Friday, September 26, 2008

Payment Gateways

A payment gateway provides a way for a merchant to accept credit cards and in some cases eChecks or ACH transactions. The merchant can send transactions in a variety of ways, either from a website, terminal or even a batch. The transactions are encrypted using SSL (Secure Socket Layer). The gateway authorizes credit card payments by directing those transactions to the appropriate card association,Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The response is then directed back to the merchant securely. When done in real-time it say for a website can take anywhere from 2-3 seconds. eChecks work a little differently but are usually have the same response time.

Where can I get a Payment Gateway?
Payment gateways are usually offered by a merchant service provider. Normally they come standard with a merchant account, there may or may not be fees associate with using a payment gateway. Before you sign up for a merchant account be sure to ask if it includes a payment gateway among other things.

Sending Transactions

Most gateways allow multiple ways to send transactions.

  • Credit Card Terminals - Normally used in a POS environment.
  • Batch - Some merchants will close out at the end of the day and send them all at once.
  • API's - Used for e-commerce allows an instant response for a transaction.

Additional Features

Some payment gateways do more than just process transactions. Here are some additional features offered by some gateways.

  • Identity Verification - check on a customers address, drivers lic. etc.
  • AVS - Address Verification Systems check a customers address matches their credit card.
  • Check Verification - Can be used to verify if a checking account is closed, frozen, etc.

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