For new businesses the choice of card or electronic payment processing provider is an important milestone. For savvy-minded companies that want to squeeze extra savings from their payment processing rates by switching providers, the choice of a new card payment provider can yield rewards.

The services offered by the various payment processors have the same basic function; to facilitate customer payments to merchant’s bank accounts while maintaining a level of security between. What happens in the background varies between the types of service offered but the end-result of the process is often the same.

The Card Payment Process

Let’s take a look at how card processors work. Processing credit card payments seems complicated (technically it is), but, essentially the process is comprised of three main steps:

  • Authorization
  • Settlement
  • Funding

This process is fundametally the same for all providers for transactions that send money to a merchant’s bank. At present all payment processing is a centralised service, even crypto must pass through a centralised service to convert to FIAT currency – many companies are working towards fully decentralised payments. However, we can factor this out for now.

If all electronic payment processing is the same, why is there a choice of providers? Let’s take a look at a few offerings from the well-known companies that facilitate card payments.


Card Payment Providers Comparison


Paypal is huge, operating in over 200 countries with a transaction volume of over 30 thousand per-minute worldwide. Established in 1998 PayPal are also one of the best-known payment providers, widely known for their involvement with payments via Ebay among others.

Good Points:

A trusted household name, your customers will be familiar with.

Relatively easy set up with a range of accounts to suit business types.

Not So Good Points:

PayPal’s transaction fees on transfers and withdrawals. Often ranging from 2.9-7% and more with further operating charges on some account types.

Paypal Logo


Provider of the world’s most popular mobile card reader with a host of payment processing services to choose from.

Good Points:

Flat pricing structure that is easy to understand makes Square a good choice for small to medium enterprises. Together with active customer support and good adoption rates for new payment technologies.

Not So Good Points:

The flat pricing structure can be expensive for companies with larger transaction volumes that would suit a bespoke customer account.

It has been said elsewhere that Square are a bit trigger-happy when it comes to delaying payments for security checks – but we can only commend higher levels of security.

Square Logo


A more recent addition to the payment processing industry Stripe came in to the market place with the latest technology and became a popular choice initially.

Good Points:

Competitive fees for comparable services with a high adoption rate now processing payments in over 130 countries worldwide.

A good range of electronic payments can be processed from the usual credit/debit cards to bitcoin – although as mentioned this is a centralised process and not neccessarily in-line with the crypto ethos.

Not So Good Points:

Stripe isn’t currently integrated with all payment providers and can require third-party services to integrate with your current setup.

Adoption of the latest technologies can be essential for some ventures, for others the set up can be a little overwhelming compared to more traditional payment processing setups.

Stripe Logo


(formerly SagePay)

Sage have been a big name since their accounting software many years ago. Their fomer SagePay offering is now Opayo and is operated by Elavon.

Good Points:

Opayo provide card payment services fully integrated with their widely used accounting system.

Structured pricing offers lower-rates for businesses with higher transaction volumes.

Not So Good Points:

Opayo offer varying contract lengths for accepting different payment types.

Opayo Logo

Which Card Payment Provider Should You Choose?

The reality of the situation when it comes to card payment providers is a patchwork landscape of companies trying to cover the options they can, by offering incentives to merchants in terms of pricing structures, ease-of-use and bolt-ons like statistical reporting software – while attending to the three essential factors we alreadt covered. Namely Authorization, Settlement and Funding of card payment transactions.

The trick is to find the best fit for your particular business among the options available. This is easier-said-than-done when it comes to comparing the immediate incentives with the best card payment solutions long-term.

How Do The Experts Choose Card Payment Providers?

If your business is new or new to card payments, you need to make a decision based on your forecasts as to whether you believe your company is going to generate a high volume of card transactions. If you aren’t sure at all, it’s perhaps best to ‘experiment’ with a pay-as-you-go solution in the short-term.

For businesses with experience in processing card payments, you can use your previous records of transactions – easily found on your historic card processing statements. The goal is to really compare the actual transactions you find your company performs regularly and do the maths. The figures for payments from each card type or indeed other digital payment transactions reveal rates your company pays.