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Payment gateway: What is it and how to choose one?

Dive deeper into the world of payments and get a better understanding of payment gateways. Discover the most important things to consider when choosing one for your business.

February 18, 2024
 ·  6 minutes

Understanding every part of the payment flow may seem difficult as it consists of multiple steps and parties. We’ve made it easy for you by narrowing it down and focusing on the first step of the flow: the payment gateway.

If you’re wondering what a payment gateway is, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article you will learn about:

  • What is a payment gateway?

  • Choosing the best payment gateway for your business.

  • Where does Adyen fit in?

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is a service that helps businesses initiate and accept payments. It’s typically a web server to which a business’s website or POS system is connected, providing different channels to accept payments, such as online, in-app, or in-person.

You can either choose a payment gateway that is provided by a bank or one from a provider that can connect to one or more payment processors.

Types of payment gateway

Online payment gateways often offer services for both websites and apps. Although they have the same function (initiating payments), they can differ in the functionalities, features, and channels they support. It’s essential to choose one that works best for your business.

For example,subscription businessesoften need a gateway that supports recurring payments. SaaS ormarketplacesmight require one that can offer embedded payments. Businesses in industries like airlines and gambling might need a high-risk payment gateway with a high-risk appetite.

Where the payment gateway sits in the transaction flow

Even though payments are completed in a matter of seconds, quite a few steps happen in the background. Since the payment gateway initiates the payment, it’s the first step of the transaction flow.

Below is the payment flow (in simple terms):

  1. When a customer makes a purchase, the business sends the customer's payment information to the payment gateway.​​

  2. The payment gateway shares it with the payment processor, which shares it with the card scheme.

  3. The card scheme shares it with the issuer, which performs checks to determine if the transaction should be approved or declined.

  4. The decision regarding the transaction flows through the card scheme, payment processor, and gateway to the business and customer.

  5. If the payment is approved, the funds move from the customer's bank to the acquirer(sometimes referred to as the merchant account) and then to the business's bank account.

Choosing the best payment gateway for your business

There are several factors to be aware of when choosing a payment gateway. Some may be more important to your business than others.


Different gateways have different pricing models. Saving costs is often a priority for businesses, which makes it important to choose a gateway with a pricing model that suits your business needs.

Some gateways charge a percentage-based fee, and some a fixed fee per transaction. If your transactions involve a high number, a fixed fee could be more cost-friendly.

When calculating the potential costs, it’s also important to remember that some gateways charge for one-off costs like setup or integration fees. They might also offer services like 3D Secure, protection against payment fraud, or authorization optimization, which may affect the cost but add value to your business.

Security and compliance

Security and compliance are central to protecting your business and customers. The payment gateway should hold specific certificates and conform to measures to protect payment information. The ones you should expect are:

International payments

There are a few things to keep in mind if you accept international payments. First, it's essential to ensure your gateway can accommodate this. You can accept international payments through cross-border transactions or local acquiring, which tends to offer higher authorization rates.

Another critical aspect of accepting international payments is offering your customers' preferred payment methods. That's why you need to make sure your gateway provides the payment methods you need. It could also be relevant to check if the gateway can accept foreign currencies and the associated fees for your international payments.

Different countries have different regulations. For instance, in Australia, there are specific rules on authentication and in Japan, new 3DS regulations will be implemented by 2025. Your payment gateway must comply with all the local regulations where you plan to accept payments.

Integration options

Different gateways offer different levels of flexibility when it comes to integration options. You can either integrate with the gateway directly through one or multiple APIs, or with your ecommerce platforms through plugins, if the partnership exists.

Where does Adyen fit in?

Adyen is a financial technology platform offering various solutions for enterprise businesses to enhance payments. We’re a payment gateway, processor, and acquirer in one platform. This means we offer the same functionalities as a payment gateway, allowing our customers to initiate payments. We also provide solutions like authentication, risk management, and authorization optimization - all in one platform. Since we have everything in one platform, we can gather data from all processes and make more informed decision-making. This leads to improved performance such as higher conversion rates and higher auth rates.

Using a provider that is both a gateway and payment processor can drive more value for your business. There is only one API to connect to and one contract for almost 100 markets, reducing complexity for businesses that want to process payments with us.

 Our single-platform setup creates a smooth transaction flow, in which each part can easily communicate. This is an essential part of creating effortless payments, resulting in high authorization rates and increased revenue for our customers.

Do you want to enhance your payments? Discover more about what it means to accept payments with Adyen.

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