If you want to accept online payments, you will have to do some legwork first. There are three ways that you can do this: have access to a merchant account; register with a payment gateway system that works with banks to process payments; or use a hosted payment gateway like those that are provided by Stripe or PayPal. These constitute the basic requirements for a payment API for your online store or business.
But which one is the most lucrative for your enterprising needs?
Typically, a payment API that is facilitated by a services provider that has an agreement with a bank is the best route to go. There are a few reasons for this. One, you can get the integration setup, generally with some level of support offered, rather quickly. Two, you won’t have to worry about lags in payments or lack of being able to accept certain payment options. Finally, you’ll be able to get a better rate on the services, but you will have to go through an approval process before you can start using them.
Before you opt for any payment API solution, there are a few important factors that you ought to consider first.
What is your infrastructure like? Do you sell acceptable goods, or do you sell wares that would be subject to some scrutiny by the banks that would be processing your payments (like tobacco, alcohol, firearms, ammunition, electronic cigarettes and so forth). Also, is your business generating enough revenue for it to even make sense to integrate a non-hosted payment gateway? In some situations the answer is yes. In others, it may be no.
Cost of Integration
Another aspect to consider is the cost of integration. Depending upon the size of your business, and what your payment API needs are, you may require a customized solution. Some services providers offer these at no cost (rare), but many will need to bill you for any associated development time.
Alternatively, you can explore your options with paying a private developer to cover integration. Just make sure you are aware of any estimated costs well in advance, so there are no surprises later on down the road.
How secure is the payment API that you are planning on using? SSL exploits like Heartbleed and Poodle have compromised hundreds of millions of user accounts. That said, you’ll want to explore security from top to bottom.
Ensuring that your payment API is secure, it will protect you and your customers from liability if fraud occurs. And fraud is rampant in the credit card industry, costing banks billions of dollars per year in lost revenue.
One thing that you should consider security wise is a better form of encryption for your payment API. Base Commerce makes a point-of-encryption that is called Cypher Pay. It automatically encrypts user data as it is being typed into the shopping cart fields. This prevents the data from ever being accessed by your servers, adding another layer of protection to your online transactions.