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What to Know About 5 Popular Payment Gateways

Posted on Thu, January 1,2015 @ 17:27 PM

Credit card payments made online are “card not present” transactions because the actual card isn’t being swiped. If you plan to accept payments with your online registration process, you’ll need a payment gateway in addition to your merchant account.

The gateway verifies the credit card number, communicating with the payment processor and the credit card issuer. The merchant account is like a holding tank for the money paid to you before it’s deposited in your checking account. Some payment gateways are packaged with a merchant account so that you only have one setup process. If you already have a merchant account, some companies will provide a gateway only, which can communicate with the processor that works with your account.


Some of the more common gateways used with online registration are:

Authorize.net, the largest gateway in terms of customers, can be a quick solution for organizations that already have a merchant account. Authorize.net has traditionally focused on small to medium-sized organizations, or those that don’t have a high volume of transactions each year. If you do not have a merchant account, Authorize.net can also help you set up one with one of its partners.

What you need to know: Authorize.net is a fully-integrated gateway, which means persons can’t complete the registration process until payment is verified. You would pay a monthly fee, as well as a transaction fee, in addition to any fees subtracted by the merchant services provider.

PayPal Payflow Gateway is one of several PayPal payment products. Like Authorize.net, Payflow Gateway is designed for organizations that already have a merchant account. However, PayPal will not help you set up a merchant account with an outside merchant services provider to work with Payflow Gateway. Instead, PayPal will recommend another of its products that doesn’t require a separate gateway.

What you need to know: Like Authorize.net, Payflow Gateway can fully integrate with the online registration process, so that registrants are not confirmed until they successfully complete payment. Payflow Gateway charges setup, monthly service, and transaction fees. It may be more cost-effective than Authorize.net if your volume reaches a certain level.

PayPal Payment Standard is a combination gateway and merchant account. It is not fully integrated with the registration process like Authorize.net or Payflow Gateway. When a registrant completes sign-up, they are taken to the PayPal site to complete payment. Payment Standard, which can be set up in a matter of minutes, may be a good alternative for small, one-time events in which the payment process will only be active for a short time.

What you need to know:  Payment Standard does not require any setup or ongoing fees. PayPal will deduct its percentage from each transaction before depositing the proceeds in your checking account.

Touchnet is a commerce solution used by hundreds of colleges and universities. It connects an institution’s business applications to payment processors and banks through the online payment process. Among its services is a payment gateway.

What you need to know:  If your college is already using Touchnet, you may be required to use the program’s gateway tool.

Cybersource, the second largest gateway, owns Authorize.net and is owned by Visa. It has traditionally focused on larger businesses, though not exclusively. Whereas Authorize.net focuses on setting up payment gateways only, Cybersource offers other services, such as risk management features, to protect merchants who do online business.

What you need to know: If your organization needs financial protection services beyond simply a payment gateway, Cybersource may be worth consideration.

Some merchant services providers have their own proprietary gateways, but payment gateways are designed to work with all processors and merchant services providers. Find out which payment gateways your online registration software provider works with. They should work with most, if not all, of the gateways listed here. 

If you need more information about ABC Signup's payment gateway partners, or online registration in general, feel free to e-mail or call us (866.791.8268x0).

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