What are payment gateways and how do they work? Which are the best?

Payment gateways allow customers to shop quickly and conveniently from home at e-shops. Read how they work and which gates are the best!

payment gateways

What is a payment gateway?

The payment gateway is a platform that allows customers to use various online payment methods on websites or e-shops (e.g. payment by card, payment by bank transfer, payment by electronic wallet, etc.).

Thanks to payment gateways, customers can quickly, safely and easily buy online services or products without having to perform lengthy payment steps to complete the transaction.

Among the most common online payment methods that can be made thanks to the payment gateway are:

  • card payment
  • online payment
  • payment using internet banking
  • electronic wallet

How does the payment gateway work?

Although it may not look like that at first glance, the payment gateway is a rather complex process of various systems that the user does not see, but which are happening in the background.

The payment gateway itself consists of several entities:

  • Payment gateway – a system that includes various payment methods (card payments, transfers, etc.)
  • Transaction processor – the technical provider of the transfer itself, which ensures that the entire payment process runs smoothly
  • Payment card associations – institutions that allow issuing payment cards (VISA or Mastercard) and that set standards about cards and fees for them
  • Card issuer – a specific bank that can provide the user with a payment card

In practice, the payment gateway works approximately as follows:

  1. The customer made a purchase on the e-shop and filled in all the necessary data for payment using the payment gateway
  2. The transaction processor receives this data and sends it encrypted to the system managed by the payment card associations
  3. These associations then link the given data from the user (or his purchase) with the card issuer (i.e. the bank)
  4. The card issuer (bank) checks the data and approves/disapproves the user’s purchase (e.g. depending on whether the user has sufficient funds in his account to complete the transaction).
  5. After the purchase is approved, the card issuer then informs the transaction processor that the purchase is approved.
  6. The transaction processor can thus use the payment gateway to increase the e-shop account by money for the purchase from the customer, and then the processing of the order can begin.

💡 Note: With payment cards, it is important to distinguish which cards are regulated and which are not regulated , or what is the difference between them:

  • Regulated payment cards: these are “traditional” payment cards used by ordinary customers (such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro cards, etc.). These cards are regulated by EU directives and are subject to specific fees for maximum interbank payments.
  • Unregulated payment cards: these are different types of payment cards (VISA Electron, corporate VISA cards, Maestro cards, etc.) that were issued outside the European Economic Area. With these cards, the price of fees is not directly regulated, due to which the prices for transactions tend to be significantly higher.

With unregulated payment cards, it is important to remember that as an online store you may have significantly higher transaction fees.

With a larger number of customers, it is therefore more appropriate to choose a payment gateway that can block transactions with unregulated payment cards.

Why is it worth having a payment gateway on the web?

The benefits of the payment gateway are quite clear – instead of the customer having to literally transfer money from his account to the e-shop account (as is the case with a classic transfer), he can use one of the online payment methods (such as payment using an electronic wallet), which are significantly simpler.

The payment gateway thus speeds up the entire online shopping process, which is ultimately more comfortable for both the customer and the seller.

Popular payment methods

Electronic wallet

An electronic wallet (such as PayPal, GooglePay, etc.) is one of the payment methods that the customer can use at the payment gateway.
The principle of the electronic wallet is simple:

  • The customer’s data is directly stored in the electronic wallet
  • The customer logs in to the electronic wallet using a password and pays for the product with already filled-in payment data
    Depending on the type of wallet, either the amount is deducted directly from it or it is connected to the customer’s bank account and the money for the product is deducted directly from there.

Electronic wallets are popular mainly due to their simplicity – the customer pays for the product in one or two clicks and does not have to fill in any other data.

Mobile gateway

A mobile gateway (such as Premium SMS or mPlatba) is a payment method that the customer can use at the payment gateway.

Although this method is not used as often as e.g. electronic wallet, after all, it is used for payments that have lower amounts – the customer simply sends an SMS message and thanks to it, the amount for the product or service he wants to buy is deducted from his credit or lump sum, and thus the transaction takes place.

Mobile gateways are mainly used for small amounts for virtual products (such as for eBooks, bulk discount coupons or for a draw in a competition).

Payments via QR code

Although not quite a payment gateway, it is an equally popular way of online shopping – a customer can simply scan a QR code on a page using an app.

The application then processes the QR code data and makes the purchase – or withdraw money from your account and pay for the product or service.

How to choose a payment gateway

Choosing a payment gateway is a rather individual matter – depending on your niche, e-shop and type of sale, you may prefer certain payment gateways and not others.

In any case, there are several aspects that you should consider when choosing a payment gateway:

  • Security and anonymity – the protection of your potential customers is paramount, and therefore you should be aware of whether and how the given payment gateway handles users’ personal data.
  • Customer support – in case of problems with payment or the payment gateway itself, it should be possible to quickly and efficiently contact customer support, which solves problems with payment gateways.
  • Compatibility with your CMS – in some cases, when choosing a payment gateway, compatibility with your website or with the CMS on which it is built. Some payment gateways can be difficult to install on your website and thus it will be necessary to have a programmer available to help you with this – thus the price for the payment gateway will be increased by his services
  • Transfer speed for transactions – you will definitely appreciate it if the money from the customer comes to your bank account as quickly as possible
  • Number and types of payment methods – the more a given payment gateway covers them, the more you can satisfy customers who may prefer only a certain payment method
  • Transactions in foreign currencies and language – if your e-shop offers its goods to customers in different countries, you should make sure that the payment gateway allows transactions in different currencies and also provides different types of translations during payment.
  • Responsive design and pleasant interface – every customer will appreciate a clear payment menu that they can quickly understand and can comfortably decide how to pay for the goods

The price of the payment gateway

When purchasing a payment gateway for your e-shop, you must be aware of the various types of fees that you may incur as a result.
Among the basic fees that are included in the price for the payment gateway are, for example:

  • fees for activation, management and monitoring of the payment gateway
  • fees for carrying out a transaction (e.g. using a payment card)
  • fees for creating invoices, etc.

However, in addition to the basic fees mentioned above, you also have to pay for the transactions themselves – these fees are calculated at several levels.

With the payment gateway, you will have to pay for your total monthly turnover achieved through the payment gateway, as well as the average amounts and number of transactions that took place at the payment gateway, as well as the types of cards used at the payment gateway.

In addition, the fees also take into account what exactly you offer to customers, or what type of goods you sell.

How to get a payment gateway for the eshop

To approve the cooperation between the payment gateway and you, or your website must meet several conditions that are important from the point of view of legislation, banks as well as from the point of view of associations that mediate payment gateways:

  • Name and description of products on the website – each of your products must have a name, purchase price and currency. You must also have a description for each product so that the customer knows exactly what he is buying.
  • Payment method and shipping method
  • Information about your company (name, address, contact information, ID number, etc.)
    Terms and conditions of the e-shop
  • Complaints procedure of the e-shop – the customer must have clearly written in the complaint section how to proceed when complaining about purchased goods
  • Information on personal data protection

In addition to the above data, you must also obtain approval for recurring payments (if you plan to implement them in your e-shop) as well as have a clearly indicated payment card logo in the payment gateway.

💡 Note: For risky goods (such as tobacco or alcohol), the payment gateway approval process can be a bit more complicated, as not every payment gateway supports transactions for such goods.

The best payment gateways

The best payment gateways in Slovakia (and the Czech Republic):

Besteron

payment gateway Besteron logo

Besteron as a payment gateway is used in several countries (such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, etc.).

When paying for a transaction using this payment gateway, a pop-up window appears for the customer, or it is not necessary to redirect the customer to another page.

Although Besteron is relatively new to the payment gateway market, it offers very favorable price packages for e-shops.

Besteron requires almost no fees for money transfers to the account and it is possible to set up payments with or without customer authorization.

However, a minor incompatibility with some plugins could be included among the negatives – Besteron may have a problem with e-shop platforms.

In such a case, it is therefore always better to check whether you could even install this payment gateway on your e-shop.

FastSpring

payment gateway FastSpring logo

FastSpring is a universal payment gateway that can be used by almost any e-shop at relatively favorable prices.

It also provides a free demo version of the gateway, which you can easily implement on your e-shop, so you can test whether this payment gateway would suit you.

FastSpring includes several positives such as:

  • Gateway integration for mobile applications
  • Option to display the gate in the form of a pop-up window
  • Possibility of payment using an electronic wallet

However, one of the negatives is the unavailable price list, which you cannot just look at.

Braintree

Braintree payment gateway

BraintreePayments is an American payment gateway that was founded in 2007 – but now it belongs to PayPal.

It is a popular payment gateway used by hundreds of e-shops in different countries of the world.

Among the main positives that Braintree can offer you is an electronic wallet (for Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.), as well as the possibility of integrating a gateway for your own mobile applications.

However, when purchasing this payment gateway, it is important to take into account the limitations of the currencies in which the customer can pay – Braintree charges fees for currencies that it does not offer by default.

GoPay

payment gateway GoPay logo

GoPay is one of the most famous providers of payment gateways in the Czech and Slovak Republics, which has been operating since 2007.

Gopay services are currently used by thousands of e-shops, or tens of thousands of customers worldwide.

In addition, this payment gateway also focuses on various currencies such as crowns, dollars, pounds, forints, euros, etc.

In addition to various currencies and payment options, GoPay also provides payment in bitcoins (which some “hardcore miners” will certainly appreciate).

However, one of the disadvantages is the level of fees in the case of e-shops that initially have low turnover – transaction fees can increase significantly in such cases.

GoPay can be tried as a demo version in case you are not sure whether such a payment gateway would suit you.

Among the greatest advantages of the GoPay payment gateway is its diversity – Gopay offers several online payment methods (approximately 55 payment methods), such as e.g. electronic wallet, payments using a QR code or even payments via a mobile gateway.

ComGate

payment gateway Comgate logo

Comgate is a Czech payment gateway that has been operating since 2000 and is controlled by the Czech National Bank.

In addition to classic payment methods, ComGate also allows payments using a QR code.

On the other hand, it does not allow payments using an electronic wallet or a mobile gateway service.

For that reason, ComGate is worthwhile only for a very specific group of people who are looking for a payment gateway only for certain types of online payments.

PayPal

payment gateway PayPal logo

PayPal is probably already known to almost everyone – it is a service that receives and sends payments between people and companies all over the world.

As a payment gateway, it is an excellent option for any kind of e-shop, as it is a well-known and trusted service that simply works well.

One of the great advantages of the PayPal payment gateway is the minimal administration fees, as you basically only pay for the transactions made.
On the other hand, this is a double-edged sword – PayPal is known for its high fees for payments, which can discourage smaller e-shops.

ThePay

payment gateway ThePay logo

ThePay , like Comgate, is a Czech payment gateway that has been operating since 2011.

One of the main advantages of ThePay gateway is its diversity in payments – it offers more than 20 different payment methods that the customer can use during the transaction.

In addition, ThePay also provides payment using a QR code, which some e-shops may appreciate.

ThePay is one of the “go-to” gateways for almost any kind of online business – more than 2000 e-shops already use this payment gateway.

Twisto

payment gateway Twisto logo

Twisto is another interesting payment gateway with a rather non-standard payment method – it offers customers the option of online purchases with deferred payment.

The principle of deferred payment is simple: the customer orders the goods without paying, Twisto makes the payment and the goods are delivered to the customer.

Subsequently, the customer has the opportunity to pay for the goods directly to the company Twisto (within 14 – 45 days, depending on whether it is a registered or unregistered customer).

If the customer does not make the payment by the given deadline, he will be charged an additional fee, or it is possible to agree on installments for the goods.

However, in the case of this payment gateway, there is one catch – Twisto is currently not available for Slovak online stores, which may discourage many e-shops in Slovakia.

24 – Pay

payment gateway 24-Pay logo

24 Pay is one of the most secure payment gateways that offers a variety of payment methods for customers.

As part of non-cash payments, 24-Pay offers the possibility of using credit and debit cards, as well as payments using bank transfers, etc.

One of the advantages of this payment gateway is the possibility of payment without registration and free of charge, as well as the possibility of using one’s own internet banking to carry out the transaction.

24- Pay charges each payment from customers, but handles individual payments individually (+ charges an extra fee for transactions).

GP WebPay

payment gateway GP WebPay logo

Global Payments is a Czech company, but it has a background in America with thousands of employees – it also manages its branches in various EU countries.

As a payment gateway, GP WebPay includes several interesting services: from online payment monitoring (as a protective element) to electronic wallets to payment using an email link.

We can consider the absence of a mobile gateway as a negative of this payment gateway, as well as a not very clear price list for services.

Ultimately, however, GP WebPay is a fairly popular payment gateway used by people in dozens of countries around the world.

Stripe

payment gateway Stripe logo

Stripe is a payment gateway from an American company that was founded in 2011 and is used by millions of people around the world today.

One of the great advantages of the Stripe payment gateway is its speed of deployment – Stripe does not deal with any bureaucratic nonsense that would take you weeks to implement with any other payment gateway.

Stripe can be implemented relatively easily on most CMS systems (such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc.)

Another advantage of this payment gateway is that it sends money from transactions on a daily basis (or in most cases).

One of the small disadvantages of the Stripe payment gateway is a higher fee for payments in currencies other than those originally assigned to your e-shop (approx. 2 percent per transfer or transaction).

Borgun

payment gateway Borgun logo

Borgun is one of the most used payment gateways in the world – it is a gateway that is displayed in 20 languages and it is possible to carry out transactions using it in more than 140 currencies.

The payment gateway can be implemented in a variety of CMS platforms, and the use of this gateway is very easy for users.

However, Borgun also has its negatives – for an excellent payment gateway, it charges relatively high fees (monthly but also for the transactions themselves).

Pays

payment gateway Pays logo

Pays , as a Czech payment gateway, offers very interesting options for payment methods – instead of direct fees for transactions that the e-shop has to pay for every purchase, these fees can be paid indirectly by the customer.

The given fees can be credited to the customer’s account, or increase the price for a product or service.

Another point of interest are the fees themselves – Pays only charges fees for payments made, nothing more.

Among the other benefits of this payment gateway are, for example, online payments using a QR code, payments using a mobile payment gateway or even the possibility of payment using an electronic wallet.

Funds

payment gateway Fondy logo

Fondy is a payment gateway that currently works in many countries around the world and is especially recommended for e-shops that would like to sell their products and services abroad.

Fondy already cooperates with more than 200 banks around the world and is compatible with all popular platforms (such as WordPress, Drupal, Prestashop, Magento, etc.).

This payment gateway is especially suitable for larger e-shops with large sales, as the fees for managing the gateway and for transactions decrease with increasing sales of the e-shop.

Baryon

payment gateway Barion logo

Although Barion Payment is a relatively new payment gateway (working since 2015), it is one of the most secure payment gateways you can get.

Barion Payment is already used by thousands of entrepreneurs or business entities in Europe.

Barion as a payment gateway is attractive mainly because of its price – it has almost zero transaction fees and very discounted fees if you place the visual elements of this payment gateway on your e-shop.

Another advantage of this payment gateway is its compatibility – Barion can be implemented for WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc.

Perhaps one small disadvantage of Barion Payment is the risk that it will not be approved for you if you sell risky goods (such as alcohol or cigarettes) on your e-shop.

TrustPay

payment gateway Trustpay logo

TrustPay is a Slovak payment gateway that is recommended especially for Slovak and Czech online stores.

After implementing the payment gateway on the e-shop, it is possible to pay directly in the so-called “pop-up” window without the customer being redirected from the e-shop page.

Trustpay offers free plugins for popular platforms such as WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Magento, etc. (also, the implementation of this gate itself is very simple).

A small minus of the TrustPay gateway is the absence of mobile payment, which some e-shops might need.

If you decide to implement this payment gateway on your e-shop, you must arrange it through a bank that supports it (such as UniCredit Bank, ČSOB, SLSP, etc.).

Exactly

payment gateway Exactly logo

Exactly is a Czech payment gateway that hides very interesting possibilities.

The gateway itself supports transactions in more than 100 currencies, which can be appreciated especially by e-shops that sell their goods to customers from different countries.

In addition, the Exactly payment gateway provides the possibility of monitoring and analyzing the performance of the gateway (with the help of additional tools), the possibility of creating generated invoices as well as very fast delivery of money to your account (approx. 1 to 2 days).

On the other hand, this gateway does not support pre-authorized payments or online banking buttons, which could turn off some potential customers.

Bank payment gateways

Payment gateways from Slovak banks can be very attractive for some e-shops – especially if you already have a bank account in one of them.

The benefits of such gateways are clear – transfers for transactions are very fast and between your e-shop or there is no middleman for the customers on it and your account.

However, with such payment gateways, it is also necessary to consider possible problems – in order to make a payment, the customer must have internet banking of the given bank.

In the case of payment gateways from Slovak banks, you can choose from, for example:

  • TatraPay (from Tatra banka)
  • ePayments and eCard (from VÚB)
  • E-shop (from Poštová banka)
  • UniPlatba (from Unicredit Bank)
  • Sporopay (from SLSP)
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