A computer besides a wallet, symbolizing payment gateways, online payment and ewallets

E-Wallets or Payment Gateways – A Comparison

When we compare e-wallets or payment gateways to payment with card or cash, we often evaluate the former as more convenient. That might be a bit of an overstatement, really. Holding your credit card in front of a card reader does not exactly sound like much work, does it?

No, what really makes modern digital payment methods so powerful is their feature-richness and flexibility. For example, you can simply conduct cross-border payments or transfer tiny amounts of money with digital payment methods. And even if you are bound to our own four walls (for some reason), you can pay for goods and commodities with just a few clicks. 

But payment does not equal payment. Behind the scenes of your checkout page, in the technical profundities of the software, it makes a huge difference whether the payment happens via an e-wallet balance or a digital bank or credit card transfer, facilitated by a payment gateway. 

Payment Gateways vs. E-Wallets? Not Quite!

However, make no mistake and don’t take “Payment gateways or e-wallets” literally. The two are not exact opposites: You need PGs to process a transaction no matter what. The real question is: How exactly does using e-wallets vs. regular payment providers influence the payment process, especially regarding user experience? 

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A robot hand holding a vintage ladies' wallet, representing electronic wallets or e-wallets, respectively

What Is An E-Wallet – Definitions and Technical Distinctions

E-wallets are software programs which securely store data. This data is needed to enable the wallet owner to conduct payments online or at points-of-sale. And they do so by use of a specific device.  

That’s as close to an encompassing definition of e-wallets, or electronic wallets respectively, as we will probably get. But it’s also just the surface of what electronic wallets – sometimes also called digital wallets or (obsoletely) cyberwallets – can do. Over the last decade, e-wallet technology has found application to a variety of use cases. This article will cast a light on the term E-wallet, especially in the context of online payments. In the following paragraphs you’ll find: 

  • Definitions of certain types of e-wallets 
  • An overview of their common functionalities 
  • A breakdown of e-wallet-based payment 
  • An outlook on their role in the future of payments and e-commerce
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