How to Choose the Right Payment Gateway for Your Events
So you’ve taken the decision to charge people attending your events. You need a payment gateway that will allow you to process payments on your event website but aren’t sure where to start. Or perhaps you are hosting an international event and the payment gateway you are currently using doesn’t support the currency of the country many of your delegates are coming from. Or maybe you’re just not happy with your current provider and would like to make a change.
There are many different options for you to choose from when looking at payment gateways. The big names include the likes of Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and Stripe but there are dozens of possibilities out there. So how do you know which is the best fit for your organisation? The decision, more often than not, is something that is usually headed up by finance teams. It is worth noting, however, that there are a number of important factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a payment method around your events. And the role of the event planner is key to ensure these requirements are met.
Have a look below at some of the top things you need to think about when selecting a payment gateway around your events:
1. Is Your Organisation Already Using a Payment Gateway?
The first thing to do is to find out if your organisation is already using a particular payment gateway for other parts of the business. You may be required to use the same one as part of your company policy. Payment gateways can take time to set up and will be subject to security checks and audits from your bank. There may also be different levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy regarding approvals within your own organisation. Going through this timely (often complex) process may not be worthwhile if there is already an existing deal with a gateway that your organisation is happy with.
Payment gateways aren’t the only thing you need to think about. You also have to think about the merchant accounts, which is essentially where your attendee payments go into (different from your regular business accounts). Some payment gateway providers offer just a payment gateway and require you to have your own merchant account. Other payment providers such as PayPal offer a combined payment gateway and merchant account. What you decide on really depends on what kind of existing arrangements your organisation may already have in place.
2. Can the Payment Gateway Be Used with Your Registration System?
The next thing would be to check which payment gateways are supported by your current registration or event management software. This can significantly narrow down your choices. Choosing one that already integrates with the system makes it a lot more convenient and saves you time – it also means you may not have to spend additional money on development time. Ask your event tech provider what they recommend – they have a lot of experience in this and can provide good advice on which gateways are better suited for certain types of events.
Like we mentioned above, your organisation may want you to work with a specific gateway solution. In which case, you will have to work with your event tech provider in building the right type of integration between the two systems in exchange for a fee. Each gateway solution has different versions of the product – with different features and functionalities. Bear in mind that each one of these will have their own type of integration. For example, your organisation may use the ‘Worldpay Corporate’ integration, but your event software may only support ‘Worldpay Business’. Again, this will require additional investment in development time, so make sure you factor all these things in when making a decision.
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3. How Does Your Event Management/Registration System Manage Payments?
The other thing you need to take into account is how your registration systems takes payments details from your event attendees. There are two options here. Does your system support non-hosted payment payment gateways? This is when your attendees are able to enter their card details without leaving your event website. Though it is the smoothest check out experience for your attendees, it is also the least secure. To take payments onsite you typically need an SSL certificate and you will also have to comply with PCI-DSS requirements. It’s worth taking a look at this article that gives good information on PCI-DSS compliance and what it means when dealing with delegate card payments. The fines for non-compliance can be hefty!
The alternative is to use a hosted payment gateway which redirects users to a ‘hosted’ payment page. Once a payment has been made then your attendee will be returned to your website and the payment will be confirmed. It will likely be the case that your event tech provider may only support these ‘hosted’ payment gateways so that they don’t have to take responsibility for PCI-DSS compliance.
4. How Quickly Do You Need It Up and Running?
Setting up a merchant account and payment gateway can typically take anywhere around 3-4 weeks – although providers like PayPal and Stripe let you sign up without a merchant account so you can get started straight away. On the other hand, set up can also be a long and complex process – particularly if you’re a new or ‘high-risk’ business. For example, banks can sometimes be reluctant to approve merchant accounts to event organisations because of the ‘interval’ between the time delegates make a payment and the event itself. In which case, you may be requested to provide detailed application forms so that the bank gets a better understanding of your business. This isn’t a big issue but you need to bear it in mind and find a gateway that can support your specific needs, as well as meet your event deadlines.
5. Don’t Forget About Your Cash Flow
Once a delegate payment has been processed, it typically takes a few days for that payment to be settled into your bank account. However, these payment timings can vary significantly from one provider to another. Gateways that are also merchant accounts generally sit on your money for a lot longer. This can slow down your cash flow and has a real impact on small businesses (think about the payments you need to make to venues, caterers and other suppliers). Other providers on the other hand can settle your funds as quickly as the next day, while some may also only pay out funds on set days. Ideally, look for a provider that pays out every day.
6. The Kind of Events You Run Will Determine the Fees
The fees you pay for the payment gateway and merchant accounts can include monthly fees, fixed fees per transaction (whatever you are charging attendees for), variable fees based on a percentage of transactions, as well as other fees for things like payments from international cards. So an organisation running one major international event can have complete different requirements to one that hosts several local events with a greater number of attendees.
Make sure you get a good overview of fees and ask to see a full schedule of charges before committing to one provider. Don’t forget some payment providers (not all) have been known to lock organisations into lengthy contracts – so make sure you understand what you’re signing up for.
7. Do You Need to Support Multiple Currencies for Your International Delegates?
If you are hosting events across different countries and need to take international payments or have a large number of international delegates – you should check whether the payment gateway offers international and multi-currency payments or even an interface with multiple languages. The APAC region, for example, only accepts payments through specific gateways and some global systems like Worldpay aren’t actually accepted all over the world. You should also check whether there are any additional fees for accepting multi-currency payments or payments from other countries and whether you will need to have a merchant account in a specific country.
8. Your Events Can’t Afford Downtime. How Important is Reputation?
The short answer is very. If you are processing payments from your attendees, you’ll want to work with a provider who has a good reputation in the industry and one that won’t let you down if things go wrong. Some payment gateways have had problems with outages and others have blocked merchants’ money unexpectedly without cause. Look at providers who take PCI-DSS compliance seriously and who provide a good level of support. Find out how responsive their support service is, where their support team is based and whether or not they work the same hours as you. Do you need to pay extra for this support? Be sure you to do your research thoroughly before signing up with one. Read reviews and get recommendations from organisations you can trust and use comparison sites which highlight the key features of each gateway.
Eventsforce offers quick and easy integrations with a number of major payment gateway providers, including Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and many others. If you’d like to have a chat about which gateway is best for your events, please get in touch here.
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