Accepting Credit Card Payments

Enabling a Web site to accept credit cards is one of the most misunderstood functions of e-commerce. A shopper understands that she has to type her credit card number into a box on her computer screen and then click the Purchase button. And she knows that, after a few seconds, she receives an approval (or not) for her purchase. Although everything that happens between these two points comes across as a mystical unknown occurrence, not a drop of magic is involved in this simple process (see Figure 4-1).


Figure 4-1: Processing credit cards online.

Here's how it works:

  1. A customer goes shopping on your site and puts products into a virtual cart.

    Shopping cart software that you add to your site allows customers to select products for purchase. When customers are ready to check out, the shopping cart starts the process of ringing up the sale.

  2. The customer pays for the product by using a credit card.

    Your shopping cart program should provide an online form for the customer to complete, including personal information, shipping details, and a credit card number and expiration date (and, possibly, a verification code from the back of the card).

  3. Your site sends that credit card information to a payment gateway.

    The gateway is a virtual gate through which information is transmitted, or passed between your site and a credit card processing site. The gateway, like ...

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