Taking Online Credit Card Payments
Taking online credit card payments via your website is a great way to allow your customers and clients to make payment. But exactly what is the process to implement it?
Firstly you need to get a merchant account through a bank. Note you should use one of the majors (some of the smaller banks don't allow you to take online payments using your merchant account):
- St George
A merchant account will allow you to accept credit card payments via different methods (depending on your agreement with the bank).
These methods include card present transactions or magnetic swipe transactions (e.g. like when you use your credit card at a store), or not card present transactions (i.e. when you buy online or over the phone).
Once you have your merchant account (or when you setup your merchant account) you can request that this account be setup to allow you to take credit card payments over the internet. Important: dependent on which bank you get your merchant account through depends on how (or if) you can accept online payments.
There are two kinds of online payment solutions
- Non Transparent
A non transparent transaction is where the user is redirected to a third party site to complete a payment. You may have experienced this kind of transaction where you have entered details on a site (such as adding items to a shopping cart), but are transferred to another site (such as a banking institution or payPal) to enter your credit card details.
Transparent transactions are when a user starts, pays and completes their order all within the one site.
There are pros and cons for both options, however we at TMD think that the transparent method is more user friendly and more professional. So we are going to concentrate on the transparent method of payment.
To setup this transparent payment solution, you need to have a payment gateway that will connect to your merchant account.
How this works:
- The user comes to your site, and wishes to make a credit card payment
- They enter their details on your site (which are captured securely) and click a 'pay now' or 'submit' button.
In the background (hence why we call it 'transparent'):
these details are passed onto the gateway
the gateway checks with the bank whether this card is valid, and whether there are sufficient funds on the card
the gateway responds with a yes / no response
- Dependant on the outcome of this process, the next page the user will see is a 'thank you page' (e.g. 'Hi John, your credit card has been processed, a receipt has been emailed to you'.) or a page prompting them to check they entered the right card number / have sufficient funds on this card.
The reason that we need to use a payment gateway is that most banks do not offer a 'transparent' payment method.
The checklist - This is what you need to do:
- Setup a merchant account through one of the major banks (see above)
The bank will require you to have some policies / procedures on your website. It's a good idea to start working on these straight away.
- Security Policy
- Delivery Policy
- Refunds & Returns Policy
- Once this merchant account is setup, we will get you to signup to a Payment Gateway (we recommend using eMatters)
- Once these are both done, the bank will need to look at your site (i.e policies above) and certify that it is allowed to take online payments (we will liaise with your bank to make sure it passes the relevant certification)
- Once approved we can go live!
- Setup fees with the banks usually start from around $150
- Monthly fees usually start from around $30 / month
- Each transaction will incur a 1 - 3% fee (note AMEX and DINERS are more)
Payment Gateway Fees
- Setup fees are usually free.
- Monthly Fees usually start from around $35 / month, and this usually gives you a certain number of free transactions
- Additional Transactions are usually around the $0.50 mark.
Things to watch out for
- Be careful that the bank does not sign you up for their own online payment solution. If they do it is unlikely that you will have a 'transparent' payment method. You will also have to pay additional fees for this bank provided solution.
Note that having a plain merchant account and a separate payment gateway works out to be roughly the same price as if you have a merchant account hooked up to a bank provided payment solution.
- We have had cases of bank staff telling clients that their payment solution is the only one available - which most of the time is incorrect. The banks we recommend are certified to deal with certain payment gateways. If they tell you differently don''t sign anything until you contact us.
- From regularly dealings with pretty much every bank, we have found that most merchant departments may not process your application paperwork in the most timely manner (to put it very diplomatically). We strongly advise our clients to call every 1 - 2 days to check on the status of their merchant account application, approval and setup with their bank.
Allow enough time to get through this process. We recommend that it takes around four weeks to get a merchant account, get the bank to approve the site and activate your account with the payment gateway.