What is a Payment Gateway?

If you’ve ever bought something from the website of your favorite online designer or online content creator, chances are you’ve engaged with a payment gateway in the past. In fact, if you’ve even just sent money to a friend through something like PayPal, or donated to a crowdfunding website, you’ve used payment gateway technology before. But, if you’ve recently started a business, or are only now taking your work online, you’re probably still a bit confused as to what it is and how it can serve you.

Put simply, a payment gateway is an online service that processes payments for businesses. You surely know a couple of them – PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Payments – but there are lots of other platforms that are just as suitable for any business’ needs. Whether you’re looking for a gateway that caters to your country or region, or one with additional services that meet your business’ specific needs, there’s likely one out there for you.

Usually, the businesses that have these sort of payment platforms are online ones – websites that sell products like merchandise, or services like online classes. Increasingly, though, payment gateways are serving brick-and-mortar stores like restaurants and freelance creators, by using platforms like Square. That way, they have a payment platform that requires very little maintenance, can be accessible to more consumers, and goes wherever they go.

Of course, the challenge with many of these gateways is that they only work for those in North America, completely leaving out those in the Caribbean and other parts of the world. Just because it’s an online gateway doesn’t mean that your business, or all of your clients, will have equal access. Square, for instance, doesn’t allow registration from businesses outside of the US, UK and a few other countries. That also means that customers coming from other regions may also find their bank accounts don’t work on those platforms, closing you out to lots of potential revenue.

For businesses and creators working outside of those regions, or who want to be more accessible to consumers in areas like the Caribbean and Central America, it’s important to have options outside of traditional point-of-sale terminals. That’s where online payment gateways can come in, and prove a vital way for freelancers, creative professionals and others to expand their market and complete payments faster and easier. In other words, they allow folks to buy and sell from the comfort of wherever they are, and (depending on the one you use) let people use their own local credit or debit cards.

The next big hurdle is choosing a payment gateway that meets all your business needs. Whether it’s exorbitant fees, difficult user policies, complicated interfaces, or a host of other things, there’s a lot that a platform can get wrong that makes it harder for you to get potential customers to do what you want them to – spend their money on your stuff. It’s not as simple as having a web platform that takes in online transactions. For instance, with First Atlantic Commerce’s payment gateway, sellers have access to a Hosted Payment Page, repeat and subscription billing, and the ability to process in local currencies as well as US Dollars.

These are just the basics, though. At the end of the day, in order to figure out which payment gateway suits your needs, the best thing to do is always take a look at the banks that they work with and the gateway features and decide which one is right for you. But, when you do, make sure to look at the unique features that we can provide for you and your business.