PC Doctor+ Guide 21 Accepting Credit Cards on Your Website

by : Steve Latimer

Accepting Credit Cards on Your Website

If you're running a business producing any kind of product or service then you really should have a website. The reasons for saying this are:
At the lowest level, web sites allow you to advertise your product or service at costs which compare very well against conventional advertising methods.
In addition, merely having your own domain name adds status to you business while a domain based e-mail address adds credibility to your business.
I don't wish to be unfair to Freeserve or any other general ISP but if you are using a Freeserve e-mail address for your business then you are hardly conveying the impression of a main player business. Which looks better to you?
sales@yourcompany.com or jkl501@fsnet.net

Once you have a web site you may consider at which level you wish to operate it:
A simple site which advertises your product or services. Remember even a simple site, optimised correctly, will allow people searching the web to find your business. Even if your site only provides details of your product/service and contact details this is still a significant plus and far more flexible (and cheaper) than placing an advertisement in Yellow Pages
A site with the ability to accept orders by telephone or e-mail and receive on-line payment.
A full e-commerce site where people can order on-line using the customary 'shopping basket' and on-line payment.
Here we will deal with the second level - a fairly simple site but one which has the facility to accept on-line payments by credit or debit card. Many people think that this must be a complicated task with many serious considerations - not least of which is security - but not so. If you have a product or service to sell then you can be accepting credit/debit cards on-line in a matter of hours.

Merchant Accounts
High Street stores which accept credit/debit cards have what is known as full merchant accounts often now known as PDQ accounts because of the card swiping machines that are connected by telephone to the clearance system.

To qualify for a PDQ account a business will generally have had to have been trading for 18 to 24 months and be able to supply signed off accounts for the qualifying period. If accepted, the service involves a monthly subscription payment - allegedly for the use of the PDQ machine - and it will also deduct a commission, typically of between 1 and 3%, on each sale. Most if not all of the high street banks offer full merchant accounts.

For smaller retailers and for SMEs which sell products and services direct or on-line the banks have come up with alternative solutions.

These involve setting up an on-line account with the merchant account providers through which all transactions take place. In this way security issues are handled by the provider and with organisations such as The Royal Bank of Scotland and the National Westminster Bank potential buyers can feel secure with their transaction. With each, the business user visits the provider’s website and creates a 'BUY' button which is then copy/pasted onto the business users website. When a visitor clicks on the button a payment window opens and the visitor enters details of their credit card/debit card. Money is then transferred into the user's online account.

The provider will make a charge on each transaction.

The business user can view the account status on-line to see when monies have been received but the providers generally also e-mail the user so that he knows when monies have been cleared and goods can be safely despatched.

E-commerce has revolutionised global trade. Market size projections from technology research company Forrester (http://www.forrester.com/) indicate that more than $133bn of sales were made on-line during 2002. What's more, by 2006 annual sales will increase to more than $560bn.

Here we highlight three of the better known examples of on-line merchant facility providers:

World Pay
Generally speaking, it costs nothing to set up an on-line merchant account with all three and actual operation is fairly simple. Charges are made against transactions and are not excessive although they do vary - this is how the providers earn their money. It's worth doing a quick comparison between providers before choosing one.

PayPal is owned by eBay and recently launched its UK site. At the same time PayPal have either reduced eliminated withdrawal fees for its UK members. Withdrawals of under ?50 to a UK bank will cost 50% less or ?0.25 and fees will be eliminated completely for withdrawal amounts of ?50 and above.

Founded in 1998, PayPal enables any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive payments online. PayPal's service builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards and utilizes the world's most advanced proprietary fraud prevention systems to create a safe, global, real-time payment solution. PayPal has more than 31 million account members and is available to users in 38 countries around the world.

World Pay

An important part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the 5th biggest banking group in the world, World Pay payment solutions are trusted by thousands of businesses, big and small.
Customers accept payments over the internet, by phone, fax and email. They accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners, American Express, JCB and all the major credit cards. Not forgetting debit cards and local payment schemes like Switch, Laser, Electron and more. Bank transfers, instalments, standing-order and direct-debit style payments. Even mobile payments! All in the customer's currency and language - wherever they are in the world.


FastPay is a relative newcomer to the market but comes with the backing of one of the UK's leading High Street Banks the National Westminster Bank. FastPay is a quick, easy and secure way to send and receive money by email or mobile phone. Sign up is freeFree Web Content, and you can start using FastPay immediately.

To take a look at what’s on offer cut and paste the following links into your browser.

PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/uk/mrb/pal=NX9AXM2JALHP2
WorldPay: https://secure..worldpay.com/app/splash.pl?Pid=71739
FastPay: http://www.fastpay.co.uk

PC Doctor+ Guides are targeted at people relatively new to computing. They may be reproduced and used as additional content on web sites provided they are not altered in any way and a link back to the Arrival site is included. http://www.arrival-computers.co.uk