10 Questions to ask your customer before recommending an online payment provider

This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions to ask your clients but it is certainly a good start. I know many web designers do not really spend too much time thinking about the online payments side of things and will often just recommend Paypal for its ease of use if nothing else.

However one size most certainly does not fit all in these situations and I would strongly recommend you go the extra mile for your clients when it comes to one of the fundamentally most important decisions they can make when entering the world of ecommerce.

To help set you on the right track I have come up with ten questions to ask and also some of the reasons why they are important. In addition I will point you in the direction of the most reliable online payment providers, in my opinion. This is based purely on personal experience and not some metric test. I have personally worked with all of the providers I will provide links to in this article.

Are you looking to sell soft/virtual or real products?

You will see that many providers have ‘with-holding’ times for all or a portion of your turnover. This means you may find a company will keep 50% of your takings for 90 days. This is to protect against charge-backs. If your selling downloadable products, or low value products with high mark-up then this may be fine. Selling hardware with tiny markups and expensive delivery costs and this can kill a business.

If your client is selling software/shareware then you should definately take a look at:
http://www.swreg.org and http://digitalriver.com

Is it a sole prorietor or registered company/organisation?
Some providers will only work with registered companies Also the more established a business is, the more likely it is that they can afford a with-holding period. Some comapnies are more concerned with turnover and than real time cashflow from their online business and can handle money being with-held.

Where are they registered/Where do they reside?

If your client is in the Middle East, India or Russia they may have some trouble with some of the mainstream providers.
Try: https://www.alertpay.com/ and http://www.nochex.com/

Do they have a reasonable credit rating ( good rule of thumb do they have a credit card)?
There are many solutions open to them if they are in Western Europe/USA with a good credit history. Take a look at http://worldpay.com and http://authorize.net as just two examples. If not then 2CO is still a better alternative to Paypal in most cases: http://www.2checkout.com/community/

Are they selling adult only or adult related products?

This is not allowed by Paypal and Sticky subject with 2CO.
I suggest you go with http://ccbill.com/ or http://www.verotel.com/

Are they selling Travel, Gambling or related services?

You can try AlertPay.com, but I have no experience with any type of casino. I have heard about an outfit called MondoPay but have never dealt with them. Let us know if you have any real world experience.

Are they looking to charge for site memberships?
In which case make sure whatever solution they choose, that it supports recurring billing.

What are they expecting their turnover to be?
Large turnover will merit a much deeper look at payment processors as the implications of a wrong decision can be factored up by the volume of business

What are they prepared to invest in a solution?

If they are even prepared to invest as little as $50 they can have a far more professional solution than Paypal  with more payment options such as http://2co.com
Also worth a look is http://www.authorize.net/

Do they already have merchant facilities?

The magic question. If they already have the ability to take credit cards in-store or over the phone directly from their bank then these rates will be far preferable and far more opportunities will then open up to your customer. I would call these serious solutions


And finally what happens when your client does not make a sale?

Why not suggest they look at TrialPay.com as an alternative method of making that sale.

As I said this list is not meant to be exhaustive, its based on my 12 years doing business online. The other thing to remember is there is no reason your customer cannot offer two or even three alternative payment providers. Sometimes Paypal will not accept customers, for example from Egypt. SO even if your not in Egypt if you want to do business with the largest country in the Middle East you had better offer an alternative payment method than Paypal. I do not hate Paypal it has its place, its just important not to consider it the be all and end all of payment solutions.

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