How can I research online payment providers?

What should a small business look for in an online payment provider?

In expanding globally, my online business has experienced a major problem with the payment provider we signed with, as it couldn’t process payment from certain cards. This has caused much headache and loss of business.  What kind of research should I be doing payment providers before signing up with them to avoid a similar issue in future?

Paul Burdin writes:

To date, we have taken orders from over 170 countries – and correspondingly made deliveries of our product (photo based greeting cards) to over 170 different countries. Fortunately, we have not encountered the kind of problem you mention ourselves. There are a number of questions that we believe are key to ask in each of the countries/regions which you think are key to your business’ future.

1. How are people paying for things?  Find out what the most popular payment solutions in each key region are.  Does your potential partner support them? Remember, it might not be the well-known debit/credit card providers that you are used to.

2. How well-known/trusted is their brand?  Ask your potential partner for a list of well-known or respected companies they work with in each key region.  If there is no-one of note or you have heard of, you should beware. Customers need to trust the company taking their credit and debit card details.

3. Eat your own dog food.  Try paying for things on websites or apps that use your potential partner.  Assess the experience.  Would you be happy with the same experience on your website or app? Usability is absolutely crucial.

4. What are people saying?  Ask your potential partner for references.  What do the people they work with say about them?  Equally, what are consumers saying about them on internet forums?  It is very easy to discover bad customer experiences and unhappy customers. An easy one is to type in “I hate” and then the brand name. If it’s consumer facing and apparently well-known, this will make for insightful reading.

Unsatisfactory answers for any of these questions should trigger alarm bells.  No payment solution is perfect, but why risk undoing all the hard work of finding customers and convincing them to pay for your product at the last hurdle?

Paul Burdin is the chief financial officer of Touchnote


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