A guide to accepting online payments via your website

The success of your business depends on more than just inspiration, determination and perspiration - it depends on getting paid.

Receiving payment via credit or debit cards for the products or services you sell online requires a payment service provider (PSP)…Unless, of course, you prefer to wait for the cheque in the post? Assuming that’s not the case, then your next step is to choose a PSP.

Selecting a Payment Service Provider (PSP)

PayPoint.net is a PSP. But we’re not going to rattle on about we do. Instead, we’ll give you an overview of what to expect from PSPs in general, so you can make up your own mind.

A PSP should offer you a range of online solutions for accepting payments in real-time by credit and debit card - all via an internet web browser. Some PSPs also have the facility to let you accept customer payments by mail or by phone.

It’s also the job of a PSP to…

  • arrange settlement of customer funds into your Internet Merchant Account (IMA).
  • provide integrated reporting and administration functions to facilitate your operational and accounting processes.
  • offer a level of technical support and detailed account management that wouldn't be possible with a bank alone.

But a good PSP doesn’t just process payments - it’ll provide everything you need to trade profitably and safely. For example, a PSP without a fraud solution is like a king without a crown. Incomplete. You need a decent fraud solution to improve your customers’ security, maintain their confidence in the integrity of your offering and protect yourself from costly chargebacks.

Opening an Internet Merchant Account (IMA)

To trade online you’ll need to open an IMA - the specialised bank account for those accepting and holding payments from debit and credit card transactions.

Most high street banks in the UK offer Internet Merchant Accounts but they can be quite selective about the businesses they give them to - sometimes demanding a proven trading record of at least two years. Less traditional, niche businesses can also find themselves up against a banking brick wall.

However, some PSPs (such as PayPoint.net) can come to the rescue, because they have the facility to process payments on your behalf, providing you with both the payment service and the IMA. In short, a one-stop-shop for online payments. Indeed, you may find this preferable even if your bank is willing to provide the IMA - especially given the specialised account management a good PSP can offer.

Integrating the payment solution

Payment Service Providers will provide you with a means of integrating the payment solution with your website or, in the case of mail and telephone payments, with your operations and processes.

The best PSPs will offer you a full range of integration options. For example, we can offer you a simple payment page that’s hosted and secured by PayPoint.net, but fully incorporated into your website. And there are powerful web services available via an API (application programming interface) which enables your developers to build rich and detailed payment functionality into your website, such as delayed transactions, repeat billing and refunds.

And don’t worry if that all sounds far too technical. Any web developer worth the name will understand the integration requirements, or you can simply ask PayPoint.net’s dedicated technical support team to implement the integration. As ever the choice is yours. And that’s precisely what good payment integration should offer - choice and ease of implementation.

Testing, testing, testing…

Right. So you’re all set up. The site looks great and everything’s where it should be, but does it actually work? Well, there’s only one way to find out… Once you’ve integrated your website with the payment processing service, you’ll be able to conduct test transactions using test credit card details.

You can (and should) perform as many test transactions as you want - both before your IMA is active and while it’s live - in order to simulate both valid and invalid payment requests. This is where hiccups are spotted and glitches ironed out.

Going live

Now that you’ve tested your integrated payment services and are happy to take payments online, all you need to do is contact your PSP and request that your account goes live. That’s it. They flick the switch (metaphorically) and you’re ready to start accepting card payments online. Congratulations.

This article was originally published on PayPoint.net