Monday, 22 March 2010

Payment gateways for web sites in South Africa

This article is about the pains and difficulties that I’ve experienced in trying to integrate ZenCart with a (credit Card) payment gateway in South Africa.  There has been a lot of talk about which shopping cart software to use (ZenCart, VirtueMart, osCommerce, Comersus, CubeCart, WHMCS, WP eCommerce, UberCart).  I’ve decided to use ZenCart and VirtueMart – mainly because I’ve needed them integrated into a Content Management System (CMS) – but that’s another story.

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The criteria for choosing a payment gateway were (in order of priority):
* Based in South Africa
* easy (or cheap, off-the-shelf) integration with ZenCart
* low or zero monthly charges
* no charges until the site went into production
* competitive commissions on credit card transactions
* competitive per transaction fees

Our e-commerce site was going to be a low volume site to start with – so the monthly costs were the scary part and I was on the lookout for a zero monthly fee gateway…

When designing my e-Commerce site, I Google’d around and saw that there seemed to be a working, off-the-shelf integration module for ZenCart-and-NetCash and some reviews saying that it was a relatively easy integration.

The MacGeek site had a discussion “Payment gateways for websites in South Africa – a crowdsourcing experiment” that brought together some frustrated developers trying to find the best services. 
There was also a ZenCart plugin to NetCash for R100 and others – but that site and software is no longer available (or didn’t work?).  Various people complained that although the plugin processed the payment, it did not record the payment or the order in the order page in the ZenCart admin page, it did not send an email detailing the order to the administrator or the client, so a payment is made without knowledge of the administrator. VERY frustrating.

PayPal is an option – especially with FNB’s announcement that it would be representing PayPal in South Africa – but when?  For now – I looked around and here’s what I found:

The has very useful information and this is where I think I started smiling :)
The article “New developments on the super merchant front and announcement of PayPal launch in SA” lists a few options: PayFast: offering credit card payment facility and a PayFast voucher system to their existing instant EFT and Ukash payment options and also offer free payment modules – see below for links to download them for free!  

Setcom have separated and rebranded their services and their super merchant service is now called MonsterPay. Setcom is now solely the credit card payment gateway service for online retailers with bank merchant accounts, and SID (or Secure Instant Deposit) is their web-based instant EFT service.


PayFast have free payment modules (click to download them) for ZenCart 1.3.8a, VirtueMart 1.1.3, VirtueMart 1.0.15osCommerce 2.2, CubeCart 4.3.0, CubeCart 3.0.18, WHMCS 4.1.2, WP eCommerce 3.7.5.
I must say, PayFast have HTT’s endorsement for a very well thought out web site – very informative and I had my ZenCart integrated with PayFast’s payment gateway in less than 2 hours!  Free driver, well written “Integration Guide” with test logins and passwords available on the web site – wonderful!  (Hat-tip to the technical team @ PayFast).  Oh, and their driver worked flawlessly – with a gr8 ZenCart install package.  This is the only driver that HTT actually installed and tested – no need to look any further – unless one of the other vendors would like me to do that for them?
Rates are very good too – with no monthly fee, no setup fee.  Just a transaction fee (R2) and competitive commission (4.9%). Excl. VAT.

Mygate have free payment modules (click to download them) for OsCommerce, Joomla with VirtueMart Version 1.0.12, Joomla with VirtueMart Version 1.5.3, Cube Cart, Cube Cart version 4, ZenCart, Comersus

Setcom have free payment modules for OsCommerce module and ZenCart module.
BUT, fees: there’s a monthly fee (R250), setup fee (R250).

PayGate have free payment modules: OSCommerceZenCart, VirtueMart, Drupal Ubercart, CS-Cart
Pricing is provided on request (after filling out a form – WTF!)

NetCash: As mentioned above, this is where I started my journey – thinking that there was a cheap (R100) plugin for NetCash and ZenCart – but, when I tried it, I was horribly disappointed.  I landed up wasting a few long frustrating nights doubting my ZenCart (and php) skills.  The plugin processed the payment, BUT it did not record the payment nor the order in the order page in the ZenCart admin page, and it did not send an email detailing the order to the administrator or the client, so a payment is made without knowledge of the administrator. VERY frustrating.  It was then that I started looking for another driver and came across these other free payment modules.  The other vendors have woken up to the need to make integration to their gateways a painless (and seamless) exercise. 
NetCash – here’s some constructive advice: best you wake up and provide drivers similar to the quality of PayFast - else I doubt whether you’ll get very many eCommerce sites connecting up.
Fees: R160 monthly fee (only kicks in after your first real transaction); R1.00 per transaction; Commission on Credit Card transactions 5.0%

Moneybookers: Also has free integration modules.  See here for the list
Fees are very low too: 2.9%: Merchant fees  and other rates
No monthly fees, no setup charges.


  1. Thanks for the plug, HTT ;-)

    Glad you like our work!

    Jonathan Smit
    MD & Co-Founder - PayFast

  2. Specializing in small and medium-sized businesses in both traditional and Internet environments, Merchant services has one of the highest merchant acceptance rates in the industry, with most applications approved within two business days.

    In addition, our technological advances have effectively harnessed and exceeded the growing demands in the processing industry—allowing us to support nearly every vertical market with increasing and profitable business solutions.

  3. Hi Guys

    We have a Netcash credit card payment gateway for WHMCS.
    For more info visit:

    30% DISCOUNT for the first 15 purchases. Use the promotional code during the order process: netcashccpromo

    Netcash Debit Order module for WHMCS coming soon.


  4. Hi Guys, is there any payment module for cs cart v4


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