MOTO Merchant Accounts Guide 2020

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

What are MOTO (Mail Order / Telephone Order) payments – and how can your business benefit from offering them?

A MOTO merchant account is a specific kind of internet account designed for merchants who wish to accept Mail Order and/or Telephone Order card payments. The MOTO account accepts payment via a secure webpage or virtual terminal which can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.

As they are a form of cardholder not present (CNP) payment processing, they are considered to have a higher level of risk than chip and pin payments.

But what does a MOTO payment look like, and how is a MOTO account different from a regular merchant account? More importantly, which MOTO merchant account providers are best for your business?

Read on to find out, or start by filling out our free webform to receive quotes from top MOTO merchant account suppliers in the UK.

What is a MOTO payment?

MOTO stands for Mail Order Telephone Order. A MOTO payment is a debit or credit card payment that is taken via telephone or through the mail including the conventional postal service, fax, and email. The business collects the necessary card information and processes the payment using a secure web page which is also called a virtual terminal or payment gateway.

The virtual terminal connects to the merchant’s payment processor to authorise the payment which it does by connecting to the bank that issued the card (called the issuing bank) to the customer. The bank carries out security checks on the card and establishes whether there are adequate funds or available credit in the customer’s account. If the card is valid and funds are available, a message is returned that the payment has been authorised, otherwise a payment declined message is transmitted.

The system then provides the merchant with an authorisation number which enables them to print a receipt. When all works well the whole process should take no more than a few seconds.

MOTO payments are usually settled on a daily basis and the funds are transferred to the merchant’s bank account; typically it takes two or three business days for the funds to clear.

What is a MOTO account?

To accept MOTO payments it is necessary for a merchant to have a MOTO merchant account. Merchants who accept only mail order and telephone order payments require a standalone MOTO account or simply a mail order merchant account, but merchants who also accept payments through an ecommerce website will generally use a payment gateway for accepting online card payments that includes the facility to accept MOTO payments.

All forms of card-not-present (CNP) payment processing carry a higher level of risk than card present (CP) transactions (such as using a PDQ machine), as they are inherently more susceptible to fraud. Consequently, MOTO account providers will usually charge higher fees.

MOTO accounts can be set up relatively quickly, generally within a few days. There are many different providers with different fee structures so it pays to shop around and take care to read the small print; sometimes there are hidden costs.

How is it different to a normal account?

A MOTO account or is similar to a normal merchant account; the principal difference is that with a normal merchant account card payments are accepted using a PDQ machine. As these are customer present (CP) payments they are more secure than MOTO payments, consequently the fees that account providers charge are generally considerably cheaper.

Businesses that have a merchant account and wish to accept payments online through their website also need a merchant account for ecommerce and a payment gateway. Most ecommerce merchant accounts also allow vendors to accept MOTO payments.

Generally the fees charged for processing payments through a payment gateway are similar to those charged for MOTO payment processing.

Top 3 MOTO account providers

While most merchant account providers are able to include MOTO payment processing as part of their services, for customers who require just a MOTO account or a MOTO account in conjunction with a Payment Gateway, it is often easier and quicker to use a specialist MOTO account provider. Currently the three top MOTO account providers include Paypoint, NetBanx, and Sagepay.


PayPoint has been providing merchants with payment processing solutions since 1996. The company has continually refined its services concentrating on making payment processing simpler and more secure.

For businesses that simply need a MOTO account, PayPoint provides a simple virtual terminal (VT) allowing most credit and debit card payments to be processed quickly and securely. The VT is hosted on and merchants simply log on through its secure interface and input the payment card details. The merchant doesn’t need a website and the system can be used simultaneously by multiple users; ideal for merchants who use a call centre. The VT provides real time reporting for rapid payment reconciliation.


NetBanx was founded in 1996 and provides payment processing solutions globally. NetBanx services include a proprietary Payment Gateway for ecommerce, MOTO and multi-channel payment processing.

MOTO account holders can process all major credit cards through the NetBanx web based virtual terminal. They can also accept direct debit payments over the phone, by mail and by fax. The system can be accessed by multiple users and is suitable for use by call centres. The system offers the highest level of security and all transactions are screened for possible fraud.

Sage Pay

Sage Pay was launched in 2001 as Protx to provide safe online payment service to small to medium sized businesses. Protx rebranded itself as Sage Pay in 2009 and currently provides services to over 50,000 customers across Europe.

Sage Pay is popular with MOTO merchants because of its transparent pricing structure. It charges small businesses a monthly fee of £15 which includes up to 100 transactions. Larger companies with over 1,500 transactions are able to negotiate bespoke pricing.

All major cards can be processed via the sage pay hosted virtual terminal (VT) and funds are settled within two working days. There is no elaborate set up needed; merchants simply log in to the VT and start processing payments.

Next steps

While the three MOTO providers mentioned here have some excellent solutions, they won’t be the best choice for all businesses. For more information on similar providers, please complete our web form, and several of them will contact you directly with quotes tailored to fit your particular business model.

It’s a great way to save time, effort, and perhaps some money too.

Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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