When you create your store, you need a payment gateway so customers can pay you. With so many options out there, how do you know what’s right?
The argument almost always boils down to the two biggest players: Stripe vs Paypal. While these are the main choices, there are many more payment gateways out there, with their own pros and cons.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly go over the basics.
What is a payment gateway?
Put simply, a payment gateway is a service that authorizes payments made to you from your customer. The gateway will:
- Encrypt and send all the data involved in the transaction.
- Check and confirm that the card/payment option is authorized.
- Once it encrypts and authorizes everything, it then ensures the transaction is processed and cleared.
Handling money is always a sensitive topic, so let’s look at what makes a payment gateway reliable.
What to look for in a payment gateway
When handling money, security is always peoples number one priority. To make sure that your payment gateway is secure, always check that they are PCI compliant. To learn more about security, you can also read about ecommerce fraud and how to avoid it.
All the payment gateways mentioned here are compliant and have their own, extra security measures.
Another very important factor to consider is streamlining. In fact, 1 in 4 people abandon an order due to a “too long/complicated checkout process”.
Clearly, the checkout process is a very important section of your website that you can customize to significantly increase conversions. By reducing the number of clicks needed to pay for something, you can streamline the checkout experience and reduce cart abandonment rates.
Look for a payment gateway that gives you flexibility and customizability so you can streamline your checkout experience.
Transaction fees are also important to look at. The industry standard is 2.9% + 30c per transaction. To be competitive, some gateways offer volume discounts and different rates for micropayments.
Finally, every customer has their own preferred methods for paying online. On top of that, each country has its own standard/preferred payment methods.
The more ways people are able to pay you, the better. How many payment options a payment gateway offers is another point you want to consider.
It’s worth noting that eWallets are becoming more popular, and cards are losing popularity as ecommerce payment methods. Something to think about when choosing a processor.
Worldpay Global Payments Report, November 2018
What payment gateways are out there?
So now that we know the basics of payment gateways, let’s try answer which is the best payment gateway. Let’s start with the industry leader, PayPal.
PayPal is the biggest and most well-known online payment gateway in the world, owning over 60% of the market. They have two different plans for small businesses, Standard and Pro.
PayPal Standard gives you a really easy way to let customers pay you by adding a “pay now” button to your site. All you have to do is sign up and add one of their payment buttons to your site. PayPal will then handle the rest for you.
This is a huge benefit that can’t go understated, it makes PayPal a great choice for anyone quickly starting out. It also has no monthly fee and charges the regular transaction fee of 2.9% + 30c per transaction.
PayPal Standard’s simplicity, while a great benefit in some respects, also comes with a downside of a lack of customizability. All you can do is pick which type of button you want on your site.
Another major downside to PayPal standard is the fact that you lose control of the checkout experience. PayPal standard links your customers to an external site where they enter their details and pay. This extra step means you lose control, and you can lose you many sales.
Paypal Standard is only available in 203 countries. If Paypal isn’t available where you live, there is a workaround.
Estonia offers an e-residency program, allowing digital entrepreneurs to start and manage an EU-based company online. Once you set up your e-residency and register your business, you can then create a PayPal business account as an Estonian company. You can learn more about that process in this medium post.
If you want to use Paypal, they also have a premium version of their service, PayPal Pro. Like PayPal Standard, it’s straightforward to set up, however, it has one huge benefit over Standard.
PayPal Pro lets people pay directly on your site, rather than sending people to an external site like with PayPal Standard. This provides multiple bonuses.
It streamlines the checkout process. By reducing the number of clicks that a customer has to make to get to purchase means that you won’t lose as many people in the process.
It makes the experience extremely customizable. You can test many different checkout designs and see which ones translate into the most sales.
However, these bonuses that you get with Paypal Pro don’t come for free. This plan will cost you $30 month on top of the regular transaction fee, which can be pricy if your just getting started.
PayPal Pro is only available in the US, UK, and Canada.
If you don’t want to go with the industry leader, then the next most popular option is Stripe.
What makes Stripe so popular is the fact that they give you complete control over the checkout experience, very similar to PayPal Pro. However, they have the added benefit of not charging you the monthly fee.
Stripe also has a ton of useful and powerful features, from in-store payments to comprehensive security and an in-depth dashboard.
The major downside with Stripe is that it was made specifically for developers. If you’re already comfortable with code, then no worries! However, if you’re a beginner, Stripe can be quite difficult to handle. You’ll have to make an effort to create what you want.
Stripe accepts quite a few different payment options, including multiple eWallets. However, it doesn’t accept PayPal. You can get around this by using multiple different payment gateways, though.
Stripe is available in 32 countries.
Shopify has partnered with Stripe to offer their own in-built payment gateway for Shopify users, to make it as easy as possible to get your store up and running. It is hands down the best payment gateway for Shopify.
The huge benefit of using Shopify Payments is that it is already integrated with your store, meaning that it is extremely easy to set up and use. Also, Shopify usually charges you a small fee each transaction (2.9% + 30c on their basic plan). However, if you use Shopify payments, they don’t charge you this fee, only the regular transaction fee of payment gateways.
Shopify Payments also keeps customers on your site during checkout, rather than sending them to an external payment site, giving you control.
However, if you don’t use Shopify, then you can’t use Shopify Payments. In addition to this, they have a long list of exclusions for types of stores they don’t accept. Make sure you properly read their rules before signing up.
Shopify Payments is available in 11 countries.
Braintree is another payment gateway that was bought by PayPal in 2013, designed to be a direct competitor to Stripe.
There are a ton of useful and powerful features you get with Braintree, such as Fraud Protection, in-store payments, and multiple integrations. They also have some nice templates to help you get started.
On top of this, Braintree lets customers check out on your site, meaning you can completely customer the checkout experience to increase conversions.
Braintree accepts a ton of different payment methods. Not only do they accept many major cards, but they also accept Paypal, Venmo and much more. They also have no monthly fee and charges the regular transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Overall, Braintree is definitely designed to be a Stripe competitor and is more geared towards larger enterprises. This means their software is designed to be handled by a developer and is not as beginner friendly as PayPal.
Braintree is available in 45 countries.
The king of ecommerce has also developed their own payment gateway, Amazon Pay.
The biggest benefit of Amazon Pay is that you get the brand recognition and credibility that Amazon has. This goes a very long way in building trust, which is an easy way to boost your conversion rate.
When you use Amazon Pay, customers can pay you through their Amazon account. This means that you will be able to accept payments in any way that Amazon does, ensuring that you’re always at the forefront of technology. However, they don’t accept PayPal.
Even though customers are paying you through their Amazon account, Amazon payments allow you to keep customers on your site when paying, simplifying the checkout experience to increase conversions.
However, the big downside to Amazon Pay is the signup process.
Signing up for Amazon Pay is a very similar process of signing up as an Amazon Seller, which is quite a long process. To qualify there is a lot of paperwork to fill out, which can be quite a tedious experience for many small business owners or those looking to set-up as fast as possible.
Amazon Pay is available in 16 countries.
So, which is the best payment gateway?
Every situation is different, so it’s impossible to give a definitive answer. However, I suggest that you use:
- Shopify Payments if your selling on Shopify.
- Stripe or Braintree if you are willing to take on the developer role.
- PayPal Standard if all you need the are the basics.
If you really want to give your customers the most options possible, you can also use multiple payment gateways, such as combining Braintree with Amazon Payments.
Overall, ensure you look at the pros and cons of each gateway yourself and make the decision that works the best for your business.