Old:Candidate Payment Processors

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This page describes payment processors that were considered during our initial development of the Cost Recovery System.

About payment processing terminology

The world of payment processing is complicated. Payment processing can have many pieces:

  • shopping cart = Software tool used to collect several items into a group for purchase (Dryad probably will not use one)
  • payment gateway = Online system that processes credit cards and other forms of payment
  • merchant account = Intermediate account that the payment gateway uses to receive funds. This account cannot be used for normal banking purposes, so it needs to be connected to a "normal" bank account
  • bank account = A normal bank account that can be used to store and access funds.

Many companies combine a payment gateway with a merchant account, but some companies keep these two activities very separate. All companies advertise that they do everything. For example, PayPal combines a gateway with a merchant account, but they also offer a gateway-only option (PayFlow), and a more elaborate framework for B2B collaboration (X.com). Flagship is only a merchant account, but they advertise that they are a gateway, because they force you to use Authorize.net as their gateway.

To further complicate matters, there are no real standards for describing features. Every processor comes up with its own vocabulary, and some of them even rename the terms "payment gateway" and "merchant account".

Options not currently under consideration

Authorize.net and Cybersource

Bottom line: Authorize.net doesn't really support multiple currencies. Cybersource does, but it's not clear which merchant accounts support Cybersource.

Authorize.net is one of the largest gateways. It is owned by Visa.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Monday through Friday, 5 AM to 5 PM Pacific time (closed major holidays) via phone, e-mail, and live chat.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Ok.
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? Yes, but only fully "authorized" transactions, which they call "authorize only". We would have 30 days to complete the transaction.
  • What currencies can they handle? USD only. To accept other currencies natively, they refer you to http://www.cybersource.com/
  • How would we interact with their servers?
    • Using the Authorize.net API, likely the Direct Post Method (Developer Guide for Direct Post).
    • could use Authorization/Capture process, but this places a hold on transactions, which expires after 30 days, so would not work for review workflow
    • Customer Information Manager (CIM) can store customer details (including card number) for later use, but it will cost an extra $20/month
    • Cybersource has separate tokenization features. They claim their tokenization system can be used with any payment gateway.
  • allows QuickBooks download of transactions
  • extensive Developer Center with test systems, code, etc.


Reviews:


Flagship

Flagship is a merchant account only -- it processes payments through Authorize.net. They are owned by Wells Fargo Bank.

Bottom line: They're good.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? 24/7 contact via phone and email.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Reasonable. See complaints with BBB (Unless you're also using iPayment, then there can be more complications.)

Pros:

  • Can download activity reports and import them into QuickBooks.

Payment options:

  • Direct Post Method: We create the payment form, but it posts to their servers (so no critical details hit our servers)
  • Server Integration Method: We create the shopping cart, but it posts to their servers. They show/process the payment form and results page.
  • Advanced Integration Method: We manage everything on our servers, calling their API to process the credit card.

Reviews:

Horror stories:

Other notes:

  • Flagship has some association with iPayment. Avoid use of iPayment, because they are the source of numerous complaints. For example, see this review site.
  • Flagship might also use FirstData, or maybe they previously used FirstData.

PayPal and X.com

Bottom line: There is a general feeling that PayPal is good for small-scale use, but it's not great for businesses with high transaction rates. It seems like they are working to improve their services for "traditional" business customers, but these services are still immature. They are developing a new system called x.com (X.commerce) aimed at larger businesses.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? 800 number includes "after hours support", online forums. They don't have true 24/7 customer service unless you pay exorbitant fees for "enhanced" service.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Their resolution process tends to err on the side of the customer rather than the merchant.
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? Yes, with x.com. See Preapproval API page.
  • What currencies can they handle? PayFlow handles "24 currencies from 190 countries" -- see PayFlow currencies.

Pros:

  • well-known

Cons:

  • using PayPal's primary system incurs some risk -- funds can be delayed, the account can be locked, etc. (It's unclear whether these same risks apply to PayFlow and X.com)

Reviews:

Horror stories:

FirstData

FirstData is one of the largest gateways. It recently took over Bank of America's Merchant Account division, so the two companies work together closely.

Features:

Reviews:

Open questions:

  • Are there costs associated with TransArmor tokens?

SagePay

Bottom line: they are too UK-focused; don't support enough US banks

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? 24/7
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Ok, not great
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? (probably, but not fully evaluated yet)
  • What currencies can they handle? many, depending on the selected merchant account
  • How would we interact with their servers? InFrame lets us customize the form on our page,

Reviews:

WorldPay

Bottom line: They are primarily a merchant account, which would introduce another company into our system -- we don't need it.

  • Gateways: List isn't easily accessible, but PayFlow and Authorize.net say they work with WorldPay.
  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? 24/weekdays (UK)
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Mixed. Many good reviews, many bad reviews. "one-call resolution model"
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? (probably, but not fully evaluated yet)
  • What currencies can they handle? many
  • How would we interact with their servers? they are very flexible/customizable

Reviews:

Stripe.com

Bottom line: Well-designed and simple. They don't support anything fancy, but they would work well. Unfortunately, they don't support multiple currencies.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? IRC, email. No phone!
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Unclear.
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? Can create a customer object to validate the card, then charge it later. See Stripe's example of preapproval.
  • What currencies can they handle? Only USD is native, but the credit card company will do any needed conversion.
  • Can they handle vouchers? They can handle coupons, which may work the same way.

Pros:

Cons:

  • They focus on the programming API -- not sure whether they have a system for managing information through their site.

Reviews:

Notes:

WePay

Bottom line: Extremely flexible. Has many of the desirable features of Stripe, with more flexibility. However, it has received complaints similar to those lodged against PayPal, so it may be a more risky alternative. Unfortunately, they do not handle multiple currencies.

WePay was founded as a direct competitor to PayPal. As such, it originally focused on peer-to-peer transactions. They have since added more features to become a more complete payment processing site.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Email, chat, or phone. 8AM-8PM PST, Monday-Friday
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Unclear
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? Yes. They call it a conditional payment.
  • What currencies can they handle? USD only.
  • Can they handle vouchers? Unclear
  • How would we interact with their servers? The WePay API allows for a lot of flexibility.

Pro:

  • Can use a JavaScript library to handle the transaction, where credit card info never hits Dryad servers. (Similar to Stripe.com)
  • Also allows payments within an iFrame, or redirect through their site.
  • Can charge credit cards or bank accounts.

Con:

  • Their documentation can be confusing, because they assume you're trying to build a marketplace. When they say "user", they mean "seller". The purchasers (e.g., Dryad users) are termed "customers".
  • Many complaints about the time it takes for funds to clear into your account. WePay often lists transactions a "pending".

Google Checkout/Wallet

Bottom Line: It seems very focused on the shopping-cart model, so it probably doesn't fit our use case.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Email and forums. No phone.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions? Ok.
  • Can they handle preapproved payments? I think so, though it's not clear how.
  • What currencies can they handle? Focused on USD, but MasterCard/Visa will work with other currencies.
  • Can they handle vouchers? Yes, but this seems to be handled through the shopping carts.

Pros:

Cons:

  • It seems really focused on the notion of a store with a shopping cart. It's unclear how well they support other use cases.

Reviews:

BluePay

Bottom Line: Too focused on physical credit-card readers.

Used to work with FirstData, but now on their own.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Phone Monday-Friday.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions?
  • Can they handle preapproved payments?
  • What currencies can they handle?
  • Can they handle vouchers?

Cons:

  • Unexpected fees.

Reviews:

2Checkout

Bottom line: no.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Monday-Friday phone.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions?
  • Can they handle preapproved payments?
  • What currencies can they handle? 8 payment methods, 15 languages, and 26 currencies
  • Can they handle vouchers?

Pros:

  • Supports several shopping carts.

Cons:

  • High fees.
  • Focused on the shopping carts.

Reviews:

Payza (was AlertPay)

Bottom line: No.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk? Monday-Friday phone. Ticket system.
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions?
  • Can they handle preapproved payments?
  • What currencies can they handle? "22 currencies"
  • Can they handle vouchers?

Cons:

  • Website looks suspiciously similar to BluePay.
  • Almost no positive reviews.

Reviews:

(Old) Amazon Payments and (Newer) Amazon Flexible Payments Service

Bottom line: It's the Amazon checkout process, built into your website -- not what we want.

Features:

  • Do they have an easily-reachable helpdesk?
  • How good are they at dispute resolutions?
  • Can they handle preapproved payments?
  • What currencies can they handle?
  • Can they handle vouchers?

Cons:

  • Does not handle foreign currencies.