Last editedJun 20235 min read
Safe online payment methods, like Direct Debit, credit cards, digital wallets, and bank transfers, protect users' financial data during Internet transactions. Key safety features include encryption, two-factor authentication, privacy policies, and financial protection from unauthorised transactions. In the UK, Direct Debit, safeguarded by the Direct Debit Guarantee, is preferred, blending convenience with robust security.
Customers now expect speed, ease, and a variety of choices when they pay for goods and services, both in your brick-and-mortar store and at your online checkout. To stay competitive, you need to offer plenty of payment options, especially for your online customers. There are lots of online payment options to choose from, so which should you offer? Most importantly, which of them are considered safe online payment methods?
Are online payments safe?
Every time an online payment is made, there’s a slight risk that hackers might secretly steal a buyer’s payment information. If they do, they can use that information to make fraudulent payments to their accounts, purchase items or get access to cash. The most secure online payment system methods can help combat these unauthorised payments.
The onus on ensuring online payments are safe lies with the individual merchant. Consider the following steps to enhance security:
PCI compliance for card payments
Although card payments have high transaction fees and are prone to failure, many businesses, particularly in retail, hospitality and e-com need to accept them. If you do accept card payments be sure that you comply with official Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards and practices. These vary depending upon the number of online payments your business processes per year, and the full text of the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) can be found on the PCI website.
Alternatively, you could use a trusted bank payments provider like GoCardless. With GoCardless, your site will never touch your customer’s financial card data, so you won’t need to worry about PCI compliance penalties at any transaction stage.
Ensure you’re using SSL encryption on your site. Many website-building tools include this as a matter of course, and you can tell if a website is using SSL encryption by checking whether the website address starts with HTTPS.
Make sure you have a firewall to protect your site from cyber criminals looking to gain access and steal the personal data of people who’ve made online payments with you. Once the firewall is in place, you should always apply updates as soon as prompted, as these have been designed to deal with new and different threats.
Best online safe payment methods
Here are some safe payment methods to consider using:
Direct debit is a well-known, trusted bank payment method, so your customers are probably familiar with it. It’s a payment method enabling customers to set up recurring or one-off payments using an online payment system. It’s considered a very safe payment method, and in the UK, Direct Debits are protected under the Direct Debit Guarantee.
With GoCardless setting up Direct Debit payments is quick and easy via our user-friendly platform, simplifying the long and hugely complex process of setting up Direct Debits through your bank.
Credit cards are considered one of the best options for secure online payment methods. Credit card companies use the latest online security features, including fraud monitoring and encryption, so customer details are always kept safe. Visa, American Express and Mastercard are examples of companies providing a safe way to purchase online in multiple currencies.
Another well-known safe payment method online is a debit card. Using a debit card to complete online payments, funds are deducted directly from a buyer’s account. Debit cards offer secure online transactions since issuers provide comprehensive fraud monitoring services and are quick to detect any fraudulent activity.
A prepaid card is another safe option, wherein funds are loaded onto the card, so direct withdrawals from your current account are impossible.
Payment apps like Google Pay and Apple Pay, and PayPal also offer many different security features, e.g. facial and fingerprint recognition and multi-factor authentication. Shoppers can also store credit and debit cards in a digital mobile wallet to use online and in-store. Apple Pay features security that’s built right into the system.
How to start taking safe payments online
Online payment methods are generally easy to set up. You can integrate most online payment services into your website if you have an online presence. If you can’t take payments on your site, some services allow you to link or invoice customers so they can pay you.
No matter how you take payments online, ensure you use SSL (secure sockets layer) protocol, which creates an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. When you have an SSL certificate from a trusted SSL Certificate Issuer, users see the padlock symbol in their browser when they’re on your site and feel confident in giving you their information.
Online payment safety: a concern due to potential data theft, can be enhanced by adhering to PCI standards, using SSL encryption, maintaining an updated firewall, or using trusted payment providers like GoCardless that handle financial data securely.
Best online safe payment methods:
Direct debit is a trusted and safe payment method for recurring or one-off payments; it is simplified and expedited when set up through GoCardless, bypassing the typically complex process for small businesses.
Credit & debit cards, including those from Visa, American Express, and Mastercard, offer secure online payments through advanced security features and fraud detection, with debit cards directly deducting funds from buyers' accounts.
Payment Apps such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal provide robust security features like facial and fingerprint recognition and multi-factor authentication, allowing shoppers to safely store and use credit and debit cards in a digital mobile wallet.
How to start taking safe payments online: Setting up online payments is generally straightforward, with options to integrate services into your website or link/invoice customers directly. Regardless of the method, using SSL protocol for secure, encrypted connections is crucial, reassuring users with the padlock symbol in their browser.
Like most online merchants, Plum is often targeted by fraudsters, particularly those looking to abuse the chargeback system. GoCardless Protect+ uses payment intelligence to identify, prevent and monitor for potential fraud. It’s helped Plum save more than £38,000 over nine months.
Plum started piloting Protect+ earlier this year, which has helped them to tackle fraud. Maciej Lorek, Fraud and Chargeback Team Leader at Plum, explained how Protect+ helped Plum following one particular incident, they faced.
Protect+ has simplified life and made payments safer for Maciej and his team.
We can help
If your business isn't reliant on card payments, you stand a great chance of saving money and time with bank payments while substantially cutting down the risk of fraud. With the added security of Protect+, you'll benefit from three or more layers of additional protection against fraud, ensuring both your and your customers' funds are safeguarded.
GoCardless simplifies your payment collection procedure, significantly reducing your team's administrative burden when tracking down invoices or subscription payments, all with a flexible pay-as-you-go model that requires no contract or long-term commitment.
Frequently Asked Questions — FAQs
What is the safest way to pay online UK?
The safest way to pay online in the UK includes several methods. Direct Debit is a well-known, trusted payment method protected under the UK's Direct Debit Guarantee. Credit cards are also considered safe due to their robust security features, including fraud monitoring and encryption.
Payment apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal offer many security features, including facial and fingerprint recognition and multi-factor authentication.
What type of payment is safest?
The safest payment type varies depending on the context, but direct debit, credit cards, and payment apps are generally considered safe. Direct debit is a secure method allowing customers to set up recurring or one-off card payments.
Credit cards have robust security features, including fraud monitoring and encryption. Payment apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal offer many security features, including facial and fingerprint recognition and multi-factor authentication.
Is PayPal safer than bank transfers?
PayPal is considered a safe payment method and offers advantages over bank transfers. It provides an extra layer of protection, allowing you to make payments without directly exposing your bank account or card details to the merchant.
However, bank transfers, especially when done through secure banking systems, are also generally safe. The choice between PayPal and bank transfers may depend on factors such as convenience, the nature of the transaction, and personal preference.