While banking regulators try to watch over Bitcoin and the wild ICO marketplace, payment gateways are steadily adopting blockchain technologies. This trend seems logical because blockchain can provide a faster, cheaper, more secure transaction ecosystem for everyone.
Many business owners, consumers, and traders are looking to blockchain for hacks that improve security and speed while reducing the cost of individual payments. For e-commerce based on credit and debit cards, the single-item and low-price transactions have always been a deal-killer.
Before blockchain, online sellers couldn’t afford low-price sales because it wasn’t feasible – Merchant account and card-processing fees eat up the retail margins. Stores tried to hide card processing fees by blending them in with shipping and handling costs, but that doesn’t work for low-price items and repetitive multiple transactions.
Blockchain has taken root so deeply that bankers can’t kill it
Even though most transactions are still based on credit and debit cards, the payment ecosystem is quickly changing over to blockchain. A decentralized ledger system is the key to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, yet it also supports a much wider range of financial applications.
Blockchain’s lack of central control promotes systemic efficiency. Transactions are completed within the network, with fewer intermediaries and delays. Blockchain also offers the possibility of quicker cross-border payments. Many economists predict that the blockchain will be used to store a large chunk of developed nations’ GDP within the next few years.
Banks are finally bringing blockchain aboard
Even though most transactions are still based on credit and debit cards, the payment ecosystem is changing rapidly. The big banks and card companies are finally coming aboard, but they’re moving cautiously.
As a founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, Mastercard has a blockchain network dedicated to serving B2B and cross-border customers. The Mastercard-centered blockchain ecosystem connects with their traditional platform to provide tools for managing accounts, as well as standard card-based payment options.
Likewise, Visa has also entered the blockchain game with Visa B2B Connect. It’s a distributed-ledger platform that gives each customer a unique digital identity. The platform aims to provide payment options for faster B2B and cross-border transactions.
American Express and BoA are also joining the crypto gold rush – They’ve been steadily filing patents on technologies that promise to increase the speed and functionality of card networks, as well as interoperability with cryptocurrencies.
The global financial ecosystem is becoming more consolidated and collaborative. It brings together retail bankers, digital banking, and merchant processing services, as well as large enterprises.
These changes are being driven by competitive pressures from underlying consumer demand. The bottom line is that traditional banks and finance channels have finally listened to their survival instincts by adopting blockchain, after years of ignoring or attacking it.
The Internet of Things is another major force in driving payment gateway providers to adopt blockchain. Since security is always a central issue with payments, blockchain can help the entire gateway ecosystem by providing ways to track individual device payment histories.
Blockchain-fueled IoT lets payment processors track a device’s payment history as well as its user. For example, in the very near future local NFCs and ATMs might display “No Funds Available” messages whenever deadbeat devices approach them.
Benefits of using a blockchain payment gateway
Traditional gateways were based on legacy banks, but newer blockchain-powered companies are focused on providing more-specialized services. Payment gateways have a controlling role in granular finance because they transfer the verification information from payment portals like websites, mobile devices and interactive systems to an acquiring bank or front end processor. Payment gateway developers see blockchain as a way to develop innovative new services that build above and beyond traditional banking.
Gateways are e-commerce merchant service providers and platforms that verify and authorize card transactions or direct payments. They let businesses accept debit and credit cards, Bitcoin and other forms of crypto payment, and helps settle transactions. Without the right gateway and good integration, customers can’t pay for products and services.
Clients include online sellers, bricks and clicks retailers, as well as bricks and mortar businesses. Before surveying the landscape of blockchain-enhanced payment gateways, let’s consider how they work, and what the benefits are.
Credit card processing fees can eat up 3% on each transaction. By accepting Bitcoin and other forms of crypto, consumers, merchants and traders can reduce settlement costs.
The best benefit of using a crypto payment gateway is to send and receive payments from any country worldwide, as long as it’s not under economic sanctions.
Web browsers and apps encrypt data to be sent between user devices and a seller’s web server. A gateway sends transaction data to the payment processing platforms used by acquiring banks and other service providers.
Blockchain technologies speed the authorization process. Payment processors send transaction data onward to one of the card associations. The issuing bank checks authorization requests then approve or denies them.
Processors send transaction authorizations back to the payment gateway. Once the gateway receives an approval, it signals the website or interfaces to finish processing the payment.
Direct bank deposits
The best blockchain payment gateways allow easy direct deposits into your bank account.
Blockchain-enhanced security functions
Blockchain can be used to maintain privacy and security while verifying card owners’ addresses. Systems can check billing addresses against card company files.
Dynamic verification of delivery addresses
Address verification in real time allows shippers to confirm that a card holder’s shipping address matches with card company information, and also lets fraud specialists check for duplicate or dummy addresses.
Likewise, blockchain technology is the ideal way to make sure that buying patterns are consistent with authorized account holders.
Velocity pattern analysis
Fraud detection tools such as velocity pattern analysis compare new transactions with previous ones to find suspicious behaviors.
Blockchain provides the level of privacy needed when monitoring accounts to detect identity morphing. For example, when the same account is linked to multiple phone numbers, it may indicate fraud.
This function lets payment gateways confirm that buyers are physically located where the account holder is expected to be.
Blockchain-enabled tools let processors quickly compare buyer and seller names against compliance blacklists in real time, including Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) and anti-money laundering (AML) watch-lists.
How to find the right blockchain payment gateway
If you want to accept payments from customers of an e-commerce business, or cash-out bitcoins from your online trading, you’ll need to connect with the right blockchain payment gateway.
The first step is to decide whether you want to accept cryptocurrency directly or indirectly. Accepting bitcoins directly means handling them yourself, or you might choose a third-party payment processor.
Unless you’re a developer or have organizational resources to do the work in-house, it’s easiest to rely on a good outside processor. That way you can focus on running your business. Of course, if you’re a developer then applications are a great way to hack around traditional banking systems to find a homegrown payment solution.
When you accept crypto indirectly, it means you’re working with a platform that absorbs all forex risks. That’s because the platform guarantees a fixed price for incoming crypto payments. The platform also provides apps and other functionality.
The price you receive is based on the exchange rate when a payment was received. In essence, the platform buys bitcoins from your customers and pays you the exchange rate at that time.
So, you don’t face any risk from loss if the value of a crypto payment drops, nor do you gain if a crypto price rises during the payment process.
By using the right payment gateway, you can take advantage of the trend toward crypto-finance and have the best blockchain-enhanced features – Security, speed, and low cost.
Blockchain-enhanced payment gateways
Instead of surveying the crowd of online processors, let’s take a closer look at a few players worth watching in the blockchain payment ecosystem.
Coinbase is a major Bitcoin exchange, yet beyond trading it’s also capable of accepting payments for e-commerce and other businesses. The platform offers a merchant app to let you accept Bitcoin and convert it into fiat instantly. That helps you avoid price risk.
This blockchain payment gateway also provides e-commerce and PoS apps that feature buttons for Android, iOS and web users. With Shapeshift integration, it also supports altcoin payments.
BitPay lets you accept and send payments in crypto, and convert it for deposit in your local bank account. The platform promises instant acceptance for BTC and BCH payments without price risk.
Rocketr offers combined payment processing and e-commerce solutions. The platform uses various APIs for Payments, Storefront, and PoS functionality.
You can customize checkouts to use multiple payment methods, including Bitcoin, PayPal and debit cards. Also, the platform provides for webhooks as well as instant notifications. This platform also offers invoicing and accounts receivable functionality.
The platform supports the Tippr tipbot. It lets people send Bitcoin Cash via Reddit and Twitter.
CoinPayments lets you accept and send payments with many different cryptocurrencies. In fact, they currently feature 1000+ currencies on their list. The also provide settlements in fiat currency in the US and Europe.
The platform offers a wide range of plugins to fit most shopping carts. CoinPayments also supports GAP600 Instant Confirmations. And, along with multi-coin wallets, air drops and vault services, the company also provides mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Coinify is one of the largest blockchain payment gateways in Europe. It lets merchants accept BCH payments, as well as buy and sell crypto, and receive money in your fiat account. The platform also offers APIs and enterprise solutions.
Blockchain.info is a well-established crypto wallet player. The platform also offers Bitcoin payment APIs for business or personal use, and plugins are in development. Developers or anyone with programming experience can integrate a free payment processor with access to free Bitcoin wallet.
SpectroCoin is a blockchain payment gateway focused on serving Europe. The platform is a Bitcoin exchange as well as a blockchain wallet to accept Ethereum, Dash, NEM and other cryptos. It connects with all major money transfer services, settles in USD, EUR and GBP, and also offers a prepaid debit card.
CoinsBank is a UK-based platform that describes itself as a comprehensive “gateway for blockchain services” including multi-currency wallets, mobile apps, cards, merchant payment processing and invoicing services, and crypto exchange.
CoinGate allows merchants and individuals to buy, sell and accept many other forms of crypto. Settlement and payouts are available in Dollar, Euro or Bitcoin.
SFOX is an advanced crypto trading platform with liquidity from global exchanges, market-makers and OTC desks. With blockchain-enabled APIs and other features including whitelisting, 2-factor authentication and UTF hardware key. For serious investors and traders the platform offers algorithms with colorful names like Gorilla (“I break large orders into smaller pieces across many exchanges”) and Polar Bear (“I feed off the top of order books from all the exchanges… to get you a better price”).
PiixPay allows users in over 100 countries to send and receive payments in Euro with its Instafill crypto-to-bank service.
ALFAtop lets you top a mobile device with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, XRP, Dash and others in 100+ countries where mobile recharge is supported.
Blockchair is a “block explorer on steroids” according to the company. This ambitious platform aims to “become Google for blockchains.” The platform offers blockchain search and analytics for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. It allows dynamic context filtering of blocks and transactions, as well as full-text search.
Global Payout is a blockchain-based processor with a Consolidated Payment Gateway (CPG) that links mobile devices, bank accounts and prepaid cards into customized solutions. Focused on the enterprise marketplace, the platform integrates and manages trading, tax payments, expense tracking, treasury operations, and cross-border payments along with other functionality. The platform is noted for payment processing in the medical marijuana/legal cannabis sector, and other underserved business niches.
Glance Technologies is a blockchain-powered processor focused on mobile payment services. Its flagship product is Glance Pay for smartphone users to make payments, track expenses, communicate with merchants, and other functions. The next step up is Glance PayMe, which offers instant mobile payments and deeper analytics. As well, the team is developing Glance Coin as a digital reward token.
Living Room of Satoshi lets users pay invoices and bills everywhere in Australia using Bitcoin Cash. In addition to online payments, users can also make payments to credit and debit cards and bank accounts.
Regardless of the uproar about ICOs, the real growth in fintech is happening right now in the blockchain payment gateway ecosystem. Blockchain lets consumers, traders and business owners bypass traditional high-cost banking with faster, cheaper, and more-secure payment processing alternatives. The best strategy is to find a platform which offers the precise functions you need, and adopt newer apps as they become available.