Merchant Services for Small Business: The online payments guide

Payments Learning Resources

Merchant Services for Small Business: The online payments guide

Merchant services for small businesses are crucial for those looking to succeed in an ultra-competitive online world. 

Being a small business owner can be difficult. We know it all too well. But being the owner of a start-up or small business, which is also active online? That’s a whole other level. From building your website on solid technology and maintaining an attractive e-store, to marketing your business and orchestrating logistics, running an e-commerce start-up is not a small task. 

Online payment processing is one of the most important functions of an ecommerce business – it encompasses not only collecting payments but also refunds and returns management, chargeback and fraud management and even accepting localized payment methods beyond Visa and Mastercard. Therefore, we thought it was a good idea to create this go-to-guide and explain merchant services to small business!

Read on and find out how you can accept payments online!

Small Business Payment Solutions: How online payments work

If you are an owner of a start-up or small business and you are trying to take the company online or you’re already there, you’ll have the need to accept payments online. These can be credit or debit cards and/or local payment methods, which vary across regions. You will, therefore, need a merchant account for online business and integration to a payment gateway through a credit card processor for small businesses.

What is a Payment Gateway and how is integration achieved?

A payment gateway is a merchant service used to process credit cards, linked to a merchant account for credit card processing. Integrating with a payment gateway is essential for any ecommerce business. It does not matter if your company is a start-up, moderately sized business or large enterprise. The use of a payment gateway is essential for accepting credit or debit card payments online.

There are several transaction types that can be executed through a payment gateway. These include:

  • Authorisation:

This is used to identify if the cardholder has the necessary funds in their credit or debit card for the transaction to happen.

  • Capture:

Used when an order is not shipped immediately. The money is captured once the shipment is gone.

  • Payment / Sale: 

This transaction type combines authorisation and capture. The transaction amount is charged and transferred immediately. It’s specifically useful for businesses that offer services online and provide access to their customers right after payment.

  • Refund:

Refunds are used when orders are canceled, or goods have been returned and the merchant must refund the transaction amount to the customer. It can be applied to both payment and capture transactions.

  •  Void: 

Void transactions are similar to refunds but can only apply if the transaction was not captured yet. The transaction disappears from the customer’s account within 24 hours.


Within the context of business payment solutions, it’s also important to mention that there are two main types of payment gateway integrations. The first is hosted integration, which directs the user to the payment provider’s payment page, which is seamlessly embedded on your website and the other type is the direct integration, which allows complete control but also responsibility of the checkout page and credit card data collection to the merchant.

Integration to a payment gateway: advantages and disadvantages of both types of integrations. 

What does the term “Merchant Acquirer” mean?

You may have already stumbled upon the term “Merchant Acquirer”. Most people are puzzled by this term and how a “Merchant Acquirer” functions in order to facilitate credit card processing for a small business.

A bit confusing? The merchant acquirer is simply the financial institution with which an e-commerce company partners with in order to obtain a merchant account and which will enable them to accept credit and debit card payments online while settling the transactions to their business bank account.

Therefore, any moderately sized business or start-up wishing to accept credit or debit card payments needs to partner with a payment acquirer who will handle the authorisation and authentication of each transaction.

Read More: Understanding the Merchant Acquirer

Small Business Merchant Services by Powercash21

By now you should be familiar with terms such as payment gateway, merchant acquirer and authorisation. In this section, we’ll explain how our payment solutions for small business and start-ups can help your company grow, while ensuring a seamless payment experience for both you and your consumers.

Risk & Fraud Management

As a start-up in the ecommerce space, a merchant needs to be aware that with accepting payments online comes exposure to payments-related and data-security risks. Terms such as payment fraud, credit card data breach and chargebacks are just a sample of particulars any business accepting credit cards needs to be aware of.

Our risk management practices involve numerous tools that are integrated into our payment gateway and are used to evaluate potential payment fraud, minimising the risks to the merchant. These involve elements such as fraud management, 3D Secure, Geo-Conflict, Velocity Check, BIN Lookup and Pre-Authorisation.

Running your own company is no easy feat, so we take care of risk management, so that our merchants can focus on growing their business.

Read More: Risk Management by Powercash21

Payment Processing

Powercash21 provides card acquiring services that empower European small businesses and start-ups to obtain worldwide payments in a cost-effective and secure way. We are a longstanding principal member of both Visa and Mastercard, as well as a regulated payment institution within the European Union.

As a European acquirer, Powercash21 offers easy processing of credit and debit card transactions to online merchants, shielded in a fraud-protected environment. All these with a single, seamless integration to our payment gateway.

Learn more about our Payment Processing Solutions.

Alternative Payment Methods

Online merchants looking to have a global reach, often look beyond the big players (e.g. Mastercard) as supported payment methods on their check-out pages. A host of local payment methods can be implemented to help with any localization strategy, and to increase conversion in target markets by offering methods that the customers are accustomed to using in making payments. These methods fall within three main categories, which are bank transfers, eWallets, and prepaid vouchers. Each region and/or country has its own popular payment methods (in addition to credit or debit cards, of course). If used by the merchant, they add value to cross-border shoppers by offering convenience and trust, since each shopper chooses the payment method they’re most comfortable with. Any business can benefit from this solution which enables acceptance of global payment methods.

At Powercash21, we offer the most popular alternative payment methods to help merchants with localising their payments.

Virtual Terminal

There are some cases where the customers might not have access to the internet or prefer to pay over the phone, by mail order or on-site via a tablet or other device. Our virtual terminal can be used to accept these kinds of payments, without the need for any extra hardware and/or software. Our virtual terminal is supported by our securely hosted PCI DSS Level 1 payment servers.

Learn More about our Virtual Terminal

Powercash21’s Payment Gateway Services for Small Businesses and Start-ups

Here we’ll discuss some of the most important elements that constitute payment gateway services, which are designed to offer the best payment experience for both the merchants and their customers.

PCI Compliance

Any merchant owning a small business or start-up should have a solid understanding of what PCI compliance is and why it’s a very important factor in choosing a payment processor who can provide and support the security aspect of the merchant’s transactions. PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and is a set of security standards that must be followed by companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card data. There are several advantages of being PCI compliant, including increased trust levels between the merchants and their customers, something that every business or start-up should be aiming to establish.

Learn about how PCI compliance can help your business grow

3D Secure

3D Secure stands for “3-Domain-Secure” and is effectively an additional layer of security in online payment processing. It’s available through Visa as “Verified by Visa” and Mastercard as “Mastercard Secure Code ”.

So how does 3D Secure work and how can it impact on moderately sized businesses and start-ups?

When a customer attempts to complete a payment online, a password or authentication code will be requested to complete the payment. The customer then will be redirected to the card provider’s website where they can insert a password already set with their bank or received on their mobile phone. At Powercash21 we encourage our merchants to implement 3D Secure, which can be found in our payment gateway, along with other fraud prevention tools.

The effect of this on small businesses and start-ups is that the payment environment features additional security, minimising the risk of fraudulent transactions for both the merchant and the customer.

Learn all you need to know about 3D Secure


PSD 2 is a revised Payment Service Directive enacted by the European Commission and has taken full effect on September 14, 2019, aimed at increasing protection for customers during online and mobile transactions.

This directive requires payment services providers and payment processors to implement a series of technical requirements, including Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), which is used to ensure that at least two identifiers are used to authenticate ecommerce transactions.

Powercash21 and its payment gateway have been ready prior to the deadline (December 31st 2020) and fully support the new SCA requirements.

Click here and learn more about PSD 2 and Strong Customer Authentication

Powercash21 is an ideal Digital Payments Platform

Merchant accounts for small business and start-ups can be difficult to comprehend at first, due to limited knowledge and inexperience. It’s OK! We understand that small business credit card processing is very important for new businesses to function and start earning income.

Our payment processing for small companies is designed to ensure a seamless experience for the merchant during the process of obtaining their merchant account, setting up the payment gateway and starting to process payments:

Dedicated account manager so small businesses can thrive

We totally understand that setting up a business merchant account, running it and integrating with a payment gateway can be difficult at first. We, therefore, offer a dedicated account manager to each of our merchant account holders, so they can find the support they need in any situation!

24/7 Support

Processing payments for businesses can often be tricky due to inexperience or simply technological issues that might arise. Powercash21 offers 24/7 support to its merchant account holders so that nothing gets left behind, ensuring all aspects of payment processing are running smoothly at all times.

Competitive Pricing

Moderately sized businesses and start-ups are running on a tight budget. We desire to help our merchant account holders grow, not impose high-cost payment processing solutions on them. We, therefore, offer competitive pricing across Europe to make sure that businesses accept credit and debit card payments and alternative payment methods while they keep their payment processing costs low!

Powercash21: The ultimate payment processor for your business

We certainly hope that we have explained a lot by now and that you have found this guide to be useful. We believe in making things easy for our customers and all merchant account holders, taking away the burden of payment processing and risk management responsibilities, so you can focus on what you do best!

We’d be happy to hear from you and offer you a free quotation for your own individual tailored solution as well as to inform you in detail about our merchant services for small businesses.

Contact us through our website and leave your details we’ll get back to you via phone or email with all the information you need!

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