By Klas Bäck, General Manager of Payment Strategy at Braintree,

There are lots of payments providers out there boasting to be the best, but how do you choose? Whether you want to accept payments in an app of via your website, there are a few key things to think about. Here are the five things any small business should consider when choosing a payment provider.

1. Simplicity
You’ve got enough to worry about while running your business. The last thing you need is a complex solution that takes weeks to integrate. You want to find a payment gateway with an easy technical integration that is customisable to your website, no matter what language you use. Other things to consider are mobile capabilities, the ease of the signup process, and making sure there’s a solution that limits your PCI compliance scope.

2. Stable and Secure
There’s nothing worse than having your site go down because your payments provider can’t keep up with the demand of transactions that are coming in. It means a loss in sales for your company and a disappointing experience for your customers. Ask your provider about their availability. You want an answer with lots of 9’s (ideally 99.99% uptime). And most importantly, you want an API that is secure. No one wants a data breach.

3. Transparency
There have been lots of changes in the payments industry over the last five years, but historically the industry has been wrought with companies trying to hide fees and lock you into long term contracts. More recently, transparency is making its way to the forefront of the industry. Make sure you choose a provider who has a clear and simple pricing plan, will let you leave at anytime without penalty, and will help you take your credit card data with you. Data portability is something that few providers support.

4. Help when you need it
Integration to a payments provider is typically the time when a business needs the most help. When you’re vetting out a provider, ask your sales rep if their company provides integration support. Is there a fee for this type of support? Can you talk to a developer if you’re having trouble with the code? What about after you’ve been setup? You want a provider who doesn’t put you through a call tree to get to someone who knows what they are talking about. Choose the one who monitors your account and proactively looks for ways they can help you out.

5. Support for your growth
Ask any of the startups who blew up this year and they will tell you that companies are now expanding internationally faster than ever before. You want to make sure you choose a provider who can support international currencies. Down the road you may need to add capabilities like dynamic descriptors, subscriptions and more refined reporting. It’s best to ask upfront if your provider offers these features. Another important thing to look for is a provider who does a full underwriting review at signup. This will ensure that they have a good understanding of your business model and what you plan to sell. Knowing this helps prevent risk reviews as your volume increases which can result in your funds being held, or your account being frozen.

Choosing a payment provider is one of the most important decisions you make as a business owner. Think of it as more of a partnership than a vendor you choose and forget about. The right provider will help you as you launch your product, provide guidance and industry expertise, offer the necessary tools for scalability, and is at the forefront of technology. It's an integral piece in not only helping your company reach its full potential, but also in getting paid every step along the way.