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Enabling Online Payments

March 31 2017

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If you own an online company, or your company has a website, then online payments can make it easier for your customers to obtain the services they need in a way that is effective for them. Having an online payment service for your business is definitely something you should be thinking about if you don’t already have one.

Setting up online payments on your site involves several steps, to insure that the online payment system works, is integrated with the rest of your services, is secure and is easy to use and inviting for customers.

The first step is to get a merchant account, if you haven’t already. This account with a bank will make online transfers between a customer’s account and your business’ account possible. If you can’t get a merchant account with a bank, then consider paying for the help of a service bureau, which will provide business services for a fee.

Next you need to think about security. Online payments obviously involve sensitive personal information. Mishandling of that information could put your customer, you, and the bank you use at risk from fraud, hacking and exposure. The minimum level of security you should get is SSL encryption, which we’ve described before and afford a level of encryption for information going to and from a website. You also need to automate the handling of card details and the transfer of funds with a Payment Service Provider (PSP), because the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) makes it illegal to store credit card details electronically, unless you have a level of physical and electronic security that most small businesses can’t have, to prevent fraud.

You will also want a PSP that integrates with your business’ online shopping cart, which works by transferring customers to the PSP’s secure server to complete the financial transaction, so that they can fill in their details and go back to your site to confirm the order. You might consider PayPal or Google Checkout for your orders if you want, or you might prefer to use a bespoke payment system designed to fit the needs of your site and business. But you should be aware that this option will probably come with a monthly service charge and a percentage fee for each transaction. If you tend to make low cost transactions, then stick with a higher monthly fee and a lower percentage fee to keep costs of the service low.