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What is a payment processor and how to choose the best one

6 December 2018 Product Information

Thinking about turning your idea into reality is exciting. Developing your thought, creating your brand, planning your launch…

And then reality hits. Suddenly, you’re caught up with regulations, products, services and expenses you never knew existed. If you’re not careful, this can lead to costly mistakes.

So we’ve written this guide to help you choose the right payment processor for your business – even if you already have one, and want to switch.


What is payment processing?

Simply: transferring money from a customer’s bank account to your Merchant Account. Thanks to Chip and PIN, contactless and integrated payments, this is done in the blink of an eye. But behind the scenes, there’s a lot more going on: encryption, Acquiring Banks, Merchant Banks, and compliance – a legal requirement. If you want to know more about the process, read our guide to accepting card payments.


Why choose a payments processor?

Card payments and mobile money, like Apple Pay and Google Pay, are exploding. In 2017 alone:

  • Contactless payments rose by 97%
  • 90% of all payments were made by debit card
  • 85% were spontaneous.


Meanwhile, cash payments fell faster than predicted: down a further 15% in 2017.

And while thinking about payment processing may not be as exciting as choosing logos and site designs, we think you’ll agree that getting paid is pretty important.


What to look for when choosing a payment processor


Payment security compliance is important

Many find compliance as much fun as treading barefoot on a Lego brick. However, it’s essential if you’re to accept card payments.


PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is a global standard. It’s designed to protect customer data and reduce fraud. Sounds sensible, no? So why do many find it painful? Well, depending on your business, you may have to answer up to 300 questions. And if you get any wrong, you’re at risk of fines. Ouch.


Don’t worry. You don’t have to do it alone. Our customers can take advantage of a PCI Phone Validation service (not all payment processors offer this). It’s done quickly by phone and means you don’t have to worry about fees and fines for non-compliance. It’s also valid for a year – so it really takes a load off your mind.


How quickly can you get paid?

Another consideration is how quickly a processing company can have you ready to take payments, and the time it takes to transfer funds to your account. Amazingly, banks can still take up to three weeks just to get a card machine to you.


At Paymentsense we’ll have a card machine with you in three days (it will work right out of the box – just connect it and switch it on). We can also open your free Merchant Account and, if needed, sort your PCI Compliance.


We also understand the importance of cash flow to small business, especially start-ups, so offer a Next Day Settlement service which can have funds in your account the next working day.


What costs are involved?

All payment processors charge rates, and they can vary wildly. The kind of card used (credit or debit), the transaction type, your transaction volume, and more – all contribute to the rates you’ll pay. So no question about costs is too daft, especially as

companies can have hidden costs. (We don’t.)


We use the collective power of 70,000 small businesses to negotiate better rates from banks and pass them on to our customers. We also don’t charge for setting up a Merchant Account or Integrated Payments. They’re all part of our service.


Do they offer integrated payments?

Every week, 38% of small businesses write off revenue. More surprising is why: old-fashioned human error.


Because many businesses don’t connect their card machine to their EPOS, figures must be keyed into the terminal, then into the EPOS. It makes twice the work, and when the figures don’t match, a loss occurs.


Integrated payments keep your card machines and EPOS connected. It eliminates human error and revenue write-offs, reducing admin and accounting time. If a payments processor doesn’t offer integrated payments, you won’t be making the most of card payments. We think they’re so essential that we offer them at no extra cost.


Do they offer software integration?

How easily will a payment processor integrate with your current set-up? If you find that you have to buy new equipment, then it may work out more expensive than imagined. Always check that their products and services will fit with yours.


How about 24-7 support?

It’s no surprise to learn that many businesses, once they’ve signed, find their payment company loses interest in them. Not us. We’ve got your back, day and night.


  • We replace faulty terminals in 24 hours
  • Our Technical Support line is open 24/7, with real people to speak to for card machine issues
  • Our online Help Centre is always open and just a few mouse clicks away.


Will they help if you want to switch provider?

If you’re unhappy with your current payment provider and are reading this with envious eyes, we can help with up to £3,000 towards ending your contract.


Ask for a free quote today

If you’d like a free quote from us, then just click here. All we need are a few details from you about your business and we’ll be able to give you a fast, accurate quote.

Why wait? Take card payments in just 3 days.