Our independent review has taken into account the providers operating in the UK. Most other comparison sites and reviews tend to be sponsored, we’ve looked at them and they do not offer the best advice. Because of our strong technical and commercial relationships with payment providers we’re able to state much better than other review sites who is the best payment gateways for small businesses, the best payment gateways for mid-market businesses and the best payment gateways for enterprise businesses in 2023.
The term payment gateway is often used as a catch all term when merchants (businesses that sell stuff) are talking about the tools and services they need to accept payments online and in-store. Technically, a payment gateway is a technology solution that passes the payment information to the payment processor, it’s only part of the solution when wanting to accept payments. To learn more about those different services you can view this article.
For the purposes of this article we’ll talk about payment gateways as a catch all term for all providers who offer these services, regardless of whether they only offer the payment gateway or the full stack of payment services required.
First of all who shouldn’t you choose as your payment gateway provider:
- Your bank, the reason being is that they are not technology providers (their solutions are lacking and old), you do not want all your eggs in one basket and they tend to hide fees, see the latest Barclays fine for their crimes.
- A provider that’s been in the market for a long time and neglected their offering, examples of this would be Opayo or Worldpay. They really are legacy products/services that their own staff are embarrassed by.
So who should you choose as your payment gateway provider, the first thing to say is that not all options are available to every business and that is because of the following:
- Some payment gateways like Adyen and Checkout.com do not onboard smaller merchants
- Some payment gateways do not support certain business types
- Some payment gateways do not offer support for your preferred payment methods
- Some payment gateways do not operate in your country (not considering non-UK in this article
- And some payment gateways can only connect to certain merchant acquirers (payment processors or merchant account providers)
A word on pricing
Firstly, the more simple the pricing seems the more likely you’re over paying for the service, but this is not always true. Modern providers are working hard to offer both simple to understand and competitive pricing with strong offerings. Most providers do not publish their prices.
Secondly, the larger the business the better the pricing you will get.
What determines the best payment gateway in 2023?
- The ability to accept payments as often as possible (sounds silly right!?)
- This includes connectivity to things like your shopping cart
- It also includes using considering payment methods other than credit cards or debit cards
- Customer service, what do you get for your monthly fees?
- Self-service and reporting capabilities, especially if your shopping cart doesn’t help you
- Connected payment systems and methods
- Price, typically there are transaction fees and monthly fees
Best payment gateway only solution providers
For Mid-tier business up, we would also recommend that you consider a separate payment gateway and merchant account provider setup, sometimes you can get more flexibility by separating out the parts. Even SMEs might get solid benefit from using a separate gateway, it just depends on your needs.
Network Merchants have been around for a while and continually evolved their technology into a global, leading solution. They connect to a large number of merchant account providers, meaning that they are a great solution for those wanting an extra level of control around their payment processing.
About NMI – NMI is a leading global full commerce enablement platform, processing more than $195 billion in payments annually. We enable payments for over 3,300 partners and over 267,000 merchants around the world and across the entire commerce ecosystem: online, in-app, mobile, in-store, unattended and whatever’s next. We’re constantly innovating in order to power the next era of payments, building in the latest technology so ISVs, ISOs, Banks and Fintech Innovators can focus on what they do best. NMI has offices in the US and UK and serves global customers.
Acquired.com is a new player in the market, but we were very impressed with their technology and services. One of the only providers to offer Open Banking (actually an accredited provider – PISP) and payouts. They are an excellent solution for merchants requiring innovative features and strong customer service.
About Acquired.com – Acquired.com is a payments specialist who offer tailored payment processing and digital banking solutions. Our solutions are custom built to overcome the many challenges faced when processing, collecting and remitting payments, we continuously innovate and build customer-led solutions. By following this partner based and collaborative journey, we have now become a single, one-stop-shop platform for all payments needs.
Customer centric and agile software development by our in-house team means you can rapidly integrate the solution which best suits your business. We pride ourselves on our consultative approach, providing best in class service with a view to resolving your payment challenges.
Acquired.com are an FCA regulated business, an EMD Agent and a licensed Payment Initiation Service Provider.
Best payment gateway for small businesses
An all-in-one provider, with simple pricing and excellent technology. Stripe have recently released a terminal solution allowing businesses to take payment in-person.
About Stripe –
Square operates as the merchant of record, which is a good option for small businesses since they handle the chargebacks amongst other things. They have excellent, leading terminal hardware and straight forward pricing. Whilst they might be more expensive on their list prices than others you do get other services included in their model which might save you money overall.
Best payment gateway for mid-tier businesses
Ecommpay is an online only solution, but becoming well known for their excellent customer service and presences in certain verticals like travel and gaming. They also offer an Open Banking solution and can offer competitive pricing since they are also the merchant account provider.
About Ecommpay – ECOMMPAY is a payment gateway provider that combines acquiring capabilities, 100+ global and local payment methods, enhanced security capabilities, and technological innovation within a single, scalable integration.
Trust Payments offer both online and in-person payment solutions, with personable customer service they can work with growing merchants to support their business. They are also one of the only UK providers to support merchants selling CBD.
About Trust Payments – Trust Payments provides seamless, and omnichannel commerce experiences across any and every channel – wherever your customers are, however they wish to pay, on any device. We call this Converged Commerce™.
Best payment gateway for enterprise businesses
An online only solution for enterprise level sellers who need local acquiring, low FX to move money around and some seriously good tech to support their reporting needs. Checkout.com are like the Tesla of payment providers, they do what they do and they do it well for the new era of merchants.
About Checkout.com – The full stack of payments solutions – built for speed and scale around your unique business needs. All supported by dedicated, local teams, with expertise in every major market.
Great tech and terminal solution, recently they just released their own terminal hardware. There must be a reason ebay and others have chose Adyen to be their payment provider. They’re like the OG of the new players. If you’re a marketplace then you’d be hard pressed to find a better solution. Sometimes a little bit too Dutch on the customer service front (not our words ;), but if you’re processing north of £50m per annum you can let Adyen take care of you.
About Adyen – Adyen is an omnichannel payment processing company that provides merchants with multiple ways to accept payments on a single platform. Its payment services include a payment gateway for online payments, point-of-sale for in-person transactions and integration abilities for in-app or mobile payments.
A word on PayPal as your payment gateway
You should use PayPal at least as your second provider for wallet transactions, aside from credit cards and debit cards; we haven’t included them in this list because they scored poorly in terms of customer service from third party sites. But they do have a new product called PayPal Commerce that is improving the experience for merchants. They obviously provide wallet to wallet (PayPal) payments and are the number one alternative payment method in many regions; therefore you need to have a PayPal business account and you should have this separate from your payment gateway because you might get cheaper PayPal fees and the latest technology this way.
A word on Klarna and other Buy Now Pay Later providers
These payment methods also have their own gateway technology and you can integrate them seperaretly or often a gateway will bundle the option to use one of these BNPL providers.
A word on Shopify payments for Shopify users
Shopify has almost provided a very convenient payment service for its customer base, but as you mature you quickly outgrow the Shopify payments solution, it’s too expensive for starters. And limited to Shopify. If you having these issues you’re probably considering moving away from Shopify as well.
How do I choose the right payment gateway for my business?
There’s a lot to payment systems, you’ve probably gathered that by now. Most articles that you read talk a lot of nonsense on how to choose the right payment gateway, in truth, the right payment gateway is going to come down to your requirements and if you select any from the list above you can’t go wrong. Of course, consider things like security, data portability, connectivity, reporting. But mostly look at how they can serve your business effectively, how they can help you sell more. Price is a race to the bottom and complicated, don’t just look at the headline number, consider the full cost of the service provider on your business.
Best payment gateways for UK businesses
We found that almost all payment providers had clunky onboarding and even Stripe, which is certainly the slickest are making it harder for businesses to sign up and get their money out. You can understand, since fraud is on the rise. This brings us on to another topic for consideration, do you need any other complimentary services with your gateway? Like a fraud tool, we’d recommend Kount. Or a multi-currency account so you can move money around your international entities more simply? We’d recommend Ebury for virtual bank accounts.
As these tools get more complicated, driven by external demands and their own technology, we’ve seen acceptance rates for payments drop. In the UK the best payment gateways have embraced the SCA regulation and 3DS 2 process coming up with user friendly solutions for everyone involved. 3DS has impacted acceptance rates but the best gateways have managed this well.
Many of the payment gateways have monthly fees as well as transaction fees, if you’re a small business then you power to negotiate these is minimal, but larger businesses will be able to throw their weight around. It will always come down to guaranteed transaction volume.
The reality is that the stage of your business is going to dictate what options are available to you, of course I haven’t even begun to consider gateways that will onboard more risky business models
How we chose the best payment gateways
Firstly, we work with over 30 of the best payment gateways and providers around the world, the other people commenting on this topic are just journalists or theorists at best. We work with software vendors, payment providers and 20,000+ merchants! In the last five years the market has changed faster than the 10 years before it. Incumbents are dragging their heals with ageing technology, their service teams can’t keep up with demand and there are more new payment companies entering the UK market every month it seems.
Businesses want a payment service they can depend on, one that can evolve with their business; protect them when they need it and be nimble the rest of the time. Of course everyone on this list is PCI DSS Level 1 compliant, with the required licenses to operate in the UK. The worst providers don’t take time to understand your business, lock your money up for potentially months until they feel secure to release it. Cashflow is king. The sad reality is that there are very few payment partners that are right for you on day one and continue to serve you best through your mature years. What is important to you today?
Next step: compare payment gateways
You can use our online tool to discover and compare the best payment gateways. You can search for the best payment gateways in the UK, the US and any other country. If you need any extra insight or support, then get in touch, we’d be happy to help