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*This article is mainly pertinent to South African citizens, but we hope readers from other countries might find some wisdom here as well.

One of the questions we always ask, or are asked, when doing an E-commerce store for a client is “which payment gateway do you want to/I should I use”? This question can have a few answers based on the answer to this next question: Will you only be selling your products in South Africa, or do you want to sell globally?

If your answer was “Only in South Africa”, then hands-down our recommendation is: Payfast. If your answer is “globally” then we would suggest either PayPal, or Payfast, depending to the trouble you want to go through with your store and to claim your funds, and what options you want to give your customers.

We’re going to write a whole article on the hoops you’ll have to jump through if you want to be able to offer PayPal to your customers soon, so keep an eye on our blog!

An overview of Payfast

Payfast is a third party payment gateway made by South Africans, for South Africans. Payfast allows you to accept a fair number of payment types online, absolutely securely. They will process payments made by Credit & cheque cards, Instant EFT, Bitcoin, mobicred, ATM debit cards (via Visa Electron and Maestro), Masterpass and Scode. So you can still offer payment methods to international customers with Payfast. All funds will be transferred into your Payfast account in South African Rands.

It’s super easy to get set up, and doesn’t cost you a cent to do so. You will have to do some authorization between your Payfast account and your preferred bank account. Payfast will take a small percentage of every transaction made through your website (1.9% – 4%, depending on the type of transaction; some transactions also have a R2 fee on top of the percentage taken), and when you want to transfer money from your Payfast account into any South African Bank account they will charge R8.70 to do so. These costs currently exclude VAT.

Take a look at their site for their full Ts & Cs. They are really transparent, and very helpful.

One of the primary reasons that we would still recommend Payfast over PayPal for selling globally is that PayPal does not support Rands. This means that you have to set your store currency in Dollar, Euro, or any other currency it does support, and would have to enter all you product prices at that currency equivalent. You could potentially have a currency converter to show your prices in Rands on the front-end of your site, but your product would still be charged in whatever currency you set as your store currency to be compatible with PayPal. If this does not bother you, and if you want to be able to offer PayPal-to-PayPal payment to your customers, then by all means, use PayPal. PayPal still lets you pay via credit card, so you’re not losing that functionality for your shop.

Because PayPal doesn’t support Rand, we would not recommend using both PayPal and Payfast on your shop, as you can only set your store to be in one currency.