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5 top online payment systems for UK businesses

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Last editedSep 20212 min read

If you’re operating a business in 2021 then you are definitely going to need to take payments online, and the only way to do this securely is by using an online payment system. The payment system gateways exist to act as a financial middleman between you and your customers. 

Bank transfers and direct debits are, of course, possible, but most customers won’t be comfortable sending money to a stranger via their bank and direct debits only really work for subscription payments. 

So, if you’re looking to accept one-off credit card payments then you’re going to need an online payment system. But what card payment system is right for your business? To assist you in finding the perfect partner, we’ve selected what we consider to be the top 5 payment systems available in the UK right now.


It might lack the ubiquity of Worldpay or PayPal, but what we offer is perhaps the most sensible electronic payment system if you’re looking for a complete and affordable package. There’s no monthly fee and you will pay only 1% per transaction (plus an additional 20p) for all UK and eurozone purchases (2% for international).

What makes our system truly powerful, however, is how well it integrates with other systems. It not only integrates perfectly with apps like accounting specialists Xero but it also includes its own point-of-sale system. We are also proudly powered by open banking, which means you can organise all of your finances from our app.


While PayPal might be the more visible brand due to its long-standing partnership with eBay, the title of largest payment system provider in the UK actually goes to Worldpay. The brand currently handles over 40% of all UK card transactions and boasts numerous flexible pricing plans for businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

The headline feature is arguably the “pay by link” system that allows businesses to send secure payment links through email, which could be invaluable to businesses that are just getting started and don’t have a full website set up yet. It can also be integrated easily with existing websites and you can be up and ready within 24 hours.


This Swedish fintech aims to completely change the way your business accepts payments. They offer a buy now, pay later service that can be incredibly attractive to businesses offering more “big-ticket” items. Customers can either pay immediately, defer payment or pay in instalments through consumer finance.

There are set transaction fees but they decrease as your business becomes more established and there are zero setup or monthly fees to consider. Klarna also offers a bespoke payment widget that shows a customer’s preferred and most relevant payment options. 


An increasingly popular payment gateway for businesses that don’t charge by the transaction, SagePay might be a great option for businesses that process between 100 and 350 transactions a month. Everything is taken care of for you – from compliance checks to invoicing, which is done through Sage’s very own system. Indeed, it can also be integrated with the company’s other range of products.

Perhaps the only negatives to speak of are that it takes a little technical know-how to get the system running and that it struggles to generate a quote if you pass more than 3,000 transactions per month. This means it might not be the best option for larger-scale operations.


While it might seem a little outdated when compared to its competitors, PayPal is still going strong and still enjoys a pretty hefty market share. The company offers a small business option known as the Web Payments Standard, which allows you to add a payment button to your site by copying and pasting a line of code and it’s very easy to set up. As so many customers already have PayPal accounts, it’s also going to be the favoured choice of many. 

However, PayPal’s fees are among the very highest if you’re selling at low volumes (3.4%) and the Web Payments Standard can look a little unprofessional. If you are happy going with the devil you know, though, then PayPal is at least a faster payment system than most and is a secure and incredibly mobile-optimised option to consider.

We Can Help

If you’re interested in finding out more about online payment systems, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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