Many of us probably use payment systems or payment gateways every day without even realising it. They are always there, running in the background, keeping our important payment information secure and ensuring payments are tracked reliably and effectively. But, as we’ll discover below, there’s no one-size-fits-all payment solution.
What is an online payment system?
The best way to explain what an online payment system is might be to mention the most famous of them all – PayPal. If you’ve ever used PayPal then you’ll know exactly what to expect.
These are online payment solutions managed by third parties that allow buyers to send secure payments without exchanging cash or using a traditional card reader. There are dozens of secure payment systems available within the UK and they all make profits by taking a small percentage from each transaction.
Online payment processing takes place in two sections – the gateway and the processor. The former is the software linking a site’s shopping cart to the third party and the latter is the process of the funds being moved, which also involves communicating with the buyer’s bank.
The top 5 payment systems in the UK
The best payment gateway for your needs is going to depend on your business’s specific needs. They will either charge monthly fees or take a percentage of each payment. Whichever you plan to use, however, any of the five below should more than meet the requirements of most.
The largest online payment system in the UK by quite some margin, Worldpay handles over 40% of all UK-based online card transactions. This payment gateway can either be hosted on the Worldpay site or integrated into your existing site. There are both pay-as-you-go and monthly payment options suitable for businesses of all sizes.
The most renowned name on this list, primarily as it was the default eBay payment method for years, PayPal is easy to sign up to and even easier to use. It is also very expensive when compared to the alternatives in terms of transaction fees though, which means it’s rarely the best choice for businesses. For individuals though, the ease of use makes it an enduringly popular choice.
One of the simplest solutions on this list due to the ease with which it can be integrated into your site, Stripe offers competitive rates and transparent pricing. It’s incredibly fast and robust and is a full payment solution package. All you need to provide is the site and the shopping cart.
The most popular e-commerce platform in the UK, Shopify offers everything you need to get started selling. Everything from web hosting to payment processing is taken care of and they even offer a free trial for undecided businesses. However, ease of use comes at a cost, as Shopify is one of the more costly payment solutions on the market.
5. Opayo (Sage Pay)
Formerly known as Sage Pay, Opayo is often championed as one of the best payment gateway solutions in the UK. It offers flexible payment options and drop-in checkout integration that makes it a smart middle-ground option between something like Worldpay and the “all-inclusive” option of Shopify. It does require a little technical knowledge to get the best out of it, though.
We can't leave GoCardless off this list! You can reduce costs by saving both money and time, with payment collection through GoCardless reducing costs by 56% on average.
We take the pain out of getting paid with transparent pricing and the ability to take international payments from 30+ countries. Perfect for receiving both regular and one-off payments, you can get started using either the GoCardless dashboard or an integration our partners, including Xero, QuickBooks, Sage 50, Tide, and Salesforce.
We can help
If you’re interested in finding out more about low-cost online payment systems, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.