One of the most important factors of your e-business strategy
is the company or product you choose to help you to sell over
First, here's three key internet payment systems you should know about :
• Can be linked to Adwords promotions • A variety of integration options to suit most website owners
Find out more about accepting payments with Google checkout...
• Quick implementation (within hours) • No advanced technical requirements • No Existing Merchant Services Agreement required • Also allows you to accept payments from users who don't like using a card over the net.
With over 63 million account holders to their name, you have to take them seriously! Find out more about accepting cards with PayPal...
Services - ePDQ • Slightly longer time to implementation (days to months) • Slightly more advanced 'minimum technical requirements' • Existing Merchant Account required or must be applied-for & accepted • Choice of simple or highly integrated implementations available for your site. Find out more about how to apply for these Barclaycard Business Services...
Using your current off-line merchant account.
Surprisingly, some UK banks used to recommend that you take
your visitors' credit card details using a standard e-mail form
on an SSL secured web site, then manually process the business
through your existing offline PDQ machine. This is the cheapest
option available, because your are not introducing any 'middle
men' , but there are a number of problems with this approach:
First of all, you may not have an existing merchant agreement,
thus rendering those credit card details useless!
Secondly, even if you do accept credit cards offline, be aware
that e-mails are relatively insecure. E-mails can either intentionally
or accidentally bounce into the wrong hands. To solve these
problems you could always encrypt your electronic mail before
sending it from your website, then decrypt the messages when
they arrive on your hard drive. Many hosting services, however,
do not allow encryption software to run on their servers so
you'll either have to change hosts or try a different approach.
Finally, this may be a sensible solution if you are anticipating
a small number of transactions per week, but as soon as your
internet shop takes off it'll become cumbersome and you should
start to look at other methods.
If your business is to succeed online it needs to be able to
take payment in real time online. This means your "shop door"
is truly open 24/7.
There are a number of options available to those wishing to
accept credit card payments online:
Using 'ePDQ' with your own dedicated secure server.
[Please Note: Since we wrote this article (Feb 2001)
Barclays Merchant Services have introduced a
better ePDQ system that allows you to accept online payments
without having to have expensive dedicated internet servers
(so, can be used with your virtual hosting packages) ]
Barclays Merchant Services are, at present, the only
UK bank that provide the technology to enable you to link directly
into their 'online cash register' from your own website. In
order to use their services you must first apply and be accepted
as an ePDQ Internet Merchant (even if you have an existing agreement
with them). Then, load some special (MCK) software onto the
(secure) server that hosts your web site. This software enables
your server to 'talk' to their technology and conduct transactions.
The problem, however, is that many hosting companies are unwilling
to load extra software onto their servers for customers using
their 'standard' hosting packages.
One solution is to upgrade and seek web hosting on a dedicated
server, this could cost thousands of pounds a year - is it worth
it? Furthermore, even when you are paying for a 'managed' dedicated
hosting package, the hosting company's support team may, still,
not be willing to install any special payment software/modules
- they don't want to 'carry the can' if it all goes wrong (insurance
premiums 'an all that).
Hosting your website on a dedicated server has many advantages
and the costs are always tumbling, but if you cannot justify
the expense at this time, there is a third way...
Using the services of an Internet Payment Service Provider.
There are many Payment Service Providers (PSP's). Some require
you to have an existing Internet Merchant Agreement with
your bank or another Merchant Service Provider. If this
is the case, the Payment Service Provider essentially
provides you with a secure system for accepting payments over
If you do not have an existing Internet Merchant Agreement,
many can either point you in the right direction or offer an
in-house solution. (PayPal, for example, will
make agreements with most businesses. So, if your
bank has declined your application, PayPal may be able
Another example is Clickbank.com
. Like PayPal, they offer an online payment system package that allows you
to start accepting credit cards over the net within hours of
registering with them. However, you must be selling soft goods
(e.g goods that do not need to be shipped after payment). Examples
of soft goods are; e-books, downloadable data, and services.
In addition to the payment facilities, most PSP's offer additional
services such as hosting, online shopping baskets, marketing
services (e.g membership of malls, affiliate programs etc.).
Within the Clickbank.com
package, for example, an affiliate system is already set-up.
Therefore, you just need to decide how much commission-on-sales
you wish to offer to those people who direct/refer buyers to
your website. Then, give out a simple web address, so affiliates
can register to start earning by sending you buyers. Every 16
days Clickbank then divvy-up the dosh, taking a cut, and everyone's
happy. One of our advertisers
uses this system, and it took us about 15 minutes to get their
advert up and running on our site.
Payment service providers such as SECPay, NetBanx,
WorldPay and Datacash provide a service that enables
buyers to clear their credit card payments at the time that
they buy online. Companies such as SECPay specialise
in online authorisation of debit and credit card transactions
on the internet and collection of funds directly to your merchant
account. These services are integrated into your existing website.
There is normally an annual or monthly fee to be paid as well
as either a set price per transaction or a percentage of each
transaction. It is obviously a good idea to check out as many
of these service providers as possible before committing yourself.
However, you still have the issue of being one of many millions
of websites trying to make their presence felt, the next step
is to find your customer or to help your customer find you.
Companies such as Secure Payment Company exist to help
SMEs connect directly to the consumer via the internet.
Having become something of an expert in the ecommerce field
they offer a marketing service to help SMEs sell directly to
the consumer complete with an online loyalty device to help
keep their customers. They were one of the first companies in
the UK to take their sales online and in real time and are in
a position to pass their expertise on. If you don't want to
go it alone, Secure Payment Company provides full e-commerce
functionality, website review and a marketing plan in return
for a share in margin on sales.
Reseller programes and affiliate schemes are another way of
reaching a wider audience whilst sharing margin, however the
most popular way to find a website is still using a search engine.
Search engine submission and key words can play a vital role
in the development of your e-strategy. But that is another story....
credit cards today - Clickbank.com
Services - ePDQ