Many people new to websites and/or ecommerce are confused at the in and outs of ecommerce. Even many people who are fairly adept at scripting can set up a store using some popular package such as OSCommerce and then are left stumped by the idea of making it work with a payment gateway to actually collect money and put it into their account. In this article,
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I will give a brief overview of how the system is set up to collect your money. I will then discuss briefly what to look for in evaluating payment gateways. As usual, I will keep this basic and understandable just as I do with all of my articles.
The Basics - How Funds are Collected
Ecommerce simply refers to the practice of shopping online. From the site owner's perspective, it entails collecting funds from sales transactions on their website and depositing that money into the bank. In order to collect funds, you need to have a merchant account and a payment gateway (discussed below).
Basically, when a person enters their credit card number on a website, the card number and buyer information is sent to a payment gateway. This is done securely. The payment gateway will interface with a payment processor to check availability of funds as well as any other criteria set for accepting transactions.
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If the funds are available, the payment processor will then deduct the funds. The payment gateway will then report back a successful transaction to the merchant, at which point the merchant's shopping cart system will respond by displaying a "Thank You" type message to the buyer. Funds will sit until the transaction is settled, which means the funds are collected and deposited to your bank account.
Until a transaction is settled, the transaction will not post to your bank account and the corresponding debit will not post to the buyer's credit card account.