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No matter what your business is, you will need to be able to take payments. While cash and checks are still options, they are fast losing popularity with both merchants and customers. Digital payments are the way of the present as well as the future. With that in mind, here is a guide to the top payment processing systems for 2023 and beyond.
What to look for in payment processing systems
When evaluating payment processing systems for your business, here are the ten key points you should consider.
Payment options supported
Currencies and countries supported
Ease of use
Integrations and API support
Reputation and reviews
Reporting and analytics
Scalability and growth potential
Pricing structure and fees
Security is vital for all businesses. The importance of the other factors will vary between businesses. The top 5 payment processors all offer the highest standards of security. The differences between them lie in the other areas.
Top payment processing systems for 2023
Here is a guide to the top 5 payment processors of 2023.
GoCardless specializes in bank debits. In the US, these are run over the ACH network. GoCardless also supports a range of international bank debits. These include Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and the UK and EU. This means that although it’s not truly global, GoCardless does support most of the countries in which US businesses are likely to want to operate.
Because GoCardless only supports bank debits, it’s able to offer a combination of very attractive fees, wide acceptance amongst consumers, and great ease of use. Smaller merchants will probably be able to do everything they need to do from the dashboard. Medium-sized and larger merchants will have access to a range of integrations and a robust API.
GoCardless has an extensive range of supporting documentation plus excellent customer support. In particular, telephone support is offered as standard.
Stripe started as a payment-card processor and payment cards are still very much at the heart of their business. Their transaction fees vary depending on the exact type of payment card and the type of transaction (e.g. domestic vs international). Overall, Stripe is a fairly economical choice and its fee structure is clearly set out.
Whether or not Stripe is easy to use is largely a matter of perspective. Stripe is famous for its API and the extensive resources it offers to developers using it. So if you want to create your own applications and integrations, Square could be an excellent choice. Square also has a decent range of partner integrations. Its dashboard, however, is a matter of taste. If you’re thinking of using it, definitely test it before you commit.
Smaller merchants should also check that they're comfortable with Square’s customer support process. This is very much based on self-service (documentation) supported by email rather than phone. It can also be somewhat complex to navigate.
PayPal was created to be a payment processing system that anyone could use even if they had no technical expertise whatsoever. Now, PayPal has partner integrations and an API that make it practical for larger merchants to use. Even so, its unique selling points are still its convenience and ease of use.
Most PayPal transactions are backed by payment cards (although it does support other options). This means that PayPal can be seen as a no-brainer way to offer payment-card acceptance. Although it’s probably most associated with one-off purchases, PayPal does actually support recurring payments.
Unfortunately, the convenience of PayPal comes with a hefty price premium. PayPal is therefore probably best suited to merchants who just want a straightforward way to process small transaction volumes.
Braintree has been owned by PayPal since 2013 but still operates under its own brand. It specializes in mobile and web payment systems for e-commerce companies.
Braintree supports a wide range of payment options and multiple currencies, giving it truly global coverage. It can also process recurring payments as well as single ones. Transaction fees vary according to the specific type of transaction. Overall, however, its fees are both reasonable and transparent. Arguably Braintree’s biggest selling point, however, is its customizability.
Essentially, Braintree was developed on the assumption that its customers (merchants) were going to want to adapt it and integrate it with their websites and/or mobile apps. It therefore has a huge range of resources for developers. This is a huge selling point for merchants in this area but is likely to be of little relevance to merchants outside its target market.
Payment processing is at the core of Square’s business model. Its payment services are largely focused on payment cards. Square does, however, support some other options such as mobile payments. It can also process recurring payments as well as single ones. Its transaction fees depend on the details of the transaction (e.g. payment type and customer/merchant location). They are, however, both transparent and reasonable.
It’s certainly possible to use Square as a payment processing system and nothing else. It is, however, questionable whether or not this is the best approach. Square offers a whole ecosystem for SMBs (including freelancers). Between its native functionality and its numerous integrations, it covers most, if not all, of the functionality a business could need.
Businesses that adopt the Square ecosystem get the reassurance that the various apps they use will all integrate seamlessly with one another. This can be a huge benefit to merchants with limited technical expertise. What’s more, if they do experience any issues, they can easily get in touch with Square for help to resolve them.
We can 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.