Which Payment Gateway Is Best for My Business?

Swipesum details all you need to know on the best payment gateway for small businesses! Click to read more on merchant gateway insights and more!

Below, we’ll provide more details on the following: What is a payment gateway? Which credit card processing gateway is best for my business? What payment processing integrations do they provide? How will my business be financially and legally protected? Do I need multiple sales channels?

Payment gateways have been evolving for decades, and ever since the e-commerce boom, you can now find many different payment processing services online. This article will talk about some crucial factors for choosing the best payment gateway for small businesses — and your business specifically.

Do you already know you need a new merchant payment gateway, and want some expert support and assistance throughout the process? At Swipesum, we’re independent merchant services consultants. That means we’re not beholden to any particular system or provider.

Instead, we focus exclusively on finding the best gateway payment processing options for your business. We prioritize your unique needs, eliminate common fees through negotiations, and deliver a solution you can depend on.

Below, we’ll provide more details on the following:

  • What is a payment gateway?
  • Which payment service provider is best for my business?
  • What integrations do they provide?
  • How will my business be financially and legally protected?
  • Do I need multiple sales channels?

What Is a Payment Gateway?

Simply put, a payment gateway is a service for merchants to process direct payments via credit or debit cards. 

These merchant gateway integrations connect a software platform to multiple payment providers. So, there’s always a direct connection between whichever payment provider is needed and your software. 

Payment gateways are created and provided by e-commerce application service companies. The difference between a payment processor and a payment gateway is that a processor executes the transaction itself, and the gateway is an approval medium for transactions between customers and your website. We’ll get more into those differences further below.

Merchant gateway services that process payments come in all shapes and sizes. They can be obtained from your business’ bank or many payment service providers in the financial industry. Each one has its own set of perks and policies.

They can be utilized for e-commerce, traditional brick-and-mortar, and online retailers,  whether it’s a card or cash transaction.

Which Payment Service Provider is Best for My Business?

First and foremost, you'll want to research which payment gateways can be integrated into your business's existing payment software. Look for a payment gateway service that suits your business' needs and can work within your industry. 

For example, if you're utilizing Netsuite Accounting Software, you can look on their website to find which payment gateway integrations may be available. This could range from as few as five up to fifty different options. 

One of the biggest concerns business owners have are the fees tied to using the payment gateway and its processing services. This is especially important if you're a small business, as fees on payment processing can start to stack up. In general, the best online payment gateway for small businesses offers lower costs as well as reliability, security, and ease of use.

Also, there are many other features that are considered, such as international payments, and recurring billing options. Furthermore, companies like Swipesum provide consultations for payment processing to find the best route to optimize payments for your business. They'll also ensure you're set to handle any potential chargebacks in addition to the security protocols needed for your business transactions.

Considering the nature of researching the best payment gateways available, it isn’t uncommon to hire payment consultants to set up this entire side of the business for you, or at least source all of the information you need. If you choose to work with a payments consultant, it’s best to go with a vetted, independent company such as Swipesum to source the best payment processing solutions for your needs.

A company like this will also handle the negotiation of fees and merchant agreements as well as the underwriting process, which we’ll get more into later. As a business owner, it’s vital that your business transactions are safe and secure, so it’s best to work with a payment processing consultant that will set you on the right path.

What Integrations Do They Provide?

There are many payment gateways on the market, each of which comes with its available integrations. In today's world, many online businesses sell their products through multiple sales channels, attracting customers across different platforms. 

For example, NMI, a well-known payment gateway company, can integrate with over 200 processors and comes with QR code transaction support, product management tools, and more. Cybersource, another popular gateway service, covers transactions in over 190 countries and supports over 50 currencies.

Try your best to choose a payment gateway provider that offers services that allow you to grow with them instead of having to change service providers over and over. In the future, if needed, you can switch to a different merchant account whenever you want. Leading to my next point, canceling your merchant service agreement can be a pain for you and your business.

The process of switching payment gateway providers can cause delays in your transactions clearing, not to mention setting up a brand new system and managing the data from your previous provider. The list of potential headaches goes on, but these issues can be avoided.

Outside of finding a payment gateway provider that has the service and integrations you need, it's crucial that you thoroughly understand what their merchant service agreement requires, any fees, and cancellation policies. Furthermore, in the next section, I'll provide more insight into protecting your business financially and legally when entering a merchant service agreement.

How Will My Business Be Financially and Legally Protected?

When you've chosen the payment gateway provider you'd like to do business with, you won't be far off from signing a merchant agreement. This is where you'll find all the extensive details about fees, legalities, cancellation policies, and much more. If you end up in any disagreement with your service provider, this agreement will be your defense.

Of course, you must understand their fee structure for processing your transactions before signing the agreement, aside from the apparent protections needed. Even if online payment gateways tend to have cheaper fees, this doesn't mean they won't try to sneak some fine print into the agreement while putting a hefty fee on the cancellation policy. 

You can't miss a single detail here, or you could end up hurting your pockets. Once you've decided to sign, you can expect to go through a process called underwriting. This is a way for the payment gateway provider to verify the legitimacy of your business and prevent any fraudulent activity or false claims from getting through.

Do I Need Multiple Sales Channels?

As usual, this is up to personal preference, it wouldn't hurt to have some hindsight and see if you might expand your sales channels in the future. Maybe you've had a physical retail location for quite some time, and you're thinking about expanding and selling your products online. The last thing you want to have to do is manage two different payment processors.

It isn't challenging to find a payment gateway provider that offers its services across multiple sales channels. With this scenario, you also want to spend time with their software and make sure their different payment processors, such as a POS or online gateway, integrate seamlessly. 

There are multiple downsides to working with more than one payment processor, one being the uneven fee structure, and another is the lack of integration with the rest of your business, to name a few.

Payment Gateway vs. Payment Processor

A customer makes an in-store purchase with a credit card.

Commonly mistaken as the same thing, there are clear differences in the payment gateway vs. processor comparison. 

A payment gateway connects the software to the merchant account for your business, and it also provides advanced features such as the acceptance of multiple payment methods. Conversely, the payment processor supplies the merchant account, which allows you to process payments successfully. Continue reading, and you'll find a list of payment gateway characteristics.

What is a payment gateway?

  • An e-commerce application service provider.
  • Integration of payments with third-party accounting platforms.
  • Medium for authorizing credit card and direct payment processing.
  • Meant for online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores, and all e-commerce businesses.

A payment processor's purpose is to transmit the transaction data between the customer, their bank, you, and your business's bank. Payment processors generally provide a credit card reader. In many cases, POS software integrates with it, allowing you to process transactions manually as well.

What is a payment processor?

  • They provide you with your business's merchant account.
  • Payment processing hardware for swiping, tapping, or inserting credit cards.a
  • Payment processing software terminal for managing earnings data and executing manual transactions.
  • Transmission of transaction data between the customer and business.

In Conclusion

A payment gateway is more than just a payment processor. It can also be software that's integrated throughout your entire business, from customer data management, product tracking, including multiple sales channels built to manage all of your transactions while keeping it all in one place.

Deciding which is the best payment gateway for your business can be tricky with the variety that's out there. All you need to focus on is the provider's reliability, fee structure, policies, and the scope of services and integrations they can contribute to you and your customers. 

Looking for help finding the best payment gateway for your online business, or for any type of business? The independent experts at Swipesum can help. We’re dedicated to finding the best payment technology, terms of service, and overall fit for your company.

We’ll locate the right solution and pre-negotiate the most favorable terms — for free. We can optimize payments flow, manage the health of your contract, offer customer service support, and so much more. Book your free consultation!.


Taft Anderson of Swipesum smiling in front of a camera

Michael Seaman

Michael is the co-founder and CEO of Swipesum. A veteran of the payments industry, Michael and his brother Stephen have led Swipesum since its inception in 2016. In his free time, Michael likes to play with his two daughters and skateboard.

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