Ecommerce Payment Gateway Primer

Verisign Payflow Pro

The Verisign name is well known and carries with it a reputation of security and trust. It has carried its reputation for security from its SSL certificate issuing to its gateway services.

Features

Recurring Billing
The Payflow Pro recurring billing feature is pretty standard but does offer a very useful feature. It offers an API (application programming interface) from which a recurring billing profile can be created. This means that you can have your website automatically create a recurring billing profile for you during a customer's online registration for example. For web hosting or other subscription-type services where a user signs up through your website this can be quite a time-saver.

The Payflow Pro gateway also is capable of sending out automated custom emails. You can send your customers email receipts for their records or send them a notice that their card was declined and that they need to make new payment arrangements for failed transactions. Reporting is also available for billing transactions and individual customer profiles.

Fraud Prevention
Verisign breaks its fraud prevention services into two different packages with add-on features for enhancing your protection.

The Basic Package includes seven basic filters to help reduce a merchant's exposure to fraud. The filters included are:

You can also restrict sales to certain IP addresses. In essence you will be creating a whitelist of valid IP addresses from which purchases can be made.

The Advanced Package includes all of the filters from the Basic Package plus another fifteen filters to help increase your level of protection. The additional filters included are:

An interesting feature offered by Verisign is their Account Monitoring. Essentially Verisign employees monitor your sales looking for suspicious transactions. If they notice one they will investigate it further to determine if the sale is truly legitimate or fraudulent. If the sales appears to be fraudulent they will prevent that sale from being settled and will contact you to discuss the transaction further. To use this feature a merchant already be registered with the Basic or Advanced Fraud Prevention Packages.

Lastly, Verisign offers their Buyer Authentication program for merchants who wish to utilize Visa's Verified by Visa and/or MasterCard's SecureCode technologies. To use this feature a merchant already be registered with the Basic or Advanced Fraud Prevention Packages.

Cost

Setup Fee
Verisign charges a one time fee of $249 before account setup.

Monthly Fee
Verisign charges a healthy $59.95 per month for this service.

Transaction Fee
Each transaction run through Payflow Pro costs an additional 10 over and above your merchant account fees. However, the first 1,000 transactions are free each month. Since the vast majority of merchant do not do that kind of volume this virtually eliminates the transaction fee for most merchants.

Recurring Billing
If you decide to use Payflow Pro's recurring billing feature you will incur a $39.95 setup fee and then a recurring $29.95 monthly fee.

Fraud Protection
As described above Verisign offers quite a few tools for fraud detection and prevention but charges separately for them. Their basic package costs $29.95 to setup and then an additional $19.95 per month plus 5 per transaction (they are not included in the free transactions). The advanced package costs $89.95 to setup and then an additional $49.95 per month plus 10 per transaction (also not included in the free transactions). Account monitoring costs $29.95 to setup and then an additional $19.95 per month. If you wish to use Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode you will incur a $150 setup fee and a $9.95 monthly fee plus 10 per transaction.

In summary, if you wish to use all fraud prevention tools provided by Verisign, you will incur $260.90 in setup fees, $79.85 in monthly fees, and at least an additional 20 per transaction.

Strengths The fraud prevention tools offered by Verisign are second to none in terms of flexibility and power. With so many ways to review transactions for potential fraud all in one system it is hard to imagine many fraudulent transactions slipping through. Merchants troubled by chargebacks and fraud in the past would find these tools to be a great relief.

On the Internet, if your website is down, even for only a minute or two, your nearest competitor is only a click away. While other gateways have had issues dealing with datacenter moves and hacker attacks, the Verisign gateway has been very reliable. With only one outage in recent memory its reliability is exactly what a merchant needs.

Thanks to its SSL certificate business from which it started, the Verisign name has been known for years as the secure and reliable brand on the Internet. At the very least, merchants feel comfortable using their services and customers feel reassured seeing the Verisign logo on a merchant's website. Although it is debatable whether Verisign is more secure then other gateways, many webmasters and customers trust Verisign.

Weaknesses

As stated above, the Verisign name is well known and carries with it a reputation of security and trust. And they make you pay for it. Payflow Pro is easily the most expensive gateway available. With a $249 set up fee you could be paying more for Payflow Pro before you ever receive your login information then you would for an entire year with other gateways, setup fee included! The $59.95 monthly cost for basic features would buy you every available feature on many other gateways.

Although the fraud detection tools are robust, they are also very expensive. I found it disappointing that they broke their features down into four different categories and charged for each of them separately. Each one costs a significant amount and combining them would double the costs of an already expensive gateway.