Choosing the right payment processor for your event
Organizing a great event isn't enough, to achieve a successful event you will need to cover the cost of your event and hopefully make a profit too. There are two business models to achieve this:
- Sell public entry tickets to your event and collect the ticket money
- Offer free tickets to guests and instead sell event space to vendors
By far the most frequent model is to sell public entry tickets. In this article we will explore the options for taking event ticket payments and help you decide on a payment processor for your public entry tickets.
The payment processor (or payment provider) is the third party service you use to transfer money from your ticket customer to your bank account. Choosing the right payment processor is important for the success of your event.
Remember that a ticket selling business model will only work if you can collect the money for the tickets and then have access to those funds before you need to pay your own event expenses (such as venue invoices, supplier bills and advertising costs). This may not be as simple as it seems.
Types of Ticket Payment
Before getting into payment processors, we first need to consider the different types of ticket payment that you might want to use for your event:
- Ticket customer pays with a credit or debit card
- Ticket customer pays from an online wallet
- Ticket customer pays by bank transfer
As online consumers for many different services we are all used to paying for goods online with a debit or a credit card. From a consumers point of view buying event tickets online should be no different. The payment takes place at the online checkout without leaving the store's website and we expect to be able to pay automatically and without needing to speak to anybody.
An alternative option, number 2 above, is when a consumer reaches the online checkout and pays for event tickets from an online wallet (a special kind of account that can only be used online). The experience is similar to paying by bank card except that no banks are involved.
The third category is payment by bank transfer. Only in very few countries is it possible to pay for goods online by bank transfer without leaving the online store. Instead it is more likely that the online store provides us with all the information we need to make a payment through our online banking service and the store has a mechanism to check that the money has arrived.
Many customers would prefer to pay by direct bank transfer and many merchants would prefer to receive money in this way, but at the moment there are no universal and fully automated ways to achieve this across countries, or even in many cases across different banks within the same country.
Therefore the first step in choosing your payment processor is to decide on which type of payments you wish to take and then see which payment providers could help you to achieve that.
To achieve the different types of payment explained in the last section, there are different payment providers. They each have different characteristics that need to be taken into account when deciding which payment processor to use.
When selling event tickets online using an event ticketing platform, your chosen platform may also offer their own payment facilities. This maybe offered in addition to other payment facilities or their solution maybe the only way to take payments on their platform. This is something you need to look at carefully when deciding on your event ticketing platform.
Let's consider the most popular payment processors:
- Event ticketing platform internal solutions
In the next sections we will explore the offerings of these payment processors in more detail to help you make an informed decision.
This is the number 1 online internet wide payment processor.
Surprisingly, PayPal is a payment processor for both bank cards and PayPal's own online electronic wallets. Despite offering both types of solution, in my experience, they have a preference to promote their own online wallet (i.e. the funds held in an online PayPal account). Due to this strategic bias, I have witnessed that from time to time customers who wish to pay by credit card will not be able to.
The basic fee for processing payments through PayPal is approximately 2.9% (check with PayPal for your own country to be sure).
When a customer makes a payment with PayPal the money is sent to your online PayPal account. While the money is in your PayPal account you can use it to make payments to other PayPal account holders but you cannot write a cheque to the event venue owner or draw out cash to pay a supplier.
To take your money out of your PayPal account requires making a transfer request to send money from your online account to your chosen bank account. This transfer attracts another fee.
PayPal has enormous global reach and is active in more than 200 countries.
In internet terms, PayPal has been around for a long time and has been the dominant payment processor for most of this time. As a result the types of accounts offered and the different payment technology solutions they offer are confusingly numerous.
Many event ticketing platforms integrate with PayPal, allowing your customers to pay from their PayPal account or with a card, but you need to check which PayPal technology solution they support to know whether you can quickly start taking payments or not.
The most widely known integration solutions from PayPal are as follows:
- PayPal (standard) - this is the oldest, but many implementations have technical problems
- PayPal Classic - older technology merchant solution, still works well
- PayPal REST - modern technology solution
Anyone can open an account with PayPal, it can be requested online and approval is quite quick. Unfortunately, to use PayPal Classic and PayPal REST it is necessary to have a PayPal business account which requires further authorization.
When a customer buys tickets using funds from their PayPal account then you will receive the payment almost instantly. Alternatively, if they pay by bank card then the ticket payment amount will arrive in your PayPal account with a short delay.
If you need a payment processor that covers many countries and it is important to you that people can pay directly from their PayPal account then PayPal would be the only choice. Alternatively, if you don't have a solution already, your event is getting close and you only need a solution for debit/credit cards then my advice would be to look at using Stripe.
For more information visit paypal.com
Stripe is the second most used online payment processor. Stripe takes payment from your customer's debit or credit card and then sends the money to your own bank account minus their processing fee.
Depending on which country you are in, the processing fee will be approximately 2.9% (check this with Stripe for your country). Stripe and PayPal are in direct competition for bank card processing and therefore it is no surprise that their fees are similar.
Expect there to be a delay between the customer paying with their bank card and the money arriving in your account. However, this is typically only a few days to one week at the most (again this is something to check with Stripe for your own country).
For the countries in which Stripe operates, almost anyone can apply for a Stripe account. Both personal customers and companies can have Stripe accounts. Account opening is completely online and from my own experience, an account can be opened within 48 hours.
Stripe offers good technical solutions and payment integration support, as a result it is widely used on many platforms for taking card payments.
More than 130 currencies can be processed with Stripe.
If you want to take bank card payments for your event tickets and you don't have an account with another payment processor then I would seriously consider Stripe.
For more information visit stripe.com
Event Ticketing Platform Internal Solutions
Some event ticketing platforms can also be your payment processor. This has some advantages and disadvantages depending on your starting position.
The biggest advantage of using the internal solution of an event ticketing provider is that you can start taking payment for tickets immediately. There is no need to open an account with another supplier, everything is managed for you by the event ticketing platform.
The disadvantages (depending on the platform) are:
- Higher fees than the typical 3% of third party processors
- No payout until the event is finished
- Additional fees for early withdrawal before the event finishes
The exact terms will depend on the event ticket platform provider. Therefore, it is worth checking these points with them before making a commitment.
If you don't have a solution in place for an imminent event, and you have already opened an account with a major event ticketing platform, then using their payment processing could be a good solution. Otherwise, if your ticket selling period is quite long and you need access to your ticket funds before the event then you might want to consider other options.
If you choose to have your customers pay by online direct bank payment then the bank becomes your payment processor.
Within the same country, online payments between two bank accounts will usually be the lowest cost of all the solutions considered in this article. Many countries offer free banking to their customers for domestic payments, in which case there will be no fee involved when your customer pays for their tickets.
The main disadvantages are:
- Direct bank transfer payments are typically not integrated fully with the event ticket platform
- Your ticket customer has to leave your website to make the payment
- This is only a solution in some countries
- Cross country payments will attract high fees
However, if you were selling a small number of tickets within one country only and you didn't have an existing account with PayPal or Stripe then this could be a good option. Further more, if your ticket prices are quite high (e.g. USD 1000) then the saving in payment processor fees by using bank transfers could be significant compared to the automated online payment solutions.
Coconut Tickets is a complete event ticketing platform for small to medium size businesses.
It offers the following payment processing options:
- PayPal REST
- PayPal Classic
- Offline bank payment (automated invoices and work-flow)
Using these payment methods your ticket money is paid directly into your own account as fast as the payment processor can manage. Your tickets fees are not received by Coconut Tickets. You get access to your money straight away without any additional fees for early access because it is already in your own account.
All Coconut Tickets payment methods are ready for the European Union Secure Card Authorization (SCA) implementation starting in September 2019.
For more information on Coconut Tickets, and a free trial, visit the website https://coconuttickets.com