What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is something that authorizes you to take credit card payments. For an e-commerce firm, it’s the digital equivalent of one of those card-swipe machines that you get in stores. You make an SSL connection to a server somewhere, and voila, the money goes where it needs to be.

Since credit cards are issued by banks, and the payment back and forth are also handled by banks, it makes sense that payment gateways, too, are provided by banks. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There was a time when payment gateways used to be hideously expensive. Now things have gone down quite a bit, but you still have to pay.

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