Accepting payments smoothly is often the lifeblood of a business. So it’s important to understand the key components that make up payment processing. One of the topics you may have come across is payment gateways. Including the popular gateway known as Authorize.net.
However, if you’re new to merchant accounts and payment processing or, you may be a little overwhelmed by all the information necessary to make a decision on your gateways. You likely have a lot on your plate already if you are opening a business or looking to start one. So having to learn about payment processing may seem like a hassle.
Authorize.net plays a key role in payment processing and many merchants who use it will interact with its features daily. Below, we’ll explain what Ahtorize.net is, how it works, and the role it plays in payment processing.
A payment gateway acts as a sort of conduit between the merchant and the various entities in the payment processing chain. The gateway is what collects and transmits the billing information back and forth between the merchant and the bank. Authorizing the payment and ultimately transfer funds.
This path of data is sometimes referred to as the transaction flow. It defines the flow of data from the merchant to acquirers and issuing banks, and then back again.
As you can probably tell from this description, the payment gateway is the backbone of the whole transaction flow. Below is an overview of this flow to give you the full picture of how a gateway fits into the typical e-commerce payment process.
How Does Authorize.Net Payment Gateway Work?
A customer chooses their products or services from a merchant’s website. They then checkout which leads them to the merchant’s payment page.
The customer then enters their billing information including card number, expiration date, and the CVV or card verification value. This data is then transmitted to the Authorize.net processor gateway through the merchant’s chosen method of integration. So either by encrypted data or using the gateway’s hosted page to capture the information.
The gateway performs an initial fraud check and then passes the data along to the acquirer or processor.
The data then continues from the Authorize.net payment processor to the card schemes or card companies. There is then another layer of fraud detection. The data then moves on to the issuing bank for the customer’s card to authorize the payment.
The issuing bank then makes the final approval of the card and ensures there is an adequate balance or credit amount needed for the purchase amount.
The approval or denial is then transmitted back through the same channels and payment gateway to the merchant.
The funds can then be captured and transferred to the merchant account of the business. Once there and settled, the merchant can withdraw the funds to their own bank account.
As you can see, the payment gateway is one of the most important parts of this entire transaction flow. It handles the data from the point it is entered by a customer until it has completed its path from being authorized to the funds being transferred.
What is Authorize.Net?
Authorize.net is now a subsidiary of the card issuer Visa Corporation. Originally founded in 1996, Authorize.net is now a full gateway solution for both traditional transactions and high-risk processing.
As a payment gateway, Authorize.net offers many different tools for merchants to use. We’ll go into details about these features in a later section.
Authorize.net is also one of the larger payment gateways. As a result, they integrate with many other payment products, such as POS (point of sale) hardware and various business software. Authorize.net also integrates with many different online shopping carts and e-commerce tools.
For this reason, Authorize.net has become very popular with brick-and-mortar retailers as well as e-commerce specific businesses.
Unlike some gateways such as NMI which are only available through resellers, Authorize.net allows business owners to sign up directly for an Authorize.net merchant account. This can be a good option for some. Although, using a reseller like a merchant processor does offer many benefits for both small businesses and large.
If you’re looking for a merchant account, contact ECS Payments to learn more about Authorize.net and how it can help your business.
High-Risk Features of Authorize.Net
Merchants who handle high-risk transactions should also look into Authorize.net and understand how the gateway works.
High-risk transactions are any product or service that the credit card issuers notice has a higher chargeback rate or fraud rate. Chargebacks in credit card processing are when the customer disputes the charges for various reasons.
Some common industries and products that may be considered high-risk are:
- CBD products
- Mentoring or coaching services
- Adult related content
- Digital content
- Debt collection services
- Membership-based websites
This is just a short list of high-risk products and industries and processors look at an individual’s business on a case-by-case basis.
If you sell high-risk products, you’ll need a payment gateway that is compatible with and accepts those high-risk transactions.
How Can Authorize.Net Benefit High-Risk Merchants?
Authorize.net high-risk gateways allow for transactions for high-risk industries including CBD merchants, firearms dealers, and more. It integrates with many shopping carts and platforms to create a complete solution for high-risk businesses.
For example, Authorize.net CBD support makes it one of the most popular gateways for CBD and hemp retailers who need a high-risk merchant account, or have one and need an online gateway to accept credit and debit cards.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, this type of merchant account necessity has skyrocketed with the legal walls crumbling when it comes to the sale of cannabis plant products. CBD businesses have exploded and the industry is saturated. Authorize.net and many other merchant service providers have been finding a way to offer these merchants a safe place to partner and offer more payment avenues for their customers.
If your business sells high-risk products, make sure to contact ECS Payments. Our payment solutions experts specialize in high-risk products and services. We can help you navigate this area to maximize your card acceptance and revenue.
Other Features of Authorize.net
Although Authorize.net is a high-risk payment gateway, it also works very well for conventional processing and has many tools beneficial to both types of merchants. This has made Authorize.net merchant processing popular with many different industries.
One feature of Authorize.net is its merchant dashboard. This is where merchants will access many of the features of Authorize.net as well as manage many aspects of their account and processing.
The dashboard is easily accessible and easy to navigate. When you obtain your merchant account, you will receive your Authorize.net merchant login for the customer portal and dashboard.
If you need assistance with the merchant dashboard or the Authorize.net gateway, the Authorize.net phone number to access support is 1-877-447-3938.
Authorize.net offers merchants the option to use payment links. Payment links are like electronic invoices but each invoice has a link that takes the customer right to a secure payment page so they can quickly and easily make their payment.
These help merchants receive money faster and customers also enjoy the convenience of not having to log into a website just to pay an invoice.
Recurring And Membership Tools
For recurring payments and business models such as subscription box retailers, Authorize.net has tools to help with this. For example, they offer an automatic card updating service which checks the card issuing banks at regular intervals to see if a customer’s billing information has changed. If it has, the card the merchant has on file is automatically updated.
This, along with additional features, helps merchants continue to bill customers and customers are also not required to update their payment information.
Customer Information Storage
Authorize.net offers a way for merchants to store customer data on their secure servers. Alleviating some of the security requirements that merchants must adhere to.
This information can also be used to auto-populate order forms or checkout pages through an API. This way, customers can check out faster and not have to enter repetitive information which can hurt sales and impulse purchases.
Authorize.net also has many built-in fraud detection features to help protect your business. These features can be configured by the merchant as well to block or allow certain transactions and locations. This helps keep fraudulent transactions from going through in the first place, which saves you chargeback fees and other hassles.
Authorize.net fees can vary if you’re accessing the gateway through a reseller or payment processor. But in general, Authorize.net has fees that are competitive with most other gateways. So pricing is generally not a big factor when choosing Authorize.net
Merchants can look to pay a monthly access fee of around $25-$35. Transaction fees are 2.9% plus $.30 if you go direct with Authorize.net. Otherwise, there is a $0.10 per transaction fee and a $0.10 batch fee when using just the gateway.
eCheck or ACH transactions are separate and the fees are .75% per transaction for merchants who need this payment option.
Setup fees can vary between merchant service providers.
As mentioned, this can vary depending on your processor or even volume and other risk factors. This is why it’s best to work closely with a trusted Authorize.net payment processor to find the best rates for your situation.
If you want to explore your options for the lowest fees when processing payments, contact ECS Payments. We work with several gateways and can find you the best options for payment needs.
Security And PCI Compliance
Any merchant that accepts credit cards is required to be PCI DSS compliant. PCI DSS or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of guidelines and best practices created by the PCI SSC. The goal is to ensure the integrity and security of the payment ecosystem and to protect sensitive customer data.
Authorize.net provides several tools to help merchants be PCI compliant and even tools to help merchants offload some of the security burdens to Authorize.net
For example, Authorize.net has payment links that can go to a hosted payment page. A hosted payment page is one hosted by Authorize.net, not the merchant. Although this limits customization, for some merchants it allows them to handle all the customer data and processing on Authorize.net’s servers. This limits the amount of security required by the merchant and makes PCI DSS compliance much easier.
For merchants with more complex processing setups that need to be fully PCI DSS compliant in all areas of processing, they offer a partnership with SecurityMetrics. SecurityMetrics is an approved scanning vendor (ASV). Having your network scanned by an ASV is part of the PCI DSS compliance protocol for some merchants.
Whether or not you need to perform this scanning is determined by a self-reporting questionnaire that merchants fill out on their own.
PCI DSS Compliance can be a complex topic, but it’s also crucial for merchants. If you need help in this area, ECS Payments has in-house security experts who can help you understand and ensure your business is compliant.
Authorize.net Testing Sandbox For API
Many merchants need access to advanced API functions when working with their payment gateway. An API allows businesses and developers to customize payment systems that are tailored to their business and online payment method requirements.
Authorize.net allows access for developers as well as tools to make development faster when working with their API.
For starters, Authorize.net provides a sandbox testing environment for API developers as well as dummy account information.
The Authorize.net sandbox allows businesses and developers to fully test their apps and systems in a real environment and troubleshoot any bugs before the system is deployed to customers.
This type of sandbox environment helps developers as well as Authorize.net high-risk merchants who need to make sure their systems are processing payments correctly before they go live.
This can be helpful for high processing volumes immediately after launch which don’t allow for troubleshooting once a system goes live. It’s also helpful for merchants who want to ensure they can authorize high-risk transactions.
Authorize.net also offers complete documentation for their API as well as 24/7 technical support.
Authorize.net Website Integrations
Many merchants use Authorize.net for their e-commerce businesses and part of this is due to the gateway’s integrations with many popular shopping carts and shopping platforms.
One of the most popular shopping platforms is Shopify and Authorize.net does integrate with Shopify rather easily.
Shopify does charge transaction fees when different gateways are used, so this is something to be aware of. Although, many merchants find the extra control they have when using their own gateway is worth the extra fee Shopify charges.
Other platforms like Wix and Squarespace also allow for easy Authorize.net integration.
For those hosting their own website but using a shopping cart, Authorize.net also integrates with many popular shopping cart apps.
For example, WooCommerce easily integrates with Authorize.net through a WordPress plugin. This integration requires no coding so it’s easy to set up for almost anyone. Users just need to enter their Authorize.net credentials into the plugin and the integration is complete.
Overall, Authorize.net has robust support for shopping platforms and shopping carts and works with virtually every popular shopping software platform that merchants use.
Multiple Account Support And International Support
Authorize.net is mostly for American, Australian, and Canadian processing. If you need support for other regions you may want to look into another gateway, such as NMI, which has more international support options.
Also, Authorize.net is only available for businesses located in North America. If your business is located in Europe or elsewhere, you’ll need a different gateway provider.
Next, if you need to run multiple merchant accounts through the same gateway, Authorize.net may not be the best option as support is limited in that regard. Other gateways offer more support for multiple MIDs (merchant IDs) and ways to integrate them. This can help manage certain high-risk transactions or when a retailer sells a mixture of products.
If you need multiple MID support, make sure to contact ECS Payments, we can help you find the perfect gateway to manage your sales and transactions as efficiently as possible.
Authorize.net POS Options
Authorize.net is very popular with online retailers but that doesn’t mean it can’t also work with brick-and-mortar stores or POS hardware. It has options for POS integrations and should work for most retail situations. However, those that need more advanced functions or need a mix of retail, virtual, and POS solutions may want to look at a different gateway.
Authroize.net has limited options for managing complex billing situations that mix online and in-person solutions. For situations like this, a gateway like NMI may be a better choice due to its built-in management tools for more varied billing environments.
However, for strictly online sales, Authorize.net is a very popular choice with existing merchants as it shines with many e-commerce features and integrates with most shopping applications.
Getting Started With Authorize.net
If Authorize.net sounds like a good fit for your processing needs, you can get started right away by contacting ECS Payments.
We offer access to Authorize.net as well as other popular gateways like NMI. This means we can recommend exactly which gateway is the best fit for your business and your needs.
If you’re a high-risk merchant, ECS Payments specializes in this area and can help ensure your business accepts the most transactions possible with the lowest fees.
Contact ECS Payments today to learn more about Authorize.net and how it can help your business grow.