My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Jamaicans can set up a Payment Gateway to process E-Commerce Credit Card purchases


Monday, September 16, 2013

How Jamaicans can set up a Payment Gateway to process E-Commerce Credit Card purchases

Quand il s’agit d’argent, tout le monde est de la même religion
(When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion)
Voltaire, French Philosopher and revolutionary in his  Letter to Mme. d'Épinal, Ferney (26 December 1760) from Oeuvres Complètes de Voltaire:

Ok, so you wanna set up an E-Commerce Website but don’t know how. You’ve come to the right place as I’ll reveal how it is done. Note however, you have to love reading and lots of experimentation via trial-and-error, as my article points you to various Websites but you’ll have to read and then try them out to see which of these Payment Gateways is a best fit for you. First, though, I’ll start off by explaining Mobile Money and how it’ll enable Local E-Commerce in Jamaica.

Please note with JCUES (Jamaica Credit Union e-Payment Services), the Mobile Money partnership between Mozido Jamaica and JCCUL (Jamaica Co-Operative Credit Union League) are now on the cusp of reality by Christmas 2013, I though it only prudent to do an article on the various methods of Paying for items online and Receiving Money.

In other words, Payment Gateways used to enable Local E-Commerce on the Internet. After all, the main thing that will motivate Jamaicans to embrace Mobile Internet on smartphones and use it for other things than Social Networking is making Money online as argued in my Geezam blog article entitled “Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right”.

Such persons are curious about setting up an E-Commerce Website and are interested in the various ways to receive Money legitimately via Credit Card Transactions online!

Mobile Money Services in Jamaica – PowderKeg of Local E-Commerce

Mobile Money will help the Unbanked who are recipients of Remittances from abroad to become a part of the Banking Sector and thus be able to pay Income Taxes as explained in my Geezam article entitled “JCUES Mobile Money brings Cashless Society to the Unbanked as NCB debuts Cheque munching ATM Machine”.

Mobile Money differs from Mobile Banking in that it basically turns your feature phone or smartphone into a Digital Wallet to do financial transactions as explained in my blog article entitled “BOJ to regulate and approve Mobile Money Industry in Jamaica - JCCUL JCUES is the Man of Steel as GraceKennedy joins The Last Stand for a Cashless Society

It’ll also empower local E-Commerce Website businesses as it’ll finally give business entrepeneurs a reason to set up Websites in order to easily and conveniently send and receive Payments without using a Debit or Credit Card or Remittance Service.

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JCUES and the other pretenders to the Mobile Money throne are all basically a kind of Digicel CreditU. But instead of Mobile Calling Credit, which is ironically the first area of business for JCUES, their long term goal is to eventually allow Customer of the various Credit Unions that are a part of the JCCUL to send and receive Money wherever they are in the island, be it Money in their Credit Union Accounts or Remittance they receive via Western Union, JCCUL’s Remittance partner.

This via using the Mobile phones in a process as described in detail in my blog article entitled “JCCUL get's approval from BOJ to launch their JCUES Mobile Money Platform - JCUES Mobile Money Wolverine (2013) marks the Kick-Ass 2 (2013) beginning of a Cashless Society”. The convenience of being able to send Money via simply sending a text message instead of having to go into a Bank and wait in long lines or deposits Money in a ATM (Automated Teller Machine) implies that one can even pay for Goods and Service using Mobile Money Services.

This seems to be of interest to many of my followers on my blog as well as my friends at the St. Andrew Parish Library on Tom Redcam Avenue that’s within walking distance from where I live in Swallowfield, Kingston, Jamaica. If the Mobile Money Service JCUES and its various competitors come on stream, SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) entrepreneurs can set up Websites or Services in Jamaica locally and place their phone numbers online to accept Payments.

Potential Customers can then pay for Goods or Services sold on a Website simply by sending Money to their JCUES Account via a simple text or SMS (Short Message Service), which is represent by their phone numbers no matter where they are in the Island. More on Mobile Money Services when they come on stream later this year!

Payment Gateways - Ways to accept International Money Payments online

At this point I’ll assume you already have a website set up and you want to enable it with E-Commerce capability in order to process Credit Card payments. Before I begin, I need to lay the groundwork by explaining a few terms as defined in “10 Excellent Online Payment Systems”, published May 15 2012 by Rosston Meyer, SixRevisions:

1.      ACH (Automated Clearing House) - Electronic Credit and Debit transfers for monthly subscription-based transactions, allowing Customers to make Payments from their Bank Accounts for utilities, mortgage loans, and other types of bills. 
2.      Merchant Account - is a Bank Account that allows a Customer to receive Payments through Credit or Debit Cards.
3.      Payment Gateway - Middleman between Customers and Merchants that securely passes Credit Card information between the Customer and the Merchant and also between Merchant and the Payment processor.
4.      Payment Processor - company that a Merchant uses to handle Credit Card transactions with anti-fraud measures to protect both the Customer and the Merchant 
5.      PCI compliant - A Merchant or Payment Gateway sets their Payment environment up in a way that meets the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) set up by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to increase Cardholder data security and reduce fraud.
6.      MSME (Micro and Small and Medium Enterprise) -  an umbrella term usually used to describe a business persons who usually has less than five (5) employees (Micro) and is below the Tax threshold of the country or has between five to ten (5-10) employees (Small) and is probably above the Tax Threshold of the Country
7.      POS (Point of Sale) - usually used to refer to the device used to transact Credit or Debit Card Payments with a Customer who is physically in your presence

When it comes to E-Commerce and accepting Payments from buyers in the US of A, Canada or the rest of the world, many of my readers fail to realize that if you wish to spend or receive Money online, you HAVE to have either a Credit Card or a Debit Card with International Credit Card support e.g. Scotia VISA Debit Card or CIBC VISA Debit Card.

This is because you HAVE to use this Credit Card or a Debit Card with International Credit Card support e.g. Scotia VISA Debit Card or CIBC VISA Debit Card to register with a Payment Gateway in order to process Credit Card transactions which basically involve processing the following bits of information for you Customers securely:

1.      Sixteen (16) Credit Card Numbers
2.      Expiry Date
3.      Three (3) digit CVV Code
4.      Personal information for the Customer i.e. Name, Address, telephone number

There was once a time having such a novelty was an impossibility unless you were earning at least JA$100,000. With the advent of Scotia VISA Debit Card or CIBC VISA Debit Card, it’s now possibly for anyone to get a Debit Card with the power of VISA and then use it to buy items online as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance”. 

However you have to take great precautions when shopping online, such as using a Payment Gateway or Payment Processor and doing all your transactions on your own personal Computer preferably running Linux OS or an Apple computer as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to use Scotia VISA Debit Card Online”. 

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Other Banks rolling out Debit Cards associated with one of four (4) Credit Card Companies in the US of A also have the capability to buy items online as describe in my blog article entitled “How to purchase items and subscribe to Magazines online and ship them to Jamaica”:

1.      VISA
2.      Discovery
3.      MasterCard
4.      American Express

In much the same way JCUES will end up being the Payment Gateway for Local E-Commerce, the list of E-Commerce Payment Gateways listed below can be used by E-Commerce Websites to send or receive Money online. They main differ by their level of Service as well as their Fee structure as some charge fees and some do not, opting for Flat Service Payment models.

This list is condensed from the articles “18 Online Payment Services and Systems”, published JUNE 15 2012 by AWWWARDS TEAM, Awwwards Team and “10 Excellent Online Payment Systems”, published May 15 2012 by Rosston Meyer, SixRevisions:

1.      Authorize.Net
2.      Paypal
3.      Google Checkout
4.      Amazon Payments
5.      Dwolla
6.      Stripe
7.      Braintree
8.      Samurai by Feefighters
9.      WePay
10.  2Checkout
11.  Skrill
12.  WorldPay
13.  eWay
14.  IcePay

Some of the Credit Card Institutions also have their own Payment Gateways, You might want to check them out as an alternative to Third Party Payment Gateways as they have lower fees:

1.      V.Me by VISA

If you have a Smartphone and you’re a SME that accepts physical Payments from Credit Cards in Jamaica and you can't wait for JCUES to start up, here are a few Mobile Payment Gateways that turn your smartphone into the same thing as a POS:

1.      Square
2.      Intuit GoPayment
3.      Google Wallet

Setting up your Jamaican E-Commerce Website – Trial-and-error via Experimentation

Jamaica is seen as a country that’s steeped in Money Laundering and Tax Evasion, the Payment Gateways can only pay out Cash via cheque, which usually takes three (3) weeks to clear as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to use Scotia VISA Debit Card Online”. Also most of them do take a small portion of the Money paid to you via the transaction as a fee for their Services.

The above services are the only way aside from the Customers shopping on your E-Commerce Website sending you cash via a Remittance Agency to accept Payments from Credit Cards purchases online. So despite these inconveniences, if you’re really serious about getting your foot into the E-Commerce game, you’ll check them out via Reading and doing your research and then via Trial-and-error determine which is best for you.

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They all pretty much work the same way though:

1.      First, you set up an Account profile with whichever service you choose.
2.      Then register with your Credit Card, Scotia VISA Debit Card or CIBC VISA Debit Card as you Payment method
3.      The Payment Gateway Service will then verify your Credit Card by taking US$1 from the Credit Card and then returning it in 5-7 working days to verify the Card is active
4.      Once verified, from that point on your able to accept Payment with nothing more than the email Account you gave as part of your registration.
5.      You can also purchase items with your email address which is now linked to your Credit Card via the Payment Gateway, making it easier and more convenient to receive Payments

You thus avoid having to give out your Credit Card Number whenever purchasing items online as described in my blog article entitled “How to purchase items and subscribe to Magazines online and ship them to Jamaica”, making it both secure and convenient to remember only your email address and password for you Payment Gateway to authorize transactions, the MAIN advantage of Payment Gateway Services.

This makes it much safer for you, especially if you are going to make purchases at an Internet Café, as persons may be lurking about doing Spear Phishing using keyloggers as described in my blog article entitled “Professor Marco Gercke warns of Scammers using Keyloggers for Spear Phishing - How to use Keyloggers and how to Protect yourself from Scammer's American Hustle for Fast Cash”.

Receiving Payments from Credit Cards – Payment Gateways needed as Trust is key

As it relates to receiving Payments, you can set up hyperlinks, buttons or even Shopping Carts depending on how large your E-Commerce Website is in order to facilitate the processing of E-Commerce Transactions. You can even just use your email Account associated with the Payment Gateway to accept Payments via sending a Payment Invoice via email e.g. Paypal Invoice, but it’s better to integrate the Payment Gateway into your E-Commerce Website as that is an automated process.

The best way to do this is via HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) Embedding similar to embedding HTML Code for Video Sharing as described in my blog article entitled “How to use Dropbox, Google Drive and Sound File Sharing Websites to Share and Promote your Content online - Sharing is Caring”. If you’re NOT the individual who set up your E-Commerce Website, you’ll need the assistance of your Website Administrator to make the changes necessary.

Most Payment Gateways offer HTML Embedding code that you can copy, customize and embed into your Website to implement hyperlinks, Buttons or even Shopping Carts to make your Customers’ shopping experience on your E-Commerce Website no different from going on Amazon or JCPenney.

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Just as when you’re buying something from a Website, when the Customer purchases something from your E-Commerce Website, they don’t have to flash out their Credit Card numbers if they don’t have to. Rather, if they are signed up with the same Payment Gateway that you are signed up to, they can use that to pay for the item instead of using their Credit Card.

Embedding the Payment Gateway into your Website via hyperlinks, buttons or Shopping Carts is easier and more convenient for the Customer, the main thing that make an E-Commerce Website successful. It also helps in terms of Customer Service, if they have trust issues as it relates to revealing their Credit Card online while buying items from your Website.

That’s it gentle reader!

More reading and a little experimentation and trial-and-error with the various Payment Gateways will enable you with the ability to learn more about E-Commerce, as Research is key. When you’re comfortable with a Payment Gateway, you can then sign up with your Scotia VISA Debit Card, CIBC VISA Debit Card or Credit Card, embed their HTML Scripts into your E-Commerce Website and enable your Website to accept Payments from International Credit Cards online.
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