For larger businesses, success may come at a price as more people connect to the growing global commercial markets online and the amount of fraud grows. Medium and large retailers are usually highly aware of the issue, and you should consider how much support you need in this area.
Larger companies working with leading gateways partners can access customer profiling, address and billing address validation plus other risk management services. These services come at an additional cost, but for many large companies they're exceptionally valuable for reducing reputational risk and chargebacks.
With a sense of the costs involved, the integration issues, the level of customisation on offer and a feeling for how well the provider can connect you to the key territories you sell through, there's one more major issue to consider – cashflow.
The immediacy of transfer of funds from gateways and services into your account can vary considerably; some providers have price points for faster service. Many global services run a live authorisation and daily payment file; others run more slowly by batching transactions and then processing these batches once they reach a certain size or age.
Many providers offering MIDs to new businesses in next to no time will take from one week to one month to actually make a transfer of funds to your account. This is great for them and a pain for small start-ups and established businesses alike. So it's vitally important to consult the small print about payment from the provider to your account.
International payments and reconciliation can take days or weeks, depending on your choice of local bank and global gateway. By investigating the service level and speed, you can ensure you aren't hit with surprises later. For those starting out and unsure of what the future holds, picking a service with a broad reach and limited overhead cost in exchange for higher transaction costs might be a good way to ease into this world.
If you're in the UK or USA, obvious first choices would be Google Checkout and PayPal – the latter offers a solid first choice for merchants everywhere. However, as you grow and develop your needs, it may make sense to supplement a simple service with either an all-in-one solution like Venda or Shopify + PayPal or to grow a relationship with a gateway.
STRONG FOUNDATIONS: Amazon Flexible Payments Service is built on top of its reliable and scalable infrastructure
For more established businesses, now might be the time to review how much tracking and conversion information is available through your current partner; review and negotiate the price of the service; or consider adding a secondary route to grow reach and reduce risk.
As every business is different, so are the exact requirements you'll have to make the most use of payments. However, it's worth looking at some of the forums and advice available online through simple Googling when considering the different partners. You might also reach out to developers and consultants with experience in this area.
Whichever route you take, it's worth reviewing its value and your needs every six months, and negotiating to make sure you're using the best service to support your business.
What might the future hold? Still yet to get cutthrough despite many years and different versions, mobile payments must surely start to work some magic in the micropayment and subscription arenas soon.
At the moment, the revenue share is frequently weighted in favour of the mobile operators and providers, making services like PayPal Micropayments and Tipjoy more appealing to most merchants, unless perhaps your main audience is the youth market.
Also, can contactless technology and good old-fashioned barter come into play as global and local markets grow with equal speed? Just as surely as time is money, time will also tell how the world of payment will change in the coming five years.