How to accept multiple forms of payment: A quick guide for businesses

Payments
Payments

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  1. Introduktion
  2. Why it’s important to accept multiple payment methods
  3. How to decide which payment methods to accept
  4. How to set up a payment system for multiple payment methods
  5. Types of payment methods—and how to accept them
    1. Traditional methods
    2. Accepting traditional payment methods
    3. Card-based methods
    4. Accepting card-based payment methods
    5. Digital/online methods
    6. Accepting digital/online payment methods
    7. Emerging methods
    8. Accepting emerging payment methods
    9. Other methods and accepting them
  6. How Stripe can help
    1. Diverse payment methods

As more types of payment methods have become available worldwide, customer behavior and expectations have shifted. Global cash usage declined by nearly four percentage points in 2022, according to a McKinsey & Co. report, with a significant shift toward digital payments. Usage of specific payment methods depends on where customers are, what they’re buying, and whether they’re making a purchase online or in person, but typically, people expect businesses to offer fast, secure, and flexible payment options.

Below, we’ll explain how to choose a set of payment options tailored to your business and its customers, how to set up a payment system equipped to support those payment methods, and what’s required to accept multiple forms of payment from customers. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s in this article?

  • Why it’s important to accept multiple payment methods
  • How to decide which payment methods to accept
  • How to set up a payment system for multiple payment methods
  • Types of payment methods—and how to accept them
  • How Stripe can help

Why it’s important to accept multiple payment methods

As the payments industry becomes more complex, meeting customer expectations requires offering a variety of payment methods. Here is why it’s increasingly wise for businesses across sectors to diversify the set of payment methods they accept:

  • Convenience for customers: People have different preferences and limitations regarding payment methods. By accepting multiple methods, businesses cater to a wider range of needs, making it easier for customers to complete purchases.

  • Boosting sales and conversion rates: Accepting more payment options increases sales and improves conversion rates because customers are less likely to abandon their carts.

  • Enhancing customer experience and satisfaction: Offering a variety of payment options shows a business is customer-centric, which improves the overall shopping experience and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Reaching a wider customer base: Different demographic groups may prefer different payment methods. For instance, younger customers might favor digital wallets or peer-to-peer (P2P) apps, while older customers might prefer credit cards or bank transfers.

  • Improving cash flow management: Different payment methods have varying processing times. Accepting a mix means businesses receive some faster than others, which helps cash flow management.

  • Staying competitive: As more businesses adopt a wide array of payment methods, those that don’t may find themselves at a disadvantage. Accepting multiple payment options is becoming standard practice in many industries.

  • Adapting to global markets: If a business operates internationally or plans to expand, it should accept payment methods that are popular in different regions and countries.

  • Reducing dependency on a single payment provider: Relying on one payment method can be risky. If there are technical issues or changes in provider policies, alternate options preserve business continuity.

  • Security and fraud prevention: Different payment methods come with various security features and fraud prevention mechanisms. A range of options can help protect the business and its customers.

  • Responding to technological advances and trends: As technology evolves, so do payment methods. Staying up to date with the latest trends (such as mobile payments or cryptocurrencies) keeps a business relevant.

  • Compliance and regulatory requirements: Some payment methods may be better suited to meeting regulatory requirements in certain industries or regions.

How to decide which payment methods to accept

Make sure your business is equipped to accept the payment methods your customers are most interested in. Here’s how to determine what those may be:

  • Advanced customer analytics: Analyze customer data—using tools such as Google Analytics, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or specialized fintech analytics platforms—to access customer demographics, purchasing habits, and payment preferences. Segment your customer base and analyze spending patterns.

  • Industry-specific payment trends: Thoroughly research payment trends in your industry. This can include attending conferences, subscribing to trade journals, and networking with peers. Certain industries may gravitate to specific payment technologies (e.g., near-field communication (NFC) payments in retail, subscription models for software services).

  • Detailed cost-benefit analysis of payment methods: Consider transaction fees, implementation costs, maintenance expenses, chargeback fees, and the potential impact on cash flow. Use financial modeling to forecast the impact of different payment methods on your bottom line.

  • In-depth security assessment: Work with information technology (IT) and cybersecurity experts to evaluate the security features of different payment platforms. This includes compliance with standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for credit card transactions, data encryption standards, and fraud detection capabilities.

  • Technology adoption trends and forecasts: Stay abreast of emerging payment technologies—for example, blockchain-based payments, biometrics, or artificial intelligence (AI)-driven payment systems—and predict how they might be adopted in your market. Consider consulting with fintech experts or technology forecasters.

  • Multichannel sales analysis: For businesses with multiple sales channels, analyze which payment methods work best for each channel. For example, mobile payment options might be more popular for online sales, while traditional methods such as cash or credit cards might dominate in physical stores.

  • International market analysis: Global businesses should conduct a market-specific analysis. This includes understanding local payment preferences, regulatory environments, currency exchange risks, and partnership opportunities with local providers.

  • Competitive intelligence gathering: Use advanced tools and services for competitive analysis. Monitor direct competitors as well as industry leaders and innovators. Look for patterns in which payment methods they accept.

  • Integration capabilities assessment: Evaluate the integration capabilities of various payment methods with your technology stack, including your enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, accounting software, and other operational tools. The goal is to create a smooth, automated workflow that minimizes manual intervention.

  • Structured customer feedback mechanisms: Develop structured methods to gather customer feedback on payment preferences. This could involve advanced survey techniques, focus groups, or social listening.

  • Experimental pilots and A/B testing: Run experimental pilots with different payment methods in controlled environments. Use A/B testing to compare performance, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency.

How to set up a payment system for multiple payment methods

Once you know which payment methods you want to offer customers, you must ensure you can accommodate these methods. Here are the key points to consider when evaluating and setting up your payment processing system:

  • Choosing a payment gateway and processor: Your gateway and processor should support your chosen payment methods, including credit/debit cards, digital wallets, and others. Evaluate their service fees, transaction processing times, and reliability records.

  • System integration: Ensure the payment system works with your business setup, such as ecommerce platforms, financial software, and CRM systems. This aids in automating processes and maintaining accurate records.

  • Adherence to security standards: Your system should comply with security standards such as PCI DSS for credit card handling; incorporate strong fraud detection and prevention mechanisms; and comply with all relevant data protection laws.

  • Intuitive user interfaces: The payment interface should be straightforward for customers, with clear payment method options. The backend should be easily navigable for managing transactions, issuing refunds, and accessing reports.

  • Mobile device compatibility: With the rise in mobile transactions, your system should work on mobile devices and support mobile wallet and app payments.

  • Multicurrency and international payments: If your business operates globally, the system should process multiple currencies and adhere to international payment rules.

  • System scalability: Choose a system that can grow with your business, accommodating increasing transaction volume and new payment methods efficiently.

  • Reliable customer support: Select a service provider known for excellent customer support that can help with setup as well as ongoing operational issues.

  • Comprehensive training and resources: Access to detailed training and resources for you and your team is important for efficiency and error reduction.

  • Extensive testing before launch: Test the system thoroughly to identify and resolve issues. This testing should cover all payment methods and include scenarios such as refunds and transaction failures.

  • Implement transaction monitoring and analysis: Use monitoring capabilities to spot trends, manage finances effectively, and make informed business choices.

  • Backup systems and data recovery plans: Establish backup systems and data recovery procedures in case of system failures and to prevent data loss.

Types of payment methods—and how to accept them

Traditional methods

  • Cash: Though declining in popularity, cash remains a widely accepted option, especially for small transactions.

  • Checks: Checks are still used by certain populations who favor a paper-based payment method, but they have longer processing times and fraud risks.

  • Money orders: Money orders guarantee funds but have the same drawbacks as checks.

  • Wire transfers: Wire transfers are often used for large transactions or international payments.

Accepting traditional payment methods

Cash

  • Equipment: No additional equipment needed—just a cash register or designated secure drawer is enough.

  • Considerations: Security risks of handling cash; requires manual counting and in-person deposits; susceptible to theft or loss.

Checks

  • Equipment: Check imprinter for account information, endorsement stamp, optional check reader, which allows for faster processing.

  • Procedures: Verify identity and signature; check for sufficient funds (which may require calling a bank); endorse and deposit check within a preset time.

  • Considerations: Processing times can be long, checks can potentially bounce, and there are fraud risks.

Money orders

  • Equipment: Check imprinter for account information, endorsement stamp, optional check reader.

  • Procedures: Verify identity, signature, and amount; endorse and deposit.

  • Considerations: Checking the issuer and purchase location details can mitigate fraud risks.

Wire transfers

  • Requirements: Requires customer information, such as bank account details, routing number, amount, and reference code. A bank account is required for receiving transfers.

  • Considerations: Fees for sender and receiver, plus potential delays depending on banks involved.

Tips for all traditional methods

  • Clearly display accepted payment methods: Inform customers at checkout or on invoices.

  • Establish deposit procedures: Securely store and deposit cash/checks regularly.

  • Train staff on fraud prevention: Identify suspicious activity, and implement verification protocols.

  • Consider cash management services: These could be armored car services or secure cash drops for larger businesses.

Card-based methods

  • Credit cards: Credit cards are widely used, convenient, and let customers pay later while accruing interest or rewards.

  • Debit cards: Similar to credit cards. However, debit cards deduct funds directly from a customer’s bank account.

  • Prepaid cards: Loaded with funds in advance.

  • Contactless payments: NFC technology enables instant payments with a tap via card or digital wallets.

Accepting card-based payment methods

Credit and debit cards

Prepaid cards

  • Accepted by most POS systems through the same process as credit/debit cards.

  • Considerations: Verify card balance before accepting payment to avoid problems related to insufficient funds. Some prepaid cards have limited functionality.

Contactless payments

  • Equipment: NFC-enabled reader for tap-to-pay transactions.

  • Considerations: Some customers may still prefer traditional methods, so wider acceptance of this method may require additional work.

Digital/online methods

  • Online payment gateways: Platforms such as PayPal, Stripe, or Square integrate with websites or apps to accept online payments.

  • Digital wallets: Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay store payment information digitally for quick and secure checkout.

  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL): BNPL services such as Klarna or Affirm let customers split payments into installments.

  • Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies have limited acceptance for payment at most businesses.

Accepting digital/online payment methods

Online payment gateways

  • Choose a provider: Compare the features and fees of popular options—such as Stripe or PayPal—before making your final choice.

  • Integrate with your website or app: Follow the provider’s instructions for integration.

  • Set up payment options: Define currencies, accepted cards, and any additional features.

  • Manage transactions: Access transaction history, reconcile payments, and handle refunds.

Digital wallets

  • Enable support for major wallets: Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.

  • POS system compatibility: Make sure your reader or checkout system supports contactless payments.

  • Customer awareness: Promote the digital wallet payment option during checkout.

BNPL

  • Partner with a BNPL provider: Choose a service such as Klarna or Affirm that aligns with your target audience and business model.

  • Integrate with checkout: Offer a BNPL option alongside other payment methods.

  • Manage installment payments: Set up automatic deductions and procedures for handling potential late fees or defaults.

Cryptocurrency

  • Choose a cryptocurrency payment processor: Compare security, transaction fees, and supported currencies.

  • Clearly display accepted cryptocurrencies: Inform customers at checkout or on invoices.

  • Understand crypto volatility: Be prepared for price fluctuations and potential risks associated with cryptocurrency.

Emerging methods

Accepting emerging payment methods

Open banking

  • Partner with an open banking provider: Choose a reputable service that complies with regulations and security standards.

  • Integrate with your website or app: Follow the provider’s instructions for secure API integration.

  • Obtain customer consent: Clearly explain the benefits of open banking and obtain explicit consent to access customers’ financial data.

  • Facilitate account-to-account payments: Enable customers to initiate payments from their bank accounts, often with lower fees than traditional card transactions.

QR code payments

  • Choose a payment provider or app: Popular options include PayPal, Venmo, Alipay, and WeChat Pay.

  • Generate QR codes: Create QR codes for each transaction or product, and link them to your payment account.

  • Display and pay: Place QR codes at checkout counters, on product labels, in invoices, or online. Customers scan codes with their smartphone cameras to initiate payment.

Tips

  • Partnerships with banks and fintechs: Collaborate with financial institutions to offer innovative payment solutions and services.

  • Cross-border payments: Explore open banking’s potential for facilitating international transactions with reduced fees and faster processing times.

  • Integration with loyalty programs: Link QR codes with loyalty points or discounts to increase customer engagement.

Other methods and accepting them

These payment options include invoice payments and subscriptions.

Invoice payments

  • Invoice software or templates: Choose a platform or create invoices detailing services, costs, and due dates.

  • Payment options: Accept multiple methods such as online payment gateways, credit card processing, bank transfers, or checks.

  • Delivery channels: Send invoices electronically via email or online portals, or offer printable versions for traditional payment methods.

  • Payment reminders: Set up automated reminders for approaching due dates, and implement a polite follow-up system for late payments.

Subscriptions

Tips

  • Straightforward payment process: Make it simple and convenient for customers to pay invoices or manage their subscriptions.

  • Payment flexibility: Cater to diverse customer preferences by providing a variety of payment methods.

  • Clear communication: Clearly communicate invoices, payment terms, and subscription details to avoid confusion.

  • Task automation: Use software and automation to manage invoices, subscriptions, and payment reminders efficiently.

  • Payment data analysis: Track payment trends and customer behavior to improve your billing process and pricing strategies.

  • Partial payments: For larger bills, let customers pay invoices in installments.

  • Free trials or introductory offers: Attract new subscribers with limited-time free trials or discounted pricing.

How Stripe can help

Stripe is a comprehensive solution for businesses that want to accept a wide range of payment methods. Here’s how it can help:

  • Global coverage: Stripe provides access to over 100 payment methods used worldwide, letting businesses adapt to customer preferences and expand into new markets. This global reach caters to diverse customer bases, regardless of location.

  • Revenue boost and cost reduction: By integrating BNPL options, Stripe can help boost sales by an average of 25%. Additionally, lower transaction costs are achievable with bank debits and real-time payments. This combination of increasing revenue while managing costs is beneficial for businesses that want to refine their financial performance.

  • Optimized for conversion: Stripe surfaces the most relevant payment methods for each customer, which can increase conversion rates by 3% and transaction value by 7% on average. This feature guarantees customers see their preferred payment methods, leading to a smoother checkout experience and potentially higher sales.

  • Ease of integration: Stripe enables businesses to launch payment methods with a single integration, eliminating the need for additional engineering work.

Diverse payment methods

  • Wallets: Stripe supports wallet payment methods such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal (only available in Europe), so customers can avoid manually entering card or billing information.

  • BNPL: Options such as Affirm, Afterpay/Clearpay, and Klarna are available, giving customers flexibility. This can increase conversion and order value.

  • Bank transfers and direct debits: For larger transactions and business-to-business (B2B) payments, Stripe supports various bank transfer methods, guaranteeing low transaction costs with automated reconciliation.

  • Real-time payments: Services such as PayNow offer instant payment capabilities, inexpensively improving speed and conversion.

  • Vouchers and cash-based payments: Methods such as Konbini and OXXO cater to customers who prefer to complete online purchases with cash payments in store.

To learn more about Stripe’s payment methods, go here.

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