A payment gateway isn t a comprehensive solution for online payment processing. It s just one element of a full-fledged eCommerce site that allows you to accept and process credit cards, debit cards and other forms of payment online. Every time you purchase something online with a credit card, your information has to be verified, the charge authorized and funds transferred. Transmitting data to authorize a transaction is the job of a payment gateway.

As any visitor to can tell you however, it takes more than a gateway to run a successful webstore. Before you set out to take the internet by storm with your brilliant eCommerce idea, keep in mind that processing credit card payments online also requires some banking, programming and certification work. To build an eCommerce business, you ll also need:

Merchant Account
If you want to accept payments made by credit or debit cards, you re required by law to establish a merchant account with a bank. A merchant account enables you to process credit cards from POS terminals, gas pumps or online through a website. Most credit card processing solutions and payment gateway services can establish a merchant account for you. To be eligible for a merchant account, providers will want to run a credit check on you and your business.

It s rather obvious, but to conduct a profitable business online, having your own website is crucial. It s possible to use auction sites to offer your services, but having a professional-looking website gives potential customers confidence in your products and services, ultimately providing higher sales. Building a website from scratch is a challenge, but many eCommerce-oriented merchant service providers offer web design assistance.

Shopping Cart
Even with a sleek website, a good shopping cart gives visitors to your site a convenient checkout method. All of the payment processing occurs in the background. Be sure that any gateway you select is compatible with the shopping cart you plan to implement. Generally speaking, most gateways are compatible with hundreds of shopping carts. For the typical web entrepreneur, a shopping cart is the best way to accept credit cards online. If you have particularly broad programming resources available, it is entirely possible to customize your entire checkout and payment process.

Security Certificate
There are a huge number of companies online that can get you set up with a merchant account. Make sure that the gateway they use is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant. In order to legally process credit cards online, it s critical to get a security certificate. Firms such as VeriSign or McAfee can certify your site if your payment process meets their requirements. As long as the credit card verification process you institute on your site includes AVS, CVV2 and address verification along with SSL data transmission, certification should be a breeze.

Even though there s a fair amount of legwork to be done to begin processing payments online, it s not nearly as hard as it looks. Merchant account providers can get you set up with everything you need. Just be sure to read the fine print and find the service most suited for your business model.

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