Pay by link: An in-depth guide

Payments
Payments

Ontvang over de hele wereld online en fysieke betalingen met een betaaloplossing die past bij elke onderneming, van veelbelovende start-ups tot multinationals.

Meer informatie 
  1. Inleiding
  2. What is pay by link?
  3. Where is pay by link used?
  4. Who uses pay by link?
    1. Businesses
    2. Customers
  5. How pay by link works
  6. Business benefits of accepting pay by link
    1. Expanded customer reach
    2. Transaction speed
    3. Enhanced security
    4. Access to customer insights
    5. Flexibility in payment acceptance
    6. Operational efficiency
    7. Customer loyalty and engagement
    8. Customer preference for digital payments
  7. Pay by link security measures
    1. Encryption technologies
    2. Tokenization services
    3. Advanced risk assessment
    4. Multifactor authentication protocols
    5. Biometric authentication
    6. Compliance with global regulations
    7. Monitoring high-risk sectors
    8. Customized security features
  8. Requirements for businesses to start taking pay by link
  9. Pay by link alternatives

Payment by request link, commonly referred to as “pay by link,” represents a growing segment of global financial transactions. A pay by link transaction allows a business to send a payment request to a customer through a digital link, which takes the customer to a payment portal to complete the transaction. This mechanism has been adopted across various market segments, from retail to the service industry, and is particularly gaining traction in regions with high mobile usage.

Pay by link systems are agile, often integrating multiple payment options in a single link to accommodate the diverse payment preferences of global customers. This enables these systems to support global credit and debit card leaders (such as Visa and Mastercard), region-specific local payment methods (such as iDEAL in the Netherlands, Alipay in China, and Pix in Brazil), and digital wallets.

Pay by link systems can also support various currencies. Businesses benefit from the ability to easily accept payments from international customers, without needing to develop their own complex payment infrastructure. The simplicity of clicking a link to complete a payment on any device aligns with growing customer expectations for convenience and speed in online transactions.

Below is a comprehensive guide to how pay by link operates, including its application, scope, and financial nuances across different markets. We’ll explain how pay by link is swiftly adapting to the evolving demands of global commerce and customer preferences. We’ll also address how pay by link services integrate with existing business systems and how they impact the efficiency of online transactions.

What’s in this article?

  • What is pay by link?
  • Where is pay by link used?
  • Who uses pay by link?
  • How pay by link works
  • Business benefits of accepting pay by link
  • Pay by link security measures
  • Requirements for businesses to start taking pay by link
  • Pay by link alternatives

Pay by link is a digital payment method that allows businesses to request payments from customers through a shareable link. It streamlines transactions by eliminating the need for physical card terminals or the physical presence of a card, making it particularly useful for remote payments. Businesses can generate a payment link through their payment service provider, send it to their customer through various channels (such as email, SMS, or messaging apps), and the customer can then complete the payment online through a secure webpage.

Pay by link is convenient for both businesses and customers. It supports a variety of payment options, including credit and debit cards, bank transfers, and even digital wallets, depending on the payment processor’s capabilities. For small businesses or individual sellers, this method offers a simplified approach to accept payments without the overhead of developing an ecommerce system. Adoption of pay by link has surged, particularly as the retail and service sectors have adapted to handle increased online interactions and contactless transactions.

In 2020 and 2021, digital payments grew exponentially, due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2022 World Bank report indicated that two-thirds of adults worldwide make or receive digital payments. Payment links have become a valuable, flexible payment solution for businesses to meet evolving demands.

  • United States
    In the US, businesses of all sizes use pay by link technology to streamline billing and collections, particularly in the ecommerce and professional services sectors. Adoption rates have surged as companies shift toward digital solutions to accommodate remote transactions.

  • United Kingdom
    UK customers have a strong affinity for pay by link solutions, driven by a high level of customer comfort with digital payment methods and a large ecommerce sector. Businesses use payment links to cater to customers who prioritize speed and convenience.

  • Germany
    German businesses—particularly in the automotive, health care, and retail sectors—are integrating pay by link methods for flexible payments. This trend is supported by a strong infrastructure for electronic payments and a customer base that values transaction security.

  • Brazil
    Brazil’s use of pay by link is growing rapidly, due to the country’s growing number of mobile internet users. This growth is also propelled by the need for payment solutions that are more accessible than those offered by traditional banks.

  • Japan
    In Japan, pay by link complements a range of other advanced payment options. It’s typically used by customers and businesses that need more direct, simplified payment processes—particularly in international commerce.

  • South Africa
    Pay by link is becoming an important tool for South African businesses to reach a broader customer base, including the unbanked population. Its integration with mobile payments is key in a region where mobile usage outpaces bank account usage.

Both businesses and individuals use payment request links. These links are typically generated through a payment gateway and sent via email, SMS, or other messaging platforms. They allow for a quick and secure transaction without the need for a physical point-of-sale (POS) system.

Businesses

  • Ecommerce businesses and online retailers
    Online retailers are among the primary users of payment request links, capitalizing on their ability to offer customers a direct, hassle-free payment option. This method aligns with customer preferences for quick and secure online transactions, a trend emphasized by the growing $3 trillion global ecommerce market revenue as of 2023.

  • Service-based businesses
    Service providers—such as consultants and freelancers—and professional services such as law firms and marketing agencies frequently use payment request links to bill for their services. This method is especially prevalent where invoicing and remote payment collection are common, serving both one-time and recurring billing needs.

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
    SMEs choose to use payment request links for their low overhead and ease of integration with their existing systems. The flexibility of payment links allows these businesses to adapt quickly to market changes without significant investment in new hardware or software.

  • Gig economy participants
    Individuals working in the gig economy—including rideshare drivers, delivery personnel, and freelancers—often prefer payment request links for their simplicity and speed. These links cater to the varied and sporadic payment schedules inherent in the work.

  • Nonprofit and charitable organizations
    Nonprofits and charitable organizations use payment request links to simplify the donation process. This method provides an easily accessible option for donors, reducing friction in the giving experience and boosting fundraising.

  • Educational institutions
    Educational institutions employ payment request links to collect tuition and fees. By using links, these institutions can accept payments efficiently without the need for in-person transactions, which is particularly useful for distance learning platforms.

  • Health care providers
    Health care providers have adopted payment request links to settle bills for treatments and consultations. They are contactless, which helps maintain hygiene standards in health care settings.

  • Restaurants and food delivery services
    In the food service industry, payment request links are a contactless alternative to traditional card payments. They are convenient for both delivery services and takeout orders.

  • Artisans and craft markets
    Individual creators and small-scale artisans use payment request links to sell their goods without the need for a physical storefront or cash transactions. This is particularly relevant for sellers on social media platforms or at pop-up market events.

  • Real estate agents and landlords
    Real estate agents and landlords are using payment request links for secure deposit and rental transactions, reducing the need for face-to-face meetings and handling physical checks.

Customers

  • Remote customers
    Individuals making purchases from remote or international locations use payment request links for their convenience and the ability to transact in different currencies.

  • Tech-savvy customers
    Customers comfortable with digital technology and mobile payments use payment request links for their accessibility and security.

  • Young adults and students
    This demographic often uses payment request links for small transactions, peer-to-peer payments, and school fees, as they integrate with messaging apps and social media.

  • Busy professionals
    Professionals with demanding schedules opt for payment request links to settle bills and invoices on the go, saving time and effort.

Payment request links have become an important part of modern payment processing systems, providing a straightforward way for businesses and individuals to initiate transactions. This mechanism, while simple for the user, involves a complex network of operations that allow for secure, reliable, and efficient payment processing.

  • Transaction initiation
    The process begins when a seller generates a payment request link through their payment service provider’s interface. This link encapsulates the required payment information, such as the numerical amount and the currency. When a customer clicks this link, they’re directed to a secure payment gateway where they can complete the transaction, often via a variety of payment methods.

  • Routing and processing
    After customers submit their payment details, the transaction information is encrypted and transmitted through the payment gateway. The data is then routed to the acquiring bank, which forwards the transaction for authorization to the card network, such as Visa or Mastercard, which in turn communicates with the issuing bank.

  • Data security protocols
    During these exchanges, advanced encryption protects the transaction data. Payment gateways employ security measures such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. They are often compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which mandates a secure network configuration, strong access control measures, and continuous monitoring and testing of networks.

  • Fee structures
    Payment request link service providers typically charge a fee for each transaction processed. These fees vary and depend on factors such as transaction volume, the business’s average ticket size, and the negotiated rates between the payment service provider and the business. Fees are shared among the parties, including the payment service provider, the issuing bank, and the acquiring bank.

  • Clearing and settlement
    Following authorization, the pay by link system facilitates the clearing process, where transaction details are confirmed between the financial institutions involved. Settlement—the actual movement of funds—usually occurs later, often on the same day or the following business day.

  • Advanced analytics and reporting
    The pay by link system also provides businesses with access to transaction analytics and reporting tools. These can include detailed reports on transaction volumes, refund rates, and payment success rates, which businesses can use to make informed decisions and improve their payment processing setup.

  • Support for global transactions
    The architecture of pay by link systems supports multicurrency processing, allowing businesses to accept payments in various currencies and cater to a global customer base. The system also handles currency conversions, when necessary, according to the current exchange rates provided by the card networks or financial institutions.

  • Integration and API accessibility
    Payment service providers also offer application programming interfaces (APIs) that seamlessly integrate payment request links into websites, mobile apps, email, and social media platforms. This flexibility allows businesses to incorporate payment links into their sales channels, optimizing the customer experience.

Expanded customer reach

Payment by request links are easily accessible and convenient, enabling businesses to connect with a broader audience. Businesses can share these links via email, chat, or social media, so customers can make payments anywhere, anytime. This is particularly beneficial for markets with high digital banking adoption and customers who are accustomed to online transactions.

Transaction speed

Once a customer clicks on the payment link and enters their payment information, the payment is processed almost instantaneously. This increases cash flow for businesses, as they can receive payments without significant delays.

Enhanced security

Payment by request links are designed with security as a core feature. These payment system providers adhere to stringent security standards, such as PCI DSS, and incorporate encryption and other protective measures to safeguard personal information.

Access to customer insights

With each transaction, businesses gather valuable data they can use to understand customer preferences and behavior. Pay by link systems can track payment patterns, frequency, average transaction values, and other metrics. This data can help businesses customize their services and marketing efforts to better meet customers’ needs.

Flexibility in payment acceptance

Businesses that employ payment links can accept a wide range of payment methods, from credit and debit cards to digital wallets. This versatility allows businesses to cater to a customer base’s diverse payment preferences.

Operational efficiency

Integrating payment links into a business’s operations can improve efficiency. Automating invoicing and accounting practices is possible with APIs that connect payment systems to business software. This integration can reduce manual errors and save time in back-office operations.

Customer loyalty and engagement

Payment by request links can increase customer engagement by including loyalty rewards and discounts in the payment process. These incentives can be a powerful tool to build a loyal customer base and encourage repeat customers.

Customer preference for digital payments

Statistics reflect a growing preference for digital payment solutions. Digital payment methods are on the rise, with the global mobile payment market projected to reach almost $3 trillion in 2023. Pay by link systems are well-positioned for customer adoption, offering the convenience and security that modern customers are seeking.

Pay by link systems facilitate transactions with speed and convenience. The security of these systems ensures the integrity of transactional data and protects financial information.

Encryption technologies

Payment by request link providers deploy advanced encryption technologies that secure data in transit and at rest. Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, which establishes a secure channel between the customer’s device and the payment processor’s servers, protects data moving through their networks. For data at rest, providers use encryption standards such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), with key lengths of at least 128 bits, in line with industry best practices.

Tokenization services

Tokenization is a core security feature that substitutes sensitive card details with unique identifiers. This process ensures that actual card numbers are not stored or transmitted during transactions, reducing the risk of data breaches. The tokens are used only within secure payment environments, rendering them useless if intercepted by unauthorized parties.

Advanced risk assessment

Providers continuously evaluate transactions for fraudulent patterns using sophisticated algorithms. These systems use vast datasets to identify any abnormal activity in real time, flagging potential risks for further review. Machine learning models, which evolve with each transaction, are also used, increasing their effectiveness in identifying and mitigating threats.

Multifactor authentication protocols

Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an additional layer of security. Customers may be required to provide a second form of identification, such as a one-time passcode sent via SMS or generated through an authenticator app. More secure options include hardware tokens, which are immune to many phishing tactics that can compromise less secure forms of MFA.

Biometric authentication

Pay by link systems are increasingly adopting biometric verification methods, such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, and voice authentication. These methods offer secure, user-friendly authentication that relies on the uniqueness of individual biometrics.

Compliance with global regulations

Pay by link providers adhere to a range of international and local regulations. For instance, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union sets stringent standards for data handling and privacy, while the PCI DSS provides a global benchmark for payment card data security.

Monitoring high-risk sectors

Providers also customize security measures for businesses in industries with elevated risk profiles, such as health care and financial services. Improved due diligence processes and additional security layers might be required to address the specific threats faced by these sectors.

Customized security features

Businesses using pay by link systems can often access customized security options. For instance, corporate clients may benefit from configurable spending controls and real-time alerts to monitor and manage corporate expenses.

Before a business can offer pay by link services to its customers, it needs to take certain steps to establish the operational and security framework for processing payments. These steps allow for a smooth integration of payment services and compliance with regulatory and industry standards.

  • Establishment of a merchant account
    Businesses must first establish a merchant account, which is a type of bank account that allows companies to accept and process electronic payment card transactions. Payment processors such as Stripe offer integrated merchant account services, simplifying the setup process. Agreements with payment processors detail the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved and are a key step in implementing pay by link services.

  • Payment gateway integration
    A payment gateway is a service that authorizes and processes payments for online retailers in a secure manner. Integrating a payment gateway is necessary to handle the transmission of transaction data. Pay by link services are often facilitated through APIs that allow for secure information exchange between the business’s website and the payment processor.

  • Compliance with security standards
    Adherence to the PCI DSS is mandatory for businesses that accept card payments. This set of security standards is designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Pay by link services must comply with PCI DSS, which encompasses a range of protective measures, including maintaining a secure network, protecting cardholder data, and implementing strong access control measures.

  • Technical infrastructure
    Businesses must have the appropriate technical infrastructure in place to support pay by link services. This includes reliable internet connectivity, secure websites, and systems capable of handling encrypted data transmission. The technical setup should also be capable of integrating with the payment processor’s technology.

  • Customer verification processes
    Pay by link services require mechanisms to verify the identity of customers to prevent fraud. This often involves multifactor authentication or the use of verification emails or SMS. Businesses need to have systems in place that can support these verification processes.

  • Currency and localization considerations
    For businesses that operate in multiple countries or serve international customers, pay by link services must be capable of handling different currencies and language localizations. This ensures that customers can make payments in their local currency and receive communications in their preferred language.

  • Customer service and dispute resolution
    A system for handling customer inquiries and payment disputes is necessary. Pay by link providers often offer tools for tracking transactions and managing chargebacks or refunds. Businesses need to make sure they have the capacity to deal with customer service issues that arise in relation to pay by link transactions.

  • Data handling and privacy policies
    Businesses must also have clearly defined data handling and privacy policies that comply with local and international data protection laws, such as the GDPR in the EU. Pay by link services must uphold these policies, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of personal and financial data.

Pay by link is a method where businesses can request payments from customers by sending them a link to a payment page. While convenient, several other services offer comparable invoicing features. For example, Stripe’s Invoicing system is integrated into its suite of payment processing tools, allowing businesses to create and send invoices with clickable payment links directly through the Stripe Dashboard or via API for more customized solutions.

The choice of service may depend on factors such as transaction fees, ease of integration with existing systems, and specific business requirements. Trends indicate a growing preference for digital invoice payments, with Statista projecting that global digital payments will reach a transaction value of $9 trillion in 2023. This demonstrates a market with a strong appetite for diverse online payment solutions beyond traditional payment links.

The content in this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accurateness, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent attorney or accountant licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

Klaar om aan de slag te gaan?

Maak een account en begin direct met het ontvangen van betalingen. Contracten of bankgegevens zijn niet vereist. Je kunt ook contact met ons opnemen om een pakket op maat voor je onderneming samen te stellen.