Payment Gateway Branding

on Oct17

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
Business: merchant
Customer: cardholder

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)

Example

An example of level-one branding would be a cardholder who opens a payment page, using merchant-specific URL, and sees the merchant’s name and logo on the page, as opposed to generic logo and name of the underlying gateway that provides this page.

Level II: Payment gateway (MSP)-reseller-merchant

Vendor: MSP or payment gateway
Business: reseller
Customer: merchant

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

Examples

An example of level-two branding would be a merchant statement received by a merchant from a reseller (even if actually generated by the gateway), bearing contact information and logo of the reseller, as opposed to contacts and logo of the underlying PSP or gateway.
A reseller would like to have a support e-mail (for instance, support@reseller.com) for its customers, but does not have technical staff to answer the e-mails. In such cases a gateway owner can supply a branded e-mail, maintained on the domain of the reseller, and have its own technical personnel responding to the e-mails on behalf of the reseller.

Level III: MSP/gateway/processor-PSP-reseller

Vendor: MSP or payment gateway/ processor
Business: PSP
Customer: reseller

In addition to items which can be branded on Levels I and II, the components on this level include:

  • reseller statements
  • management tools (CRM)

Example

An example of level-three branding would be a reseller statement received by a reseller from a PSP (even if actually generated by the gateway), bearing contact information and logo of the PSP, as opposed to contacts and logo of the underlying gateway or processor.

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

Conclusion

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.

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