Payment gateway What is it and how does it work?

Online Stores 24 November 2023
payment gateway

A payment gateway is an essential component of online financial transactions, acting as an intermediary between merchants and financial institutions.

These gateways allow businesses to accept payments from their customers through various forms, such as credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, and even online payment platforms.

The main role of a payment gateway is to facilitate and secure the safe transfer of financial information between the buyer, the seller and the financial institutions involved. It acts as a secure conduit that authorizes and verifies payment information, managing the communication between the parties to process the transaction.

In this article, we will tell you in detail what payment gateways are, how they work and their importance in e-commerce. We will analyze the security mechanisms, verification processes and information flow that ensure reliable and secure financial transactions in the digital environment.

What is a payment gateway?

Payment gateway is a technological system that acts as an intermediary between an online merchant (such as a web store) and financial institutions (such as banks or credit card providers). This system facilitates and ensures the secure transfer of financial information to process electronic transactions.

The payment gateway allows customers to make online payments for goods or services using various methods, such as credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers or other digital payment platforms.

This system verifies the customer’s card information, authorizes the payment and transfers the funds from the buyer’s account to the seller’s account.

In other words, the payment gateway acts as a secure channel that validates and transfers financial information between the buyer, the seller and the financial institutions involved, ensuring the authenticity of the transaction and protecting sensitive information during the online payment process.

How does a payment gateway work?

A payment gateway operates as follows:

  1. Transaction initiation: When a customer makes an online purchase and selects the products or services he/she wishes to acquire, the web store or online commerce system redirects the user to the payment gateway.
  1. Data entry: At the payment gateway, the customer enters their payment method information, such as credit or debit card details.
  1. Information protection: The payment gateway encrypts customer financial data to protect sensitive information during transmission.
  1. Verification and authorization: The gateway sends the transaction information to the customer’s financial institution. This entity verifies the validity of the card and the availability of funds, authorizing or rejecting the transaction.
  1. Authorization communication: Once the financial institution approves the transaction, the payment gateway informs the merchant or online store that the purchase has been authorized.
  1. Confirmation of purchase: The customer receives a confirmation of the successful purchase and the online store can proceed with the shipment of the products or the provision of the purchased service.

This process occurs in a matter of seconds and ensures that the transaction is secure and efficient, protecting the customer’s financial information and allowing the online merchant to process purchases reliably.

8 Benefits of having a payment gateway

Having payment gateways in an online business provides a number of benefits that contribute to the efficiency and security of transactions. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Transaction security: Payment gateways ensure the security of customers’ financial information by using encryption protocols to protect data during transfer.
  1. Acceptance of multiple payment methods: A variety of payment methods can be accepted, such as credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers and digital wallets, which expands the options for customers.
  1. Improved user experience: They offer a fast and easy checkout process, which enhances the customer experience by facilitating the purchase and reducing obstacles in the checkout process.
  1. Efficient management of recurring payments: For business models based on subscriptions or recurring payments, payment gateways automate the recurring billing process.
  1. Real-time transactions: Transactions are performed instantly, allowing the business to have immediate visibility of payments and streamline order fulfillment.
  1. Fraud protection: Many payment gateways offer anti-fraud tools and features that help detect and prevent fraudulent transactions.
  1. Ease of integration: They are compatible with multiple platforms and e-commerce systems, which facilitates their integration with various business environments.
  1. Transaction recording and analysis: They provide detailed transaction reports, enabling the trade to analyze buying patterns and performance, aiding in strategic decision making.

Types of payment gateways

There are different types of online payment gateways, each with specific features and functionalities that adapt to the needs of e-commerce. Some of the most common types are:

  1. Integrated payment gateways: These gateways are fully integrated into the e-commerce platform. Customers are not redirected to another site to execute the payment, which improves the user experience by offering a smoother checkout process.
  1. Hosted payment gateways: In this case, the payment gateway redirects the customer to an external payment page that handles the processing of the transaction. Once the payment is completed, the customer is redirected back to the seller’s site.
  1. Mobile payment gateways: These are specifically designed to facilitate payments from mobile devices. They are adaptable to smaller screens and mobile applications, offering a payment experience optimized for smartphones and tablets.
  1. Subscription payment gateways: These are ideal for businesses that offer recurring services or subscriptions. They allow automatic and periodic billing for these services.
  1. Multichannel payment gateways: They offer the ability to accept payments in several channels, whether online, in a physical store or through other means, providing flexibility in receiving payments.

These types of payment gateways provide diverse options to suit the specific needs of online businesses. They offer different functionalities and approaches for secure and efficient transaction processing.

Are payment gateways secure?

payment gateway

Yes, payment gateways are usually secure due to a series of measures and protocols implemented to protect financial information and ensure secure transactions.

These are some of the reasons why they are considered safe:

1. Data encryption

They use encryption protocols, such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security), to protect sensitive information during transmission. This ensures that the data is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by third parties during the payment process.

2. Compliance with safety standards

Payment gateways typically comply with established security standards, such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), which establishes guidelines to ensure the security of payment card data.

3. Fraud prevention

Many gateways employ fraud detection systems and tools that help identify suspicious activity and prevent fraudulent transactions.

4. Regular updates and constant monitoring

Regular security updates are performed and continuously monitored to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.

5. Tokenization and advanced security measures

Some gateways use tokenization, which replaces sensitive data with tokens, improving security by not storing critical information.

How to choose a payment gateway?

payment gateway

When selecting a payment gateway for an online business, it is essential to consider several aspects in order to choose the most suitable option. Some factors to consider are:

  1. Security: Make sure the payment gateway meets industry security standards and uses encryption to protect financial information.
  1. Costs and Fees: Comprises associated fees, including transaction fees, set-up costs, monthly fees, return surcharges and any additional charges.
  1. Payment methods: Verify the payment methods that the gateway accepts, including credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers and digital wallets.
  1. User experience: Evaluate the ease of use of the payment gateway, both for customers and the business, and how it integrates with the shopping experience on your platform.
  1. Compatibility and support: Make sure that the gateway is compatible with your e-commerce platform and that it offers adequate technical support in case of problems.
  1. Scalability: Consider whether the gateway can grow with your business and handle a higher volume of transactions as the company grows.
  1. Additional features: Some gateways offer special functions, such as analysis tools, detailed reports, customization options, among others. Evaluate whether these features are relevant to your needs.
  1. Reputation and reviews: Research and review reviews from other users and merchants to learn about the reputation and reliability of the payment gateway.

Difference between a payment gateway and a payment processor

The main difference between a payment gateway and a payment processor lies in their functions and the way they are integrated into the online financial transaction process:

Payment Gateway

It acts as an intermediary between the online store and the customer’s financial institution. It handles the authorization and verification of the transaction, facilitating the secure transfer of information between both parties. Basically, it communicates with the financial institution to ensure approval or rejection of the transaction.

2. Payment Processor

It is responsible for the processing of the financial transaction. Manages the transfer of funds between the buyer’s and seller’s bank accounts, completing the transaction. Payment processors may offer additional services, such as recurring payment management or e-commerce account management.

Examples of payment gateway available for e-commerce businesses

some examples of payment gateways that are commonly used by e-commerce businesses:

1. Stripe

It offers a wide range of online payment services, including acceptance of credit and debit cards, as well as digital payment methods.

2. PayPal


One of the most widely known and used online payment systems worldwide. It allows users to send and receive electronic payments securely.


Provides secure payment solutions for online merchants, offering card processing and payment management options.

4. 2Checkout (now Verifone)

It offers a global payment gateway that allows businesses to accept online payments in more than 200 countries and with multiple payment methods.

5. Adyen

A payment processing platform that facilitates online transactions, with a wide range of payment methods and international coverage.

6. Braintree

Owned by PayPal, it offers online payment solutions for businesses, including credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.

These payment gateways offer a variety of services that can be tailored to the specific needs of e-commerce businesses, providing secure and reliable options for processing online transactions.

We help you to choose the best payment gateway for your E-commerce

choosing the right payment gateway can make all the difference in customer satisfaction and the success of an e-commerce business. If you need personalized advice, do not hesitate to contact us, at Kiwop we are ready to help you.


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