How to Choose a Payment Gateway: Brand Recognition isn’t Everything

When choosing a payment gateway, brand recognition can be an important marker of quality. Checking out what your peers are using to accomplish a particular task is a good first step on the road to finding a solution that suits you, but it can’t be the only benchmark on which you assess future partners. Too often, businesses confuse ‘popularity’ with ‘applicability’, leading them to enlist the services of providers that – though recognisable – are simply unable to meet the precise demands of their company. Vladimir Polyakov, Head of Regional Business Development at ECOMMPAY, has a vested interest in luring you away from the big names, but he’s also interested in ensuring every merchant conducts a thorough, independent analysis into the capabilities of prospective payment partners. Here’s a few points to consider.

It doesn’t matter what your business does: whether you’re selling jewellery in Mayfair or raising cattle in the Hebrides, you’re better off selecting a payment gateway that can offer you a tailored or individualised payment solution. These kinds of partnerships can be incredibly beneficial for your business’ conversion rates, and hey, we all need someone who knows how special we are.

1. International is better (except when it isn’t)

The region (or regions) a business operates in is perhaps the absolute most important thing to consider when choosing a payment gateway. The technology could be great, but if they don’t speak the languages and the handle the currencies you need, there’s no point in even getting in touch with them. For a lot of businesses operating these days, a payment gateway capable of offering a truly international service is an absolute necessity.

The chief exception to that rule is if your business actually only operates in a single country. These homebodies can afford to work with gateways that offer a more local solution, only applicable to the conditions of a single region. In this instance, getting on board with a worldwide provider is liable to cost money you have no reason to spend!

But a company with dreams of operating globally – or that operates in more than one country already – can’t afford to limit themselves in that way. They need to select a payment gateway that’s capable of functioning across time zones, currencies, and languages. Not just that, but the payment gateway provider should know the ins-and-outs of pertinent local legislation, possessing the expertise necessary to ensure the softest landing possible as the client establishes a presence in new regions. And while it might seem a decent idea to partner up with a number of local providers instead of one international one, let us tell you now: that’s a lot of hard work for a solution that’s liable to turn out more expensive in the long run. All businesses need providers that eliminate obstacles, rather than pose new ones.

2. Keep commissions out in the open

It’s a fact of life that payment services charge commissions, and those commissions can take a lot of different forms. But whether they’re per-transaction, a monthly fee, or one of innumerable other models, you’ve got to make sure you know they’re coming. Some payment gateway providers bury particular commissions in the fine print, leaving your business to be taken by surprise when you find yourself paying for more than you bargained for. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Keep an eye out for things like the ever-increasing ‘junk’ commissions that pile themselves up as you find yourself charged for progressively granular and more arcane services. You’re never going to see these coming, but it’s crucial to factor them in when you’re evaluating the value proposition offered by your potential payment partners. If your new payment gateway provider keeps charging you for their printer ink, maybe look elsewhere.

Transparency is the name of the game. You need to know what you’re being charged for, why you’re being charged for it, and when the charges are coming.

Sometimes things happen and charges crop up unexpectedly, but you need a provider that goes to the ends of the earth not to blindside you with out-of-the-blue commissions. If you’re on the hunt for a new payment gateway, make sure they can explain in exhaustive detail what you’re going to be charged for and when.

3. You’ve heard it before, but read the fine print

Payment gateway provider contracts can range from brisk page-turners to great, voluminous tomes. But whether you’re dealing with a short story or the fintech equivalent of Lord of the Rings, you need to check, double-check, and triple-check every dotted I and crossed T. A comprehensive understanding of your contract – what’s being overcharged, what’s charged sensibly – is essential to securing the best partnership possible.

A handy tip is to request an anonymised operational statement of one your gateway’s clients to see what, why, and when they’re charging.

A decent rule of thumb is: the more complex your business, the more complex your contract. If you’re operating in every corner of the world in a hundred different languages, selecting a payment gateway will require you to pore over that contract very carefully before signing on the dotted line.

4. What does reputation count for?

Reputation can be strange, and certainly shouldn’t be the only thing you base your choice of a payment gateway on. People tend to be more vocal with their negative experiences than their positive ones, which means it’s often easier to find deeply critical reviews of gateways (both big and small) than it is positive ones. That’s not to say people’s negative experiences shouldn’t be factored into the equation, just that they ought to be considered in a balanced manner. After all, it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.

5. More is more

It’s important to think about your business’ growth when selecting a payment gateway. If your business is doing particularly well and growing fast, it will often make a lot of sense to add an additional gateway into the mix. Don’t be afraid to check out new partners and payment service aggregators to facilitate your business’ growth. You know what they say about eggs and baskets.

6. Answering the main question: how to choose a payment gateway

So we’ve covered everything from global reach to the fine print to financial transparency, but how should you actually go about selecting the payment gateway provider best suited to your needs?

While very young companies might be able to work with providers that offer one-size-fits-all (i.e. not tailored) solutions that handle only a few different payment methods, fast-growers will need to do a bit more legwork to find a provider that can tailor a solution to fit them.

That means doing all the research we talked about above and, crucially, understanding the demands of your target audience. Perhaps more important is that your chosen provider understands that target audience too.

Decent sources of information when it comes to gateways are, luckily, fairly abundant. You can check their official website, ask around your industry for recommendations, and perhaps most significantly, attend trade shows and conferences to meet representatives face-to-face. Being able to put your questions to a human being is still second-to-none when it comes to exploring your options.


Customisation means convenience means conversion. Most businesses need a truly personalised payment solution to maximise their growth and customer satisfaction, and while choosing the right payment gateway is a combination of a lot of factors, it’s important to remember that you need one that meets your needs, not the other way around.