As a merchant setting up shop online, the checklist of technical requirements goes something like this:
While there’s plenty of information available on how to choose the right payment gateway there is very little information on why you may need to use more than one.
The prevailing opinion is that a single gateway is enough. But e-commerce continues to grow: $1.9 trillion in 2016 with double-digit growth expected through 2020, when sales will top $4 trillion. With this growth comes new and innovative ways to make money online. Many of these models necessitate working with multiple gateways.
So while most online merchants haven’t fully considered the need to use more than one gateway, this is changing. Below are several compelling reasons to use multiple payment gateways; Reasons that not only improve your business but boost your bottom line.
The Most Obvious
Why are we even having this discussion in the first place? What are the most obvious reasons for using more than one gateway? Well, it really boils down to two: globalization and economics.
The need to work with more than one gateway becomes very evident as your business expands, particularly internationally. Selling globally means working with foreign banks, currencies, and languages. Payment gateways vary by region and currencies accepted. Does your gateway support the payment methods and currencies of all your target markets?
For example, you may need to add a payment gateway because your domestic gateway doesn’t support the Argentine peso.
2. Good Economics (Dollars & Cents)
Even if you aren’t expanding internationally, using two payment gateways, or more, makes good business sense. As you consider fees and contract requirements, and evaluate how these factors impact your bottom line, you may decide to add a specific gateway because it increases conversion rates. Although quite accidentally, this happened to us at Spreedly.
At the time we were using PayPal Websites Payment Pro for credit card processing. One day our PayPal account stopped accepting all American Express (AMEX) cards and there was no timeline for fixing it. Within a couple of minutes we opened up a Stripe account and routed all AMEX cards into the new gateway. After about a month the PayPal/AMEX issue had been resolved. By now, however, our finance person had spent enough time comparing our PayPal and Stripe reporting to realize that it didn’t make economic sense to get back to a single provider. Enough said.
One of the first decisions you need to make when selling online is what e-commerce platform to use. Most commerce packages offer a choice of built in or supported gateways. Popular platforms like Shopify strongly encourage you to use their “powered by Stripe” payment offering. On the other end of the spectrum, self hosted offerings like Magento give you a lot of freedom to decide which gateway to use. Both approaches have their advantages, but either way, don’t pick a gateway without serious thought.
There are A LOT of payment gateways out there (hundreds of them). Your e-commerce platform, no matter how robust, isn’t going to cover them all; You may find yourself in a business situation where you need to integrate with a gateway outside of your e-commerce’s scope.
As such, below are some additional factors to consider.
3. Backup, Fail Safe & Overflow
Outside of the top two, this is probably the most obvious advantage to working with more than one gateway. Backing up your data is sound business practice; Just as you need a backup for your e-commerce transactions, it’s equally as important to backup your customers’ payment information.
Using a second payment gateway allows you to securely vault a copy of your customers’ credit and debit card data. A second gateway also serves as a fail over while your primary gateway is under duress, underperforming, or down completely.
Another upside of a backup gateway is the ability to handle overflow from sales spikes due to seasonality or growth. Having an additional gateway to share the load during these peaks can more than cover the cost of the gateway itself.
4. A Payment Gateway AND Merchant Account? Or One That Does Both?
The way the payment industry evolved, there are some newer providers that offer a combined gateway and merchant account, as opposed to the more traditional gateway-only providers. Combined providers typically involve fewer setup and monthly fees but the per-transaction costs tend to be higher. Small merchants usually start with a combined payment provider, such as PayPal or Stripe. Larger online merchants typically want their own merchant account that offers more attractive transaction fees. While there are pros and cons to each approach, it’s perfectly reasonable to use both models.
As an example, you might be a large organization that has negotiated some amazing processing rates from a provider, but you want the flexibility to work with the gateways that suite your specific needs. Or, you may simply want the option to move from one gateway to another without the hindrance of adding a merchant account when you switch.
5. Customer Choice
Do you want to offer multiple payment options to your customers? The best use case for this example is PayPal. As one of the world’s largest Internet payment companies, lots of consumers have PayPal accounts and many of them prefer to use PayPal rather than enter credit card details into yet another website. This same benefit can also be a downside. Having to click away from your checkout page to the PayPay site is a bad user experience which can depress sales.
But it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. An example of this is Lyft. The ride-hailing app uses Stripe for most transactions and Braintree for customers who want to charge rides to their PayPal accounts. Even if you don’t use PayPal as your main payment gateway you can still offer it as an alternative. At the same time, this approach provides an excellent backup in case your primary payment gateway or merchant account experiences problems.
6. Flexibility & Independence
Is your payment gateway capable of handling different payment methods and more complex use cases? Does your business need to do more than take one-off payments? Most payment gateways are limited in their ability to address all payment scenarios.
This comment on Hacker News from a merchant who wants a simple solution for recurring billing speaks to the value of maintaining gateway independence: “. . . avoid being locked in to a payment processor for storing and charging payment info . . . I can use Braintree today, Stripe tomorrow and ShinyPaymentStartup next year without changing any code or re-collecting billing info from customers.”
Or you may need to work with separate gateways because each one specializes in a feature you need. For example, consumers want to move freely between shopping on their phones, online and in stores. You many need to work with more than one payment gateway to create this seamless user experience.
Multiple payment gateways can also be used to segment payment processing for different types of customers, such as by country in the Globalization example above. Certain gateways may also have cost and performance efficiencies based on country, currency, or payment method. In these cases it makes economic sense to consider working with additional gateways based on use case and optimizing your transactions for latency, success rate, and profit margins.
Gateway to the Gateways
Of course Spreedly is very bullish on the need to use multiple payment gateways – our business exists to fill this need. We have developed a single API that integrates with over 100 gateways in more than 100 countries. We are a “gateway to the gateways”, if you will.
Most of our customers use multiple gateways for one or more of the reasons described above. Here is a short list of some of the more popular providers we see our multi payment gateway customers using.
Authorize.Net is a Visa Inc. company with over 400,000 active merchants, processing more than 126 billion annually. Just as Spreedly provides online merchants the choice to work across multiple payment gateways, Authorize.Net has decoupled its merchant account from its gateway, allowing customers to select the best value at each layer of the payment stack. To learn more about how Spreedly works with Authorize.Net, go here.
Although headquartered in Boston, Credorax is one of Spreedly’s most popular gateways in Europe, supported in 38 countries across the European Union. The company is also licensed to provide online payment processing and acquiring bank services in Japan and the United States.
First Data Corporation is a global payment solutions company that has as its subsidiaries the Payeezy gateway and the Clover POS system. Spreedly is a great addition for Clover users who need to merge their brick & mortar stores with their e-commerce presence. For information on how Spreedly works with Clover, go here. And, for details on how set up Spreedly with Clover, go here.
Part of the PayU family of companies, PayU Latam allows merchants to accept local payments in Latin American countries with just one account and integration. Spreedly’s API supports PayU in Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
Stripe provides an integrated, easy on-boarding solution for new customers (both private individuals and businesses). Spreedly and Stripe Connect allows online merchants to work with a single payment provider while supporting payment gateways in over 25 countries. To learn more about how Spreedly works with Stripe, go here.
There are many reasons why you may want the type of flexibility and independence that comes with working with more than one payment gateway. At the very least, it’s just good business to mitigate the risk of loosing your profits when your primary payment gateway is down.
E-commerce isn’t slowing any time soon. Keeping pace requires working with modern APIs like Spreedly. To access our free dev account, click on the link below.