Your guide to choosing the right payments provider

5 minutes
Business tips
Your guide to choosing the right payments provider
In this article

Everything You Need to Ask to Make the Best Decision

Choosing the right payments provider to support your established services or products is no small feat. After all, money keeps your business moving—and how you handle it can make or break the customer experience. 

Your provider does a lot more than managing payments. It (and in turn, you) must consider security and compliance, conversion fees, the user experience, scalability, and more. Do most of your customers complete their transactions? Do they make it to the checkout page at all? Internally, can your finance and operations teams automate and grow with ease — and get more customers through the door?

If you’re preparing a request for proposal (RFP), these questions are likely already top of mind. But there’s a lot more to think about — including the following, all of which are worth asking your potential provider.

General payment capabilities

  • What are the provider’s core technical products, and how do they align with your and your customers’ needs? 

  • Which and how many payment methods does the provider support? 

  • Does the provider have the geographic coverage you need?

  • How long does it take for funds to be represented in your account balance, and how long does it take for the actual funds themselves to be received in your account?

  • Can the provider issue virtual and/or physical payments cards? 

  • What types of foreign exchange (FX) are supported (i.e., do they offer both market and locked-in rates)? 

  • Does the provider primarily focus on business payments or consumer payments?

Why it’s important: 

Get your RFP started by brainstorming the essentials. Your business model and customer base are unique—meaning you’ll need a provider who can easily handle your customers’ preferred currencies, minimise conversion rates and transaction fees, and provide the right resources (such as cards) for employee spend. Additionally, learning more about each provider’s speed and specialties can help you identify the best fit for your business.

Geographic coverage

  • Which markets does the provider support?

  • Where are local payouts available (considering they’re generally far cheaper and faster than SWIFT and bank transfers)? 

  • Where can cards be issued, and in which currencies? 

Why it’s important: 

If you’re dealing with cross-border payments in any capacity, these questions are critical. You want to make things as seamless as possible for your customers, no matter where they’re located: do they see pricing in their own currencies, payment methods, and languages? Internally, efficiency is just as crucial: how easily can you pay your vendors and employees around the world? Can you issue them cards—and in the currencies they use every day? 

With Airwallex, for example, you can accept payments from more than 180 countries, and hold funds in more than 60 countries.  

  • Does the provider have the right licences to move money in their given markets? 

  • How do their licences align with what you'd like your fund flows to do? 

  • Can you move money without opening and operating local entities?

  • How are your funds safeguarded?

Why it’s important: 

Legal regulations are always high-stakes matters. Your provider should be qualified to collect, hold, convert, and pay out funds in your desired markets, eliminating the hassle and cost of registering and managing local entities. 

Airwallex holds licences in jurisdictions around the world which enables it to operate and comply with applicable laws and regulations. How we protect customer funds depends on the regulatory requirements of the jurisdictions where the relevant Airwallex entity is licensed to operate. In the UK, Airwallex is licensed by the FCA as an Electronic Money Institution and safeguards customer funds.

Compliance and onboarding

  • How does the provider conduct KYC/AML checks? 

  • Additionally, do they have the infrastructure necessary to safeguard your funds and data, protect your and your customers' privacy, and ensure compliance with the many applicable financial compliance requirements?

  • During onboarding, how does the provider obtain necessary information and documents without creating a burdensome process that would limit customer adoption?

Why it’s important: 

To bring as many customers as possible over the finish line, you’ll need a provider that can minimise friction at every touchpoint. KYC verification requires that you “identify” your customers before accepting their payments—especially if the transactions in question exceed the maximum KYC threshold. Streamlining that process—and onboarding as a whole—means building an efficient and easy-to-complete user experience. 

Commercial considerations

  • What types of pricing does the provider offer for pay-ins, pay-outs, and FX? 

  • What’s the margin opportunity to monetise on top of the provider's pricing? 

  • How much interchange revenue share is available (assuming the provider has a card issuing program)?

Why it’s important: 

If your business is looking to profit from pay-ins, pay-outs, or FX, consider asking about platform partnering opportunities. At Airwallex, our partners purchase our products at wholesale pricing, and later offer them to their own customers at a marked-up retail rate.

You’ll also want to know more about your provider’s card issuing program, if they have one. At Airwallex, for example, we send our clients rebates based on issuing volume.

Implementation and support

  • What does the implementation process look like? 

  • How long does it take to build an integration, and are there resources to support the build? 

  • Who is your assigned team at the provider, and what’s their availability? 

  • What other integrations (like accounting, ERP, eComm) does the payment provider have?

  • What do the provider’s short- and long-term support plans look like? 

  • How significant is your company relative to the provider’s other partners, and how will your needs be prioritised? 

  • Does the provider have support resources around the world and in your language?

Why it’s important: 

Be sure to thoroughly evaluate your provider’s implementation and integration capabilities, and whether they work for your team. If you prefer minimal coding on your end, you’ll want a provider with pre-built products (such as Airwallex’s hosted payment page integration). Additionally, consider how you’ll integrate their products with your existing systems—and whether you can maintain day-to-day workflows without disruption.

Ongoing support and maintenance are just as important. When things break, who can you turn to—and are you their priority? Can your provider’s support team quickly remedy unexpected problems, so that you can get back to your customers as soon as possible?

Technical breadth

  • How sophisticated are the provider’s APIs? 

  • What does their API documentation look like? 

  • Do their APIs align with your business model? 

  • What do UX options look like across hosted, embedded, and white label configurations?

  • How will the provider empower you to focus on customer relationships (and limit the resources necessary to build your payments offering)? 

  • When building integrated or embedded experiences, what kind of platform architecture can help you balance your needs with those of your customers?

Why it’s important: 

Building the financial infrastructure necessary to expand customer relationships is notoriously difficult—and to conserve in-house resources, you’ll need to outsource that complexity to the right partner.

The most sophisticated tech stacks go a long way. As you scale, gauge your provider’s technical capabilities: how clear and intuitive is their API documentation? Can you build custom solutions to meet your business’s unique and ever-evolving requirements?

Internally, your team has needs—programmatic payouts save money and time, for example, while the right multi-currency cards can bolster employee autonomy, team-wide agility, and expense visibility. 

Externally, simplifying cross-border payments (by displaying and processing transactions in preferred currencies) gets more customers over the finish line, faster. Additionally, the right tools can help you meet customers exactly where they are—on and off your website. For example, automatically generated payment links can take customers from their email inbox to your site’s payment page—all in one fell swoop.

Information Security

  • What are the provider’s security certifications (PCI DSS, SOC 2, etc.)? 

  • What penetration testing has the provider conducted? What about ongoing testing?

  • Where does the provider store data, and what do they do to protect it? 

  • What’s the provider's guaranteed uptime?

Why it’s important: 

Be sure to vet your provider’s approach to security—an essential consideration for both your team and your customers. For example, is your provider PCI-certified? Within that realm, where does your provider fall—level 1 (more than 6 million transactions annually), level 2 (1 to 6 million transactions), level 3 (20,000 to 1 million transactions), or level 4 (up to 20,000 transactions)? 

Global treasury management and reconciliation

  • Can the provider hold balances in multiple currencies? 

  • How does the provider mitigate the need for FX when moving funds around the world?

  • What types of data and reporting can streamline the reconciliation and accounting processes?

Why it’s important: 

Your provider should strike the right balance between local expertise and global reach. Each market has their own complex requirements and regulations—many of which evolve on a regular basis. Can your provider keep up—and adjust their products, services, and support accordingly? How can you track your payments and spending in each market?

With Airwallex, you can receive payments in your customers’ preferred currencies, then convert and transfer them at market-leading FX rates. Ensure your provider centralises payments and accounting in a single place, so that you can hold, monitor, and convert multiple currencies with ease—and keep funds moving, no matter where or when. 

Let your RFP do the work

For businesses everywhere, securing a payments provider is a significant investment. Your RFP can bring you one step closer to the perfect match—so long as you’re equipped with the right questions.

At Airwallex, we understand the gravity of your decision. With an extensive range of custom solutions, feature-rich global business accounts, and refreshingly simple integrations, we help businesses like yours navigate today’s payments landscape with confidence.

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