Pay by Link. How to Generate a Payment Link on the Web?
Did you know that payment links are among the most efficient and effective checkout options to offer your customers today? Many payment processors now provide them as low-cost tools that enable freelancers and small businesses to invoice their customers in a simplified way.
With the support of a good payment processor, you can generate a payment link and make it unique to a single transaction or associate it with only a particular product or service. You can also personalise it for a single customer or make it clickable for anyone.
Payment links are good for managing quotations, invoicing, and subscriptions. That is because they are so flexible that you can determine whether a payment link is to work permanently for regular payments or temporarily for one-time usage.
In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about the pay-by-link method. We will show you the best payment processors with payment link features that allow merchants to get paid quickly by their customers.
What is a Payment Link?
A payment link is a secure and reliable way to request money from your customers by sending them a uniform resource locator (URL) or quick response (QR) code that starts the process of an online transaction. It serves as an alternative to a traditional POS terminal at a physical store or a shopping cart used at an e-commerce site.
A payment link is often provided through email or a short message service (SMS). In reality, though, it can be sent via websites and messaging applications wherever a URL can be dropped.
When a payment link is clicked, it takes the customer to a website or payment gateway that has already been pre-loaded with the purchase information. The customer only has to provide their payment information and complete the transaction with the payment processor to authorise their financial institution to send the money to the seller.
Types of Payment Links and Their Usage
You can use a link to get paid if you do not have a POS terminal or an online store. There are different types of payment links, and it is important to know them. That is because, when you ask a payment processor to enable you to generate a payment link, you will have to be clear about how you would like your customers to pay you for your product or service.
The following are the most popular types of payment links:
- Pay by link
- QR code
- Payment button or buy button
Pay by link
The pay-by-link method refers to when you send a secure direct payment link to your customer via SMS, email, or any other text messaging platform. When the customer receives the message and clicks the link, they will be directed to an online payment page where they can enter their card or bank details and complete the transaction.
Pay by link is often used by many businesses today, including e-commerce stores, sole proprietors, freelancers, and digital nomads. The purpose is to make the payment process as simple as using a browser to open a URL on a smartphone, laptop, or desktop computer.
The QR code payment method is an indirect payment link. Another name for it is "Scan to pay." It is much like the pay-by-link method, except that it does not reveal the legible details of the payment link until the code is scanned by a QR camera or reader, which is usually an app on a smartphone. When scanned, the URL for payment is then exposed. The buyer will have to click on it to go to the payment portal.
The QR code type of payment link is often used in many sectors, including healthcare, marketing, education, fashion, food, and payments. Both small and large retailers use it. Popular examples include Walmart, Zara, Starbucks, and Amazon.
Payment button or buy button
The payment button is also known as the "pay button" or "buy button." It is typically a small piece of hypertext markup language (HTML) code that allows payments to be made in an online retail store. While the pay-by-link method offers a direct link and the QR code method provides an indirect link, the pay or buy button is an icon on the website of merchant. This type of payment link can be added to a website, blog, or social media platform (like Facebook and Twitter).
A pay button serves as a redirect link that sends the customer to the payment portal, which is hosted on the website of the merchant or that of the payment processor. Here, the buyer does not directly see a copied URL. He or she only has to click on a button, and it will take them to the checkout page, where they can enter their payment details and complete the transaction. This method is offered by many online merchants. A popular example is Shopify.
Types of Businesses That Use Payment Links
Although virtually every organisation that does business transactions might benefit from using a payment link service, certain establishments will find this payment method more useful than others. In general, companies that send invoices to clients electronically perform better with payment links.
Examples of various business establishments that can use payment links include, but are not limited to, the following:
- E-commerce stores
- Drop shipping sites
- Digital product sellers and subscription services.
- Membership services.
- Consulting services.
- Medical services.
- Construction companies.
- Affiliate marketing services.
- Freelancers and sole proprietors.
- Business-to-business (B2B) companies.
- Business-to-customer (B2C) firms.
- Customer-to-business (C2B) enterprises.
- Government agencies.
Benefits of Using Payment Links
Payment links provide a lot of benefits to businesses. Below are the most important ones:
- Ease of payment: Payment links simplify how your customers pay you for your goods or services. All they will have to do is click the appropriate links from anywhere, enter their payment details, and submit them. Moreover, e-wallet plug-ins can be added to further simplify the process, enabling them to use their digital wallets..
- Easy setup: Setting up a payment link is easier than building your own website or getting other expensive enabling infrastructure. All you have to do is contact a payment processor with features for this kind of service, and you will have your system configured and working 24/7.
- Versatility and flexibility: A payment link can be placed anywhere on your e-commerce site. For a physical store, you can print the URL or QR code and paste it on a wall, door, desk, or anywhere your customers can easily see it and make their payments.
- Security: Payment links typically offer high levels of security and safety for transactions. Your customers will be directed straight to the payment page on your website or that of your payment processing service provider. So, you will have nothing to fear when you use this method.
- Fast invoicing: If you used to rely on billing your customers by sending them a regular email reminder with your bank details, you no longer need to use such a slow method. Instead, all you will have to do is include payment links in the emails or SMS, and your customers will find it easy to complete the transaction in time.
- Bulk invoicing: There are times you may need to send invoices to many of your customers or subscribers and expect prompt responses. At such moments, you can use payment links to send invoices to a large number of your customers and manage bulk payments conveniently.
Best Payment Processors That Offer Payment Links
Compared to other popular methods like payment cards and money transfers, the fintech world has only recently welcomed links. This innovative payment method has been added to the products of a few payment solution services on the market.
Popular examples of payment link providers are Stripe, HubSpot Payments, PayPal, Venmo, Square, Adyen, Wave, Paysley, QuickBooks Online, WorldPay from FIS, Revolut, and WePay. But not all of them offer the best quality of service for businesses to generate and manage pay by links. So, we compared their products, security, safety, user reviews, and pros and cons, and found that you only need to use any of the below six payment processors with support for the links.
Overview: Stripe is a world-class payment processor and fintech company that provides a wide range of solutions (financial infrastructure) for businesses of all kinds. It is ideal for ambitious companies that want simple, programmable, fast, secure, and borderless ways to send and receive money.
Applicable product(s): Stripe provides Stripe Payment Links and Stripe Checkout products for businesses to sell online, with or without a website. The company enables their clients to create shareable links and get paid in minutes without having to write a line of code.
Users: Stripe is for all kinds of establishments that manage payments. Many fintech startups, digital subscription service providers, and e-commerce businesses that know how to choose a payment service provider ensured to contact Stripe. Examples of these companies are Klarna, Apple, WeChat, iDEAL, Alipay, Shopify, Zoom, Google, Slack, Amazon, and Salesforce.
Payment methods: Stripe supports many different payment methods, which include:
- Bank debits and transfers (SEPA transfers, ACH Direct Debit, and similar others).
- Bank redirects (iDEAL, FPX, Sofort, giropay, and others).
- Cards (such as Visa, Mastercard, China Union Pay, and American Express).
- E-wallets and m-wallets (the likes of Alipay, Google Pay, and Apple Pay).
- Buy now, pay later—BNPL (such as Klarna and Afterpay).
- Real-time payments (the likes of PromptPay and PayNow).
- Vouchers (such as Konbini and OXXO).
Cost: The pricing for Stripe Payment Link services starts at 1.2% + €0.25 per successful European card transaction, or 2.9% + €0.25 for international cards.
Get started: To create an account with Stripe, click here. Also, we encourage you to read our detailed review of Stripe for more information about its products, developer tools, and pricing.
Overview: Square provides powerful tools for businesses to accept payments securely and maintain strong communication with their growing customers while efficiently managing their employees. It offers reliable POS systems for in-person sales and several tools for online payments.
Applicable product(s): Square offers the Square Buy Button with an easily embeddable HTML code for fast and secure online checkout. It also provides the Square Online Checkout API and Square QR code shareable payment links, which come with support for BNPL transactions through Afterpay. You can put its customisable buy button on your blog or website and run it like you have a crowdfunding platform or an e-commerce establishment with subscription services.
Users: Square’s payment link products are available for all kinds of businesses, including membership organisations, professional services, and healthcare and fitness establishments.
Payment methods: Square supports a wide variety of payment methods, like Stripe. They include credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets, and m-wallets.
Cost: Square provides its payment link and standard processing services at the price of 1.4% + €0.25 per online transaction in the EU and EEA. Cards from the United Kingdom and outside the European Economic Area are processed at a rate of 2.9% + €0.25.
Get started: To create an account with Square, click here.
Overview: Adyen is a single solution for businesses to experience easy and fast financial management and end-to-end payment processing. It allows them to offer a variety of payment methods, including links and QR codes, to their customers so that they can complete their transactions wherever and however they would like to.
Applicable product(s): The Adyen Pay by Link product includes a QR code for businesses to get paid online and in store. They do not need to build and maintain an app or a website to use this service. That is because any customisable payment link can be created using the Adyen Dashboard.
Users: Many businesses use Adyen to accept payments and control their finances. Examples of them are eBay, Uber, Wix, LinkedIn, Booking.com, and McDonald’s.
Payment methods: Adyen provides support for different payment methods, including cards, digital wallets, and mobile wallets.
Cost: Adyen’s processing fee starts at €0.10 + a variable percentage charge that depends on the payment method used for the transaction.
Get started: To create an account with Adyen, click here.
Overview: Revolut is a super service that helps individuals and businesses take care of everything that has to do with payment processing, money transfer, savings, investment, cryptocurrency, commodities, and wealth management. It provides very strong security systems while also working with many partners to maintain excellent products and services.
Applicable product(s): With Revolut Payment Links and Revolut QR codes, you can enable your customers to make fast and convenient payments with or without having your own page. No coding is required to use these products. Moreover, for faster payments, you can integrate them with a cloud-based tool like Xero.
Users: Revolut’s payment link solutions can be used by any type of business, including sole proprietors, freelancers, subscription services, partnerships, and corporations.
Payment methods: Revolut supports different payment methods. They include bank transfers, Visa and Mastercard cards, linked accounts, and even cash and cheque.
Cost: For its payment link installation and processing services, Revolut charges a fee of €0.20 + 1% for European cards, €0.20 + 2.8% for international cards, and €0.20 + 1% for Revolut Pay transactions.
Get started: To create an account with Revolut, click here. You can also read our Revolut overview to learn more about its status as a neobank, payment processor, and financial super app.
5. PayPal (PayPal.Me)
Overview: PayPal offers an easy-to-use solution to e-commerce businesses of all types. It provides fast payment processing tools and services for simplified online and in-person shopping.
Applicable product(s): PayPal offers a payment link product called “PayPal.Me” and PayPal Payment Buttons. These services allow you to create customisable links and buttons with which your customers can pay you.
Users: Millions of small-to-medium-sized businesses use PayPal to manage payments—online checkout, invoicing, POS Systems, and links. Examples of its corporate users are Kiva, OWC, GRUBHUB, GiveDirectly, and FANDANGO.
Payment methods: PayPal supports many different payment methods. They include debit and credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, UnionPay, Discover, and American Express), digital wallets, bank redirects, direct banking, and BNPL services.
Cost: PayPal charges a standard fee of $0.30 + 2.9% or its euro equivalent per transaction via its payment link service—PayPal.Me.
Get started: To create an account with PayPal, click here.
Overview: Venmo is the go-to fintech company for the safe, fast, and secure processing of electronic payments in a socially-focused manner that promotes communication between payers and payees. It is a service of PayPal that supports both online and in-person transactions. You can connect its payment links to your website and mobile app for your customers to have convenient checkout options.
Applicable product(s): Venmo used to provide developer and payout APIs for its customers, but it has retired them. The available options for its business clients are its Venmo Payment Links and Venmo QR codes. You can generate a simple URL and share it with your customer to get paid, or you can display a QR code for your customers to scan and pay you. Customers can pay with their linked bank cards or Venmo accounts.
Users: Venmo payment links were designed to be used by sole proprietors, registered businesses, and clubs or associations.
Payment methods: Venmo supports a variety of payment methods. They include bank transfers and debit and credit cards.
Cost: Venmo charges a standard fee of 1.9% + $0.10 (or its euro equivalent) for each payment internationally.
Get started: To create a business account with Venmo, click here.
There is no straightforward answer to this question. That is because a link is only as safe as the company or payment processor that generated it. That is why business owners and managers who want to offer pay-by-link options to their customers must choose only the best payment processors in the market. We have introduced them to you in this article. With them, you are sure that all transactions will be encrypted and tokenized to protect your data and that the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) will be followed.
There are simple ways you can determine whether a payment link is safe for you to click on or scan. Firstly, are you expecting it from the sender? If yes, then it is most likely safe.
Secondly, you should check whether the URL begins with "HTTPS" or "https" before clicking it. If it does not have an "s" after the "http," it means that the site is not secure, and you could be at risk of losing your personal data or money.
Lastly, you should not have any transactions with an insecure payment solution provider. The best payment processing services, like Stripe, Square, Adyen, Revolut, PayPal, and Venmo, provide fraud prevention and follow international standards for payment security. Deal with only these kinds of companies.
The steps you need to follow to create a payment link might vary from one payment processor to another. Nevertheless, there are four common steps involved:
- Create an account: The first step in generating a payment link is to create an account with a payment solution provider that offers features for your customers to pay you by link. Note that an underwriting process or a credit check might be required to open this kind of account.
- Setup a page for payment: If you cannot do this yourself, your payment processor will help you set up a page to manage your transactions or payments. Anytime your customer clicks on your link or buy button, they will be taken to this page, which will show the details of the transaction and what payment information they need to provide to send the money to your account.
- Generate an associated link: This step depends on your payment processor and the way you would like your links to be generated. If you want to have links for particular products or services, this is the stage when they will have to be created. It is also at this stage that you determine who can access the link—private or public access.
- Send the link: In this final stage, you can test the generated link by sending yourself a small invoice to ensure that everything works well. When confirmed, you can share the link with your customers or send it to them via any messaging platform.
By now, you should be feeling ready to test this innovative payment system. You may, however, be unsure of how to select the best payment link solution provider. For that reason, we would ask you to follow these steps before making a choice:
- Evaluate the need for a payment link: Although most businesses will benefit from offering a payment link, this service is not for every commercial enterprise. Your business might just be doing fine without it. Therefore, evaluate the situation of your transactions and payments to see whether adding a payment link will fill a significant operational gap.
- Check with your current payment processor: If you realise that your business needs a payment link, check with the company that is currently managing the processing of your payments. Ask whether it can help you generate a payment link. If it can, discuss the pricing and other terms.
- Get a payment processor with support for links: This step is necessary if your current payment processor does not offer pay-by-link services. In that case, you will ask for the most reliable service providers in the market and choose the one that is most suitable and affordable to you. If you do not know where to find them, do not worry; we will show you in the next section.
The benefits of pay by link include easy platform setup, ease of payment initiation and processing, flexible and customisable tools, fast invoicing, high security, and bulk invoicing.
A payment link typically lasts for 30 days. It does not expire until the transaction has been completed or when the seller has achieved it.
You can receive money from a link by using the service of a payment processor that offers pay-by-link options. It will enable you to generate a payment link that you can share with your customers.
Yes, payment links can be shared via email, SMS, and messaging platforms.
Start Using Payment Links Today!
Now you know how to use a payment link for your business. Get this knowledge to work for you by creating an account with a suitable service provider. Remember to implement your preferred pay-by-link system using one of the best online payment link providers that we have mentioned in this article. Compare them and pick the one that best suits your company's needs for both online and offline payments. We wish you prompt, secure, and timely payment receipts from your customers.