Merchants now operate in many channels, presenting challenges for merchant service providers to locate payments technology that's flexible, easy to deploy and ready to accommodate emerging security mandates.

The core product is a payment gateway, or a web-based system that enables businesses to take payments and process them at all times and locations. However, not all gateways are created equal, and there are several key features that a gateway should have. 

Security and EMV are at the forefront of most people’s minds. Merchants face a card network fraud liability shift in October 2015—if a customer uses an EMV-enabled card at a merchant that does not have the ability to process an EMV transaction, the merchant will assume 100% liability for all costs if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent.  Gas stations have until 2017 to migrate or face full liability.

To prepare merchants for that mandate, ISOs should provide a payment gateway that’s EMV-capable. At the point of sale, merchants will need EMV-ready terminals that integrate into their payment gateway and fully encrypt all transactions. When a customer swipes an EMV-enabled card, a merchant’s in-store point of sale terminal must have the technology to process that transaction and communicate the information back to the payment gateway. ISOs and other vendors should choose a provider that can supply both a comprehensive payment gateway and fully integrated EMV-ready terminals.

In addition, any selected payment gateway must support two-factor authentication. With two-factor authentication, data stored on the chip of the EMV card is used in combination with a signature, PIN or password from the customer to provide two layers of authorization. To keep up with the market’s growing security requirements, ISOs must ensure their chosen payment gateway is EMV-ready and uses the latest technology to give merchants and their customers the highest level of security protection. 

Since payment technology evolves quickly, payment gateways should provide true flexibility—both now and in the future. Merchants want a gateway that can work with their business, not the other way around. Choosing a payment processor-agnostic gateway that does not require merchants to switch from their current processor is critical. In addition, a payment gateway must have the capacity to adapt to the customer’s changing needs. As payments continue to change, merchants need a gateway that can meet new requirements and provide customers with a buying experience that allows them to pay exactly the way they want.

Easy integration is also a key factor. Change can create fear and resistance in any business. But, integrating new technology does not have to create a hassle or disrupt day-to-day operations. It’s important to choose a payment gateway that can easily integrate with a merchant’s website and provide a single processing interface that works with all major processing platforms. A payment gateway that uses an open Application Programming Interface (API) simplifies and streamlines the integration. Merchants also require an approach that gives them the ability to integrate their payment gateway with any device that uses Internet access, including tablets and mobile devices.  When choosing a solution, it is important to supply merchants with a gateway solution that can seamlessly integrate into their current technology and will not cause a decrease in sales. 

All businesses share commonalities and requirements that must be considered when choosing a payment gateway. It’s important to ensure the gateway is comprehensive. It must be flexible, it must be easy and it must be secure. Ultimately, it must drive sales up and costs down.

Matt Clyne is president of Direct Connect.