Online Payment Pages: A Host of Support or API Ever After?

Online retail is on the rise as consumers vote with their feet – or rather their mouse and/or fingertips – to shop when and where it suits them. While they may be shopping for very different things, one thing they all have in common is that they want the best possible user experience ─ and nowhere is this more important than on your payment page where your visitor is on the brink of becoming a paying customer. So what are your options?

Hosted Payment Gateway
You can choose to have your payment page hosted by a payment service provider (PSP). With this option, when a customer reaches the payment stage of their purchase, the payment page redirects from your website to a hosted payment gateway where the transaction takes place.

With a hosted payment page, the all-important (and non-negotiable) PCI DSS compliance requirements are taken care of by your PSP. This is a huge benefit. Compliance is essential and can therefore be an administrative, financial and technical nightmare for companies without sufficient resources. Read our blog to find out more about PCI DSS and its requirements.

Simplicity is another key benefit of the hosted service. With a PSP on side, you can focus on your business rather than becoming enmeshed in the technical detail. The hosted page can be customised with your logo to reassure your customers that they are paying the right company. From its work with a broad range of clients, your PSP will also know how to maximise conversions using their hosted solution.

There are drawbacks. While the hosted page can indeed be customised to a degree, your options are rather limited – there is little flexibility in changing how the page itself looks and ‘feels’. You should also consider the fact that the customer leaves your website to process payment. Because of this, you cannot fully control the end-to-end customer experience, or monitor and measure transactions in the way you want. The cost-per-transaction fee is also likely to be higher.

Application Programming Interface (API)
Another option is to use an API to integrate your e-commerce website with the payment system. This allows you to take full control over the end-to-end customer experience and the customer never leaves your website, offering a better user experience. There is also far greater scope for customisation– you can design a payment page and process that suits your business’s needs.

Using an API will give you full control over customer data, giving you the ability to track, monitor and measure transactions in real time in exactly the way you want. The use of an API also allows you to integrate your internet payment solution with any internet-enabled device.

All this is wonderful from a sales and marketing point of view, of course. But you should make sure you have the necessary technical, regulatory and compliance skills in place before you dive in, as the task of ensuring PCI DSS compliance is all yours – and as we have seen, this should not be taken lightly. You must take every possible step to protect cardholder data and penalties for non-compliance are steep.

Ultimately, the choice you make will in large part depend on the technical resources at your disposal. If your organisation has the skills there are clearly advantages in using an API from a brand, user experience and reporting standpoint. But getting it wrong could damage both your reputation and your profits.

Allowing your PSP to host your payment gateway can offer complete peace of mind, allowing you to get on with the business of selling.