Last editedMay 20234 min read
Reliable and predictable revenue streams are highly valuable to all businesses. Some businesses choose to focus purely on recurring payments. Others support a combination of recurring and one-off payments. In either case, businesses need a payment processor that can handle recurring payments effectively. With that in mind, here is a guide to the best recurring payment processors in Australia.
What is a recurring payment service?
A recurring payment service is a type of payment system that automatically charges payments to customers on a designated billing frequency. These days, monthly billing cycles tend to be the most common among both consumers and businesses. Monthly billing is, however, definitely not the only option. Weekly, quarterly and annual billing are all still very much in use and other frequencies are possible.
What to look for in a recurring payment processor?
To a certain extent, what you should look for in a recurring payment processor will depend on your priorities as a business. With that said, there are certain factors all businesses should check.
This is an absolute non-negotiable. You must ensure that any recurring payment process you use is fully compliant with all relevant security standards. These will vary according to the payment methods they process.
These days, there are all kinds of payment methods you can accept. There is, however, a lot to be said for keeping it simple, especially if you are a small business. For practical purposes, this means accepting bank-to-bank payments and/or cards.
If you want to take one-off payments in the real world as well, then you might want to add mobile payments to that list. If you’re already taking card payments, then these are usually easy to add on.
Supporting other payment methods will give your customers maximum choice. It can, however, be a case of diminishing returns. In other words, the benefit you are likely to get from accepting additional payment methods may not justify the extra work involved.
When it comes to fees, there are two points to consider. One is the headline fees and the other is how the fees are structured. It’s important to look at both and to think about what they may mean for your business.
One key point to note here is that card networks operate an “honour all cards rule”. This essentially means that any business that accepts their products has to accept all of their products. Specifically, they cannot just accept debit cards to avoid the higher fees charged on credit card transactions.
This means that card-focused processors usually charge different fees for debit and credit cards. The alternative is for them to set their fees high enough to cover the cost of processing credit cards. This approach is, however, risky for them.
Technological fit simply means how well the payment processor’s solution fits with your business operations. For example, some merchants may prioritise ease of use. Others may want a payment processor that integrates with software they already use. Others may want a high level of customisation. Some businesses may want all three so that they can update their systems as they develop.
This may be last but it’s definitely not the least important. Good customer support is like good insurance. You don’t plan to use it but it’s reassuring to know that it’s there if you ever need it.
Three best recurring payment processors in Australia
At present, the three best recurring payment processors in Australia are GoCardless, PayPal and Stripe. All three offer the highest standards of payment security. There are, however, very clear differences between them in other areas.
GoCardless is a relative newcomer to the payment industry but it’s still been established for over 10 years. It’s become recognised as the industry leader in bank debits.
Affordable prices: For many merchants, arguably the headline draw of GoCardless is the affordable prices. These are made possible by the fact that GoCardless focuses on bank debits. It, therefore, leverages existing infrastructure.
Excellent reach: Cards are still very popular but not everybody has one or wants to use one, especially not credit cards. By contrast, the vast majority of people have bank accounts.
Flexibility in use: GoCardless has an intuitive and mobile-friendly dashboard, an excellent range of partner integrations and a robust API.
Range restricted to certain countries: GoCardless has excellent coverage in the countries where it operates but it only operates in a limited number of countries. With that said, it already covers the most important global markets. It can also be combined with another solution, for example, Stripe, to deliver true global reach.
Relatively complex dispute process: GoCardless leverages existing bank debit schemes, each of which has its own rules. Having said that, the same kinds of measures will protect against claims regardless of the scheme.
No card acceptance: Whether or not this is a disadvantage will probably depend on your business model. Where it is, however, another solution such as Stripe can plug the gap.
You’re probably already familiar with PayPal from a consumer perspective. Using it as a business, however, brings a different set of advantages and disadvantages.
Ease of use: Overall, PayPal is very easy for both merchants and payers to use. It also works well on mobile devices. You get the best experience if you install the app but if you don’t want to (or can’t), the website adapts well to mobile.
Can help with consumer trust: Despite the fact that most digital payment methods have consumer protection schemes, some customers may be reluctant to enter their payment details into unfamiliar sites. Using PayPal can provide a way around this issue.
Decent level of integrations: PayPal has a decent range of partner integrations. In particular, it integrates with a lot of the popular software packages.
High fees: PayPal charges a hefty premium for the convenience it offers.
Limited reach: PayPal is the market leader in ewallets but the reach of ewallets in general is much lower than either card payments or bank debits.
Stripe is now one of the most established names in payment processing. Its client base includes some huge names (e.g. Amazon). Stripe also has a lot to offer smaller businesses.
Global reach: If you want the ability to charge customers (almost) anywhere in the world, then Stripe can make it happen for you.
Decent range of integrations: Like PayPal, Stripe has a decent range of integrations. There are certainly no obvious gaps.
Customisations: Stripe is known throughout the payment industry for its support for customisations. This is not a unique selling point, but it’s definitely a strong one, particularly for large businesses.
API-focused: Stripe’s ability to support customisations is based on its robust API. If you don’t want to use an API, its functionality is a lot more limited.
Card-focused: Stripe is a leader in card-payment processing but it’s not the industry leader in other areas such as bank debits. With that said, it can be used in combination with other solutions such as GoCardless.
Email-focused: Stripe has an excellent range of online resources. If, however, you need (or just want) one-to-one support, your only option is email.
How can GoCardless help?
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.