How to Choose a South African Payment Gateway

How to Choose a South African Payment Gateway

According to Statista, in 2021 the most common South African online payment method was credit card. 

If you’re planning on selling via a website, you’ll need a payment gateway to handle customer credit card payments, and if you are going to sell to a South African audience, you‘ll need a South African payment gateway. Choosing a South African payment gateway provider can be overwhelming because for many years as a country, we have lagged behind in digital software sophistication. 

In this article, we’ll empower you with the information you need to choose the right South African payment gateway. Your choice is critical, as it can impact cart abandonment rates.

What is a Payment Gateway?

Payment gateway software allows card payments to be processed from your website. The software processes the payment and sends the payment to your bank account. The payment gateway provider acts as a POS (Point of Sale) for e-commerce on a checkout page.

The payment gateway validates the purchaser’s card details in a secure manner and is the interface between the merchant’s website and its customer; the middleman between merchant and customer.  

Types of payment gateways

There are three types of payment gateways:

  1. Redirect: the customer is redirected to another website page where the payment can be made, so that the card holder’s information is kept safe. 

Example of a redirect payment gateway.

  1. Checkout on-site, pay on third party site: every part of the process that the customer sees is on the merchant’s website, but the processing of the payment happens on a third party’s side.

A typical example of a pay on third party site is the PayPal payment gateway.

  1. On-site payments: for large businesses that can afford to control the entire process, this is a good option. Payments and payment processing take place on the website and the business controls it all. When done properly, the chances of cart abandonment are reduced, but keeping everything on-site means that integration requires programming knowledge. 

Large businesses like Takealot can afford programmers to keep control of the entire purchasing process.

How Payment Gateways Affect Cart Abandonment

As far as payment gateways are concerned, there is one major reason customers abandon carts during checkout, and that is glitches. For example, the customer knows they have enough money in their account, but the payment gateway declines the payment. 

Tip! Always remember that when using third party services like payment gateways, their glitches are your glitches, as the consumer views it as part of the total customer experience. Therefore, the problems of any payment gateway becomes your problem too.

More often than not, the customer will simply exit without retrying especially if the product is available elsewhere. The reason for this is possibly fear that the website can’t be trusted, and for digital business, trust is everything.

The trust element is something you need to consider because even sending a customer to a third-party site to make the payment can increase cart abandonment.

For South Africa specifically, you want to make sure the payment gateway offers as few hiccups as possible, and that their processes run smoothly, otherwise it can negatively impact your sales.

Checklist: How to Choose a South African Payment Gateway

As you can see, choosing the right payment gateway for South Africans can be complex, but here are the key considerations:

Multiple currencies

Do you need to offer payment facilities for South Africans only, or for multiple currencies? Some payment gateways offer payment processing in various currencies, and some only for ZAR. 

You’ll want to provide payment options that customers are already using and familiar with.

Pricing & fees

In South Africa, you can expect to pay between 2.2% and 4% per transaction with the majority of payment providers, but some may also charge monthly fees, and sliding scales for higher turnover.

While pricing and fees are important, don’t make the mistake of choosing a payment gateway based on cost, because you could opt for the cheapest pricing and fees, but lose sales due to recurring software problems.


More than one-third of shoppers are wary of online orders due to security concerns, and even more so in South Africa where crime is rife. You won’t usually have issues with a high-quality payment gateway, but you can still make sure that the tool is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

In addition, check how secure their encryption is. If they are compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), this should not be an issue.

Tip! Choose payment gateways your customers already know and trust. 

Setup & support

This is where many South African payment gateways fall short; while overseas payment gateways seem to have a plethora of online documentation and support, South African companies lag behind and it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. This is either because there is no online knowledge repository of some type, or because the search functionality can’t pick up what you’re searching for with the terminology you use.

So check how easy it is to do business with the provider, and see what information you can find online. Check for example, how easy it is to set up the payment gateway on your website, and to get support when you need it.

Do they require paperwork and have they made it simple to get the paperwork to them? Ideally, they will offer a “help-yourself” option where you can provide all they need online without face-to-face interaction and cumbersome workflows. 

If you think you’ll need 24-hour support, do they offer it? What is their turnaround time for tickets, or do they provide live chat so you can get hold of them quickly?

Technical knowledge

In order to use the payment gateway tool, you’ll need to know how much technical knowledge is needed for configuration.

If you plan to configure it yourself, then you need to avoid the mistake of choosing a gateway that requires a high degree of technical knowledge and instead opt for a payment system that offers simple solutions. 

For example, do they offer a plugin you can simply upload to your WordPress website, or do they require you to add code? If you need to add code, are you able to do it yourself, or can you afford to hire a programmer?


Integration is another issue to look for with South African payment gateways - top quality providers will make it easy to integrate the tool with other third party providers like WooCommerce, an ecommerce plugin for WordPress, or your accounting system.

Consider what other software is used on your website that the software will need to be integrated with, and how complex it is. Look for a payment provider that makes integration simple. For example, if your website is built with WordPress, the payment gateway has a plugin that can be uploaded. 

You may not want to have to hire software developers to build a custom integration.

Payment options 

The more payment options you can give your customers without overwhelming them, the higher the conversion rate and the fewer checkout cart abandonments. 


What features will you need? For example, you may only require standard transaction capability, but if you require recurring billing or subscriptions, make sure the payment provider caters to that.

Types of cards

The majority of sales will be VISA and Mastercard transactions, but if you require additional card types, you will need to check that the provider offers them. 

Payment terms

Check things like how often does the payment gateway provider pay out to you, whether it needs to be automated and if it costs anything over and above pricing and fees.

Some of the Most Recommended Payment Gateways in South Africa

  • iKhokha 
  • NetCash
  • Payfast
  • Paygate
  • Paystack
  • PayU
  • Peach Payments
  • SnapScan
  • Yoco
  • Zapper

Prefer a Hassle-Free Option?

Shopstar Pay is a South African payment gateway for business owners who build an e-commerce website with Shopstar, an e-commerce platform that makes setting up and growing an online business easy.

All that’s needed to get started with Shopstar Pay is to click the box.

The standout point about the Shopstar Pay gateway is that it is automatically available to entrepreneurs upon signup, and all they need to do is turn it on in the dashboard and they can accept payments. No signups, no paperwork.

Easy peasy.

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