As the pendulum continues to swing from in-person transactions to virtual, contactless payments, companies are looking to expand ways to tap into this new trend.
A study by the Federal Reserve shows that cash and check transactions have been gradually waning in popularity since 2019, and coinciding with the start of the pandemic in 2020. With the proliferation of contactless transactions, experts project the CAGR of digital payments to reach $8 billion by the end of 2022.
If you are a business owner or software development expert looking to create a gateway solution, continue reading to learn how to build a payment system that can compete with top providers in 2022.
How does an online payment system work?
Before addressing the working principles of a payment system, let’s define it.
An online payment system is a service that allows users (companies and individuals) to conduct transactions with one another.
For this process to work smoothly, you need the following:
- a point of sale where the user initiates the transaction,
- the payment gateway acting as the intermediary,
- the payment service providers curating the process.
Here is how the system works:
The customer initiates the transaction at a POS or terminal. The merchant bank obtains information from the card or digital wallet and forwards it to the payment gateway, which encrypts these sensitive details before transferring it to the card issuer for processing.
Once the payment processor (often under the control of the card issuer) receives the request, it goes through a series of authorizations to confirm if the transaction details from the source match the destination account (merchant account) details. The payment processor also verifies the bank account balance before authorizing or declining the transaction.
If the processor approves the transaction, the acquiring bank will receive the approval to release or accept funds for the transaction.
And, most importantly, when you make a payment system from scratch, you’ll have more control over how it works and the features you can integrate.
Who needs a custom payment system?
Every company in retail and eCommerce will need fintech app development services at some point. But when it comes to custom payment systems, numerous businesses can benefit from this technology, regardless of niche and industry.
Here are companies that should consider building a payment system with custom features:
- Large corporations looking to complete all aspects of their business processes.
- ECommerce and retail companies looking to upgrade their internal payment systems.
- IT companies expanding their business models into payment services.
If you fall within this category, continue reading to discover the pros and cons of developing your own custom solution.
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Benefits and challenges of custom payment gateway development
Custom development is always a mixed bag when it comes to fintech services. Before deciding to create an online payment gateway, consider the following factors:
Benefits of building custom payment gateways
- When you create a payment gateway in-house, you save on development costs and subscription fees.
- Custom gateways allow you to modify the infrastructure to suit your business needs. For instance, you can add extra verification modules to boost the security of the system infrastructure.
- You can sell the custom gateway as a white-label solution to other companies.
- Custom payment systems are more versatile because they allow multi-currency transactions.
- Since you don’t rely on third-party apps, you’ll end up paying less in fees for the gateway solution, which means more profits.
Challenges of building custom payment gateways
- Custom fintech software development is expensive because you have to make everything from scratch, as well as pay for licensing and other miscellaneous services.
- Building a custom solution that is compatible with multiple systems and PSPs is a time-consuming challenge. Even if you pull it off, you might miss the stipulated time to market.
- The cost of maintaining a custom payment gateway outweighs the price of buying a ready-made, constantly-maintained solution.
- Creating a secure payment system requires the expertise of cybersecurity experts. Otherwise, you might install security modules and protocols with exploitable flaws.
- Becoming a standout gateway service is an uphill task because you will be going against established companies.
Now that you’ve seen both sides of custom payment gateway development, let’s get down to the core components of the system’s infrastructure.
Basic components of payment gateways
Check out the key considerations and features before you build your own payment gateway.
Your payment gateway should make it easy for customers to conduct payments, to do so without feeling any frustration whatsoever. You also need to label all essential features to make them usable for users of all demographics. Work with UX researchers to ensure that the interface is intuitive and easy to use.
In the age of increased cyber threats, any gateway you build must deliver secure authorization in order to protect user data. Don’t forget to include two-factor identification and other forms of authorization in the framework.
When you build a fintech app, you also need to create a payment gateway that supports multiple currencies. To save costs, focus solely on common currencies like USD, EUR, and GBP. You can get accurate data by analyzing your user demo and choosing currency options based on locale. If possible, explore cryptocurrencies as well.
Fraud detection and prevention
Although most PSPs use anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) practices to detect fraud, you still need to factor in these regulations when you create an online payment system. Use advanced verification systems to authenticate users’ identities before they can use your gateway to make transactions.
Apart from the regulations mentioned earlier, your system must meet GDPR and PCI DSS compliance standards before release. Otherwise, you will not get the official license in your local country or abroad
Steps to create your own payment gateway
Similar to any other software development process, building a payment gateway requires careful planning and execution. Here are the integral steps to follow when you want to create your own payment gateway.
Coming up with an idea for a payment system is only the first step; you’ll still need to hash out the plan with experts to determine if it is feasible or requires changes.
If you want to build a competitive financial payment system, you must conduct extensive market research to highlight existing opportunities and where your competitors are most vulnerable.
With your ideas becoming more coherent, it is time to hand it over to the designers. A team of experienced UI/UX and graphics designers can help you design your product's interface and brand identity. They can also help you build a working prototype that you can use as a proof of concept. After several iterations, you will end up with a feasible product design that developers can start building.
The core infrastructure of your payment system will start taking shape during this period. The development team will collect the material design elements from the prototypes and use them to code the product. Depending on the technical requirements, developers can also integrate third-party APIs in compliance with industry standards.
Most companies handle front-end and back-end development processes simultaneously, while others start with front-end development before moving to the back-end stage. Regardless of your preferred method, always choose the right tools to create a robust system infrastructure for your gateway service.
Uncrushed bugs and poor error handling can condemn your payment system before it even gets off the ground and/or cost you a lot of money later. To avoid these extra fees, give your QA specialists the leeway to test the software rigorously in order to ensure that everything is in perfect shape. After testing, they should generate a detailed report for further changes.
If the flaws are critical, re-address some of the earlier development stages to plug all loopholes. The DevOps teams can address minor flaws to make the payment gateway flawless. And while optimizing the final version, don’t forget about compliance standards.
Depending on your timeline, you may have time to release the beta version for user feedback. After implementing the changes, prepare to launch it as a standalone software program — or sell it to other financial institutions as a white-label software solution.
Support and maintenance
After the product’s release, you still need to provide support to the users of the payment system. Set up a team of live support agents to answer users’ questions and resolve conflicts. Bots can also respond to frequently asked questions. Your developers should also continue working on updates to keep the platform running with as few downtimes as possible.
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Tips for building a payment system and becoming a key player in fintech
Payment systems are flooding the market today, but most of them have been unable to replace top players like PayPal, Stripe, and Square. If you want your custom payment gateway to stand out, here are some vital tips to bear in mind.
Add advanced features
Doing the bare minimum when building a payment system will keep you stuck at the bottom of the barrel. Instead of only adding core features, use advanced tools to attract a new audience to your gateway solution.
For example, you can create a crypto payment gateway that supports transactions on verified DeFi platforms. This feature alone will give you access to a blossoming market in the financial sector.
Use scalable architecture
Build your platform for the future. Instead of relying on legacy software that runs on a monolithic architecture, build a new system that relies on several microservices to function. By doing so, you can scale your system architecture as your user pool expands.
Increase payment security
Standard security protocols like EMV 3-Dimension Secure (3DS) protocol and P2P encryptions can protect transactions, but you can always add another layer of security. Use diverse forms of multi-factor verification to protect users from fraud and cyber threats. You can connect the new payment system with authenticator apps from both Google and Microsoft.
How much does it cost to make a payment system?
When you create a payment system, you have to factor in all multiple factors at every stage of development. These factors will determine the overall cost of making the payment gateway.
Basic costs of payment system development: market benchmarks
- Ideation. You can come up with an idea for free. But if you want to hire a team of experts to conduct in-depth competitor research and analysis, market average prices range from around $5,000 to $7,500.
- Design. Depending on the project's scope, you might need one graphic designer and two UI/UX designers on your team. As per market averages, you can plan to allocate around $10,000 to $15,000.
- Development. The payment gateway development cost might take between $200K and $250K.But if you want to pay for APIs and other third-party features, think of an extra $20K to $30K for integration.
- Testing and QA. To ensure that your team creates a secure payment gateway, you might need to invest up to $10,000 in quality assurance and testing. You’ll also need to pay for automated testing tools and report generators.
- Licensing. When you start your own payment gateway, the cost of licensing varies depending on your locale and the licensing agency. For instance, your PCI DSS license will cost you between $15,000 and $40,000 depending on the project’s size and your company’s location.
To sum up, based on the typical market rates, your budget size might range between $300K and $400K to start a payment gateway. If you want to outsource fintech software development services, reach out to experts at EPAM Anywhere Business to get a detailed quote.
Hidden costs and how to cover them
Fees will creep up on you from all angles when you develop a payment gateway for commercial use: licensing fees, monthly subscriptions, authorization fees, early termination fees, and address verification fees. Fortunately, most of them come from payment processors.
Since you are working on a custom payment service, you don’t need to fret about the fees above. You only have to worry about paying for APIs and cloud servers if you use them in building the infrastructure.
Other hidden costs connected to the development process can come from omissions and mistakes in planning. Some sources of these extra costs include:
- Omitting usability testing before handing the design to developers.
- Working with developers who lack the required experience for building gateways.
- Making several changes and additions mid-project.
EPAM's experience in online payment gateway development
At EPAM Anywhere Business, a remote cooperation platform for startups and SMBs launched by EPAM, we have a talent pool of fintech development experts with industry-relevant knowledge about creating payment gateways. We also work in a diverse array of niches, providing top-notch full-cycle development services to our clients.
In 2018, EPAM partnered with ImageNPay to create a personalized platform that allowed users to acquire virtual credit card customization on any smartphone. EPAM's team handled the front-end and back-end development stages before building an SDK that achieved PCI DSS certification.
Similarly, EPAM helped the CitiGroup build an innovative, customized, and transformative banking experience called CitiConcierge. This software program provides inter-connected experiences for customers and branch personnel.
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Developing a custom feature-packed payment system is a sure way to make your company a reputable name in fintech. Combine brainstorming with solid research to figure out the type of gateway you want to build, and follow the guidelines in this article to fine-tune your product roadmap. When creating your own gateway, don’t forget about testing and compliance standards. And — as important as any other aspect, if not more so — make the system scalable and secure enough to handle massive transaction volumes safely.