It only seems like yesterday when Australia was behind the curve with online payments. Now the banking system has caught up and new modern payment systems have started appearing that make getting online and taking payments far easier than ever before.
Things to consider
Its easy to get caught up on obvious pricing headlines when choosing a payment system. Whilst that is important, there is more to it than that. Check costs for chargebacks and other extras.
What is the API like? What does that even mean? It means how user friendly and powerful is the programatic interface into the payment gateway. Some solutions are a dream to work with and are therefore much faster and cheaper to integrate than many of the older less evolved systems. A good API and a strong market position often leads to integrations for popular eCommerce platforms, accounting solutions and wordpress plugins. This is a huge advantage as these are costly to develop and are much more robust when supported by a community rather than developed bespoke for a single use.
Setting up an online business is a big task. Online payments have traditionally required a special type of bank account - called a "Merchant Account" which holds the funds taken, and a service called a "Payment Gateway" that integrates with your website to take the funds. New players in the market simplify this by providing an all in one Merchant account & Gateway service that greatly simplifies the process of setting up payments, decreasing the time to market and simplifying fee structures.
Not all gateways are created equal. You must match up the service with your business goals carefully. Will you be doing aggregated payments? Reoccurring payments? What reporting will you need? The list goes on and on. Its a complex issue that needs a case by case analysis.
Who owns your data? You - right? Its your website and you are taking payments! Well think again. Many older payment services lock away your data and make it very hard to get it back. If you are taking reoccurring payments this has major implications on portability - you will probably never be able to change provider.
The young guns
These new services are the first to launch in Australia that offer an integrated all in one solution - merchant accounts and payment gateways with a modern API - they are generally simpler to set up and offer competitive overall pricing.
Pin - https://pin.net.au/
Pin seem to be very much modelled on stripe. They are a new service that focuses on having a modern JSON API making programatic integration particularly easy. They look like a great option when payments and related data are something you want to integrate deeply with your application beyond just taking payments for items on a store. Competitively priced they are one to watch, but as yet they do not have many pre-built integrations.
BrainTree - www.braintreepayments.com
Launched in Australia in 2013, but a huge force in payments in the USA & Europe for a while now. Braintree is part of the new breed. Braintree offer great service, an all in one system, simple fee structure, comprehensive reporting, data portability, reoccurring billing, international billing.... the list goes on. Its an ultra modern, powerful solution thats very simple and secure to integrate. Its already integrated with a lot of platforms. Highly recommended especially for larger stores and services. Hard to beat.
The old guard
The former champ and steady eddy of online payments. eWay offer a rock solid service, good integration with most eCommerce platforms and lots of features. Their support staff are excellent. They offer anti fraud checks as an extra (called beagle). You will need a merchant account to use eWay - they integrate with most Australian banks - these cost extra setup fees and per transaction fees, so the total price is slightly more complex to work out. King of the hill but they definitely have some fresh and worthy challengers.
Ones to watch
It seems like Stripe kick started all this when they launched their service in the states a couple of years ago. Their service was so stunningly simple, easy to use and cost effective that it shook up the whole industry. Whilst not here yet, it will be very interesting to see if they come to Australia. If they do they will be a great proposition.
Whilst there are a huge and bewildering selection of online payment gateways and services out there, there was a clear winner in terms of service, price, integration and features prior to 2013. That was eWay. Thats now changed with the new breed of services on the scene.