I'll be honest, before starting to write this piece I was fairly happy with myself. 'Not many of those!' I thought. 'Self explanatory, really!' I thought. And then I began to research it.
Well, there are a few things more than I anticipated, to learn about the world of online payment. So sit back, put your feet up, and let Startacus take you through it all.
First thing’s first. There isn’t just one exclusive ‘type’ of online payment system. There are actually about five, and some will suit certain businesses and individuals better than others. ACH payment systems are almost exclusively used by people to pay through their bank for their utilities using automated monthly debits. Then there’s the more commonly used payment agents, generally the chosen method for purchases and accepting money. There are also PCI compliance systems, merchant accounts and banking specific transactions.
Most online payment options will span a number of these categories however, so you don’t have to worry too much that you might be using the wrong type. You can read a little more about how the different types of systems work here though.
The top dogs of this particular industry meanwhile, are all vying to be the most used and distinguish themselves from their competitors. Without naming names, it is a little difficult to do so when two of their homepages main selling points are almost word for word the same.
1) The first contender is Google Checkout. Much much bigger in America than it is in Europe, this is yet another line in a long list of Google services. ‘Wallet’ as it’s known as when you log in, benefits immensely from exactly this. If you already use any of the current Google services (Gmail, Google Drive, or even if you’re one of the fourteen individuals on Google Plus) then you don’t have to create yet another account. It’s a simple matter of logging in via your email, filling in your details and then buying that long awaited second season of Game of Thrones.
Going since early 2012, it’s the most recent addition to the competition though hardly still a ‘new kid on the block.’ Its security system is basically flawless, with a remote shut down option available as well as all the safety checks.
It does however have a few drawbacks. The technologically nifty option of using Google to pay for your morning paper and coffee will be severely limited if you live in Europe, and while basically all types of cards can be used on it, not all retailers will accept the option. It also has very limited benefits to business in promoting their own companies. Finally, Checkout/Wallet’s biggest disadvantage is that compared with our next competitor, very little is actually known about it – regardless of it being a Google product.
2) Paypal. Even the name sounds friendly. Paypal, it has to be said, probably comes out of this contest on top every time. And it’s easy to understand why, considering it has had more than a decade to develop and establish itself in the market. eBay’s purchase of this company in 2002 is oft cited as one of the greatest purchases in Internet history. Both companies continue to reap billions of pounds in benefits with just under 50% of every online consumer having used it at least once in the past.
Business owners interested in promoting their own brand will see Paypal as the best option for a number of reasons. Having been in the market so long, it is the brand that most people will already use and have an account for. On top of this then, is the Website Payments Pro option, which gives website owners the option – for just £20 per month – of installing a Paypal payment option on their website, meaning a much easier method of selling products or services. The benefits of this can’t be overstated as, for small business owners, one of the most frustrating things about increasing sales can be the cost of accepting various forms of payment.
Google Checkout and Paypal both work out at between 1.4% and 3.4% depending on the value of the charge being put through, so there’s no clear winner in that field. And that, my Startacus following friends, is where we meet...
3) Sagepay. Exclusive to the UK and Ireland, its charges are slightly lower than its better known rivals. After an initial disaster while implementing security systems, it has recovered and is held in high esteem amongst those seeking strong merchant accounts with lower fees. Telephone support – something you need to be strong when dealing with monetary transactions – is, and the customer service in general is deemed second to none by many. It doesn’t have any of the larger corporations’ impressive usage statistics however it’s a reliable alternative choice for those looking to explore other options.
Written by Ethan Loughrey
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