PayPal provides a variety of products to help business owners and developers process and manage payments. If you want to use your PayPal like a standard merchant account and process credit cards directly on your website, over the phone, or within your applications, you’ll need to upgrade your account to Payments Pro.
PayPal Payments Pro has seen many changes over the years. One of the recent changes involved renaming some of their products, and this has caused lots of confusion when it comes to Payments Pro.
In this article we’ll cover the history of Payments Pro and explain all of the flavors to help you avoid confusion when signing up for and ultimately integrating Payments Pro into your website or application.
VeriSign Payment Services – PayFlow Gateway
With standard merchant account service providers, you will often find that you need two pieces to complete the solution: the merchant account itself (to process your visa/mc/discover/amex transactions), and a gateway product (which allows developers to integrate the merchant account into applications.)
VeriSign is a company that developed and maintained one of the leading gateway products in the industry. It is compatible with lots of different merchant account providers and is very widely used. Again, though, people using the PayFlow gateway typically pair it with a merchant account from a separate company.
Today, many merchant account providers will also provide their own gateway so that a 3rd party is no longer required. In fact, PayPal was one of the first to do so when they introduced Website Payments Pro.
PayPal Website Payments Pro
Website Payments Pro was PayPal’s first launch of merchant services that included a gateway product (the PayPal API.)
By upgrading a standard PayPal account to a Website Payments Pro account, businesses could receive credit card payments exactly the same way they would with a “normal” merchant account. The payer can simply enter their credit card details into a form directly on the website or application to complete the payment, and they do not need to have a PayPal account.
The Website Payments Pro gateway consisted of the DoDirectPayment API on the PayPal web service platform. Developers could easily tie the direct credit card processing into their websites or applications using this API. Website Payments Pro made it up to version 3.0 before changes started happening, and you simply logged in to your account at http://www.paypal.com to manage everything.
PayPal’s Acquisition of VeriSign Payment Services
PayPal saw that their gateway product was limited in some of the features that other gateways offered. They found themselves trying to decide whether they should continue development of their own gateway products or go another route. On November 18, 2005, PayPal acquired VeriSign’s Payment Services business.
This acquisition brought in everything VeriSign had to offer including the PayFlow gateway, which was a much more mature gateway in terms of development time and features.
At this point, PayPal began the process of tying their own merchant account product (Website Payments Pro) into the PayFlow gateway.
PayPal Website Payments Pro PayFlow Edition
When PayPal first made their merchant services available on the PayFlow gateway it was launched as Website Payments Pro PayFlow Edition with a 1.5 version tag. I can only assume that 1.0 was considered PayFlow without PayPal, and when they added their own merchant service they released it as 1.5. There is probably more detail to that in reality, but that’s an easy way to understand it.
When using Payments Pro PayFlow Edition you had your regular http://www.paypal.com account, but then you also have a separate account at http://manager.paypal.com which was called the PayFlow Manager. This was used to manage all of your PayFlow gateway settings, view reports, etc.
At this point, we now have PayPal Website Payments Pro 3.0, which uses their own DoDirectPayment API gateway. We also have a separate gateway product, PayFlow, which now has the ability to use PayPal’s merchant service within it and this was Website Payments Pro PayFlow Edition 1.5.
These are essentially two separate products. If you’re using Website Payments Pro 3.0 you can only use the DoDirectPayment API to integrate into your website and applications and you would only login to http://www.paypal.com. If you’re using PayFlow Edition 1.5, you can only use the PayFlow API gateway to integrate into your website and applications, and you would actually have logins at both http://www.paypal.com as well as http://manager.paypal.com.
PayPal Payments Pro
Not too long ago, PayPal dropped the word Website from the product name and it is now known as simply Payments Pro.
One very important thing to note about this change is that they are now pushing everybody into the PayFlow gateway. Rather than have one Payments Pro that uses their own gateway and another Payments Pro that uses PayFlow, they’re simply using the PayFlow gateway for all Payments Pro accounts now. This bumped the PayFlow Edition version to 2.0, but again, they dropped that from the product name so it’s simply called PayPal Payments Pro.
When on a PayPal Payments Pro 2.0 account, you have access to both http://www.paypal.com and http://manager.paypal.com, and you also have full access to use both the PayFlow gateway or the DoDirectPayment gateway.
Now, the manager site is called PayPal manager instead of PayFlow Manager and it also includes new products and features like Payments Advanced, which gives you the merchant account + gateway combination in a PCI compliant package.
Confusion and Things to Consider
Unfortunately, all of the changes with Payments Pro has caused lots of confusion amongst business owners and developers alike. When somebody tells you they’re using PayPal Payments Pro, you don’t know if they’re referring to the old Website Payments Pro 3.0 with DoDirectPayment, the PayFlow Edition 1.5 with PayFlow gateway, or Payments Pro 2.0 with full access to both.
This all depends on the date the PayPal account was created and what version of Payments Pro is compatible with any given PayPal account version.
As such, if you sign up for Payments Pro now you need to make sure and figure out from PayPal which version you’re on. I’ve seen all too often where developers will spend time integrating DoDirectPayment just to find out their client isn’t compatible with that and needs PayFlow instead or visa-versa. You can call PayPal and ask them to verify which version the PayPal account owner is using: Website Payments Pro 3.0, Website Payments Pro PayFlow Edition 1.5, or Payments Pro 2.0. Once you know this for sure you can move forward with development confident that you won’t be wasting valuable time.
PayPal Payments Pro has changed alot over the years. While some of it may seem confusing and frustrating, the end result is a truly fantastic merchant account solution with a solid gateway product, and I feel it was well worth it.
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