Navigating Payment Processors: A Guide for Small Businesses

General Business

Vendors and small businesses have a number of payment processing platforms to choose from. Since evaluating your options can be complicated, here’s an overview of five common solutions:

PayPal

PayPal allows vendors to process transactions online or by phone with ease, and create and track invoices as needed. Brick-and-mortar retailers can use the platform as well—all they need to do is download the PayPal app and purchase a card reader.

Pros: The platform is available in 202 countries and 25 currencies. It’s well-reputed, easy to use, and provides a streamlined experience.

Cons: PayPal’s Seller Protection policies don’t cover digital goods, and the platform features relatively high chargeback fees.

 Venmo

If your business has a mobile app and a tech-savvy customer base, Venmo might be a good fit. The PayPal-owned platform is often used in social settings, and it’s since expanded to the commercial sector.

 

Pros: Venmo offers a sizeable millennial audience. Since it’s relatively new to the business space, merchants can likely expect additional features in the near future.

Cons: The platform can’t (yet) process payments directly or accommodate in-person transactions. It’s only available to customers in the U.S., and you have to become a Venmo partner to qualify.

 Stripe

Stripe is a developer-friendly, all-in-one solution for online, mobile, and in-person transactions. A great fit for mid-sized businesses with a digital presence, it includes a free application programming interface (API) and a separate mobile POS for $29 per month.

 

Pros: Stripe offers reporting, recurring billing, and seamless website integration. Vendors can customize the platform to their needs and accept a full range of currencies and payment methods, including ACH and Bitcoin.

Cons: Businesses that want to keep things simple might not need all of Stripe’s features. Some users claim the platform freezes merchant accounts without reason or notice.

 Square

Square is known for its smart POS systems, including the Square POS app (for smartphones), the Square Stand (for tablets), and others. Though the platform was originally designed for brick-and-mortar retailers, today it’s also an appealing option for e-commerce companies.

 

Pros: The comprehensive platform offers simple online checkouts, virtual loans, free invoicing, and recurring billing. And if you already operate online, you can set up Square Checkout or integrate a Square payments API with little hassle.

Cons: Add-on features and detailed reports can be costly.

Shopify

A great fit for your online store, Shopify—like Square—includes a POS app, a hardware kit, and a centralized hub (powered by Stripe). It’s a frictionless solution for e-commerce companies that value versatility and ease of use in the digital space.

 

Pros: There are several plans to choose from. The platform offers flawless website integration, and Shopify doesn’t view e-commerce as an add-on feature. Vendors can use the platform’s POS system to sell online, on social media, or in person.

Cons: Some users complain about the cost of Shopify’s add-on features and plans, which go up to $299 per month. However, businesses that subscribe to a higher-priced Shopify plan can enjoy lower processing rates.

Which Vendor Payment Processing Platform Is Best?

The answer depends entirely on your business context, as well as the suite of features you’re looking for. Our hope is that this article will guide you in your decision-making.

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