Payment gateway: the technology behind the sale.

Aug 21 2018 | PayPal editorial staff

Online transactions seem so simple and quick on the surface, but there are a number of processes working together behind the scenes to move funds from buyer to seller.
A payment gateway is part of that “magic.” It’s a service that securely sends credit card information from a website to the credit card payment network for processing, then returns transaction details and responses from the payment network back to the website.
Your business or organization needs a payment gateway if you accept (or want to accept) credit card payments online or on a mobile device. Think of it as the secure technology that provides a bridge between your business and your customer.

How to find the right payment gateway provider.

If your organization accepts credit card payments, it’s important to research and find the payment gateway provider that best fits your unique needs. Consider the following:
  • Network security. First and foremost, a secure network is imperative. Customers must trust that their financial information is secure when making an online transaction with your business. Keep in mind that whenever you accept credit cards, whether online or in-person, you need to be PCI-compliant. With the Payflow Link from PayPal, our solution simplifies the work and cost of meeting PCI requirements. 
  • Customer experience. In addition to security, buyers are looking for a smooth and convenient purchasing experience. If it requires too much time, effort or personal information to buy through you, they may turn elsewhere. PayPal’s payment gateway products allow merchants to accept major credit and debit cards, integrate with all major shopping carts, are mobile optimized and work with almost every payment processor. In addition, businesses can offer customers an additional payment option through PayPal Credit1 at no extra cost.
  • Domestic and international payment acceptance. We live and work in a global market. Make sure you’re not limiting your business to only local sales. PayPal merchants are able to accept payments in 25 currencies from 203 markets around the globe. 
  • Fees. Make sure your payment gateway fits into your company’s budget. PayPal’s payment gateway offers no monthly processing minimums, cancellation, or other hidden fees.
A payment gateway versus a payment processor.
It’s important to note that a payment gateway is not the same as a payment processor. Both could be involved in the transaction, but while the gateway securely authorizes the transaction, a processor simply transmits it.
Payflow: The PayPal gateway.
The payment gateway from PayPal is called Payflow. Payflow offers two gateway options to give businesses different levels of customization for their online checkout pages: Payflow Link and Payflow Pro.
Payflow Link is available without a setup fee or monthly fees. With Payflow Link, your customers enter their payment details at checkout on a secure, PCI-DSS compliant template hosted by PayPal. You can choose to integrate an embedded template (which sits right in your website), or you can choose a customizable full-page template. All templates include PayPal and PayPal Credit, so customers have more options to pay.
Payflow Pro, on the other hand, is fully customizable, so you can build a checkout experience as unique as your business. Everything is on the table, from language and layout to page sequence and PCI-DSS compliance options. You can add a PayPal button to help drive more sales, or use hosted pages and offer PayPal Credit, too. Payflow Pro is $25 per month, plus a one-time setup fee of $99.
To get started with Payflow, you’ll first need a merchant account. And in case you don’t have one, you can easily sign up with PayPal Payments. It’s a solution that provides both a payment gateway and a merchant account.
You can also access additional information by reviewing our FAQs at the bottom of this page.
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

1PayPal Credit is subject to consumer credit approval.

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Frequently asked questions.

The Payflow Gateway supports the passing of additional purchase card parameters to your payment processor as long as your processor supports it.

Consult the Payflow Pro Developers Guide to find out which level 2 data your processor requires and supports
The PayPal Developer Portal offers support for developers who have questions about technical topics, such as APIs or integration. Below is a list of common topics searched for by developers. You can also browse and search on the Developer Portal for additional topics.

Account Authentication
Information about validating your visitor's PayPal account.

Encrypted Website Payments
To make online payments more secure, you can make Encrypted Website Payment buttons that rely on standard public key encryption for protection.

Identity API
PayPal offers a secure commerce Identity API that lets your customers sign in to your web site using their PayPal credentials.

Instant Payment Notification
Instant Payment Notification is a message service that automatically notifies merchants of events related to PayPal transactions.

Merchants, developers, and business solution providers use Invoicing APIs to automate the creation, delivery, tracking, and reconciliation of invoices with an integrated payments solution.

Mobile SDK
Accept PayPal, credit cards and other payments methods through mobile apps.

Name-Value Pair (NVP) API
Information and support on name value pairs and NVP SDKs.

PayPal Checkout
PayPal Checkout gives your buyers a simplified and secure checkout experience that keeps them local to your website or mobile app throughout the payment process.

Payflow Gateway
Payflow Pro is a high performance TCP/IP-based client-server architecture solution. It includes a secure payment gateway that gives merchants total control over the payment process.

PayPal Sandbox Support
Information and support for users testing in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

PayPal Shopping Cart
The PayPal Shopping Cart system allows buyers to select multiple items on your website and pay for them with a single payment.

Permissions Service API
PayPal's permissions service enables you to request and obtain authorization to make API calls and take action on behalf of your customers.

The PayPal SOAP API is based on open standards known collectively as web services, which include the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Definition Language (WSDL), and the XML Schema Definition language (XSD).

Testing Your Apps in Sandbox
A guide for developers testing their apps in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

Virtual Terminal
Information about PayPal's Virtual Terminal - a web-based application that processes credit and debit cards, replacing swipe machines.

Website Payments Pro
PayPal's Website Payments Pro is an API-based solution that enables merchants and developers to accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments directly on their website.
PayPal Payments Standard
You can accept credit cards online easily and offers a streamlined checkout experience to customers using mobile devices.
As a global leader in enabling authenticated payments, CardinalCommerce is PayPal's chosen vendor to integrate 3-D Secure technology.

CardinalCommerce has developed industry-leading solutions for merchants, shopping carts, gateways, acquiring banks, processors and issuing banks to make it easy to implement payment authentication initiatives (verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode) to gain the benefits of consumer authentication.

With headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, and facilities in the US, Europe and Africa, CardinalCommerce services a worldwide customer base.

Whether you're getting ready to start a business, advance your small business, or grow an online business, PayPal has a product for you. From complex business products to simple solutions for your business, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s more information on the different business products PayPal offers.

PayPal Payments Standard: PayPal Payments Standard is loaded with everything you need to get paid online, including a checkout experience that’s already optimized across devices.

PayPal Payments Advanced: PayPal Payments Advanced is an all-in-one payment-processing system that lets you accept payments online, offline, or on the go. PayPal Payments Advanced lets customers using a credit or debit card check out directly on your website.

PayPal Payments Pro: PayPal Payments Pro gives you the flexibility and payment processing security to build a professional-grade ecommerce site. It can be configured to suite your business needs – and works across devices. Plus, because it’s from PayPal, you can tap into over 184+ million active customer accounts around the globe.

Payflow Payment Gateway: A payment gateway links your website to your processing network and merchant account. Like most gateways, Payflow Payment Gateway handles all major credit and debit cards. What makes our gateway different is the low rates and incremental sales boost from offering PayPal and PayPal Credit payment options on your site.

PayPal Here: One app, many ways to get paid. Choose your reader for accepting card payments, then with the PayPal Here app, you can issue receipts, manually enter card payments, track cash and check payments and send invoices.

PayPal Checkout: Add PayPal as a payment option to your checkout page - or use it as a stand-alone solution. You’ll open the door to over 169 million active PayPal users who look for and use this fast, easy, and secure way to pay.

Virtual Terminal: You can use Virtual Terminal wherever you have Internet access—at your office, at a trade show, even at the airport. To take a credit card order, simply log in to your PayPal account and enter the payment details into the secure Virtual Terminal order form. We’ll process the payment and send you a confirmation.  

PayPal powered by Braintree PayPal powered by Braintree makes it easy to accept payments through your Partner store. Our payment gateway is similar to the credit card terminal you swipe your card through at the grocery store—we'll make sure your customer's payment information gets to the right places and doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
 PayPal Payments StandardPayPal Payments ProPayflowPayPal powered by BraintreePayPal Checkout (formerly known as Express Checkout
Monthly Fee
(See all Merchant fees)
Design and Host your own
check out pages for full control
 (if allowed by your partner site) 
Accept Credit Cards via phone,
fax and mail (VT)
Accept credit and debit cards
(your buyers don't need a PayPal account)

(Must have a 3rd party processor)
Accept PayPal payments
Send Invoices online for fast payment 
Accept payments in 25 currencies
from 202 countries
Simplified PCI compliance♦**
No long-term contracts, setup,
withdrawal or cancellation fees
Nonprofit discount available
for PayPal transactions
Toll-free phone support
Offer special financing on
purchases $99 and up
♦*** (only through PayPal Standard or Checkout)

**Requires use of the hosted templates in PayPal Payments Pro.

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