What to Look for When Seeking Top Payment Service Providers

August 24, 2021

What makes a good payment service provider? Is it the tech, the support or the expertise? Or is there more to it? In recent articles and podcasts, we talked about key questions your business should ask itself and prospective providers to aid the selection process. Now we explore how to identify top payment service providers and what makes them stand out from the rest.

The insights from this blog are based on the discussion between Fibonatix’s CEO Tal Miller and a guest on our Pay Attention podcast, Viktoria Soltesz, Founder & CEO of PSP Angels. To listen to this episode, click on the player below, or scroll down to read the article.

How do you identify the top payment service providers

There is no one-size-fits-all payment solution or provider. There are so many nuances to each business and its operating model, market, products and services and customer base. With over a decade of experience as a payments consultancy, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of the experiences merchants have had with providers. 

We outline the key factors that go into making a good payment service provider. This will help you to identify top payment service providers and learn what values to expect and red flags to look out for, to prevent you from making mistakes or choosing unsuitable solutions.

What makes a good payment service provider (PSP)?

Transparency and trust

Trust in business, especially where payments are concerned, is vital. It’s is hard to gain but easy to lose. Merchants don’t want payment service providers (PSPs) that over-promise and underdeliver. Discussions with prospective providers should give you an understanding of how trustworthy they are. An indicator of a trustworthy PSP is if they provide facts, not assumptions and set expectations rather than lofty claims and promises. PSPs can earn your trust through transparency and authenticity and maintain that trust by backing up assurances with actions.

A commitment to understanding a merchant’s business model

A good PSP will talk and listen to merchants, before making judgements based on perceptions about the business, industry or product/service types, and their risk level. Unfortunately, many won’t make the effort to do this.

It’s hard for start-ups and “high-risk merchants” to get the support they need. Many merchants get rejected at the application stage. This can be because: 

  • they’re based outside the EU and want to operate in the EU market, 
  • they don’t have the volume because they’re a start-up,
  • their business plan is not clearly defined,
  • or for various other reasons.

Often these merchants don’t know why they’ve been rejected. Top payment service providers will help them to take the steps required to be accepted or take the time to understand the merchant’s business model, rather than simply dismissing them due to perceived risks.

Doing more to understand the business and risk level

As fans of our podcast will know, we don’t like the term “high-risk business”. We prefer to identify individual risks and their likelihood and impact, rather than categorise a business as high, medium or low risk. But that’s a whole other discussion! 

There will be PSPs that reject merchants quickly due to viewing them as high risk, while other providers take on higher risk merchants without getting to know the business properly, just to get deals over the line. The latter will likely be high risk themselves because they’re accepting businesses that many others will reject, without doing due diligence. Embrace providers that are willing to understand the ins and outs of your business and do thorough risk assessments.

Providing expert guidance

Top payment service providers will be a source of expertise and support at every stage of the customer lifecycle. PSPs should be able to provide merchants with guidance around key payment considerations like rolling reserves, chargebacks, AML and regulatory requirements before starting a relationship. 

You should be encouraged by prospective providers offering guidance during initial discussions. It shows a desire to support your business, not just sell and deliver their payment solutions.

Giving equal opportunities no matter the business size

PSP account managers and sales reps tend to take care of the bigger companies because of the fees model and assumed value of the merchant. At Fibonatix, we believe there should be equal opportunities for start-ups and small businesses to get the same level of service from PSPs as enterprise companies. There are misconceptions about start-ups being risky. You never know if a £5k per month merchant will become a £50m per month one unless you give them a chance. A PSP should aim to empower merchant growth. 

If anything, start-ups deserve more care, attention and guidance because they’re less experienced and more in need of support. And down the line, merchants that become successful will remember the help providers gave them at the start of their journey.

Reliability

Merchants need confidence and peace of mind over a payment service provider’s reliability. Is the technology robust? Is their support responsive when encountering issues? Reliability breeds trust and confidence.

PSPs are the payments experts. Merchants should expect them to operate efficient and effective processes, deliver reliable systems and advise how to resolve any issues, their potential impact and how to avoid them in the future.

Clear communication

PSPs should be strong communicators. Good news, bad news – it doesn’t matter. Merchants appreciate transparency over issues that occur. In an industry with services focused on looking after people’s money, trust is vital. So, clear, open and honest communication is paramount for a good relationship between merchants and payment service providers.

Risk management

When it comes to business risk management, there shouldn’t be a mindset of fear in the same way that there shouldn’t be blind trust and naivety. It’s about managing, not avoiding risks.

Merchants are responsible for trying to mitigate risks. This includes getting the licenses they need, implementing KYC policies and processes, doing required due diligence and ensuring their business plan is clearly defined. Your approach to risk management will give you a better chance to work with top payment service providers.

Some merchants are willing to take risks and operate in questionable ways, perhaps because they’re just looking to make fast money. Top payment service providers will reject them with good reason. Other merchants want to run a responsible business but aren’t well informed of key regulatory considerations or risk factors, making it hard for them to get accepted by certain providers or institutions. These are the merchants that good PSPs should be looking to help.

Advice to help you secure top payment service providers

Get a full understanding of the payment processing solution’s capabilities

Before you sign anything, get a clear picture of what the payments solution can do and what support you can expect. This will give you key intel and an idea of how the provider deals with certain issues. Providers have different USPs, such as the best fraud prevention, the best reporting system or most acquirers, etc, but you need to dig beneath the surface and explore all the capabilities and drawbacks of prospective providers and payment gateways.

Avoid providers focused on selling to you rather than addressing your needs

If a PSP does more pitching than listening, it’s an indicator that they don’t have your best interests at heart. Seek to identify the benefits of their payment solutions for your business rather than what a salesperson thinks you should know about.

Proud PSPs might want to tell you how good they are but top payment service providers will spend time asking questions about your business to understand your model and how best to help you succeed and manage risks. Also, we recommend asking prospective PSPs key questions that will reveal the suitability of their payment solutions for your business needs.

Don’t rush into applying to work with PSPs

Do the groundwork before searching for providers and attempting to get accepted. Show that you’re serious by doing extensive research and analysis about your market, business, customers and compliance requirements and carrying out risk assessments. This will set the right expectations from the start of conversations with PSPs.

Summary

Although FinTech innovation is helping to make the payment process as seamless as possible, PSPs are often viewed simply as the facilitator of payment processing for providing goods and services to customers. Many merchants underestimate their importance and the implications of not managing a payment flow properly.

We hope this article has been useful in outlining what makes a good payment service provider and what merchants should expect. Identifying top payment service providers is not just about comparing features, benefits and pricing. Merchants need to find suitable PSPs for their specific business needs. That requires planning, defining key business requirements and posing relevant questions to prospective providers.

If you’re currently looking at potential PSPs for your business, you’ll find our Checklist for Choosing the Best Payment Gateway for Your Business useful. Access it for free!

GET OUR FREE PAYMENT GATEWAY CHECKLIST

Fibonatix is a leading global payment service provider, with offices in the UK, Germany and Israel, offering bespoke payments solutions and supporting services. We empower businesses of all types and sizes with cutting-edge payments processing tools and expert advice and support with risk management, compliance and business intelligence. We’re FCA regulated and 3D Secure V2 authorised. Contact our team to discuss your key business challenges and goals.