Despite the rise of the e-commerce industry globally, the Lebanese market continues to struggle: It is hard enough to get people to visit a website, let alone get them to become loyal paying customers! E-businesses still have to face several obstacles that usually fall under security issues and customer misconceptions not to mention the hassle of finding the right payment gateways providers.
I’m pretty sure you agree with me on the fact that most Lebanese customers, with fear of credit card fraud, still prefer to shop for offline goods. This eventually made retailers adopt cash-on-delivery methods in order to cater to the needs of the market.
Moreover, online retailers still have to deal with low access to international payment gateways solutions. For instance, Lebanon is one of the very few, and I mean VERY few, countries around the world (including Arab countries) in which Paypal does not operate, not even Stripe!
Now try to look up “online payment solutions in Lebanon”; You expect to find answers fast just by searching on Google. Right? Well, you might get disappointed here. In fact, the most recent article is at least 2 years old and mainly tackles the struggles of the market and its merchants instead of focusing on the solutions.
So here’s the deal, I will walk you through the preparations, what aspects to evaluate and will finally help you choose the right payment gateway with a simple yet detailed table comparing the available solutions in Lebanon.
I- Preparing Your Website and Yourself
As much as it seems easy to just pick a payment gateway provider and start receiving payments online, you still need a lot of preparations. The below to-do list will help you prioritize and see what you have available and what you don’t.
Your info pages.
Info pages are pages on your website. They act as simple guidelines for your clients.
- Terms and conditions (T&C):
First things first T&C are mainly a set of rules & regulations a user must follow in order to use a service. Basically, T&C could really come in handy when in a sticky situation with a customer.
Communicating your policies is extremely important for healthy customer experiences. Stating the guidelines is crucial especially when establishing clear paths for your users
- Cancellation Policy:
Once an order is made, can customers cancel it? Are there any fees involved?
- Delivery Policy:
Are there any delivery fees? What about delivery time?
Make it clear to your customers what transaction currencies you have available (LBP, USD, etc.)
Visa/MasterCard Surcharge fees.
Clarify to your customers in case you add a Surcharge fee to your normal prices when a cardholder chooses to pay with a Visa/MasterCard. (Including this info in your terms and conditions is usually enough).
PS: You can always consult your lawyer or legal department to help you with the info pages!
Get a Merchant Account.
A merchant account is simply a bank account that allows businesses to process card payments.Among the several benefits of having a merchant account is providing your customer with more convenient payment methods, increasing productivity by cutting time in getting payments and processing them.
It’s important to note that you cannot get a merchant account in Lebanon unless you have a registered company.
Choose your payment Gateway Provider.
A payment gateway is a server dedicated to linking your website and bank account so that online transactions can be done in real-time. In other terms, it provides you the secure link between your website (web server) and your bank to allow you to receive online payments.
Once you have chosen your provider, you will be ready to setup your payment gateway account and connect it to your website.
(I will go through the available payment gateway providers in Lebanon later in the article).
Make sure you have the clear call to actions that help convert your users to buyers & always test your platform before announcing your new payment method to your clients.
II- Picking the Right Payment Gateway.
We all know how big of a hassle it is to for several business owners to find and choose the right payment gateway provider for a website. And it is specifically harder for e-businesses and offline businesses moving online in Lebanon.
To help you out with that, I have prepared some question that will definitely help you point out what you need your provider to do:
Does the Payment Gateway provider support multiple currencies?
It is preferable that you always pick a payment gateway that provides you with multi-currency support, to enable you to run your business globally in the target market you choose.
What are the fees involved?
Several fees come along payment gateways such as signup fees, fixed or variable fees per transaction, extra fees for chargebacks* and more. Always choose the solution within your budget which usually depends on the nature of your business and the volume of sales.
* Chargeback is an additional fee a merchant pays for the merchant bank whenever a transaction is not proven legitimate. Ex: When a cardholder files a complaint and the transaction is proven fraudulent, the issuing bank will refund the amount to the user and the merchant has to pay the entire value of purchase along with the chargeback fee to the bank.
What about payments timing and recurring billing?
Several payment gateways give you the option of choosing when you want to get paid. Some also give you the option of setting up recurring payments which is extremely helpful if you have a subscription-based product or service.
On-Site or off-site payments?
On-site payment processing is when your customers stay on your website, while off-site payment processing redirects your customers to the payment gateway provider’s website. It is generally preferable that you use on-site payments for consistency in user experience.
How secure is the Payment Gateway?
Your provider should be SSL* certified and (at least) PCI-Compliant Level One*. You should also look at all the additional fraud tools. Customer security is one of the most important factors in becoming a trusted merchant (especially with the Lebanese customers who fear online payments in the first place). * PCI DSS: or “Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards” is a set of policies and procedures used to optimize the security of card transactions and protect cardholders against misuse of their personal information.
* SSL: or “Secure Sockets Layer” is a secure protocol developed for sending information securely over the Internet. Websites usually use SSL for secure areas of their sites, such as user account pages and online payments. (commonly identified when the website goes from HTTP to HTTPS).
III- Comparing the Available Payment Gateways in Lebanon
Now that you have an idea on what aspects are important, you can start evaluating the solutions themselves. Let’s take a look at 6 of the most used solutions in Lebanon:
I tried to gather as much information as possible to give you the most accurate comparison. However, after extensive research, I have prepared a comparative table with the features of each of the providers to help you point out the differences and see what suits your business the most.
Click on the image to enlarge it!
Want to learn more about moving your business online? you can start by reading “What You Need To Know About Moving Your Business Online”