The list of merchant account providers in the UK is a rather short one. However, these providers are now more diversified in their nature: in addition to high-street, brick-and-mortar banks, online banks and payment gateway providers also operate as UK merchant account providers, offering a choice of card machines to accept face-to-face payments, “Cardholder not Present” payments, online payments and reporting tools within a secure PCI-DSS-compliant environment.
Brick-and-mortar acquiring banks
Most well-known high-street banks in the UK provide merchant account services, acting as acquiring banks. These merchant account providers can be British banks, or British subsidiaries of foreign banks.
1) British banks
British banks acting as merchant account providers include:
• Clydesdale Bank,
• The Cooperative Bank,
• Yorkshire Bank.
2) British subsidiaries of foreign banks
British subsidiaries of foreign banks providing UK merchant accounts include:
• Allied Irish Bank,
• Bank of Ireland,
Online banks acting as merchant account providers
Although dividing lines are getting more and more blurred, a distinction should be made between actual, registered online banks offering true, full-service merchant accounts, and alternate solutions like PayPal.
1) Online banks offering “true” merchant accounts
The following online merchant account providers offer all the services of a merchant account remotely:
• American Express,
• First Data Merchant Solutions,
In fact, online banks are also present on the high street as they go as far as to provide their technology to high-street banks willing to offer full merchant account services but don’t have the internal resources to do so. Elavon therefore provides some of the technology in the merchant account offerings of Bank or Ireland and Santander, and WorldPay heps Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest provide theirs.
2) Popular alternatives
With the demise of Google Checkout and the confinement to the United States of Google Wallet, the main alternative for some merchant services is PayPal.
PayPal has even started providing some of its European customers with credit card readers, which, combined with a tablet or smartphone, act like a PDQ terminal.
Payment gateways providers acting as merchant account providers
Payment gateway providers may also act as merchant account providers in the UK, often offering cheaper, more flexible alternatives to high-street bank packages.
As one of the earliest global payment gateway providers, WorldPay also provides full merchant account services, including the lease of PDQ terminals. WorldPay recently took over competitor Cardsave.
A UK leader, Sage has developed an interesting offering of merchant accounts: Sagepay. Details about Sagepay accounts are discussed in a specific article in this guide.
3) First Data merchant solutions
A major vendor of PDQ terminals, First Data also provides merchant accounts.