Choosing the right online payment system for your website (2024)

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A website introducing items for sale without an online payment system is not an e-commerce, it’s just a virtual shop window on the internet.

As online payment systems provide the necessary software tools to actually sell goods and services on the web, they’re a must toturn the website into a true e-commerce. However, not all retailers have sufficient technical knowledge to install these solutions, or even to understand their basic principles andhow to choose them.

Selecting the best payment system for small businesses is an indispensable task to jump on the bandwagon of online commerce and it starts byunderstanding what online solutions areand how they work.

Different solutions are available, accepting different online payment methods, offered by different online payment services providers.

So here’s a quick guide to understand all these essential aspects and help nurture an enlightened choice. With, of course, the answer to a crucial question: what are theprices of these online payment systems,?

Online payment systems basics

Online payment systems bring credit or debit card payments to e-commerce websites. They actually represent a full package of software and service items.

What is an online payment system?

An online payment system is quite basically thesoftware and service packageallowing a website to accept payments online.

Usually provided by merchant banks or specialized institutions, they include the following components:

- Amerchant account,

- Avirtual card terminal,

- Apayment gateway,

- Apayment processor.

How online payment processing solutions work

A merchant account is essential to start any e-commerce project.

Provided by high-street banks, specialised merchant banks or specialised subsidiaries of online payment software vendors, these accounts are used toaccept electronic payments(online or offline) before the funds coming from these payments are transferred to the retailer’s regular business account.

Now, let’s see how an online transaction unfolds to understand how online payment systems work:

- A customerselects items on the retailer’s website, puts them in his basket, and hits “checkout” or “proceed to payment”,

- At this point, there are two options, the choice of which has heavy consequences on security certifications like PCI-DSS. The online shopper eitherstays on the website or is taken to the payment services provider’s servers. In the first case, the retailer is responsible for nearly all of thesecurity steps necessary to gain PCI-DSS certification. In the second one, the online payment services provider bears most of that burden. Whatever the option selected by the retailer, the customer then finds...

- ... avirtual card terminal, the piece of software which allows online shoppers to key in their credit card details,

- Once these details have been entered, the transaction request isencrypted and routed to the payment gateway,

- The payment gateway forwards the authorisation request to the payment processor,

- The payment processorconnects with the customer’s bank serverto authorize the transaction,

-Transaction authorisationis forwarded to the payment gateway,

- The payment gateway forwards this authorisation to the website and the retailer’s merchant account servers,

- The customer is informed of the authorisation (or the failure thereof),

-Funds are transferred to the retailer’s merchant accountfrom the shopper’s account,

- After a few working days (3 to 5 generally), funds are transferred to the retailer’s business account.

Choosing the right online payment system for your website (1)

Identifying the best online payment system for your specific business needs

Selecting the right payment solution for the specific needs of a given business starts with finding the answers to a series of key questions regarding both the payment system itself and the payment services provider.

A comparison of online payment solutions...

A fewobjective criteriagreatly help selecting the right solution, such as:

- What is thelevel of securityoffered by the solution?

This is easy to check as the PCI-DSS certification is defined and awarded independently. Several levels of PCI-DSS security standards exist, and another good thing is that theyencompass the whole online payment solution, not just the sum of its parts;

- Howuser-friendlyis the system?

This question goes for both the business user – the retailer – and the end customer. The retailer must be able toeasily setup the solution, without being a technology nerd, and the customer must be ableto use it effortlesslywithin the e-commerce website framework.

- Does the solutionintegrate seamlesslywith the rest of the website and e-commerce solution?

This is an essential question for the webmaster or developer taking care of the website. Standard e-commerce platforms (the actual software running the website) must be proven to becompatible with the payment services solution. In fact, some e-commerce platforms even make their own payment systems, like Shopify, or vice-versa. External payment gateways may or may not be supported,with or without additional fees.

- Whatpayment methodsare accepted?

This include different credit card or debit card types (Visa, Mastercard, Amex or foreign credit card issuers) or other e-wallet or online payment systems like Apple Pay or Google pay.Extensive customer researchmust be done prior to the selection by the retailer to know what the customers are more likely to use.

- Whatcurrencyshould be accepted?

Similarly, retailers should first ask themselves what currency they will be accepting in online transactions. Are they really ready topay the premiumrequired to accept transaction in Chinese Renminbi or New Zealand dollars? It’s also important to check whether the merchant account will accept these currencies or foreign card payments.

- Willrecurring paymentbe supported?

Recurring payments allow onlinepayment in several instalments, which is a form of credit managed by credit card issuers and isincreasingly popular among e-shoppers.

... and a comparison of online payment services providers

Checking the software features and services offered by the solution is not the only task required to choose the best payment solution for a business, as it’s also essential toselect the right provider. Selecting the right provider is all the more important as it’s about entrusting a business partner who will beresponsible for thousands of pounds worth or revenuefor the retailer.

Online payment system providers can be selected based on the following interrogations:

-Where is the provider based? Solution providers can be based anywhere in the world, and many of them tend to cater for the needs of specific national markets, notably the US. As online shopping preferences greatly differ from one country to another, it’s essential to knowwhether the provider has a strategy for the Irish market. Where the provider is based brings a hint. Checking whether they have active business customers in Ireland gives another strong hint.

- Is the provider reputed?Online reviewsare a good way to start getting an idea of the provider’s reputation, but it’s never as good as directly contacting business customers to ask for their feedback.

- Does the provider offerIrish-based customer service? In case the solution breaks down for some reason, the toll can quickly add up for e-commerce retailers. It’s essential that quick, smart customer service can bereached anytimeto solve the mess and Irish-based customer service is a sign of quality, though not the only one.

-What fees do they charge? This is naturally an essential question. Even more than the amount of fees, thefee structureitself needs to be transparent, which is really not always the case with anything related to payment services.

Price comparison of major online payment solutions

This last criterion does indeed require further developments. The following table includes the names of some of themajor online payment system providers, as well as their fee breakdown by type of fee (some websites do not provides pricing in euros).


Setup fees

Monthly fees

Transaction fees

Cross-border fee

Currency Conversion

Chargeback fees


(3 different plans)




Request quote + 10p

Request quote + 10p






£19 (gateway fee)

2.49% + 15p






€0 to €20

1.9% + €0.25

to 3.4% + €0.25


















Amazon Pay



1.4-3.4% + 20p (depending on card issuer)

.4 – 1.5%





£29 to £299 (includes website, blog and SSL)

1.6% + 20p to 2.2% + 20p

.5% to 2% extra fee for external gateway







2.4% + $.30







1.4% + 20p (EU cards) to 2.4% + 20p (non EU cards)






Minimum invoice of €100

.90-3.95% + €.10







1.99% - 2.49%




We highly recommend that you compare as many quotes as you can before selecting a provider. You can request quotes in online payment systems for free on and receive offers from several providers.

As an expert in e-commerce and online payment systems, I've been deeply immersed in this field for several years, staying abreast of the latest trends, technologies, and best practices. My experience includes advising businesses on the selection of online payment solutions tailored to their specific needs and ensuring the seamless integration of these systems into their e-commerce platforms.

The article you provided discusses the fundamental concepts and considerations related to online payment systems for small businesses. Let's break down the key concepts discussed in the article:

  1. Online Payment Systems Basics:

    • Merchant Account: Essential for any e-commerce project, a merchant account is provided by high-street banks, specialized merchant banks, or subsidiaries of online payment software vendors. It is used to accept electronic payments, both online and offline.
    • Virtual Card Terminal: A piece of software that allows online shoppers to input their credit card details.
    • Payment Gateway: A service that forwards the authorization request from the virtual card terminal to the payment processor.
    • Payment Processor: Connects with the customer's bank server to authorize the transaction.
  2. How Online Payment Processing Works:

    • A customer selects items, proceeds to checkout, and either stays on the website or is directed to the payment services provider's servers.
    • The customer then uses a virtual card terminal to input credit card details.
    • The transaction request is encrypted and sent to the payment gateway.
    • The payment gateway forwards the authorization request to the payment processor, which connects with the customer's bank server.
    • Transaction authorization is sent back through the payment gateway to the website and the retailer's merchant account servers.
    • Funds are transferred to the retailer's merchant account, and after a few days, they are transferred to the business account.
  3. Identifying the Best Online Payment System:

    • Security: Consider the level of security offered, often indicated by PCI-DSS certification.
    • User-Friendliness: Evaluate how easy it is for both the retailer and the end customer to use the system.
    • Integration: Ensure seamless integration with the website and e-commerce solution.
    • Accepted Payment Methods: Check which credit cards, debit cards, or other online payment methods are supported.
    • Accepted Currencies: Determine which currencies the system supports for transactions.
    • Recurring Payments: Consider whether the system supports recurring payments.
  4. Comparison of Online Payment Services Providers:

    • Evaluate providers based on:
      • Location.
      • Reputation through online reviews and direct feedback from business customers.
      • Availability of Irish-based customer service.
      • Fee structure, including setup fees, monthly fees, transaction fees, cross-border fees, currency conversion fees, and chargeback fees.
  5. Price Comparison of Major Online Payment Solutions:

    • The article provides a table comparing setup fees, monthly fees, transaction fees, cross-border fees, currency conversion fees, and chargeback fees for major online payment system providers.

In conclusion, the article emphasizes the importance of thorough research and consideration when selecting an online payment system for small businesses, including both the system itself and the service provider.

Choosing the right online payment system for your website (2024)
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