Ecommerce Payment Gateway Primer

Verisign Payflow

The little brother of Payflow Pro this gateway still carries Verisign's reputation for security and reliability.

Features

Recurring Billing
Unlike its more robust Payflow Pro brother, Payflow Link does not offer an API for setting up new recurring billing profiles. All recurring billing profiles must be set up manually through a control panel.

Payflow Link includes the same email and reporting capabilities as Payflow Pro. See Payflow Pro for more information.

Fraud Protection
The fraud protection tools available for Payflow Link are the same as for Payflow Pro. See above for more information on those services.

Cost

Setup Fee
Verisign charges a one time fee of $179 before account setup.

Monthly Fee
Verisign charges a reasonable $19.95 per month for this service.

Transaction Fee
Just like Payflow Pro each transaction run through Payflow Link costs an additional 10 over and above your merchant account fees. However, the first 500 transactions are free each month. This is still more then most merchants will process per month and virtually eliminates the transaction fee.

Recurring Billing
If you decide to use Payflow Pro's recurring billing feature you will incur a $14.95 setup fee and then a recurring $9.95 monthly fee.

Fraud Protection
The fraud protection tools available for Payflow Link are the same as for Payflow Pro. See above for more information on those fees.

Strengths

See the strengths of Payflow Pro above.

Weaknesses

Just like its big brother, Payflow Link is expensive. Considering its limited integration capabilities (see below) you can be paying a lot of money for relatively little. In a case like this you are almost certainly paying for the Verisign name.

Unlike Payflow Pro you cannot make the checkout process transparent from your customers. You must send all of your customers to Verisign's website where your secure order form resides. Although this will save you money on an SSL certificate as you do not host the secure order page, the website address in your customer's web browser will not be your own. This can be a negative factor in deciding whether to complete the purchase to some users and can result in abandoned shopping carts.

A "hidden" weakness most merchants don't notice is that Payflow Link does not support Level two or three business cards. When a merchant accepts certain special credit cards additional information about that card needs to be sent to the processor. Failure to do so results in higher fees being charged for that sale. If your business were to use Payflow Link and accepted business cards through your website, you would pay the highest fees available for those sales due to Payflow Link's lack of support for those types of cards. Verisign does specify their lack of support for level two and three business cards on their website so this weakness is not hidden in the true meaning of the word. But due to most merchants' lack of merchant account knowledge this usually goes by unnoticed.