14 Critical Questions to Ask Before you Choose a Payment Gateway

If your business sells products or services online, you will need some type of online payment system. Payment gateways are one option that you could consider but don’t forget to do your due diligence.

Read on for the 14 essential questions you should be asking before you choose a payment gateway.

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1. Do I even need a payment gateway?

If you want to accept credit card payments online, then you will need to utilise a payment gateway. However, there are other ways of accepting payment such as online debit payments paid directly into your bank account.

Not only is this very easy to set up for your business, it is also a great option for your customers – in fact, most New Zealand consumers are crying out for credit card alternatives that don’t involve credit card surcharges.

Find out more about your options for accepting online payments or get started with POLi’s online debit payment system today.

2. Will I need an internet merchant account?

This is possibly the most important question you can ask. While most mid-large online businesses will likely prefer to use their own internet merchant account, smaller businesses could find this a daunting prospect.

3. What currencies do you support in addition to NZD?

It is critical that the gateway operates in New Zealand and accepts NZD. However, you must also plan for future growth.

4. Do you offer integrated checkout?

Should your business desire a seamless customer experience with no website redirects, you need a gateway that offers integrated checkouts. Different providers will offer different levels of integration.

5. How are refunds handled?

It is inevitable that you will have to process refunds from time to time. Therefore, you will want to be confident knowing that your chosen gateway can handle such requests in a timely and stress-free manner (for both you and the customer).

6. How secure is your service?

Your gateway should comply with the PCI DSS at an absolute minimum. Your reputation – and your customers’ information – is on the line.

Note that payment gateways may also offer additional levels of security for a tiered fee, which you will have to compare across payment providers.

7. What is your payout policy?

If your business has cash flow problems, you would be wise to look for a payment gateway service that offers regular, small payouts over infrequent, larger ones. Payout policies will vary greatly between providers.

8. What rebilling services do you offer?

Rebilling is a useful service for any merchant that might have a need to charge its customers multiple times without having to take their payment information each time. Crucially, this means that the payment gateway you choose must be able to store customer payment details so that they can be used in this manner.

9. How much does your service cost?

As you will have read when we compared NZ’s online payment gateway providers, gateways are neither free nor consistent with each other in their pricing. You will have to factor how much you are willing to pay per month and per transaction into the question of which gateway to ultimately choose.

If a payment gateway’s fees are not readily available, don’t hesitate to reach out to their customer service team. It is also worth noting that many providers offer customised package deals for larger customers, which may suit your organisation better if you can’t find a fee structure that works for you.

10. What are the terms of your contract?

It is critical that you fully understand how the gateway will use the sensitive data it processes on behalf of your business. You must also know how easy it is to cancel your service and what, if any, information you can take with you after you depart.

If you require an internet merchant account, there is even more paperwork!

11. Is it easy to set up the gateway?

This is a question perhaps more relevant to smaller businesses with lower levels of technical expertise.

Some gateways in NZ are incredibly easy to set up, whereas others can be more complicated. Always confirm which merchant accounts it will work with and consult the support documentation before making a decision. If in doubt, hire the services of a professional.

In addition, try to seek out clear instructions from all parties for how to connect your payment gateway to your website, merchant account and your business bank account.

Of course, whether you choose a hosted or integrated checkout will also change the level of complexity involved during the installation/integration stage.

HINT: Try to find a way of running the gateway in a development environment and always read the support documentation before making a decision.

12. What will my customers see on their credit card bills?

This is an easily overlooked step, but it could affect your relationship with customers. Some gateways will show their company name on the statement, where others may allow you to personalise the details with your own business name.

Bottom line? Find out how the charge will appear on your customers’ bills and tell them before they purchase.

13. Who owns my data?

You are going to be processing large volumes of sensitive and important data – credit card details, payments, orders and refunds to name a few. Before you sign up for any gateway service, ensure that you know precisely who owns the data that has been collected.

14. How easy is it to cancel the service?

You should know how to go about cancelling your subscription to the gateway service if you had to. You might need to give a notice period, pay a buy-out fee, or be forced to complete your contracted term. When you are dealing with a subscription as fundamental to your business as income and customer payment data, it pays to know.

The application process for merchant accounts can be quite lengthy (and expensive) in New Zealand, and it will involve a credit check (often an issue for startups that don’t have 24 months of business accounts).

Start selling online today

So, there you have it. 14 questions you must ask before you commit to a payment gateway provider. Read our ultimate guide to Payment Gateways for the full lowdown or get started with POLi’s online debit payment system today.