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If you sell online, it’s crucial to make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you. The easier you can make it, the more likely that visitors to your website will take the plunge and click ‘checkout’.
But just as importantly, you need to find the most cost-effective ways for taking payments online. Remember that the more you pay in processing fees, the less profit you’ll make on each sale.
In this guide, we’ll cover some ways you can accept payments online, how Wise Business can help you collect international payments and other relevant information, including what is a payment gateway.
|📝 Table of contents|
Below we'll explain in more detail what a payment gateway is, but before getting to that, we would like to clarify that Wise Business is a UK-based company that provides international banking alternatives, which offers a multi-currency account and other financial services to help businesses get global in a more convenient way, always converting money with the mid-market exchange rate and without hidden fees.
|⚠️ Wise Business is not a payment gateway, though|
Payment gateways are technological platforms used to enable businesses to receive payments through debit or credit cards¹. These can be in-store solutions, such as point of sales terminals, as well as digital payment processing platforms, used for ecommerce and other businesses taking payments online.
Payment gateways work as the consumer interface, collecting the payment information and communicating this data to a connected merchant account, where the payment is processed.
Direct debit and debit or credit card payments are the two most common ways to collect payments online, however, they can be a bit more complicated and you'll need some specifics to be able to accept the payments.
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of both of these methods, as well as the option to use a money transfer service, to find the right choice for your business.
If you do not collect payments through e-commerce, a simpler way to get paid online by your customers is with a money transfer specialist like Wise Business multi-currency account, which is Wise's merchant account.
When you open a Wise Business account, you’ll get your own local bank details (without the need for a local address) for 9 major currencies.
Your customers can use these details to pay you in their own currency, and you’ll receive the payment for zero or low fees. Crucially, you’ll always get the real, mid-market exchange rate. This can make it far cheaper to get paid, and you’re guaranteed a secure, reliable and fast service.
Wise Business account also has a request payment feature, that helps you set the instructions with Wise payment link to receive payments without the need to write down your specific account details, making life easier for you and your customers.
A Direct Debit agreement gives your business permission to take an agreed amount from your customer’s bank account. This could be a one-off payment, but it’s most often used for recurring payments such as bills. This also makes it useful for charities and other subscription-based businesses such as gyms.
Here’s how it works²:
- Join the UK Direct Debit scheme, run by Bacs;
- Contact your bank, to check if you meet all the requirements to be able to start accepting Direct Debit payments;
- Use a Bacs-approved Direct Debit bureau (recommended for smaller businesses, although you can set it up yourself) to submit payment files to Bacs. These payment files contain your customer’s bank details and payment amounts, so that the transaction can be authorised.
Direct Debit can be quite cost effective, as you can avoid per-transaction fees charged on credit and debit card payments. It’s also reliable, secure and fully regulated.
With Direct Debit, payments can be automated. This is more convenient and time-saving for you, but it may not be so for the customer who is used to paying by card on your competitors’ websites.
A far more convenient option for many businesses, particularly online retailers, is to accept debit or credit card payments. It’s also more convenient for their customers, providing a higher quality, faster experience during checkout.
You can start accepting payments through your website by following these steps:
Open a merchant account – this is like an online bank account that temporarily holds money paid to you by a customer, until the payment is cleared by their bank. Think of it like a waiting room for customer payments, before the money is transferred to your actual bank account. Many major UK banks offer merchant accounts, along with WorldPay and other dedicated providers.
Set up a payment gateway – this is software that connects your e-commerce site with a payment processing network. It’s what you’ll use to capture customers’ card details and submit the payment. It can be integrated with your merchant account. You’ll know of many of the main merchant account providers – including Stripe, PayPal, WorldPay, Sage Pay and Braintree.
With both of these essential building blocks in place, you can set up your webshop and start accepting online card payments that are secure and reliable, however, there are costs involved.
Both merchant account and payment gateway providers charge monthly fees. For payment gateways, this can be between £10 to £20 a month, with a small per-transaction fee added on top.
Some providers offer an all-in-one bundle for businesses wanting to accept online card payments. These are known as payment service providers, or payment facilitators (PayFacs), and include the likes of PayPal, Stripe, SumUp, iZettle and Square.
Setting up with a full-service provider should be relatively straightforward. Simply sign up and follow their step-by-step process and you’ll soon be accepting card payments on your website.
Using a PayFac can be much cheaper and more convenient than setting up your merchant account and payment gateway separately. You’ll usually get access to a whole range of merchant services all in one place, and pay just fixed, flat rate percentages per transaction rather than monthly fees.
As well as being secure and extremely hot on anti-fraud measures, PayFacs can also help with PCI compliance.
Open a multi-currency Wise Business account and you can start receiving international payments from clients all over the world.
But that’s not all, as you can also use your account to withdraw your money from merchant accounts like Stripe, PayPal or Amazon Pay.
The beauty of this is that you can use Wise Business to convert your earnings to your local currency. This means you’ll get the fairest, mid-market exchange rate – rather than losing money to the rate mark-up applied by services such as PayPal³.
You can hold multiple currencies in your account at once, and choose the best way to use the funds. Hold it there to cover a future business expense or withdraw to your bank account – it’s up to you.
Online businesses and retailers have a huge amount of choice when it comes to payment processing and merchant accounts. In fact, there’s so much choice that it can be a little overwhelming.
And even though Wise Business is not a payment gateway, you can receive international payments with Wise's account details for 10 different currencies.
Hopefully, this guide has laid out a few of your best options for accepting payments online. We’ve covered convenience, costs, security, how to get set up and some of the main providers to look out for.
There’s no one perfect solution though. What works for one business may not be the right choice for yours. It’s important to find the setup that works best for your business, budget and of course, your customers.
Sources checked on 14/09/2023.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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