A credit card used for payment on an online platform

How Online Card-Based Payments Function

On today’s online platforms, we face an extensive choice of (digital) payment methods, some of them fairly non-traditional (like blockchain-based payments), some having been around for a while (like credit card, direct debit, vouchers and gift codes). In some countries, payment methods that bridge the online and offline spheres of web shopping remain popular, too, such as cash-on-delivery. In others, BNPL and e-wallet-based payment flows are popular. This article will take a deep look into one specific form of online payment, though:

Card-Based Online Payments

These include all manners of payment cards such as Credit Cards, Debit Cards and Prepaid Cards. They may exist in purely digital form or have a physical equivalent. In any case, local banks issue the cards and they operate on the rails of international or domestic Payment Card Schemes.

In the following paragraphs, we will focus on credit card-based payment systems, presenting their basic flows and involved parties (like issuer, acquirer and so on). This article will examine in detail:

And go! 

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A shopping card to which a banknote is attached via paperclip, symbolizing Embedded Finance

Embedded Finance – What It Means (For Banks and Tech Firms)

Traditional banking houses no longer hold the monopoly on offering financial services. Instead, companies whose core business initially laid outside the financial sphere have adopted what’s called Embedded Finance. This means that they offer financial services as add-ons and parts of the regular user journey on their platforms. 

Originally, financial services were embedded in online shopping or service platforms. Yet companies in other application areas adopt this practice, too. Thus, nowadays we arrive at a big list of different finance-embedding enterprises including: 

  • E-Tailers
  • Online marketplaces
  • Comparison portals
  • BigTech companies
  • Logistic and transportation firms
  • Car manufacturers
  • Social media giants
  • And many more…

What all these diverse companies have in common is their aptitude for digitization. They already deliver on the tech front, mostly; the fin just has to follow. And even as most such companies only started to develop their financial service (or finserv) portfolio, they have vital advantages over competitors:

  • A widely known branding that many customers are familiar with from their everyday purchases.
  • A streamlined user journey, into which the financial services can be embedded easily.
  • An affinity towards innovation and digital transformation – many of them have already shaken up their own areas of operation and are well known for it. 

This mixture allows those new finserv players to quickly scale and activate a broad customer base when compared to cold-starting fintech companies. 

But what is Embedded Finance exactly? And should banks or fintech companies care? 

Examination underway… 

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A hand holding a smartphone over a point-of-sale device, symbolizing the choice of a Payment Service Provider

Payment Service Providers: How to Find One For Your Business

Let’s spill the beans: You are in the e-commerce business for profit. Not solely for the profit perhaps. But it’s clear that you want to make money. And that means you must figure out how to get paid for the goods and services you offer online. The “how” is crucial: The choice of the Payment Service Provider you want to trust with processing your transactions with customers will resonate in every nook and cranny of your day-to-day operations. If payment doesn’t work, you won’t sell anything.  

That’s true all the more if you are operating in multiple countries or across borders – preferences in Payment Service Providers (also called PSPs, Payment Solution Providers and sometimes Merchant Service Providers) fluctuate among nations and demographics. 

Here’s the good thing: Whatever your business requires, there will be a Payment Service Provider with the right capabilities. That friendly online encyclopedia counts around 900 different Payment Service Providers worldwide, 300 of which cater to Europe and North America. 

Now, you can see why the good thing is the bad thing at the same time. With so many options, how could you track down the best Payment Service Provider – the one that fits your business model and your market? 

That’s the challenge this article is here to help you with. In the following paragraphs we will provide: 

  • A short definition of Payment Service Providers
  • A compilation of decision points and criteria, which will help you determine what kind of payment your business needs
  • A plan B to fall back on when none of the options offered by a single Payment Service Provider appeals to you. 

Let’s see if we can narrow down your options. 

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A picture of the "chance" square on a Monopoly board, symbolizing the opportunities of re-built payment systems

Why You Should Change Your Legacy Payment System

You have a big problem with your payment system. 

At least that’s why we suppose you read this article. 

Maybe your business just started, but the payment system you integrated already struggles to meet customer expectations. Or you run an established platform, but your legacy system has grown into an inflexible and costly monolith of different providers.

If you work with a particular provider like PayPal or have integrated a variety of individual acquirers or PSPs, you cannot excess full control over your payment. For example, feature updates, security or transaction limits and fees lie outside your agency. 

However, perhaps your transaction system runs just fine, it is functional and flexible. But have you utilized its full potential yet? Have you thought about adding e-money wallet functionalities to enable P2P transactions, loyalty point systems or quick refunds? 

Whatever of the above is the case, this article is for you. It will discuss how you can turn your legacy system into a version that better suits your needs. By finding a proper payment solution provider and adding payment orchestration and e-wallet functionalities, you will be able to take back control. 

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An assemblage of violins, symbolizing payment orchestration

What Is Payment Orchestration (And Why Have It)?

Payment Orchestration describes the process of integrating and handling different payment service providers, acquirers and banks on a single, unified software layer. The Payment Orchestration software executes the complete payment processing, from validation to routing to settlement. 

The Payment Orchestration Layer / POL (or Payment Orchestration Platform / POP, respectively) bundles user and merchant accounts, acquirers, payment providers, fraud detection services, etc. to initiate, validate, route and process transactions involving those parties. In addition, it handles payment processes such as reconciliation, billing and settlement, payouts and reporting. 

Thus, a Payment Orchestration Layer acts as the entry point and core of a payment system. This approach differs tremendously from separately integrated PSPs. E-commerce platforms and online service providers don’t need to integrate every PSP and every acquirer separately. Instead, they can consume the unified API of the payment orchestration layer, benefiting from a reduced integration complexity. Moreover, a POL simplifies the maintenance and further development of the system for platform owners and for merchants. In the same vein, it eases the interaction with 3rd party service providers.

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A car computer of a modern car, presenting digital content and e-commerce options

Automotive Payment Solutions – Fast Lane to Car Maker Success

The future of automotive will not be about how fast your car can go. Or how snappy it can look. Instead, innovation will centre around what a car can do. As a manufacturer, you already witness the shift towards connected vehicles with high-end telematics and web-enabled computers under the hood. Those cars can communicate with external e-commerce applications and service platforms.

And that comes with technical challenges. One of the most pressing for car manufacturers: Providing a solid automotive payment system to handle all in-car commercial activities. 

One may be tempted to turn to the obvious choice: Turn-key payment software by 3rd parties. But once you scale up, the drawbacks surrounding such off-the-shelf solutions begin to show.

The alternative would be to choose the payment orchestration model and build up your very own connected car payment infrastructure. You can bring in a business and/or a software partner with experience in the automotive payment domain to support you there.

This article will help you answer, whether this approach fits your business. It discusses: 

  • Which use cases require connected car payments?
  • What are the advantages of custom-built automotive payment solutions over standard 3rd-party payment systems?
  • How will you benefit from payment orchestration? 
  • Where to find competent technology partners to support you?

Let’s go for the answers! 

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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 computer mouse resting on a bundle of euro banknotes, representing electronic money or e-money, respectively

What Is E-Money – Definitions, Processes, Challenges

E-money, short for Electronic Money, is the electronic alternative to cash. Since it started as a concept in the 1980s and rose to prominence during the Dot-Com era, it has acted as one of the biggest game-changers in the financial industry. In a matter of only four years, from 2014 to 2018, the number of electronic money transactions in Europe alone doubled to more than 4 billion. 

This aspiring form of money deserves our attention. To provide a starting point, this article will give an overview of: 

  • The definition of e-money as a whole
  • The subtle distinctions in its applications
  • The process of electronic payment with e-money
  • The potential downsides of e-money
  • And finally, e-money licencing and who should apply for such a license  

Let’s start!

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A software developer working on coding a payment gateway

How to Develop a Payment Gateway

Online marketplaces are complex systems. That’s true all the more when you decide to equip them with a custom payment gateway you developed (and there are many good reasons why you should do so). 

As a development company, offering CoreWallet, a software foundation for payment and e-wallet applications, we are familiar with the complexity of creating payment gateways.  It’s important to approach the development process with a clear plan. To help you master the technical challenges, we have compiled the common stages of such a payment gateway project for you. And we’ve also collected a few best practices. 

So, let’s walk the walk. Let’s build a payment gateway. 

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A person holding a credit card facing an online marketplace, symbolizing online payment and the payment gateways in charge of the transfer

How to Build a Payment Gateway: Definitions and Central Questions

Digital platforms are the go-to spots for e-commerce – and terminals for countless payment transactions. Online marketplaces like Amazon or Alibaba present themselves as the popular top dogs in this area. But they only compose a fraction of the platform economy. 

Today’s online marketplace platforms offer goods, services, jobs, and business partners. And then, we’ve said nothing about comparison portals like Check24. They browse external platforms to find the best offers, acting as “meta marketplaces” of a kind. 

But whatever platform you use: The point will come when you will have to pay for what you have obtained. At this point, Payment Service Providers and Payment Gateways make their appearance. It’s their job to detect fraud and validate the purchasing agreement. And ultimately, to debit your account and move your money – in the virtual as well as the physical sphere.  

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