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Payment Gateway Integration

How Payment Gateway Integration can become a Revenue Driver and Customer Acquisition Tool.

A 2024Guide

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8 Things to Look For in a Payment Gateway Integration

  1. Robust API. Payments functionality is integrated into platforms that are used in differing ways by many different organizations. The API should provide all the needs of the integrating organization, be easy to use and supply example code for commonly used languages.
  2. Integration support. In some cases providing a robust API isn’t enough. The ability to get in touch with professionals on the gateway’s integration technical support team is a must. To be able to talk to someone on the integration team can be extremely helpful in some cases.
  3. Omnichannel functionality. In todays market space there are applications that must support phones, tablets, desktop, point of sale and specialty hardware devices. Integration methods must meet the needs of all. Multiple payment modals also fall under this umbrella. United States ACH and credit cards, Canadian EFT and credit cards as an example.
  4. Options for managing recurring payments. A good payment integration API will have functionality that supports recurring payments. However, in some use cases the SaaS integrating organization will prefer that it is their application that schedules, manages and maintains the subscription based payments.
  5. Handling sensitive data. Is the gateway provider a PCI level one certified payment provider? Your gateway partner should be tokenizing sensitive data, leaving you with nothing to store other than a reference token that’s not usable should a breach occur. In some integration use cases the API integration method can bypass the integrating organization’s servers all together and transmit directly to the gateway.
  6. Reporting. What types of reporting are available? A good gateway integration will provide multiple ways to obtain reporting, e.g., online portal with dashboard views and search functionality. Reporting flows from the API connection might be batch or live communication via webhooks.
  7. Speed. Nobody wants a slow experience for posting a transaction and receiving confirmation. Look for sub-one second response times.
  8. Infrastructure. Are there co-locations? Is there power back-up capabilities? You should strive to make sure that your organization will be integrating to a gateway platform that has 99.9% uptime at a minimum
Payment Gateway Integrations FAQ’s
  • How long should a Payment Gateway Integration take? This depends on a number of factors. How much reporting functionality will you provide your user base? The more reconciliation insight you want to offer, the more dev time it will take. It also depends on the differing payment modalities. Are you credit card only? Will you offer an card updater option? ACH Payment Processing? All will affect dev time. A few days to a few weeks are likely
  • Should I expect free tech support? Just as it should not cost you anything (but dev time) to integrate, you should also expect timely, free dev support
  • Should I expect rev share from the gateway provider?  In a word-yes. What that is varies from provider to provider but a definite yes.

Get Connected

A Payment Gateway Integration API offers a SaaS platform the ability to securely connect to an ACH payment or credit card payment disbursement solution. The Payment Gateway serves as the secure conduit to move sensitive credit card or bank account from the application user to the back end payment processor or acquirer. For many developers and SAAS platforms choosing their payment gateway integration partner[s] is not a decision driven by the potential for the partner to actually help grow their business.

Traditionally Payment Gateway Integrations thinking goes something like this:

  • Integrate with usual suspects in gateway space
  • Inform end-user customers about gateway options
  • Hand off the customer and the assume or hope for the best

Support and funding issues, data hostaging [more info below], customer confusion on what a payment gateway is versus merchant account, lack of payment options [specifically ACH Processing for recurring payments] and more can leave clients frustrated and looking for alternatives. Coupled with significant issues reducing credit card decline rates your hard won clients may end up frustrated and exploring alternatives to your solution. In the ACH world there is no “autorization” that lets you know at the POS that a payment will be successful. In the vast majority of cases it will be but there is a multi-day waiting period for confirmation. This can often lead to accounting reconciliation issues where the platform payment reporting and the customer’s bank statements don’t match. Having sophisticated Payment Deposit Reconciliation tools allows you to reconcile payments deposits directly in your payment reporting suite. The vast majority of ACH API providers DO NOT offer this level of reporting insight. A Payment Integration Partner can help the the platform and it’s developers to maximize payment adoption and reduce time to market by providing advice and understanding the SaaS platform’s client base.

Common reasons for exploring Payment Gateway Integration

The decision to explore payment processing integration has typically been motivated by a fairly small number of factors and is not typically a strategic decision. Some common reasons:
  • The usual suspects: Integrating with well known gateways, e.g., is expected as the name is known and recognized.
  • Ease of deployment: If the developer can integrate quickly via a Payment Gateway API and the development tools are easy to work with, which makes the gateway attractive. In some cases ease of deployment may also come with a payment aggregation model whereby the end user merchant does not own their processing account and has few options if problems arise.
  • Ability to process in multiple countries.
  • Client demand: if a large user asks the developer to use a specific gateway [possibly to use an existing merchant account] this can be the motivation.
  • Need for recurring billing integration. A recurring billing payment gateway is an absolute must if your client base has a subscription payment offering. The best payment gateway for recurring billing will offer you both ACH and credit card processing as well as revenue share and marketing assistance- see Payment Gateway Must Haves 

Reasons why Payment Gateway Integration needs to be more strategic.

Most payment gateway integration operate as a separate silo from your core business. Your customer needs to accept payments and they leave your ecosystem and interact with the gateway silo.  

Once the developer/SAAS provider has integrated, their end user client is often left to establish a merchant account, connect to the payment gateway and then enter credentials into the application. This process can be confusing to the end user, many of whom do not understand the distinction between a merchant account and the gateway. There is also room for confusion in the credentials process. In today’s business world client acquisition costs are very high. Competition for these clients is fierce and with more technology options available your potential users can see you as one of many solution providers. Handing over a new user to a payment gateway provider without well thought out processes and guidance can lead to frustration and confusion-certainly enough to make the initial interaction with your product a less than stellar experience. What happens when your users need payment related support? Relying on a very large company to make your clients feel like they have been well taken care of [or helped at all] can be problematic at best. If in doubt try calling support yourself.

Payment Gateway as a Growth Strategy?

Handing off your most valuable asset [your client base] to a gateway and hoping for the best has been the way most software and SAAS providers have gone about handling their payment gateway integration needs. Payment processing integration must be thoughtful and designed with your end user paramount. There are options and if implemented strategically can help grow your client base and revenues. How?
  • Ensure your payment gateway partner provides an easy, defined process for onboarding and continued support. Creating good will at the time of purchase offers your company the best chance of getting great feedback/testimonials and hopefully referrals. A happy customer is the best referral generation strategy.
  • If your payment gateway partner also provides the merchant account[s] negotiate great deals for your users [you have the power]. Hopefully just by using your product the business will save time and money. If you can in turn save them money on processing fees you are again creating goodwill. This also creates the opportunity to generate referrals for your business. There is never a better time to ask [yes you must ask] for referrals then after you have delivered for your clients. Leverage that good will and generate referrals and referral marketing materials.
  • Offer payment options via ACH Integration. Especially for recurring payments multiple payment options with cost savings are a competitive differentiator. If you can offer a single platform that supports US and Canada processing you are providing a tool that expands your user base to Canada-a whole new market that typically has been tremendously under served with payment processing options.
  • Revenue share model: Your payment gateway integration provider [especially if they can also set up merchant accounts] should offer you a transaction revenue share model. If every client you have now generates an ancillary income stream you have a much more profitable company. If done properly your clients get better service and more payment options. Your company gets a more loyal client and a new revenue source.
  • More value for your users: There is a huge gap or disconnect that your gateway partner can possibly help with. If your service or product also offers a recurring billing solution you have an opportunity to help your end users [and you] generate more value. So often a product is “announced” e.g., “we also offer recurring billing” and then left to your user to make the best of. It’s then up to your user to get the most from this great tool. So they start implementing and maybe get 20% of the potential base to use recurring payment auto billing. What if they had a step-by-step plan to implement and get maximum participation rates? That 20% can become 60% or more and their billing/payment collection becomes automated. They have reliable cash flow and much more time to work on revenue generating business tasks. You have delivered an invaluable tool they just can’t possibly live without. Not to mention that if you are getting a transaction revenue share you are tripling your income stream.
  • Improved client retention rates: By delivering value beyond expectations you generate more loyal clients. This increases lifetime client value and your ability to cross sell, upsell and leverage potential referrals.
You should also examine recurring payment exception handling as reducing decline rates in billing can also be a significant revenue lift plus a reduction in time spent on rebilling. Merchants in the recurring/subscription billing model often see credit card decline rates close to 10%. If your gateway partner can offer strategic handling and representment of these transactions and significantly reduce decline rates you again have a competitive advantage. As an example let’s say a merchant bills 1000 customers $49 per month and your offering reduces declines from 10% to 7%. You have produced a $1500/month revenue lift and cut in half time [=money] spent rebilling-now that’s ROI. If your company was able to bump revenue buy 10% via a strategic payment gateway integration partnership, grow customer base by 10% through your differentiated payment solution and another 10% by leveraging referrals from your very satisfied clients [that you help save time and money] your revenues and business valuation grow by 33%. Bump each area by 20% and you see 73% revenue increase. Get to 25% bumps and you just about double your business. Not to mention that your client retention rate significantly improves. So give careful thought to your gateway partner. It can without question become a growth catalyst for your business.

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