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Unlock The Power Of Your Business: Find The Right Payment Processing System

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What's In This Guide

Compare payment processing systems

Create smooth, secure transactions with the right payment processing system — and find your perfect payment processor with SpotDif. Compare and save today.


In today’s digital age, many of us make card payments every day. Whether it’s an online purchase or an on-the-go contactless tap, we’re spending cash less and less, relying instead on card payments. But what may seem like a quick and easy way to buy takes a lot of work behind the scenes in the form of payment processing.

Why do you need payment processing?

Having a fast, reliable, and secure payment processing system on your side is crucial for any successful business. It serves as the critical bridge between your company and your customers, facilitating the exchange of goods and services for payment.


  • Customer convenience — for seamless and easy payment options. Payment processing services allow you to offer a variety of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to digital wallets, catering to diverse customer preferences.


  • Global reach — payment processing allows you to reach a broader market. No longer restricted to local sales, you can tap into a global customer base, fostering growth and revenue diversification.


  • Cash flow management — timely payment processing ensures a steady cash flow so you can meet your financial obligations, pay suppliers, and invest in growth opportunities.


  • Security and trust — Robust payment processing systems safeguard sensitive customer data. This fosters trust, as customers are more likely to transact with businesses they perceive as secure and reliable.


  • Reduced admin — Automated payment processing streamlines financial operations, reducing the need for manual payment handling, reconciliation, and data entry. All of this can be a huge time-saver and reduce errors.


  • Competitive advantage — Offering efficient, secure, and flexible payment options can set your business apart from competitors and enhance your reputation.


  • Analytics and insights — Payment processing systems often provide valuable data and analytics that help you understand customer behaviour and preferences. In turn, this means you can make more informed decisions and develop targeted marketing strategies.

Choosing the best payment processor

It’s clear that payment processing is crucial for any business requiring transactions. And whether you’re in eCommerce, retail, hospitality, or any other industry, choosing the right payment processor is also vital. 


However, not all payment processing service providers are the same. Different providers charge varying merchant or credit card processing fees. It stands to reason that you want to make sure you’re facilitating fast, secure transactions without paying excessive charges. So where do you start with finding the best payment processor for your business? That’s where SpotDif can help. 


We’ll compare payment processing services from across the UK so all the information is in one place. Our easy-to-use tool makes finding the best payment solutions for your business quick and simple. Start your search with SpotDif today.


Want to learn more about payment processing? Read on for our in-depth guide.  

What does payment processing mean?

Payment processing is the behind-the-scenes magic that makes your online and in-store transactions smooth and secure. When you buy something online, swipe your card at a store, or tap your phone to pay, payment processing is at work. It's the technology that moves money from your account to the seller's, ensuring a seamless exchange.


In essence, payment processing is the digital glue that connects buyers and sellers, allowing them to exchange goods and services for money. It plays a pivotal role in the modern economy, facilitating billions of transactions daily.


Payment processing services are responsible for authorising, verifying, and securely transferring funds from the buyer's account to the seller's account. This intricate process involves several steps, including encryption, fraud detection, and adherence to strict security standards.

What is a payment processing system?

We can see that payment processing is a vital part of daily transactions — but how is it actually carried out? That’s where payment processing systems come in. 


A payment processing system is the digital engine that powers transactions. It involves various components, like payment gateways and merchant accounts, working together to verify, authorise, and settle payments. This system ensures your money travels safely from your bank to the seller's, all while protecting your sensitive information.


To understand the intricacies more, let's break down the key components of a payment processing system:


Payment gateway

Think of this as the virtual cash register. It securely captures payment information from the customer, encrypts it, and sends it to the payment processor for approval.


Payment processor

This is the financial go-between. It communicates with the customer's bank to check for available funds, verifies the transaction's legitimacy, and initiates the transfer of funds to the seller.


Merchant account

This refers to your business's bank account and is where the funds from customer transactions go after approval.


Customer's bank

Where the customer's money is held. The payment processor contacts this bank to confirm the transaction.


Secure network

The backbone of the system. It ensures that all communication between these components is encrypted and protected from cyber threats.


How much are credit card processing fees?

Another vital factor to consider when deciding which payment processing system to choose is its merchant fees. In order to make a sale, the vendor has to pay a small fee to cover transaction processing costs, maintain payment infrastructure, and contribute to the profitability of payment card networks.


In the UK, fees vary based on factors like card type, volume of transactions, industry, and the chosen payment processor. At the time of writing, however, you can generally expect to pay a processing fee of between 1.5% and 3.5% of the transaction price. In some cases, the merchant fee can be as high as 6%. 


Note: It’s important to remember that merchant fees can change, so businesses should compare and negotiate with payment processors to secure competitive rates. Consulting with financial advisors or experts is advisable for the latest information on UK merchant fees.


What’s the best payment processing system for a small business?

If you want to offer online or in-store card payments, processing fees are a necessary cost. This can be a daunting prospect for small businesses but it can be beneficial in the long run — it allows you to appeal to more customers (both by offering payment options for those who may not carry cash and by tapping into an online market).


The most reliable way for small businesses to save money on your payment processing is to shop around and compare options from different providers across the UK. Doing so allows you to see the cost of the payment machine itself, the associated transaction fees, potential PCI compliance fees, and any other charges. 


When comparing payment processors, ask about fee and pricing structures, too — do you pay a monthly or annual subscription, for example? Are there any setup or hidden fees?


Don’t forget to start your search on SpotDif — we’ll find the best payment processors supplier for you so you can see them all in one place and make your choice.

How do I set up payment processing?

We’ve looked at finding the right payment processor for your business but what are the next steps?


Step 1: Apply for a merchant account

Once you've chosen a payment processor, you'll need to apply for a merchant account. This account serves as a holding place for funds from customer transactions before they are transferred to your business bank account.


Step 2: Integrate payment gateway

Next, you must integrate the payment gateway provided by your chosen payment processor into your eCommerce website, mobile app, or point-of-sale system. The payment gateway is responsible for securely capturing and transmitting payment information.


Step 3: Test transactions

Before going live, conduct thorough testing to ensure that the payment processing system functions correctly. It’s important to test different payment methods and scenarios to identify and resolve any issues without them affecting real customers.


Step 4: Check your legal and security compliance

Ensure that your payment processing system complies with legal and security requirements. As mentioned above, this includes adhering to data protection laws, such as GDPR, and implementing security measures to protect customer data.


Step 5: Carry out processing training

Familiarise your staff with the payment processing system, and ensure they understand how to assist customers with payment-related queries. It’s also a good idea to establish a line of communication with your payment processor's customer support team for any assistance you may need. 


Step 6: Go live

Once testing is successful and you are confident in the system's performance, you can go live and start accepting payments from customers.


Ongoing: Monitor and optimise

Continuously monitor your payment processing system to identify any issues or areas for improvement. Optimise the checkout process to enhance the customer experience and conversion rates.


Remember that the specific steps may vary depending on your business type, industry, and the payment processor you choose. It's essential to work closely with your chosen payment processor and follow their guidelines for setup and integration.

Find the best payment processing services with SpotDif

With over 2 billion debit and 379 million credit card transactions happening in the UK this year, it’s clear to see that card payments are a popular choice for consumers — and that’s without taking digital payments into account.  


So whether you run an independent cafe or an online business catering to a worldwide customer base, having the right payment processing system is essential for success and growth. If you’re wondering where to start with finding the right payment processor for your needs, try SpotDif. We’ll scour the UK for the best payment processor so you can provide top service for your customers — and minimise merchant fees. 


Start your search today and find fantastic deals.

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Tansy Dando
Senior Content Manager
I'm always curious to understand and unpick the latest trends for all things wealth and business.
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