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Payment gateway – what is it, how does it work and which one should you choose?

A payment gateway is an essential tool in every online store that allows customers to conveniently and safely make online payments. What exactly is a payment gateway and how does it work? Check what to pay attention to when choosing a gateway for your e-business.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is an online service offered by settlement agents such as banks or specialized financial service providers. Its main task is to enable online stores and other entities collecting payments online to accept payments from customers. The payment gateway acts as an intermediary between the store system and the bank, capturing and processing transaction data.

It usually supports various payment methods, for example credit and debit cards, fast pay-by-link transfers, BLIK, as well as electronic wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. Payment gateways charge commissions for their services, the amount of which may depend on the value and number of transactions processed.

Types of payment gateways

There are different types of payment gateways available in the market to suit the specific needs of online sellers. The most popular of them are:

redirection gateways – they transfer the customer to the payment operator's website in order to complete the transaction. This is the safest, but less convenient solution;

integrated gateways – allow you to make payments without leaving the store website. They are more convenient for the customer, but require the seller to meet higher safety standards;

subscription gateways – enable periodic collection of fees, e.g. in the case of subscription services.

How does a payment gateway work?

The payment process through the payment gateway takes place in several steps. After the customer selects products and proceeds to the checkout, the store system transmits transaction information such as amount, currency or order ID to the gateway. The customer selects the preferred payment method and, depending on the gateway type, is redirected to the operator's website or makes a payment directly on the store's website.

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