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Ecommerce Forum

Accepting credit cards
What is the best online CC solution for small business?

 3:09 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi! My wife is starting up a new business in the new year and would like to accept credit cards to take stationery orders online. We would not need to deduct payment until we ship the goods (printing could take 1 to 2 weeks from time of order) but I'm guessing that we'd want to validate the card at order time in case the customer enters the details incorrectly. We are UK based and we expect that the majority of the orders will be from the UK. We would be looking to get a merchant account from our high street bank and link the online payment solution to that (allowing us to take phone orders too).

I have read the Shopping Cart 101 thread and had a look at the OS Commerce site which looks very good. However, I am not sure if this is the sort of solution for her. Although I am happy with PHP/MySQL, etc, my total knowledge of secure e-commerce is very small. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thanks!




 3:15 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

bellrj, Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]

This was a good thread about accepting CC recently:
Credit Card Processing
Any Clues?


 3:37 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the link - that was very useful although it started to get a little heavy towards the end ;-). I see that Barclays Merchant Services got a recommendation which is handy because my wife uses Barclay's. It looks as though paying for a solution like Worldpay might be the answer. The stuff about transactions sizes was interesting and something I hadn't considered. My wife's business would be looking at orders of between 100-500 - average say 250. What impact that has on the solution we should go for is unclear at the moment - I need more info on typical transaction charges first.

I know that we need a secured payment solution - I am not sure if SSL is the only way to achieve this - the OS Commerce site was a bit vague. Can anyone answer this for me? Thanks for your help so far!


 3:41 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

With most CC systems, you end up on their site for the paying and then get's redirected back to your site when it's finished. This eliminate the problem of scripting language and OS.

And you can try using PayPal (it's basically free), and i haven't used them since they started accepting and [webmasterworld.com], the big thing is that you still have to sign up for an account.

Another helpful thread might be:
How do I pick an e-commerce service provider and e-commerce software [webmasterworld.com]


 3:58 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> With most CC systems, you end up on their site for the >> paying and then get's redirected back to your site when >> it's finished. This eliminate the problem of scripting >> language and OS.

That's sounds like just the ticket. I wasn't aware that most systems did that - I thought they were in the minority. I'll look further into those.

>> And you can try using PayPal

I considered that but the lack of safeguards and the reported problems for some merchants have put me off. Messing this part of my wife's business up would be bad for my health ;-), so I'm going to propose a paid for solution. She's willing to invest in it for peace of mind.

Thanks for the link - I missed that one before. Thanks!


 4:49 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

we are a uk based company and are using worldpay. have not had any problems with them yet. they also have an office in the uk. payments are made into our bank acount monthly.


 7:17 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Do you need online processing? I have a simple online biz where the orders are forwarded to me, and I process them myself using computer software (no longer available, alas, but similar ones are). This bypasses the "gateways" necessary for online processing, which as best I can tell generally charge a whole lot for doing very little, and lets me use my own merchant account.
This is particularly useful to me because the discount and shipping situation is so complicated for me that it is much easier to do it here than to try to figure a way to diddle the typical shopping cart/site scripts to do all the calculations.


 7:20 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

As has been mentioned above, for your needs the likes of:

Worldpay and Netbanx will do the trick.

alternatively you can get your own direct merchant account with Barclaycard Merchant Service and then use a 3rd party gateway for processing/security purposes.

as for PayPal, I am not too impressed with it, and only recommend it as a last resort.



 7:50 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi, have you considered using Mal's eCommerce? Like slindo says, if you are going to process the CC information later, perhaps you do not need real-time processing -- just a shopping cart that will capture the details for you. You log into the Mal's admin area and retrieve the order details when you are ready to process the transaction. I am not familiar with the verification system for UK addresses, but Mal's cart will validate the credit card number. Is that all you need?

Also, if you need a catalog script, take a look at OptionCart - it is designed to be used with Mal's.


 7:52 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)


This may be the best starter approach for [2checkout.com...]

You dont have to worry about setting up all the technical stuff..they handle all of that..

The fees are actually much less than trying to hook up a merchant account..

The have a plug and play cart and as you grow you can hookup more sophisticated carts to their system.


 8:16 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have to disagree that 2checkout.com is less than other merchant accounts. Their 5.5% cut plus $0.45 transaction fee ends up being more costly than a lot of merchant accounts. The only benefit to their service is that they provide remotely hosted SSL and builtin shopping cart engine. I'm in the process of switching from 2checkout.com to a merchant account now as the SSL/shopping cart requirement is handled by another free service.


 8:20 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've been the merchant account route..they will fee you to death...
but good luck..


 9:47 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

I went the merchant account route, with my new small business,
recently started up. I found a local credit union (I am not
a "bank" person), one that had support for merchant accounts
for business (they actually use a large nationwide merchant
account provider). The fees are pretty decent. I just have to
do certain things in my online store because of the card-not-present
issue, as is the case in all e-commerce sites.

Because I went through my credit union and I have a relationship
with them, they go to bat for me and stand up for me if there
are problems. This seems to work for me. However, I also
signed up for PayPal for those diehard paypal fans if they want
to use it.


 10:00 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

I currently allow the customer to decide with several methods: Send a Cheque, WorldPay, NoChex, PayPal, Customer Account and so on...


 10:02 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi bellrj, and Welcome!
Please don't let the thread mentioned earlier ( #:2 - "Credit Card Processing - Any Clues") put you off WorldPay. Some of the arguments there were quite specific. Overall WorldPay is an excellent service, and as it sounds like you have a technical background you shouldn't have any problems integrating with them.
Good luck.


 10:40 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> Slindo - Do you need online processing?

Not really. The orders will take at least a week to make so we can collect the details (say daily) and check them. If there's a problem with a wrong number, then we've got the week to contact the customer and get it sorted. I'm guessing that to check we'd have to ring up our merchant account provider - not sure about that.

>> Shakil - alternatively you can get your own direct merchant account with Barclaycard Merchant Service and then use a 3rd party gateway for processing/security purposes.

I've looked at the Barclay EPDQ site (secure payment gateway) and it looks reasonable - the charges look ok too although I've got to contact Barclays to find out how much extra the merchant charges are on top of that.

Sun 818 and Dauction - thanks for the suggestions. I'll check them out.

>> Jmendenhall - However, I also signed up for PayPal for those diehard paypal fans if they want to use it.

Doing Paypal for free as well as a Merchant account is a good idea. I wouldn't use solely Paypal, but if it gets an order...

quiet_man - thanks. I'll be checking them out. I remember them from a few years back so that's a good start. :)

I've found out that my existing web host - although supporting PHP4/MySQL/CGI/Chilisoft ASP - doesn't support SSL. Hmmmm.... Sorry to ask the same dumb question again but no-one's really answered it yet (I think?). Is server supported SSL (with a certificate) the only way to secure web pages for taking CC details? I.e. do all CGI solutions need SSL as well?

Thanks for all the help - it really is great!


 11:38 pm on Nov 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Is server supported SSL (with a certificate) the only way to secure web pages for taking CC details?

I believe there are other methods for secure transmission, but SSL (Secure Socket Layer), I think, is the most popular. Mal's is a remote shopping cart that host their own secure servers. I also know of at least two webhosts that offer Miva Merchant with a shared SSL server you process your credit card transactions through. This saves you from having to buy a security certificate for your web site and maintain it each year.


 12:02 am on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

hi bellrj

if you use a payment processor (worldpay, netbanx etc etc) then you do not need your own SSL as you will use the payment processor's SSL pages. the only time you need SSL is when you use a bank merchant account and collect the card details via SSL and process them manually.

if you use worldpay / netbanx etc, you do not need a bank merchant account as well - worldpay / netbanx etc provide "internet merchant accounts" instead. with worldpay and some other systems, you can also have what is known as a "virtual terminal" allowing you to process orders taken by phone, fax, mail order etc. you probably have no need for a bank merchant account at all.

worldpay and others use AVS (address verification) to compare the given cardholder details with those held by the card issuer. you are normally sent the results of AVS checks when the customer completes the purchase. they also ask for the security code number printed (not embossed) on the card to check that the customer is in posession of the card and is not a fraudster. (there are other security measures as well).

from your first message in this thread, it sounds like stationery items will be customised and the customer will need to wait for printing. therefore, you probably won't find an off-the-shelf shopping cart. you could write one yourself or ask a web designer or developer to build one for you - don't be afraid to employ a developer as they can save you a lot of time, effort and hassle.

as you can't ship for a week or so following the order, you'll need to say so on your site. most customers will understand the need to wait for the printing and delivery, especially for customised goods, so you shouldn't have any problems there.

some systems like worldpays also include "deferred payments" whereby the customer makes the purchase as normal and the card is authorised as normal, but no payment is taken (and no transaction charges occur) until you manually complete the transaction. you can simply ignore fraudulent orders. for genuine orders, you complete the transaction when you're ready to ship the goods or before the transaction "expires", whichever comes first.

if you need any more info about this (shopping cart / payment processing etc), sticky mail me.


 12:23 pm on Nov 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

bellrj - As Crazy_Fool says, you don't need SSL for your own site if you're using a PSP (Payment Services Provider) solution. That's one of the things you are paying for. For what its worth, I can tell you that I have a client whose hosting company does offer SSL. We used it to receive CC details and process them offline, as a 'toe in the water' trial before paying for a PSP. While it did work, it also received a LOT of submissions from eastern Europe and African addresses - not surprisingly, all those cards were declined by the bank! Since switching to WorldPay, he's had no real problems with (attempted) fraud.

There's two other benefits of using a PSP you might want to consider:
1. Trust - Using a well-known and reputable PSP may help reassure your customers that they can pay safely and securely. A custom-built payment mechanism, no matter how secure it is in reality, may not offer the same *perception* of security among customers. (For the same reason, it probably is a good idea to offer PayPal as well as other mechanisms, as PayPal users already trust that system).
2. Back Office Facility - depending on your needs/abilities, you may appreciate the back office systems offered by a PSP. I can't speak for other providers, but I know that WorldPay allows you to produce all sorts of reports.

One other suggestion for you if you are considering getting your own merchant account and processing orders offline as 'cardholder not present' - you could have a look at Hushmail's secure forms as a mechanism for your customers to securely transfer their CC details to you. Its far from perfect - only works on IE/Win - but as a quick and dirty method it works, and its cheap.


 3:14 pm on Nov 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hope this thread hasn't gone cold by now, I have been transacting multi-currency with WORLDPAY for exactly three years and they are probably the single most reliable supplier I have ever dealt with since setting up my payment solution.

One question, I get maybe 5-6 requests a month from US potential customers who don't have CC'c. Can anyone recommend payment alternative that is viable for average order size of $25-$50? Please not PAYPAL as this sounds just a little too fraught.



PS When is next Pub Conference, I have missed the others by being away!


 3:41 pm on Nov 25, 2002 (gmt 0)

(no CC payment)

Believe it or not, for items in that range I often tell people to just send (US) cash. It's available anywhere for considerably less than a foreign currency money order or bank check, and easy to use once you get it.

In five years of doing so we have never had any lost or stolen, if we did we'd just send the product anyhow.


 2:09 am on Nov 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>I get maybe 5-6 requests a month from US potential
>>customers who don't have CC'c. Can anyone recommend
>>payment alternative that is viable for average order size
>>of $25-$50?

get a US$ bank account in the UK and ask people to send a cheque.

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