Surprise, surprise—building a startup from the ground up ain’t easy. Between balancing budgets, marketing campaigns, and employee onboarding…let’s just say the learning curve’s steep. But you didn’t dive into entrepreneurship to play it safe. And the good news? Accepting payments from your soon-to-be adoring customers doesn’t have to be a pain point.
See, gone are the days when businesses had to limit themselves to one payment processor. Now, options abound for accepting cash online, each with its own pros and cons. The trick lies in knowing which solutions to implement so that you can best serve your customers. After all, the payment methods that work for a handmade goods store just starting may not meet the needs of a rapidly scaling startup.
So, lean in as we break down the top five online payment gateways poised to take your startup to the next level.
Credit and Debit Cards
We’ll take a look at features and fees, highlights and pitfalls—everything you need to know to collect cash in 2023 and beyond. Let’s get into it.
When it comes to accepting digital payments, credit and debit cards reign supreme. Over 84% of all adults own a credit or debit card – so offering card processing is an absolute must for any startup.
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To make card payments happen seamlessly, your startup is going to rely on payment gateways. These nifty pieces of technology act as middlemen, securely transferring customer card details to the payment processor. The processor verifies the transaction with the issuing bank before the funds hit the merchant’s account.
But, just how does a payment gateway work? Well, the payment gateway encrypts sensitive data and facilitates the handoff from buyer to seller. This allows customers to safely enter their information knowing it will be securely transmitted.
To accept cards online yourself, you’ll need to set up a merchant services account with a bank or processor. This provides the infrastructure to securely accept and deposit cards into your business bank account. The major card networks like Visa and Mastercard have complex rules, but your provider handles compliance behind the scenes.
Between chip cards and digital wallets, card payments continue evolving. But their security, convenience, and ubiquity keep them at the top of the digital payment food chain.
Alright, entrepreneurs…time to whip out those digital wallets. Wait, what’s that? Your startup isn’t yet equipped to accept PayPal, Venmo or Apple Pay? Well, consider this your official notice – mobile and digital wallets are rising stars in the online payment space.
See, customers love the convenience of storing their payment info securely in one place. And digital wallet usage keeps gaining ground year after year. We’re talking billions of active accounts globally. As such, ignoring this payment trend could seriously limit your potential reach.
In fact, in 2022, mobile wallets accounted for roughly half of global eCommerce payment transactions, making the digital wallet by far the most popular online payment method worldwide. This share is set to increase to over 54% in 2026. Credit cards ranked second with a 20% market share, a figure which is projected to decline in the coming years.
Square, PayPal, Apple Pay – they may seem interchangeable at first glance. But look a little closer, and key differences emerge in setup, functionality and scale. For example, Apple Pay lives exclusively in the Apple ecosystem, while PayPal has a broader cross-platform appeal. And speaking of limitations, some digital wallets still can’t cut it for high-ticket purchases.
The major appeal lies in letting customers check out quickly without re-entering payment details. But ease of use goes hand in hand with liability – if a wallet account gets hacked, the headaches fall disproportionately on merchants. Still, for most startups, the pros outweigh the cons, especially with mobile commerce overtaking desktop.
Now we know what you may be thinking…isn’t crypto risky, volatile stuff best left to tech bros and Reddit day traders? But hear us out on why adding a crypto payment option could be a savvy move for startups aiming to attract a young, tech-savvy demographic.
For one thing, crypto holders are eager to spend their hard “mined” assets, especially with prices fluctuating wildly. And average consumers are growing more open to alternative payment rails. Then there’s the advantages for merchants – crypto transactions come with lower processing fees and less risk of chargebacks or fraud.
Now integrating something as bleeding edge as crypto may sound daunting for small businesses. But payment services handle the tricky blockchain stuff under the hood. They take care of conversion, so you bank USD as normal.
Of course, crypto isn’t without its downsides. The regulatory environment remains gray at best, and exchange rates can spiral out of control overnight. But if cultivated carefully, it offers startups major potential for growth with a segment of trailblazing early adopters. Just maybe don’t bet the entire business model on it…yet.
Now you may be thinking bank transfers seem about as cutting edge as the telegraph – but don’t be so quick to underestimate these legacy payment rail’s appeal. Bank transfers allow customers to conveniently pay straight from their bank accounts, with money clearing directly into the merchant’s accounts.
And with the rise of open banking, bank transfers are getting faster, more flexible, and accessible across devices. New fintech services are also making cross-border bank payments cheaper and more transparent too.
For high ticket purchases where large sums of money are moving, bank transfers minimize sticker shock and extra processing fees. And without credit cards as middlemen, merchants pay significantly lower transaction costs. Bank transfers also carry little risk of disputes or chargebacks.
The biggest drawback is also the biggest benefit – once money leaves a bank account, it’s gone for good. So customers lose the fraud protections that credit cards provide. And of course, transfer times can take multiple days to clear, making bank transfers better for billing versus point-of-sale.
The online payment landscape continues evolving rapidly, but the new variety of options empowers startups to meet customers where they are. With this in mind, the key lies in offering flexible payment methods tailored to your business needs and customer demographics for smooth scaling.
Just remember—there’s no one-size-fits-all payment solution. As your startup grows, reevaluate whether your payment flows still align with your goals and audience. Don’t be afraid to mix, match and adjust payment methods to remove friction and maximize satisfaction on both ends of each transaction.