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Payment service providers in UK

... fed up with WorldPay

1:22 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've been using WorldPay to handle payments on a couple of stores for a few years and have come to the end of my tether.

They charge too much, their fraud screening isn't great either and it takes weeks before you get the funds remitted. On top of that, I think that having to leave my site and paying on WorldPay reduces my conversion rate significantly.

So I am setting up a merchant account with the view of using a payment services provider. However, I am unsure of who to use?

I've heard of ProTX and SECPay, but there must be more.

Any tips before I make the switch?

5:07 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Worldpay offers the benefits of a combined merchant account and payment service provider. The downside is that they hold on to your money for too long, and charge a hideous percentage rate for handling the payments.

I recommend that you get a separate merchant account and then you can choose whichever PSP you like.

The first thing to make sure is that the Payment Service Provider (PSP) offers fixed price processing. Basically you want to pay a fixed price per transaction, not a percentage. Secpay, Protx and Axiar Payment Solutions all offer fixed price transaction processing.

For many people the price of the service is the deciding factor. Personally I would look for the most reliable, even a store doing 5000 transactions a month should only be paying 700 per month, not a huge amount. You only need a couple of hours of downtime on a busy store and the lost order money soon mounts up.

Barclays EPDQ/MPI service has been down for a whole day today (I have a friend who runs an ecommerce store using Barclays). Many people would think that Barclays would be a safe choice but today's outage proves not.

10:51 am on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Andy,

About a year or so ago I dumped Worldpay in favour of ProTX + my own merchant account from my bank (Bank of Scotland) basically for the same reasons as you say. Over time I did manage to negotiate Worldpay's rates down a bit, and get their remittance delay down to 2 weeks, but I gradually realised they were ripping me off!

After switching I have slashed my transaction fees in half! Also the money is now in my bank account within 3-4 working days!

The service I use with ProTX still means that the customer leaves your site. I used to think this was a bad thing, but I think most customers don't even notice. I have branded the ProTX payment pages the same as my site and very few people drop-out at this stage, so I don't consider it a problem.

It is possible to use ProTX from your site by using their API (and you can do it with Worldpay too), but after a lot of thought, I don't think I'd want the responsibility of directly handling card details - it would be a nightmare if I got hacked! Also, they will be very anal about doing this and you will get asked a mountain of security info if you want to go down this route.

I would say that a couple of times I've had to question the reliability of ProTX, however the money I've saved I'm not too worried about it.



11:30 am on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You say you question the reliability of ProTX. What kind of outages have you experienced?

1:39 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Paypal Payflow Pro is a really great and low cost solution, although it's a real pain to implement the first time.
2:03 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You say you question the reliability of ProTX. What kind of outages have you experienced?

Wasn't really outages as such...

1. Sometimes it looks like the customer has backed out of paying, and then later I get an email from the customer telling me they had an error from ProTX.

2. Sometimes I get really weird payment failed messages with 'Java Exception' errors, which I really wouldn't expect to see!

3. Sometimes the customer just doesn't redirect to ProTX and gets dumped on a blank page.

4. As 3. but after they've paid, they get dumped on a blank page and don't know if they've paid or not.

5. The connection from ProTX to my bank has gone down a few times, so none of the transactions can be authorised. I just get some random meaningless error message.

I've had thousands of transactions through ProTX and it is only a very small % where I've had problems, so I don't want to sound negative about them, and to be honest as I said before, the saving I make I am very happy with their service.


2:10 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'll second jweighell's experience. Doesn't seem to be as robust as WorldPay but for the huge savings (and quick payment of funds) I'll stick with it.
5:57 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We use SecPay XMLRPC service without problems.
10:25 pm on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I will also agree with what others are saying about Protx.

I use them with Streamline after Jonathon recommended them to me.

The savings against Worldpay are amazing. I think Worldpay is possibly a better known brand, but not by much.

I've had a few funny transactions but very few. Also moving off your website to process cards is probably a better thing. As mentioned, you aren't liable for card details and I doubt few customers even notice. I would probably give preference to a website that re directs me to Protx to pay rather than someone who collects card info for processing later. I know that no humans come into conact with my info. But being a webmaster myself I guess that is irrelevant as an average consumer will probably not know how it works anyway.

Ring round some merhcnat banks, Streamline, Lloyds Cardnet, RBOS, Barclays and play them off against one another, the rates should come down.

Also if you join the Federation of Small Businesses then Streamline will waiver the setup fee (which is about 350) and give you a favourable Transaction rate, they saving may even cover the cost of FSB membership (which is only a tenner a month anyway) - mine would (i say would as i haven't got round to joining yet! I only found this out after coughing up 350 unfortunately.


5:49 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I used to use the Direct Protx service, hooking into the their API. I'll agree with some of the comments above in terms of the downtime, whilst it didn't happen often, when it did, it was frustrating due to trying to understand what was going on and where the issue lay. I think the status page wasn't the most accurate as I recall on a couple of occassions it was green, which led me to think the issue was with the site, how ever it later turned out it was the connection with Protx/Bank.

I always got the impression when I rang them, they weren't too organised, how ever eventually the actual support received was very good and they were always helpful with regards to hooking into the API.

I would recommend using the Direct service over the hosted one, purely for the flexibility and how you handle the transaction. I set myself up in no time, used the test server, ensured I received all the correct responses for authorised and declined and started trading in no time.

The savings are mega compared to other providers.

I don't use Protx anymore due to working for someone else. If I was doing my own thing again, Protx would be my first port of call. I recall they were about to open up the Verified by Visa/Secured by Mastercard stuff around the time I was closing my account down.

I used Protx in conjunction with Streamline.

With regard to security, basic stuff included using some ASP / DLL encryption on the SQL box - I'm no security expert, I do recall there being other stuff, how ever that wasn't my bag. :)

We use Barclays at work and yesterday the lines went down. We lost a stupid amount of transactions due to the volume of traffic at the time.

Hope this helps in some way.

11:08 am on Mar 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've recommended and implemented Protx to a number of clients and aside from a spell of DDoS attacks (to all of Protx's servers, which Protx worked to come up with a defence against) I wouldn't hesitate from using them again.

HSBC's account manager even recommended Protx over their ePDQ service!