Banking giant HSBC claims to offer one integrated merchant account and online payment gateway service to rule them all. But how do the company’s merchant services stack up against the competition?
Unless you’ve never stepped foot on a high street before, watched television, or opened a bank account, you’ve probably heard of HSBC.
It’s one of the world’s largest financial services organisations, serving around 40 million customers across 64 countries.
As you would expect from a company of its size and stature, HSBC offers a full range of secure card payment services — merchant accounts, card machine rental, an online payment gateway. In other words, they do the lot.
But how does HSBC's merchant services compare to the competition, and is its payment gateway right for your business? Let’s take a closer look…
HSBC merchant services
If you look at HSBC’s website it’s not immediately clear what they offer merchants. There’s talk of “global receivables solutions”, but no information on how these might actually help you accept card payments from your customers.
So, let’s clear things up for you.
HSBC outsources its merchant services to third-party provider Global Payments. Formerly known as HSBC Merchant Services, Global Payments offers everything you need to process card transactions, whether face-to-face, online or over the phone.
The company handles all aspects of its services in-house, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with a bunch of different firms. (And anyone with experience of juggling multiple merchant services providers will know what a relief that is.)
HSBC merchant services include:
- Merchant accounts — accept payment with all major debit and credit cards in over 32 currencies. The money will be deposited in your account in as little as two days.
- Card (PDQ) machine rental — choose from mobile, countertop and wireless card readers. They're supplied by esteemed merchant equipment manufacturers Ingenico – meaning you'll benefit from some of the best credit card machines for small businesses in the UK.
- EPOS equipment — as well as the latest Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) hardware, as an HSBC merchant services customer you can access advanced analytics tools to help manage stock and keep track of sales.
- Virtual terminal — take card payments over the phone with the Global Iris Virtual Terminal. Or, learn more about what a virtual terminal is, exactly (and compare the country's top providers), with our guide to the best virtual terminals in the UK.
- Fraud protection — your own team of experts, on hand 24/7, who will notify you of any suspicious activity on your account.
- Online payment gateway — this is important, so let’s go into a little more detail below…
HSBC online payment gateway
Through Global Payments, HSBC offers a secure online platform for customer-not-present (CNP) card payment processing. It’s called Global Iris.
What is Global Iris?
Global Iris is a payment gateway — a secure piece of software that allows businesses to process card payments online.
The platform can accommodate both online and mail order/telephone order transactions (MOTO). And you can choose a package to suit your needs:
Global Iris Re-direct
This package is a great option if you’re looking to get set up fast. From your shopping basket, customers are redirected to an off-site payment page, which can be customised with your branding. Once the transaction has gone through, they’re automatically sent back to your website. Simple.
Global Iris Remote
If you want full control over your HSBC online payment gateway, then this is the package for you. Global Iris Remote is fully integrated into your payment page, so the whole transaction takes place on your website.
Global Iris and PayPal
Global Iris is fully compatible with PayPal. It only takes a few minutes to set up and once your account has been linked you can keep track of PayPal transactions through your Global Iris business tool.
How much does HSBC's merchant services and payment gateway cost?
Global Payments has two price tiers for businesses of different sizes. The first, designed for small-medium sized businesses, allows for up to £50,000 worth of transactions processed annually; the second for £50k plus.
Your exact rates will vary depending on the size and nature of your business, so the only way to get an accurate idea of pricing is to request a tailored quote. But the figures below should serve as a rough guide.
|Small business solution — up to £50K turnover||Corporate solution — £50K + turnover|
|Card machine rental||£0||£18|
|Monthly service charge||£0||£20|
|Contract||12 months||12 months|
Last updated: 20th January, 2021.
So how does HSBC compare to its competitors? Well, these rates are a little higher than what’s offered by other UK merchant services providers. Paymentsense, for example, charges just 0.75% for debit card transactions and 0.96% for credit cards.
That said, Global Payments’ 12-month contract is one of the shortest in the business — especially when compared to other industry giants such as Worldpay (18 months) and Lloyds Cardnet (48 months). So, on balance, the package offered by HSBC and Global Payments is a good one.
What's HSBC's customer service like?
Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?
The bad news is that HSBC has a truly awful reputation for customer service. Of 4,505 reviews on Trustpilot, 88% rate the company 1 star, or ‘Bad' — the lowest possible rating. That’s a seriously bad score, even for a bank, and leaves HSBC slapped with an overall Trustpilot rating of 1.3/5…sheesh.
The good news is that as an HSBC merchant services customer you don’t have to deal with them directly. You’re looked after by Global Payments, and that company has a thoroughly respectable 3.7/5 rating (from 1,215 reviews at the time of writing) on the same review aggregator.
Granted, 3.7 out of 5 isn’t all that impressive, but bear in mind that the majority of people who leave online reviews have had a negative experience of some kind — and most customers who have a positive experience won’t bother writing about it. So, again, on balance Global Payments is doing OK.
Global Payments’ customer support line is free, and it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The advisors are trained to provide both technical and procedural support, and from looking at the reviews, the majority of customers seem genuinely pleased with the level of support they received. Here’s what one had to say:
Excellent phone service
“Phones are answered swiftly without being transferred. The operators are always very well informed and sort any issues out quickly over the phone. An example as to how business should be done.”
Peter Burke, 17/05/2019
It’s worth noting, though, that this is the only review Peter has posted on Trustpilot. Read into that what you will…
What other merchant services and payment gateway providers should I consider?
HSBC's payment gateway won't be for everybody – and, given that grim Trustpilot rating we just witnessed, you can certainly be forgiven for having your doubts.
In that case, who should you opt for instead?
Alternatively, you can select one of the UK's many independent, third-party merchant account providers.
These include names like takepayments, Handepay, Retail Merchant Services, and Fiserv. Ideal for businesses with a larger, more reliable sales turnover, these suppliers come with monthly fees, but offer low transaction rates – and excellent customer support – in exchange.
If you're a very small business, however – and here we're talking micro-merchants, such as market stall traders and tradespeople – you're better off going with a different type of company altogether. In the industry, it's called a payment facilitator (PF), or an aggregated merchant account. Unlike the above providers (which offer dedicated merchant services), PFs batch your transactions together with those of other merchants, to save you money.
This means that these providers are able to offer zero fees to get going, and few ongoing costs – but at the expense of higher per transaction fees. If you're a small business, and think you could benefit form a setup like this, our research suggests that SumUp is your best bet.
With a little help from its friends at Global Payments, HSBC offers everything a business needs to process card payments.
While merchant account fees for small businesses are a little on the steep side, the short 12-month contract is a definite plus point.
The HSBC payment gateway (Global Iris) is as good as anything else in the industry. It’s stable and secure, and the built in management and reporting tools make it easy to keep track of business.
So, do we recommend HSBC merchant services? Yes, absolutely. In terms of what it offers, it's a sound choice of provider for any merchant.
But is HSBC the best merchant services provider for your business? That’s another question entirely.
The only way to know for sure is to get in touch with multiple providers and compare quotes — and this is where Expert Market can help.
Next steps: setting up a merchant account or payment gateway for your business
If you’re interested in setting up a merchant account or payment gateway, or if you’re looking to to switch provider, Expert Market can help you get the best deal for your business.
Our time-saving quote service is designed to save you money by helping you compare prices from leading merchant services providers.
Simply click on the button below and fill in our form. The whole process takes less than a minute, it’s completely free, and there’s no obligation to go with any of the providers we match you with.