Flavors of White-label Payment Gateway

on Jul24

In this article we are going to describe the concepts of white-label payment gateway and white-label payment processing. Nowadays more and more companies are trying to choose a payment solution or find some replacement for an existing legacy system. White-label payment gateway represents one of the alternative solutions that many of these companies are trying to “embrace”, understand, and implement.

Just like many concepts in merchant services industry, the term “white-label payment gateway” is loosely used to describe several different things. In our article we will try to explain the meaning of the term.

In order to understand the white-label payment gateway concept, we should analyze the context of its formation, i.e. how it emerged.

Traditional payment gateway service

Traditionally, companies, that did not have their own payment gateway, used the services of a third-party gateway under the gateway’s brand. Authorize.Net is, probably, the most illustrative example. ISOs could use such third-party gateways to service their merchants connecting them to their acquiring partners. Under such an arrangement, the actual financial relationship was established between the merchant and a particular ISO or acquirer, while the technical integration was done through the gateway (a separate entity such as Authorize.Net).

White-label payment gateway service offering

With time, many ISOs faced the need to provide gateway services under their own brands (more information on payment gateway branding can be found in our respective article). Sometimes a “branded” payment gateway had to include specific modifications or additional features, customized to particular ISO’s needs.

As a result, white-label solution appeared on the market. In essence, traditional payment gateway providers added a branding feature, allowing their clients (ISOs, acquirers) to use their software products, with their URL, logo, name, and other information. As a result, an ISO could offer its customers both merchant accounts and payment gateway services (although they were actually provided by the third party).

Under the basic white-label payment gateway service arrangement, you are using a shared gateway instance that can be used by other merchants/ISOs. Within this instance, thanks to your specific settings, the user experience (for example, the look of forms, with which your employees and merchants work) is customized according to your requirements.

Naturally, the approach has its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and cons

Advantages:

  • You can provide gateway services under your brand (as an ISO)
  • Such solutions are relatively inexpensive in comparison to other ones

Disadvantages:

  • Generally, only look-and-feel/basic user experience is customizable, and the solution does not allow for more specific changes and customizations that you might need
  • As with any collocation service, you are subject to problems that occur when the same hardware is shared by different companies, such as slowdowns etc.

Dedicated gateway instance

Due to limitations of a classical white-label service offering, some companies came up with a more advanced option: creation of a dedicated payment gateway instance. Under this option, a set of servers is allocated specially for you. A copy of payment gateway software is installed on these servers.

This instance is intended to service only your needs and the respective technical support team is assigned. The gateway instance is servicing only your merchants.

Pros and cons

Advantages:

  • If you have a dedicated server, only you can use it.
  • Specific features can be added to the instance, depending on your contract with the gateway provider. As a result, you get more control over the whole process.
  • You can manage update cycles and schedule the outages.

Disadvantages:

  • The solution is more expensive, because the servers themselves and the gateway replica have to be serviced, and, moreover, separate PCI certification may be required.
  • Your servicing capability is limited by the capacity of servers (nodes), allocated to your instance.

Virtual payment gateway solution

Lately, many vendors of gateway technologies, such as UniPay Gateway added the option for payment gateway virtualization. Instead of physically installing separate independent gateway instances on dedicated servers, particular nodes within a cluster are allocated to you (an ISO). A kind of virtual gateway is created within a cluster (just like virtual machines (VM ware) are created on physical servers). It allows you to add settings and features you need. At the same time, the virtual gateway remains a part of a larger cluster, including additional hardware nodes. In essence, you can select a certain number of dedicated nodes within a cluster.

Pros and cons

Advantages:

  • The solution is less costly in comparison to dedicated servers.
  • A virtual gateway allows you to add and implement specific features, intended to meet your particular needs.
  • The solution allows you to segregate your merchants and resellers from clients of other ISOs (i.e. the respective merchant and reseller data is not “mixed” with data of other ISO’s clients).
  • At peak times, the load can be “absorbed” by other nodes of the cluster.
  • Virtual solution does not require separate PCI certification.

Disadvantages:

  • No opportunity to add new features when needed
  • No full control over servers and data center selections
  • No opportunity to schedule updates, outages etc

Licensed payment gateway solution

In some cases, large corporations and processors face the need to use their own data centers and dedicated, highly customized payment gateway systems. At the same time, they do not want to implement all the necessary logic from scratch. In such situations the fourth “flavor” of white-label payment gateway can be used.

A ready-made product is licensed. A license for a payment gateway software product is acquired and the code can subsequently be changed to reflect whatever branding the licensee has. As the code is also licensed (the solution is open-source), the licensee can add any specific features to the solution.

Pros and cons

Advantages:

  • Customization opportunities are almost unlimited.
  • Maximum control over the process.

Disadvantages:

  • Significant upfront cost
  • PCI certification is required

Conclusion

If you are considering using a white-label payment gateway offering, you’d, naturally, want to settle on the most suitable option. The optimal strategy would be to partner with companies, offering all four “flavors” of white-label solutions, and, thus, allowing you to switch from one level to another.

Feel free to consult our specialists at UniPay Gateway.

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