It is more and more common for present-day businesses to use white label payment gateway software. The purpose of this article is to familiarize merchants and PSPs with the concept of payment gateway branding and the role it plays in merchant services industry. It also covers some payment gateway branding solutions commonly implemented by industry players in order to achieve greater flexibility and gain competitive advantage.
Payment gateway branding concept
The concept of payment gateway branding comes into play when a company utilizes the technology of one of its vendors to deliver services to its customers under its own name. The key idea behind payment gateway branding is to make availability of services on sub-contractual basis more transparent and simple, and, thus, allow relatively small businesses to strengthen their image and reputation in the eyes of their customers.
Payment gateway branding levels
Within the payment services industry branding is possible on several levels. Each branding level represents a relationship between three actors:
- vendor – usually, represented by a merchant service provider (MSP). MSP, in turn, can be either a gateway, PSP, bank or an actual processor
- business – represented by a merchant, a reseller or a PSP
- consumer (customer, service user) – represented by a cardholder, a merchant or a reseller
Generally, the components to which branding is applicable, can be divided into two groups:
- components related to processing and operations (such as gateway URL, e-mail notifications about successful payments, logo on merchant statements etc)
- support-related components (such as integration specifications, knowledge base, tutorials and support e-mails)
Let us take a look at specific items to which branding can be applied at each of the levels.
Level I: MSP (gateway)-merchant-cardholder
Vendor: MSP or gateway
Items (or components) to be branded on this level include:
- Payment pages (or payment portals)
- Virtual terminal
- URL, company name and logo for self-service portal
- various e-mail notifications (account setup, payment notification, chargeback summary)
Level II: Payment gateway (MSP)-reseller-merchant
Vendor: MSP or payment gateway
There are two common models on which relations between merchants and resellers can be based.
- A reseller functions as an agent of the larger underlying entity (processor or other) and requires no branding, for the most part.
- A reseller functions as an ISO or PSP, and in some cases full branding is preferable.
In addition to items that can be branded on Level I, the components at this level include:
- merchant statements
- integration specifications
- tech-support e-mails
Level III: MSP/gateway/processor-PSP-reseller
Vendor: MSP or payment gateway/ processor
In addition to items which can be branded on Levels I and II, the components on this level include:
- reseller statements
- management tools (CRM)
For most payment systems it is still problematic to support level-three branding. There are two approaches that can be used to attain this branding level:
- Deployment of a separate server instance for every PSP – a separate server with a separate database is set up for each PSP. Merchants (or resellers) of a given PSP are stored in that database. The disadvantage of this approach is that multiple independent instances of an application have to be maintained, and it is extremely difficult to provide single sign-on for the technical personnel of the PSP, that manages the servers
- Support of a three-level hierarchy architecture within payment gateway software – all PSPs together with their merchants and resellers are stored in one and the same database. A single server cluster is used as opposed to independent servers. This approach allows to have the same code deployed across all PSPs and makes access to data considerably easier for support people, that have to perform cross-PSP support functions and access information of different PSPs at the same time
The payment gateway branding concept is rapidly gaining importance in today’s business environment. Regardless of whether you are a merchant, a reseller or a PSP, when you make your next decision about the payment technology to use, you should take into consideration the branding capabilities of the payment gateway you cooperate with.
It is particularly important for large payment service providers with complex payment systems to use payment gateway software capable of supporting all three levels of branding, without the necessity of maintaining separate service instances.