Payment Gateway vs. Payment Processor: What’s the Difference?

Person uses a credit card at a retail store through a machine that is powered by a credit card processor

As online transactions become more prevalent, businesses must understand the differences between payment gateways and payment processors. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct components of the payments landscape. This article will provide an in-depth look at payment gateways and payment processors, highlighting their functions, key differences, pros and cons, and how to choose the right solution for your business.

What Is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway is a software application that facilitates the transfer of payment data from a buyer, through the merchant’s website, to the acquiring bank or payment processor. Effectively, a payment gateway mediates between the merchant’s website and the payment processor. Payment gateways are responsible for encrypting and routing payment data, verifying the card details and transaction information, and returning the transaction result (approved or declined) to the merchant. Payment gateways also provide a range of security features, such as SSL/TLS encryption, tokenization, and fraud detection.

Payment gateways play a crucial role in the payment process, ensuring that payment data is transmitted securely and efficiently. They also provide merchants with valuable data, such as transaction history and customer information, which can be used to improve their business operations and customer experience.

What Is a Payment Processor?

A payment processor is a financial institution or third-party company that receives payment requests from payment gateways and communicates them to the card networks (e.g., Visa, MasterCard). Payment processors act as intermediaries between the merchant’s bank and the customer’s issuing bank. They verify the availability of funds, execute the transaction, and settle the funds in the merchant’s account.

Payment processors also provide risk management services, such as fraud prevention, chargeback management, and compliance. Payment processors are responsible for ensuring that transactions are processed accurately and efficiently. They also play a critical role in managing risk and detecting and preventing fraudulent transactions. Payment processors work closely with payment gateways and merchants to ensure that transactions are processed smoothly and securely.

You have the flexibility to choose your merchant service provider in POS systems like KORONA POS (though some POS services won’t offer this freedom.)

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Payment Gateway vs. Payment Processor: Key Differences Between the Two

Though payment gateways and payment processors are similar, there are several key differences worth noting:

Functionality and Purpose

The primary difference between payment gateways and payment processors is their functionality and purpose. Payment gateways are responsible for collecting payment data from buyers, while payment processors are responsible for processing and settling the payments. Payment gateways act as a front-end interface for merchants, while payment processors operate in the back end.

Read also: Credit Card Processing Rate Comparison: Get the Best Rate for Your SMB

Payment gateways are designed to provide buyers with a seamless and secure credit card payment experience. They allow buyers to enter their payment information, such as credit card details, and transmit it securely to the payment processor. Payment gateways also provide merchants with tools to manage transactions, such as refunds, chargebacks, and fraud prevention.

On the other hand, payment processors are responsible for receiving the payment data from the payment gateway and processing it with the relevant card networks and issuing banks. They ensure the payment is authorized, captured, and settled promptly and securely. Payment processors also provide merchants with reporting and reconciliation tools to manage their transactions and settlements.

Security and Compliance

Another critical difference between payment gateways and payment processors is their security and compliance features. Payment gateways are responsible for securing the transaction data as it flows from the buyer to the payment processor. They provide multiple layers of security, such as encryption, tokenization, and fraud detection.

On the other hand, payment processors are responsible for verifying the transaction’s authenticity and ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations, such as PCI DSS. They use advanced fraud detection and prevention tools to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions. Payment processors also work closely with card networks and issuing banks to ensure that the transactions are authorized and settled in compliance with their rules and regulations.

Integration and Compatibility

Payment gateways and payment processors also differ in terms of payment integration and compatibility. Payment gateways usually integrate with a merchant’s website or eCommerce platform using APIs or plugins. They must be compatible with the merchant’s shopping cart, checkout flow, and web hosting environment.

On the other hand, payment processors need to be compatible with card networks and issuing banks. They need to support multiple payment methods, currencies, and countries. Payment processors must also be integrated with the payment gateway to receive and process the payment data.

Pricing and Fees

Finally, payment gateways and payment processors differ in pricing and fee structure. Payment gateways typically charge transaction fees, monthly fees, setup fees, and sometimes, per-transaction fees. Some payment gateways may also offer volume discounts or custom pricing for high-volume merchants.

Payment processors usually charge a percentage of the transaction value via fixed and interchange fees. Interchange fees are fees charged by the card networks and issuing banks for processing the transaction. Payment processors may also charge additional fees for risk management and compliance services.

In conclusion, payment gateways and payment processors are essential components of the online payment ecosystem. While they have different functionalities and purposes, they work together to provide a seamless and secure payment experience for buyers and merchants alike.

The differences between payment gateway and payment processor.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Payment Gateways

When it comes to online transactions, payment gateways have become an essential part of the process. They allow merchants to accept payments from customers securely and efficiently. However, like any other technology, payment gateways come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Pros of Using a Payment Gateway

  • Easy integration with eCommerce platforms and shopping carts: Payment gateways are designed to integrate seamlessly with eCommerce platforms and shopping carts, making it easier for merchants to set up and manage their online stores.
  • Multiple payment methods and currencies support: Payment gateways support a wide range of payment methods and money, allowing merchants to cater to customers from different parts of the world. Recurring payment platforms such as Chargebee, for example, offer over 23 payment gateways and 100+ currencies.
  • Reduced PCI compliance burden for merchants: Payment gateways are PCI compliant, which means merchants don’t have to worry about meeting the strict security standards set by the Payment Card Industry.
  • Enhanced security features, such as tokenization and fraud detection: Payment gateways use advanced security features, such as tokenization and fraud detection, to protect against fraudulent transactions.

Cons of Using a Payment Gateway

  • Additional fees on top of payment processor fees: Payment gateways charge additional fees on top of payment processor fees, which can add up and eat into a merchant’s profits.
  • Dependence on the payment gateway’s uptime and availability: Payment gateways are third-party services, meaning merchants depend on their uptime and availability. If the payment gateway goes down, merchants won’t be able to process transactions.
  • Higher risk of transaction failures due to multiple parties involved: Payment gateways involve various parties such as the merchant, payment processor, and the customer’s bank. This increases the risk of transaction failures due to miscommunication or technical issues.
  • Restricted customization options for checkout pages: Payment gateways offer limited customization options for checkout pages, making it difficult for merchants to create a seamless shopping experience for their customers.

Despite these disadvantages, payment gateways remain an essential part of the online shopping experience. They provide a secure and efficient way for merchants to accept payments from customers worldwide.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Payment Processors

Pros of Using a Payment Processor

  • Single point of contact for retail payment processing and risk management
  • Standardized pricing, fees, and settlement timelines
  • Wider acceptance of payment methods and currencies
  • Higher control over the checkout flow and customer experience

Cons of Using a Payment Processor

  • Complex integration and compatibility requirements
  • Higher PCI compliance burden for merchants
  • Lower flexibility in terms of security and compliance options
  • Higher risk of fraudulent transactions and chargebacks

Choosing the Right Solution for Your Business

Assessing Your Business Needs

Before selecting a payment gateway or payment processor, assessing your business needs and expectations is crucial. Some key factors to consider include the following:

  • Your target customer demographics and payment preferences
  • Your business model and revenue streams
  • Your e-commerce platform and hosting requirements
  • Your risk management and compliance needs
  • Your budget and expected transaction volume

Comparing Top Payment Gateway Providers

Some popular payment gateway providers include PayPal, Stripe,, and Braintree. When comparing payment gateway providers, consider pricing, fees, feature set, reliability, customer support, and integration options.

Comparing Top Payment Processor Providers

Some popular payment processor providers include Worldpay, Adyen, Square, and Stripe. When comparing payment processor providers, consider pricing, fees, feature set, compatibility, security, and risk management factors.

Choosing between a payment gateway and a payment processor depends on your business needs and goals. While payment gateways offer convenience and security, payment processors provide control and customization. By assessing your requirements and comparing providers, you can make an informed decision that maximizes your profitability and customer satisfaction.

Payment Gateway and Processors Aren’t Enough: You Need a POS System Too

The third piece of the puzzle regarding accepting payments is a point of sale (POS) system. While payment gateways and payment processors are used to send and receive payments, a POS system is used to process the sale. 

When a customer makes a purchase, the POS system initiates the transaction by sending the payment information to the payment gateway. The payment gateway then communicates with the payment processor to verify the transaction and check if the funds are available. Once the payment processor confirms the transaction, the payment gateway sends an approval message back to the POS system, and the purchase is complete.

A POS system carries out many critical functions:

  1. Track sales and inventory
  2. Provide customer service
  3. Calculate taxes
  4. Print receipts
  5. Offer loyalty programs

In addition, you can use your POS system to generate real-time reports and track employee performance. With a POS system, keeping track of transactions and monitoring your business efficiency as it grows would be easier. So if you plan on setting up an online shop or accepting payments at a physical store location, be sure to choose the right POS system for your business. 

Moreover, the POS system is also vital in protecting retailers against fraud. A good POS system can help to verify the authenticity of credit and debit cards, detect suspicious transactions, and prevent fraudulent activities before they occur. By having these features built into their POS system, retailers can reduce the risk of chargebacks and other fraud-related losses. 

In summary, the POS system is a crucial link in the payment processing chain, connecting retailers to the payment gateway and processor, providing valuable data insights, and protecting them against fraud. It is a critical tool that can help retailers to run their businesses more efficiently, reduce costs, and increase revenue. Try KORONA POS by clicking on the button below.

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To sum up, a payment processor is a middleman between the customer and the merchant, while a payment gateway is the middleman between the merchant and the customer’s bank. When you’re shopping online, the payment gateway links the merchant and your credit card information, allowing you to pay. They also provide services to the merchant, such as retail fraud protection and reporting.

The payment gateway provides the merchant with the information needed to make a transaction, including the customer’s credit card information.

Ultimately, payment processors and gateways are essential components of eCommerce, making it possible for customers to pay for goods and services online. Understanding their differences is crucial to making the best choice for your company.

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Written By

Mahougnon Martial Amoussou

Passionate about SEO and Content Marketing. Martial also writes about retail trends and tips for KORONA POS. He loves NBA games and is a big fan of the Golden State Warriors.