Global payment processors allow merchants to accept credit and debit card payments online, over the telephone, and at the point of sale (POS). More recently, a new generation of PSPs has emerged that allow merchants to accept payments in bitcoins, and to either retain the payment in a bitcoin account, or to have it converted into a fiat currency.
Here we provide a brief overview of the role of a traditional PSP from the point of view of a merchant, along with information on some of the main players. Where possible, this is broken down into geographical location.
Next we look in more detail at bitcoin PSPs along with details on some of the main players, again broken down geographically.
PSPs provide merchants with the facility to accept credit and debit card payments. Generally, these payments are received in a merchant account. A merchant account is different from a normal bank account; you cannot access it directly and even though you might have substantial credit in it, you can’t access that money until it has been transferred to your current account.
Generally, it takes just a day or so to transfer the funds, but depending on specific circumstances it can take up to several weeks. Note that some PSP require you to have a separate merchant account, others provide one as part of their package. With others such as PayPal you don’t need one at all.
While some payment service providers have a transparent cost structure, many don’t publish their charges as these are negotiated individually, so it is difficult to make a direct cost comparison. In the following reviews we have included costs when they are available, otherwise it will be necessary to contact the specific provider yourself. As the costs will depend on a risk assessment they will carry out on your business, it can take some time, maybe two weeks or even longer.
You should also be aware of other “hidden” costs. Again, depending on your risk assessment, some providers will require a rolling deposit. This could be as much as 10% a month of your sales that month, and the deposit will be retained for several months before it is returned to you. This can have a serious effect on cash flow. Another “hidden” cost to be aware of is the settlement period.
As already indicated, that is the time delay between processing a payment and the money appearing in your bank account. With some providers this can be just a few days, but it can be considerable longer and again this can have a significant effect on cash flow.
You are also advised to look at chargeback fees. These are the additional fees you will be charged for transactions that are reversed, for instance if the buyer has insufficient funds, it is a fraudulent transaction, or the buyer has made a complaint to the credit card issuer.
Note also that the published costs refer to the cheapest transactions. For instance, if a provider is quoting a charge of say 2.7% percent for credit card transaction, then this will be for processing major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard, and charges for processing cards such as American Express, Diners Club and corporate cards are likely to be considerably higher.
Globally there are more than 900 payment service providers with around 300 of them providing services in Europe and North America. There are many providers who specialise in specific markets and locations. Here we have selected some of the more important ones to provide a benchmark of the various services that are available.
BitPagos is a cross between a conventional and bitcoin payment service provider. The company provides payment gateway services that accept bitcoins and credit card payments across markets in Latin America.
The main focus is on small businesses and especially hotels who are seeking to extend their businesses globally, with their special selling points being lower fees and fast payment processing. The gateway integrates with most major shopping cards via an API and includes a virtual terminal. Merchants can choose to be paid in either their local currency or bitcoins.
Fees: There are no set-up or recurring fees; fees are based on a percentage of the transaction value and are available on an individual basis.
MercadoPago is the PSP for MercadoLibre, the Latin American equivalent of eBay. It has many parallels with PayPal. Launched in 2004, it is now the leading online payment processor in Latin America. As well as underpinning MercadoLibre payments, MercadoPago also enables individuals to send and receive money to other individuals and businesses by email and through social media. Registered users number in excess of 100 million.
Fees: The basic fees are 4.95% + VAT per transaction on sales. Personal money transfers between family and friends of up to $5,000 a month are free.
Based in Brazil, PagSeguro is the leading PSP in the country. It services are limited to the local currency of Brazilian Real, and serves over 200,000 merchants with over 40 million users. It provides a trusted and secure service. The gateway is available only as a hosted solution, so that customers are transferred to the PagSeguro payment page on checkout. Once there they can choose to pay by credit card, electronic bank transfer or the equivalent of direct debit. Mobile payments are also available.
Fees: There are no set-up or recurring fees. Standard fees are 4.99% of transaction value plus $0.40c. Mobile debit card processing fees are 2.39%, and credit card fees are 3.19%. Payment gateway and POS processing fees aren’t published.
There are three main PSPs in Thailand:
True Money - provides payment processing in Thailand including POS, online, and cash on delivery. It also provides pre-paid e-wallet services.
Paysbuy is primarily an online PSP. Launches in 2004, it has expanded into one of Thailand’s largest PSPs now offering e-wallet services, card processing, bank transfer, and cash payments at counters, with annual sales in excess of $65 million. It serves over 10,000 online merchants.
2C2P Based in Thailand and Singapore, 2C2P is a multi-channel PSP offering 2C2P branded services as well as white label payment products. It accepts local and international credit and debit card payments plus other payment solutions including pre-paid cards and cash payments. In 2014 the company processed payments of $2.2 billion.
There are several PSPs that restrict their services to European merchants:
Paypoint provides a comprehensive multi-channel gateway with support for international currencies, however, it is available only to merchants based in the UK. Its targeted merchants are those with high transactions volumes which may be considered higher risk; the solution is highly scalable. Integration is through a hosted payment page or through full API based integration.
Fees: Monthly fees are from £12 a month. Processing fees are independently assessed.
iZettle is a POS mobile solution for accepting credit cards. The company provides credit card reader that connects through a smartphone or tablet. Contactless cad readers are also available. Advantages include the absence of a lock-in contract and no fixed fees; you are only charges on successful transactions. It is very easy to set up an account and the service is secure.
The company is based in Stockholm and supports businesses in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Mexico and Brazil.
Fees: Transaction fees range from 1.5% to 2.75% of transaction value depending on sales volume. To qualify for the lowest fees, you will need sales of at least £12,000 a month
Launched in 1999, ePay was the first electronic payment system available in Bulgaria. The ePay service enables customers to pay for goods and services using PayPal and credit cards. The system is now widely trusted and uses the latest security technology for online payments. It is the most popular payment gateway in the country and is the one used by the majority of the banks as well as government institutions.
The system can also be used to issue invoices, and for recurring payments. Payment solutions can be fully integrated with online stores. Note the fee structure is unusual in that part of the fees are paid by the card holder.
Fees: There is a 1% transaction fee payable by the merchant plus credit card transaction fees (variable) which the merchant can choose to settle or to charge to the customer.
Braintree has been going from strength to strength since being acquired by PayPal in 2013. Active in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia, Braintree accepts payments in over 120 currencies and has processed over $30 billion in payment volume.
Braintree is the optimal payment processor for Online sellers. One reason for this is Braintree's ability to store your customers payment information, making recurring payments that much easier for your customers.
Bitcoin enthusiasts will be delighted to learn that Braintree also accepts bitcoin payments through its partner Coinbase.
Fee: 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee
TouchBistro is a leading provider of mobile point-of-sale technology for restaurants, cafes, bars, food trucks, and other food and drink venues. TouchBistro operates internationally and is the #1 grossing app in 35 countries. TouchBistro places an emphasis on a feature-rich front-end that's intuitive and easy to use.
The ToucBistro hardware setup is simple and low cost. Payment can be completed table-side, with the option for receipts to be quickly emailed to customers. In 2013 TouchBistro partnered with PayPal to support mobile payments.
Fees: Fees start at $69/month for 1 license up to $400/month for unlimited licenses.
PayPal is a truly global PSP and operates in 203 countries and in 26 currencies. There is a wide range of alternative PayPal merchant services which range from simple buy-now and checkout buttons that enable merchants to sell online without the need to have a merchant account, through to advanced merchant services that include a merchant account.
PayPal integration options include:
* PayPal Checkout – integrates PayPal checkout and payment buttons with PayPal hosted payment pages. Customers are redirected to the PayPal site for payment.
* Direct payment APIs – allows merchants to fully integrate PayPal with their website for greater functionality and improved customer experience.
* Mail Order and Telephone Order (MOTO) – payments can be processed via any browser. There is also a mobile POS card reader available.
A big advantage of PayPal is that it is easy to set up and doesn’t require a merchant account; all you need is a credit card to verify your account. The downside is that it is relatively expensive.
Fees: Fees depend on sales volumes. Monthly sales of up to £1,500: 3.4% + £0.20 a transaction; for sales of over £55,000 a month: 2.4% + £0.20 a transaction.
Stripe is a US based PSP which now accepts payments in 130 currencies. Stripe payments API is a developer orientated payment gateway solution which is designed to be integrated into ecommerce websites. It has a transparent payment structure with competitive pricing. There is no requirement for merchants to have a merchant account or for PCI security compliance.
Credit card, debit card and bit coin payments can be processed. Customers can pay in their local currency, and merchants are credited in their chosen currency. Features include Stripe Checkout, an embedded payment solution that allows you to accept payments directly on your website; Stripe.js a tokenisation system that allows you to capture card details while protecting them from reaching your server; mobile payments; Recurring billing – which permits merchants to securely store customers card details for recurring payments.
Fees: There are no recurring fees. Charges are 2.4% of transaction value plus 20p. For volumes greater that £20,000 per month lower charges are available. There are no monthly charges.
No wonder that Stripe is one of our favourite online payment processors!
Ingenico, previously known as Ogone, is a PSP that operates in 170 countries and supports 50,000 merchants. It provides a range of payment solutions including hosted payment pages to which customers are redirected on checkout; an alias gateway which enables the merchant to collect card
details while keeping them isolated from his servers; and a direct link API solution. Mobile and MOTO payments are also available. It is a well-respected and trusted brand.
Fees: All pricing is negotiated on an individual basis.
2Checkout, also known as 2CO, is a Payment Processor that allows merchants to accept credit card, debit card and PayPal payments globally. It has much in common with companies such as PayPal and is designed for small to medium sized merchants. It operates in 26 currencies and 126 countries including the US.
It is easy to set up and use, its pricing structure is transparent, and it includes all the latest anti-fraud tools. It is compatible with most common shopping carts.
Fees: Rates charged are dependent on the region, for instance in Germany it is 2.4% + 30c, in the US 2.9% + 30c, and in Saudi Arabia it is 3.9% + 45c. Special rates are available for sales volumes greater than $50,000 a month.
CardConnect provides a comprehensive payment service that includes POS, mobile, and payment gateway. Based in the US, the company was founded in 2006 and today serves around 50,000 merchants globally. They also provide services to high risk merchants.
Particularly attractive about the company is their lower than average fees, though they can vary depending on the risk analysis of the merchant and sales volume.
Fees: Online card processing: 1.99% plus $0.23 per transaction; POS 1.69% + $0.18 per swipe.
Adyen is a Dutch company and provides global payments solutions including mobile, online and in-store transactions. Its specialty is cross border businesses with payments made in the buyer’s local currency and settled to the merchant in the merchant’s chosen currency. It covers 29 markets and covers businesses of all sizes from small business through to multi-national corporations. Currently it has 3,500 merchants many of which are major brands such as Vodafone, Facebook, Spotify and Uber.
Fees: Fees are variable and negotiated on an individual basis.
Dwolla is a US based PSP which currently provides services exclusively in the US. It is an unusual payment processor in that it has created its own payment network which has allowed it to avoid many of the costs associated with interchange fees. It also means that transfers are much faster.
Essentially, Dwolla provides users with access to a payment network through which they can pay each other without encountering high banking fees. An additional advantage is that the Dwolla white label enables merchants to own-brand the payment process.
Note that with Dwolla there is no credit card or debit card processing. Instead users transfer money exclusive through the Dwolla network.
Fees: Fees are not based on transaction values; instead they are based on volumes. Fees range from $25 a month through to $1,500 a month
The main global business of Square is highly featured POS software; however, the company also offers payment processing in US, Canada, and Japan. The payment processing service can be integrated with various payment gateways.
Fees: 2.75% per transaction that is swiped, and 3.5% +15c for transactions that are entered manually. There are no fixed fees.
Bitcoin payments can be sent directly from one person or organisation to another without the payments going through any kind of financial institution. The role of a bitcoin payment service provider is to facilitate this process so that merchants can sell and customers can purchase goods and services over the internet and complete the transaction in bitcoins.
Generally, merchants offer a variety of payment options, for instance credit and debit card, PayPal and Bitcoin. In order to accept bitcoin payments, they usually sign up with a bitcoin payment service provider, though there are other options.
One of the main advantages of using a bitcoin service provider is that their services can be integrated and run entirely free of charge, and often there is no transaction charge either, at least not on basic payments, though there may be charges for value added services.
The checkout process with bitcoins is similar to conventional checkout in that the customer is redirected to a payment page where they complete the transaction. Once bitcoins are sent the sale is immediately confirmed.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded in 2011, BitPay is a bitcoin payment provider which operates globally, and is one of the largest service providers of its kind with transactions totaling in excess of $1 million a day. Currently BitPay serves over 60,000 businesses and organisations. BitPay is integrated with over 40 major shopping carts.
In order to mitigate the potential risk associated with bitcoin volatility, on receipt of bitcoin payments merchants can convert them instantly to a currency of their choice; 30 currencies are available and bit-coin to fiat exchange rates are guaranteed at the POS.
Fees: Up to 30 transactions a month and up to $1,000 a day is free. Above that charges are 1% of transaction value which includes daily bitcoin settlements and daily settlements in nine currencies.
GoCoin allows merchants to accept payments in bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin and Dogecoin. Merchants can choose to either keep the cryptocurrency or instantly convert it to their preferred fiat currency. A number of APIs are available for advanced integration along with plugins for most shopping carts.
Fees: 1% of transaction value.
Cashila allows customers to pay bills and purchase goods in euros directly from their bitcoin wallet and for merchants to receive payments made in bitcoins and paid in euros by bank transfer or directly to a Cashila account. The Cashila API can be integrated with e-commerce websites enabling developers to create innovative solutions for processing euro and bitcoin transactions.
Fees: The only fee is 1% of transaction value on payments received.
This makes it one of our favourite online payment processors.
Based in Denmark, Coinify allows merchants to receive payments in bitcoins and be paid in euros, dollars, making it a global payment processor. kroner and other currencies. The Coinify API can be integrated with most shopping carts, and the company also offers hosted shopping carts and payment buttons. The exchange rate is locked at POS and settled in a fiat currency the following day. Payments can also be accepted at POS. Coinify is now the most popular bitcoin payment processor on south-Eastern Europe.
Fees: Fees are not published other than the statement that costs are less than with standard payment methods.
Bitcoinpay is based in London and provides bitcoin payment services globally. The Bitcoinpay API can be integrated with most shopping carts and allows merchants to accept bitcoin payments which are settled in a fiat currency the next business day. Payments are claimed to be faster that the competition and the account particularly easy to set up. A range of e-commerce plugins ae also available. Fees are also lower than average.
Fees: Fees are just 0.8% of transaction value.
Paymium is a French bitcoin payment service provider headquartered in Paris. Founded in 2011, it is the first Bitcoin marketplace to comply with EU regulations. Paymium merchant services allow merchants to accept payments in bitcoin from anywhere in the world and have it settled in euros automatically.
Fees: These are not stated.
coin co was founded in 2014 and is based in New York. It allows merchants top accept payments in bitcoins and have them immediately converted to dollars. It is easy to integrate alongside conventional payments such as credit cards.
Fees: According to the company website, there are no transaction fees and no set-up or ongoing fees.
Founded in 2012, Coinbase is headquartered in San Francisco and provides a range of services including a bitcoin trading exchange, a bitcoin wallet, and API to enable merchants to integrate their website so that they can accept bitcoin payments. When the merchant receives payment in bitcoins, they can instantly sell their bitcoins to Coinbase and receive payment in USD. Settlements are received in two to three days. Merchants are able to issue refunds.
Fees: The first $1 million bitcoin payments are free; after that fees are 1% of transaction value.
It is established good practice for merchants to offer customers alternative payment methods, and with the rising popularity of bitcoin, it makes sense to include bitcoin payments as one of these methods. With instant currency conversion available, there are few downsides to accepting bitcoins, with the huge upside of considerably lower transaction fees.
I hope you enjoyed our list of the best global payment processors! Be sure to share and let us know what you think via Social Media.