Starting a Payment Service Provider Business From Scratch

Starting a PSP business from scratch is an ambitious yet achievable goal, especially in a world where online transactions are continually increasing. The payment processing services market is booming and is expected to grow from $74 billion in 2021 to over $192 billion by 2030.

Understanding how to start a payment processing company can help you better grasp the ins and outs of this thriving industry.

Understanding The Basics


Before proceeding, it’s crucial to understand the PSP business model. As a payment provider, you will mediate between merchants and financial institutions.

Your role is to provide customers with a secure, efficient, and user-friendly payment processing platform. This involves ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, integrating various payment methods, and offering robust security measures to protect sensitive financial data.


Steps to Launching a PSP Business


To become a payment processor, you will need:


Market Research


Market research is the cornerstone of your PSP business. Begin by hiring marketing professionals to help you understand the landscape of payment processing providers. Identify your target market and analyse their needs and preferences. Define your business objectives, mission statement, and value proposition to clarify your goals and direction.

Next, conduct a thorough competitor analysis. Understand what other payment processors offer, their strengths and weaknesses, and identify gaps in the market that your business can fill. Outline your revenue model, pricing strategy, and marketing approach to ensure your business plan is robust and competitive.


Financial Planning


Financial planning is critical to ensure you have the resources to launch and sustain your payment processing business. Estimate your startup costs, including technology infrastructure, licensing fees, and hiring expenses. A detailed financial plan will help you manage your resources efficiently and ensure your PSP’s financial health.


Solution Design


Hire a Research & Development (R&D) team to determine your payment platform’s features, functionalities, and specifications. Map out the customer journey to ensure a seamless user experience. If possible, invest in UX/UI design to enhance the platform’s usability.

Next, select the payment methods and vendors you will integrate and design the architecture and technology stack. Plan the development stages and assemble a capable team to bring your vision to life.



The delivery phase involves the actual development of your online payment solution. Start with the coding phase to build your system. After building the core components, conduct Alpha and Beta testing to identify and resolve any issues.

These tests are crucial for ensuring your digital payment processing platform’s reliability and functionality. Once testing is complete, prepare the production environment meticulously to guarantee a smooth and successful rollout.


Risk Management


Implementing a robust risk management strategy is essential to protect your payment services business. Develop comprehensive risk management policies and procedures to mitigate potential threats. Establish contingency plans and protocols to handle security breaches effectively. Additionally, train your staff on security best practices to ensure sensitive financial data’s safety and foster a culture of vigilance and preparedness.


Legal and Regulatory Compliance


Engage compliance experts to help you navigate and adhere to the regulatory requirements of the payment processing industry. Obtain all necessary licenses, permits, and certifications to ensure your business operates legally.

Some key regulations and requirements you might encounter include:

  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations: Essential for preventing fraud and ensuring secure transactions
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Mandatory if you’re operating in the European Union to protect personal data and privacy
  • ISO 27001 certification: Ensures your information security management system meets international standards
  • Specific licenses: Such as a Money Transmitter License (MTL) in the US or an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license in the EU

Please note that these requirements can vary depending on your jurisdiction and specific regulatory environment. The cost of obtaining licenses can vary widely, ranging from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars or more, depending on the scale and complexity of your operation.

This fundamental step also involves setting up merchant accounts with acquiring banks or payment processors to facilitate payment acceptance.


Merchant Onboarding and Maintenance


A seamless onboarding experience is crucial for attracting and retaining merchants on your platform. Start by recruiting customer success and support specialists dedicated to assisting merchants through the onboarding process. Develop an efficient onboarding system that simplifies and accelerates merchant integration, making it easy for them to start using your platform.

Ensure that your customer support channels are not only responsive but also proactive in addressing any issues that may arise. By maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction through excellent support, you can foster long-term relationships with your merchants and encourage them to stay with your platform.


Acquiring Your First Merchant


Acquiring your first merchant is a significant milestone. To achieve this, hire experienced sales professionals who can effectively attract and engage your initial customers. Identify the most effective channels for generating leads and reaching potential customers, whether through digital marketing, networking events, or partnerships.

Once you have identified potential merchants, work diligently to sign your first contract. This initial success not only validates your PSP business model but also sets the stage for future growth. Successfully onboarding your first merchant and starting to process transactions marks the beginning of your operational phase and helps build credibility in the market.


Go Live


The go-live phase is where your hard work starts to pay off. Onboard your first merchant and begin processing live transactions. Ensure everything runs smoothly to build trust with your initial customers. This is a critical phase, so be prepared to address any issues that arise promptly.


Get Ready For Scaling


Once your business is operational, the next critical step is to focus on scaling. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Develop a marketing strategy. Craft a robust marketing strategy to attract more merchants to your platform. Utilise digital marketing, social media, content marketing, and other channels to reach a broader audience. Tailor your messaging to highlight the unique value proposition of your PSP business and how it can solve your potential customers’ pain points
  • Forge strategic partnerships. Establish partnerships with banks, card networks, and other financial institutions to enhance your service offerings. These partnerships can provide additional features and benefits to your merchants, making your platform more attractive
  • Explore white-label and reseller opportunities. These can significantly expand your market reach by allowing other businesses to use your platform under their brand or by enabling partners to sell your services to their customers
  • Continuous product and service improvement. Gather feedback from your merchants and use it to make informed improvements. Innovate to meet your customer’s evolving needs and stay ahead of industry trends

Becoming a PSP is a challenging yet highly rewarding goal. Stay focused on delivering exceptional value to your merchants, continuously improve your offerings, and adapt to the dynamic payment processing industry. With unwavering dedication and the right strategies, your PSP business is poised to thrive and excel.