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A Payment Gateway is an essential part of your online strategy. You do not have the luxury of rectifying a wrong decision. Apart from the cost of the Service, you stand to lose out much more - Customers, Orders, Fraud related losses, Integration time, Time to Market etc. Here's a quick guide to help you "Pick the Oranges from the Lemons"

Fraud Detection and Risk Mitigation
Indeed, business loss from online fraud can be daunting. While it does not prevent online business, Merchants have realised the importance of taking necessary measures to minimise losses occuring due to online fraud. It is important that the Payment Gateway you choose supports basic fraud detection and risk mitigation measures. Note that Fraud Detection does not simply end with AVS, or CVV2. Most Payment Gateways will offer you CVV (Verified by Visa) checking. While it is an additional measure, it does not successfully detect fraudulent patterns. Ideally choose a Payment Gateway which offers you Fraud Detection tools apart from just AVS and CVV2.

Branding and Customisation
One of the most important criteria is that your Customers receive a consistent and smooth transaction experience through this process. Many 3rd party Payment Gateways forget this fact. In a typical transaction therefore your Customer is shunted from your website to the Payment Gateway website. The look and feel of both websites are different resulting in a non-consistent experience. This is proven to reduce the trust factor for a Customer. Some Payment Gateways allow you to put a header banner, or logo. This however is not enough to provide a consistent experience. Transecute allows complete customisation of the payment pages. You can change the text colour, size, font, background colors, header, header background etc, all through an easy-to-use web based interface. In selecting a Payment Gateway, ensure that you obtain an interface that allows you to completely customise the Payment Pages.

Transaction Features
Credit card transactions have a versatile set of features. There are various modes of Transaction that can be performed. Auth-Capture, Sale mode, Reversal, Partial captures, Partial Reversals etc. It is important that the Payment Gateway supports all the transaction modes. Various Business occassions require a combination of one or more of these transaction modes. For instance if a Customer places an Order you would Authorise the transaction. Incase you do not have all items he requested you would initiate a partial Capture at the time of delivery. If the Customer got the items, but one of them was damaged, he would return it back to you, in which case you would initiate a partial refund.

Financial transactions require ground up security measures. Most Payment Gateways will harp about their Verisign 128 bit Digital Certificate. That is mostly gas. This is not to say that a Digital Certificate is not required. Infact, it is so essential, that every Payment Gateway must have it. That initself means, that it is not really a feature a Payment Gateway must brag about. Instead security is a ground-up activity and needs to be effectively planned for. There are several facets to security that a Payment Gateway must take care of. Starting from physical and datcenter security (where the Payment Gateway Servers are hosted), OS and Application security, Firewall and Intrusion Detection Systems at the OS and Application layer, Database security, and finally Transaction security. Each of these require initial planning, and continuous monitoring. Verify that any Payment Gateway you select has processes to take care of all the facets of security on an ongoing basis.

Easy Integration
Time-to-market is the mantra for online businesses. Every Online Customer lost to a competitor represents higher Customer acquisition costs. Additionally, most Merchants today outsource their website development. It is crucial therefore that the Payment Gateway offers you an easy integration process. This is another area where few Payment Gateways offer ready-made integration kits in all possible platforms. Quite a few Payment Gateways implement only complex Socket based APIs requiring you to write clients in specific languages to talk propreitory protocols. Another common problem faced here is some Payment Gateways have integration kits which require a DLL or a component to be installed on your Server. This becomes an issue if you are hosted in a virtual hosting environment. Your Server provider may not be willing to install any component on their servers. Make sure to check up on the feasibility of the integration process in detail, before you commit on your Payment Gateway decision.

Comprehensive Merchant Interface
One more aspect to check from the beginning is the functionality provided by the Merchant interface. The types of reports available, the interfaces available for Searching transactions, Processing Captures and Refunds, requesting withdrawals etc. Infact insiste for a demo of the Merchant interface before you make your Payment Gateway decision to ensure that it supports all the features you expected.

Hidden Costs
Many Payment Gateway may have hidden costs associated with them that may not be disclosed in the beginning. This does not allow you to compare apples to apples. Some of the hidden costs with any Payment Gateway Service are as follows. Most of these costs will not be mentioned on their websites. It is important that you understand all the below costs and ask the Provider directly for all data related to these costs. Most Providers will charge you these fees without disclosing them to you

Chargeback fees
Reversal fees
Termination fees
Hidden setup charges
Non-Sufficient Funds fees
Statement Fees (more for more services)
Customer Support fees
Withdrawal Charges

Time to Withdrawal
Find out how soon you can get access to your money. Some Payment Gateways may proclaim a no-reserve policy, but take a month to remit you your funds. That means your funds remain blocked for a period of one month with the provider. While most Payment Gateways may maintain reserves for risk mitigation, it is essential to estimate within how much time you will have access to your funds

Technical Support
Ensure that your Payment Gateway Provider has a well-staffed and trained Helpdesk. Under ideal circumstances the Payment Gateway Provider should have a 24x7x365 support desk. You as a Merchant may not require a 24x7 Support, however your international Customers may have queries with regards to their online transaction. It helps to be able to answer a Customers query in the shortest time possible

With a global audience multi-currency support becomes essential. Though it is not an extremely essential feature, it is helpful to be able to charge your Customers in local currencies.Transecute process payments in multiple currencies.

Ten Things to keep in mind when you select a Payment Gateway.
osCommerce, an Open Source based solution offers a wide range of out-of-the-box features that allows online stores to be setup fairly quickly with ease.
Multi Currency Converter
IP to Country

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