Navigating payment channels: Everything you need to know

Link to the author's page
Rob Binns
March 25, 2024
Link to the author's page
Navigating payment channels: Everything you need to know

A payment channel is a broad term that encompasses any way you, as a merchant, might accept a payment; and anywhere your customer might make a purchase from your business.

Payment channels map closely to retail channels: which include in-person, ecommerce, wholesale, catalog, direct sale, and distribution. However, payment channels focus more on the tools and technologies involved in the payment – such as POS (Point of Sale) systems, online checkout options, and mobile payment solutions – wherever it’s taking place.

At your bricks-and-mortar store, for example (one retail channel) you might accept payments via digital wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, as well as with credit and debit cards. Yet we still have to be careful we don’t confuse these ways of paying – called payment methods – with payment channels. Instead, think of payment channels as more a collection of payment methods as they apply to a specific retail channel: such as online or in-store.

In this article, we’ll explore the different payment channels available – and how you can use them to boost your business. But first, let’s take a look at what happens when multiple payment channels come together to create a unified, “omnichannel” payment experience.

What does “omnichannel” mean?

“Omnichannel” simply means “multiple channels” – so, in a payments context, it’s the ability to accept payments across several different channels.

An omnichannel (also called “unified commerce”) payment solution incorporates multiple – though not necessarily all – payment channels. An omnichannel strategy includes card-present transactions (in-store payments involving a cashier, for example, as well as unattended or self-service payment solutions). It also includes card-not-present (CNP) transactions, where the customer’s physical payment card isn’t required to complete the purchase. For example:

The goals of omnichannel payments? To make payments across all channels more consistent, more seamless, and more simple. With an omnichannel strategy, the payment process should feel cohesive – regardless of the channel the customer chooses to transact through. The payment should also be friction-free: supporting your customers’ preferred payment methods while removing any barriers between them and their current – or further – purchases.

In other words, it’s about the experience. As Rory O’Neill,’s CMO, says: “The debate is not about omnichannel or unified commerce, it’s not about in-person or digital. Great brands care about how they perform and consumers care about their experience.”

So, what does an omnichannel payment experience look like in practice? It could be:

  • A customer browsing your bricks-and-mortar store, but – seeing their preferred color or size is out of stock – navigating to your ecommerce store to buy it online instead.
  • A click-and-collect purchase where a customer reserves goods through your online store from the comfort of their own home, but – by picking up and paying for their item in-store – avoids a lengthy wait for delivery.
  • A customer using your app to make a purchase, then saving their card details to enable a faster, more seamless “one-click checkout” experience next time.

As a payment service provider, specializes in digital payment channels.

As Rory puts it, our role is “to give you your data on your consumer so that you can mine and power your intelligence on your consumer. For most brands, it’s arguably not a good strategy to invest in pre-configured omnichannel experiences that offer little more than unified card commerce; or to spend millions mining the data to try and personalize the experience, but not achieve it. Instead, provide consumers with all the product and service information (availability, shipping, pricing, returns etc.) and let them decide how they want to buy.”

To learn more about how can help you approach omnichannel payments differently, read Rory’s article: Digital takeover – how ecommerce is driving the in-person payment experience.

Overview of payment channels

Payment channels, you’ll remember, aren’t to be confused with retail channels or payment methods – they’re actually somewhere in between.

Payment channels are, by their most basic definition, the mechanisms or avenues through which you transact with your customers.

While payment methods – digital wallets, credit cards, virtual terminals – refer to the specific method a customer might use to pay, payment channels are wider and overarching: accounting for the different places, technologies, and ways involved in the digital payments you accept.

The main payment channels for your business in 2024 are:

  • Online checkout
  • In-app payments
  • Virtual terminal
  • In-person terminal
  • Bank transfers
  • Remittances
  • B2B payment platforms
  • Recurring payments (subscription)

We’ll unpack each of these payment channels in more detail below. 

Online checkout

To allow your customers to check out and pay online, you’ll need a payment gateway.

A payment gateway securely captures your customer’s payment details: acting as a digital bridge between their bank and yours, and liaising with the different payment networks involved in the transaction. A payment gateway also acts as a bridge in another way – connecting your business’s website or app to your payment processor. (These are companies, like, which accept cashless payments on your business’s behalf.)

With, you can integrate your business’s online presence with our payment gateway via a straightforward API integration. You can then start customizing your checkout experience to fit your brand’s unique look and feel, and so it’s consistent with the other payment channels you offer. (This consistency being key to a good omnichannel approach.)

Alternatively, we can host your payment gateway for you, which helps reduce your PCI compliance demands – although the online payment experience won’t feel as slick or seamless for your customer. These hosted payment pages (HPPs) are housed on your website but hosted on’s servers – and will redirect them to us to complete their purchase.

Another way you can embed a payment gateway into your website is through Payment Components. These components are essentially ready-to-use interface elements for collecting payment information but without the need for extensive coding or customization. You can embed these into your website or app with JavaScript libraries.

Alternatively, you can get online through an ecommerce platform – such as Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce – and connect to this way via an extension or plugin.

In-app payments

In-app processing is a payment channel allowing you to transact with your customers from within your own mobile application.

Common in the ‘freemium’ gaming world – where merchants need the ability to charge players for extra content or power-ups, without them having to leave the app to pay – in-app payments are also a key feature of the subscriptions payment model. Through an app, you can accept recurring payments for ongoing access to a service (such as newspaper or magazine subscriptions or other online memberships), without the perils of friction or forgetting.

In-app purchases aren’t the same as accepting payments through digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. However, you’ll still be bound by the guidelines of Apple’s App Store (if you implement in-app purchases on iOS) and the Play Store on Google.

Unless, that is, you utilize’s native mobile SDKs (Software Developer Kits). With our Frames SDKs, you can accept in-app payments in apps that don’t fall under Google and Apple guidelines. (Although different rules apply for in-app purchases made to unlock premium content, game levels, or full app versions, as well as to buy in-game currency and make subscription payments.)

For more detail, explore our comprehensive merchant’s guide to in-app payment processing.

Virtual terminal

Virtual terminals are a payment channel allowing you to accept credit card, debit card, and CHAPS payments over the phone, in-person, or via mail – or, simply, MOTO payments.

Virtual terminals are basically secure, web-based portals into which you manually enter your customers’ payment details: which they can provide to you over the phone, or in-person at your bricks-and-mortar stores.

Popular in the retail and restaurant industries, in particular – as well as in the freelance and independent consultancy worlds – virtual terminals are a key part of any omnichannel payment strategy. A customer might, for example, call your store to request stock availability, then be told there’s only one of the item they want left on the shelves. With a virtual terminal, you can then securely process the customer’s payment, on the spot and over the phone, for them to collect in store at their convenience.

In-person terminal

In-person card terminals are a payment channel enabling you to accept debit and credit card payments – as well as digital wallets – at the point of sale. These often combine the physical card machine or reader with other technology (such as barcode scanners, a cash register, and a screen) to constitute a complete POS system.

While in-person card terminals will likely remain a vital payment channel for bricks-and-mortar businesses (especially given that debit cards and credit cards supplanted cash as US consumers’ favorite way to pay as far back as 2018), this payment channel isn’t relevant for exclusively ecommerce merchants.

For more information about how to avoid the expense and hassle of maintaining an in-person terminal, explore our guide how to accept payments online instead – and why it’s a better, more profitable option for your business in the long run.

Bank transfers

Account-to-account bank transfers are a payment channel you’ll have utilized a lot – be it to pay suppliers, settle bills, or purchase important equipment for your business. But bank transfers (which are a type of Electronic Funds Transfer, or EFT) can also be a vital way of receiving payments – and, as such, can constitute a key cog in your omnichannel strategy.

Popular types of bank transfer include:

  • Wire transfers for making and receiving large payments.
  • ACH (Automated Clearing House) transactions for automatic bill payments, online money transfers, and direct deposits.
  • Card-based EFTs, which use debit and credit cards to move funds from a business bank account to make purchases or settle bills.
  • E-checks for making or receiving payments from a checking account.

If you do business internationally, bank transfers can be a simple – if not the speediest – way of accepting cross-border payments. While the US mainly uses International ACH Transactions, SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is common throughout Europe: so, if you’re looking to accept payments from customers based overseas, we suggest brushing up on our guide to cross-border ecommerce first. Alternatively, to learn more about how to accept bank transfers for your business – and add EFTs such as ACH payments to your payment flow – get in touch with’s team of payment experts today.


A remittance refers to the transfer of funds from one business or individual to another – usually across borders. It’s a type of payment channel typically involving migrants or expats sending money home to family members in their home countries.

You can make or receive remittance payments through your bank or a specialist transfer service. In fact, already provides these services to leading remittance firms including Wise and TransferGo – so we can help with your business’s remittance needs, too.

Learn more: International business payments

B2B payment platforms

With long payment cycles, high-value transactions, myriad stakeholders, and requirements that fluctuate wildly between sectors, B2B payments are complex.

What B2B payment platforms do, then, is simplify them. B2B payment platforms allow your business to manage your invoices, pay your vendors, and track your team’s expenses – as well as receive payments from the businesses you sell to. B2B payment platforms offer:

  • Automated systems for managing and paying your invoices, with features such as invoice generation, tracking, approval workflows, and payment scheduling.
  • Virtual cards: digital payment cards with unique card numbers created for specific payment purposes or transaction types. You can set your own spending limits, expiration dates, and usage restrictions for more secure supplier and vendor payments.
  • Corporate wallets, which are essentially specialized digital wallets designed for B2B transactions. With features such as fund transfers, expense tracking, budgeting tools, and accounting software integration, they’re ideal for adopting a more controlled, easy-to-reconcile approach to business payments.
  • Trade/supply chain finance platforms, which facilitate payments and finance within supply chains. These help your business to optimize working capital, mitigate risks, and improve your cash flow with options such as invoice factoring and dynamic discounting.

For a deeper dive into the world of business-to-business transactions, delve into our guide to payment processing for B2B businesses

Or, learn more about’s issuing programs for both virtual and physical corporate cards. With adjustable spend controls, real-time authorization, and a wealth of scope for customization, they’re a hassle-free way of managing your B2B payments and spend.

Recurring payments (subscription)

As a payment channel, the ability to process recurring payments for your business is becoming increasingly crucial. Subscriptions are, after all, an everyday part of your consumers’ lives: with staples like Netflix, HelloFresh, BarkBox, and HubSpot just a few of the reasons why the subscription economy will be worth, according to UBS, a staggering $1.5 trillion by 2025.

By accepting automated, pre-authorized payments at regular intervals, you’ll gain the payment continuity (and revenue predictability) so crucial for modern businesses. But how?

Here at, we give you this ability in the form of card-on-file transactions. As the name suggests, they save your customers’ credit and debit card details ‘on file’ in a secure, PCI-compliant credit card vault. When it’s time to process that weekly, monthly, or quarterly payment, you can do so – automatically and seamlessly. (Which, you’ll remember, is what omnichannel payments are all about.)

With so little for your customer (or your business) to do come payment time, you drastically reduce the risk of payment failure and the involuntary churn of your best customers.

Better still? Through our real-time account updater, we’ll even automate the process of keeping your customers’ credit and debit card data fresh – so their payments will still go through, even if they’ve renewed or replaced their original card without updating their details. According to Mastercard, account updaters can prevent up to a third (33%) of card-not-present transaction declines, making them a key cog in your business’s subscription machinery.

Read more: What is a credit card account updater?

Boost your digital payments performance with

“At, we believe the world is already a digital economy, and it’s our job to help our customers thrive in this digital economy. We came from digital payments. We only do digital payments. We believe that every transaction begins as a digital transaction, and the digital experience will drive change in the physical world. That’s why we put every investment dollar we have into expertise, innovation, and care for customers in this digital world.” Rory O’Neill, CMO

Here at, our specialty is providing the best digital payment channels on the market. 

But that’s not all. As Rory said, it’s not about splurging on pre-configured omnichannel experiences. It’s about giving your business the data to craft an intelligent, bespoke approach to accepting transactions; and giving your customer the ability to pay in the way, and through the payment channel, they’re most comfortable with.

Basically, it’s all about prioritizing the customer experience. And, as our customer, we’ll prioritize yours. With us, you’ll benefit from a leading, enterprise-level digital payments solution: one that includes identity verification, secure transaction processing, and optimized payment acceptance. What this means is that we work tirelessly, every day, to make payments more scalable,, secure, and successful for your business – whatever payment channels you, or your customers, love most.

So get in touch with’s team of payment experts to explore the true meaning of omnichannel payments – and what kind of effect diversifying your payment channels in 2024 could have on your business’s bottom line.

Stay up-to-date

Get news in your inbox.

Back to top button
March 25, 2024 11:32
March 25, 2024 11:32