security is paramount when handling sensitive financial information. Thus, look for a payment gateway that prioritizes security features like PCI compliance, data encryption, and fraud prevention tools. Don’t compromise on the safety of your customers’ data.

Global reach: Do you plan to sell internationally? If so, choose a gateway that supports international currencies and payment methods relevant to your target markets. This can be crucial for expanding your customer base.

Ease of integration: Consider your technical expertise. Some gateways offer user-friendly hosted payment pages that require minimal coding. For custom integrations, evaluate the complexity of the provider’s API and available resources for developers.

Popular payment gateway providers

PayPal

Paypal

PayPal is one of the most trusted names in online retail and a widely used form of electronic payment. Currently, PayPal operates in 203 countries and manages around 435 million accounts, handling over $22 billion in transactions. PayPal offers scalable solutions for businesses of different sizes and supports various payment options. These encompass bank transfers, PayPal balance payments, and major credit and debit cards like Visa, Mastercard, Citibank, or American Express. 

PayPal is among the simplest e-commerce payment gateways to integrate into your online store. It provides customizable options, from simple pay buttons redirecting to its payment page to fully customizable integrated checkouts.

The pricing model includes different calculations for micropayments, platform usage, and international transactions. The standard rate is 2.9% of the transaction amount + a fixed fee based on the currency used. International transactions or currency conversions may result in additional fees. You can find more information here.

Strengths:

  • Widely recognized and trusted brand name by customers;
  • Exceptionally easy setup, often requiring minimal coding;
  • Strong focus on security with fraud prevention tools;
  • Free Standard Account—ideal for new and small businesses.

Considerations:

  • Complex and confusing pricing structure—transaction fees can be quite high for low-volume merchants;
  • Only the most expensive version offers gateway customization;
  • Often targeted by scammers.

Stripe 

Stripe is one of PayPal’s biggest competitors. It’s known for its easy-to-use interface and a wide range of features, including subscriptions, invoicing, and fraud prevention. Apart from accepting major payment methods, Stripe supports digital wallets (Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Pay), Clearpay, and Klarna. It also accepts payment in 135+ currencies and allows for integration with other third-party systems. These systems include shopping carts, invoicing systems, analytics tools or email systems. Generally speaking, Stripe caters well to mobile commerce and platform-based payments, making it a good fit for startups and established businesses alike.

Pricing: Stripe applies a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents for every successful card transaction. There are extra charges for certain situations: 0.5% for manually inputted cards, 1.5% for international cards, and 1% for currency conversion. Find more pricing details here.

Strengths:

  • Mobile payments;
  • Extensive integration with third-party platforms;
  • Greater flexibility and control over the payment experience;
  • Advanced customization;
  • Flexible options for large and growing businesses.

Considerations:

  • The fees might get expensive;
  • Stripe has a history of freezing and terminating accounts;
  • Limited merchant acceptance due to supporting only specific MCCs;
  • Users have reported slow and sometimes unresponsive customer service.

Square

Square- payment gateway

Square is one of the best-known credit card processing companies. It caters to businesses of all sizes. However, it’s especially favored by small and mid-sized businesses because it doesn’t charge monthly fees for its basic plan and offers a simple transaction fee structure. Square focuses on in-person payments and mobile commerce. It’s known for its user-friendly system which makes it a good option for businesses with limited technical expertise. Square offers a variety of point-of-sale (POS) hardware solutions, including mobile readers and countertop terminals. This allows businesses to accept payments on the go or at a physical location.

Pricing: For purchases made through an online store, online checkout, e-commerce API, or online invoices, Square applies a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents. Find more information about pricing here.

Strengths:

  • Predictable costs with flat-rate pricing—no charge for startup, subscription or refund fees;
  • No merchant account is needed;
  • Integration with Shopify’s e-commerce storefront platform;
  • Feature-rich solution.

Considerations:

  • The pricing structure might be less suitable for high-volume businesses;
  • Limited customization options;
  • Accounts can freeze due to irregular activity;
  • Not for all industries; not recommended for high-risk businesses.

Authorize.net

authorize.net- payment gateway

Owned by Visa, Authorize.net is used by over 430,000 merchants. It provides dedicated merchant accounts through its network of partner banks and processes over 1 billion transactions annually. Merchants can choose between two service options: a payment gateway, if they already have a merchant account, or an all-in-one option that includes a merchant account. Authorize.net accepts all major credit cards and digital payment solutions. However, it’s not just about payment processing. Authorize.net also offers a range of additional services like fraud detection, recurring billing, invoicing, and advanced reporting features.

Pricing: There’s a monthly account fee of $25 and $49 for merchant account setup. It charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Find more information about pricing here.

Strengths:

  • Advanced fraud detection mechanism;
  • Highly customizable and powerful;
  • Efficient transaction processes with digital invoicing and simple setup.

Considerations:

  • Predominantly caters to US businesses;
  • Need to have or set up a separate merchant account;
  • The ecosystem is quite outdated.

2Checkout

2Checkout- payment gateway

Acquired by Verifone in 2020, 2Checkout competes directly with PayPal and Stripe. It supports all the major payment methods in 87 currencies and accepts payments from 200 markets. This makes it a strong option for international merchants. So, 2Checkout might be a good solution for small and mid-size businesses that sell any kind of goods or services or for platforms trading internationally.

Pricing: The fees start at 3.5% plus 35 cents per transaction. Find more information about pricing here.

Strengths:

  • Variety of payment methods;
  • Flexible integration—allows both a hosted and integrated checkout process;
  • Customizable checkout options.

Considerations:

  • Requires developers to integrate;
  • The fees might be quite high;
  • There are complaints about canceling accounts without notice.

Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay - payment gateway

Amazon Pay is a simple, quick, and secure payment option that supports all the major payment methods and credit cards. It’s available across devices, with a focus on mobile use. Amazon Pay is the go-to payment gateway host for small and medium-sized businesses, largely due to its strong brand recognition. With an Amazon Pay merchant account, you gain access to a comprehensive fraud protection solution. Additionally, it offers a simple API that has provided numerous e-commerce platforms from solution providers with access to free plugins.

Pricing: The base transaction fee for processing payments through Amazon Pay is 2.9% of the transaction amount. There’s also a fixed fee per transaction based on the currency used. Find more information about pricing here.

Strengths:

  • Global reach;
  • Easy to integrate with e-commerce platforms;
  • Secure and trusted platform.

Considerations:

  • Doesn’t offer tools for in-person transactions;
  • No support for high-risk businesses;
  • Quick to hold or freeze funds.

PayU

PayU is a payment processing provider offering solutions for merchants in over 50 global, local, or high-growth markets, including Colombia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and India. Its key advantage is processing payments in local currencies which meets customer preferences in these regions. Moreover, PayU offers diverse payment processing solutions, including credit cards, e-wallets, bank transfers, and cash payments. Using machine learning algorithms and manual reviews, it effectively detects and prevents fraudulent transactions. PayU also provides customizable features like invoicing, subscription management, and real-time analytics.

Pricing: PayU charges a registration fee and 2,3% of the transaction amount. There’s also a fixed fee per transaction based on the currency used. You can learn more about pricing here.

Strengths:

  • Affordable pricing;
  • Ability to process payments in local currencies.

Considerations:

  • Limited payment methods;
  • Sometimes it takes a long time to confirm transactions.

Paybynet 

For businesses operating within Poland, Paybynet is also worth mentioning here. Paybynet offers online payment processing for e-commerce stores, allowing them to accept payments directly from customer bank accounts. This leads to faster transaction processing compared to some credit card gateways. Paybynet also caters to administrative services, enabling online payments for government fees.

Conclusion

Undeniably, payment integration solutions are the backbone of online businesses in the modern e-commerce sector. So, a well-chosen payment gateway, with the right features and a focus on security, can provide your customers with a seamless checkout experience and unlock your full sales potential. By comparing the options presented here and researching further, you can find the perfect fit to streamline your online sales process. Unsure which payment gateway to opt for? Reach out to us—At Neontri, we’re here to help you choose the best solution.

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