What Is Payment Aggregator vs Payment Gateway? | Exploring the Key Differences | CatalystPay

What Is Payment Aggregator vs Payment Gateway? | Exploring the Key Differences

  • 18 min read
  • 03 april 2024

Deciding on how to process online payments is a big step for any business. In this blog, we'll dive into what payment gateways vs payment aggregators are, giving you a clear breakdown of each. You'll learn about their benefits and how they fit into different business models, empowering you to make an informed decision that supports your business's growth. Whether you're a startup exploring payment solutions or an established entity revising your payment systems, understanding these platforms is crucial in selecting the optimal payment processing method for your business. 

So let’s dig a little deeper: 

What is a Payment Gateway?

Think of a payment gateway as a digital intermediary, tasked with the critical mission of securely transmitting payment details from the customer to the merchant's bank. At the core of its function is the ability to encrypt sensitive information, like credit card digits, guaranteeing that this data is securely passed from the consumer to the merchant and onward to the payment processor for seamless processing.

Understanding the Functionality of Payment Gateways

A payment gateway performs several key operations in the transaction process:

  • Encryption: At first, the payment gateway secures the consumer's payment information through encryption. This protective measure ensures the data's safety while it moves across the internet, protecting it from unauthorized access and potential fraud.
  • Authorization Request: The encrypted data is then forwarded to the payment processor, which sends a request to the issuing bank for transaction authorization. This step verifies the availability of funds and the authenticity of the payment method.
  • Transaction Completion: Once the issuing bank confirms, the payment gateway notifies both the merchant and the consumer to complete the transaction. If the transaction is declined, the gateway promptly informs all parties.

Payment Gateway

What is a Payment Aggregator?

A payment aggregator is like an all-in-one platform that brings together different payment methods and merchant accounts in one place. This model allows businesses, particularly small to medium-sized ones, to accept various forms of payments without the necessity of establishing individual merchant accounts with banks or credit card issuers. The aggregator acts as a middleman, processing payments on behalf of these businesses and settling funds into their accounts.

Core Functions of Payment Aggregators

  • Consolidation of Payments: By aggregating transactions, these platforms enable businesses to accept a wide range of payment options, from credit and debit cards to digital wallets. This makes things easier for customers and helps enhance their overall experience.
  • Simplified Merchant Onboarding: They significantly reduce the barriers to entry for new and small businesses by eliminating the complex and time-consuming process of setting up direct merchant accounts with financial institutions.
  • Enhanced Security: Payment aggregators follow strict security protocols, such as PCI DSS compliance, to protect sensitive payment information against unauthorized access and fraud. This reassures customers and helps build trust in the online payment process.
  • Streamlined Reporting and Analytics: These platforms provide merchants with detailed reports on transactions, helping them gain valuable insights into their business operations. This data can be used to improve customer experience, optimize pricing strategies, and identify potential areas for growth.

Digging Deeper: Payment Aggregator vs Payment Gateway Comparison

Understanding the distinctions between payment gateways vs payment aggregators is essential for businesses seeking to optimize their online payment solutions. While both serve the critical function of facilitating online payments, they operate under different models and offer unique advantages tailored to specific business needs. Below is a comparative overview highlighting the key differences between payment aggregators vs payment gateways:



Payment Aggregator

Payment Gateway

Primary Function

Acts as a merchant of record, processing payments on behalf of multiple merchants under one account.

Serves as a secure channel for the transfer of payment details from the merchant to the acquiring bank or payment processor.

Merchant Account Requirement

Not required; businesses utilize the aggregator's merchant account.

Required; each merchant must establish their own merchant account with a bank.

Setup Process

Simplified onboarding, allowing businesses to quickly start accepting various payment methods.

Generally involves a more complex setup and approval process due to direct bank integrations.

Payment Methods Supported

Typically offers a wide range of payment options, enhancing customer convenience.

Supports multiple payment methods but may be limited based on the gateway's capabilities and partnerships.

Security and Compliance

Adheres to high-security standards, including PCI DSS compliance, to protect transaction data.

Adheres to PCI DSS & employs advanced encryption and security protocols to ensure the safe transmission of payment information.

Access to funds

Risk of holds/freezes due to unusual activity, affecting cash flow and operations.

Lower risk of fund disruptions; close work with acquirers ensures stability.


Offers limited customization options for payment processing.

Provides extensive customization, from widgets to full API integration for a tailored experience.

Ideal for

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking for a straightforward, cost-effective solution to accept online payments.

Larger businesses or those with specific needs that require direct control over their payment processing and merchant accounts.

Benefits of Payment Gateway

Integrating a payment gateway in your online transaction system brings many benefits that are crucial for your business. It ensures secure, efficient, and user-friendly online payments, enhancing consumer experience and boosting e-commerce platform efficiency. Here, we outline the main benefits of integrating a payment gateway into a business's payment strategy.

1) Enhanced Security

Payment gateways use advanced encryption and security measures to safely send sensitive payment data online. This strong security system reduces the chances of data breaches and fraud, thereby safeguarding both the merchant and the consumer. If you're interested in learning more, reading our post about the top payment gateway security features can give you a much deeper understanding.

2) Broad Payment Method Support

By accepting various payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and e-wallets, payment gateways expand the reach of businesses to a much wider audience. This flexibility allows consumers to use their preferred payment options, making it easier to complete transactions.


3) Streamlined Transaction Process

The automation and optimization of the payment process provided by payment gateways significantly reduce transaction times. This efficiency not only improves the user experience but also allows businesses to process a higher volume of transactions with greater accuracy.

4) Payment Routing Integration

Payment gateways with integrated payment routing capabilities offer the advantage of intelligently directing transactions to the most suitable processing network. This ensures transactions are completed more efficiently, with lower fees and higher acceptance rates, directly enhancing the customer experience and operational cost-effectiveness. It's a smart feature that uses your payment gateway's power to make every transaction better.

5) Multi-acquiring Capabilities

By supporting a multi-acquiring approach, payment gateways provide businesses with the flexibility to diversify their transaction processing across multiple acquirers. This not only mitigates risks associated with relying on a single processor but also opens up opportunities for better transaction approval rates, access to competitive rates, and the ability to accept a wider variety of payment methods globally. It's crucial for reaching more customers and being flexible with your finances.

6) Global Market Access

For businesses looking to expand their operations internationally, payment gateways offer support for multiple currencies and international payment methods. This capability is crucial for accessing global markets and accommodating the needs of international customers.

Benefits of Payment Aggregators

Alternatively, using a payment aggregator comes with many benefits that boost the efficiency and market reach of businesses, especially small to medium-sized ones. By bringing together various payment methods on one platform, payment aggregators simplify payments and provide essential advantages for the digital marketplace. Here are some key benefits:

1) Simplified Merchant Onboarding

Payment aggregators eliminate the need for businesses to undergo the complex and time-consuming process of setting up individual merchant accounts with banks or credit card companies. This simplified merchant onboarding makes it easier to enter the market quickly.

2) Comprehensive Payment Options

By bringing together various payment methods, these platforms allow businesses to accept a wide range of payment types, from traditional credit and debit cards to modern e-wallets and bank transfers. This inclusivity meets the varied preferences of consumers, which could boost conversion rates.

3) Enhanced Security and Compliance

Adhering to strong security standards, including PCI DSS and PA-DSS compliance, payment aggregators ensure the protection of sensitive payment information. This commitment to security builds consumer trust and reduces the chances of data breaches and fraud.

4) Access to Analytics and Reporting Tools

Payment aggregators offer built-in analytics and reports, giving businesses key insights into transactions, customer behavior, and financial performance. These tools are crucial for making smart decisions and planning strategically.

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

When you're dealing with online payments, picking the right payment gateway or aggregator is a big decision that can really affect how smoothly your business runs and grows. You need to consider things like your company's size, what you need, and where you want to go. Here, we explore key factors like company size, how systems work together, handling risks, and cost setups.

Company Size & Transaction Volume

For small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) with fewer transactions, going with a payment aggregator could make sense. It's simple to set up and has low initial costs. Aggregators often have straightforward pricing, which can help new businesses. On the other hand, bigger businesses with more transactions might prefer payment gateways. They offer tailored solutions and competitive rates, plus the freedom of having their own merchant account.

Integration Capabilities & Growth Potential

Integrating a new payment solution into your system should be straightforward, avoiding any unnecessary technical complexities. Choose options that integrate easily, supported by well-documented APIs and plug-ins for the platforms you're already using. Additionally, it's important to consider the future growth of your business. The selected payment solution should be scalable, able to support an expanding range of products, entry into new markets, and increasing transaction volumes, all while maintaining reliable performance.

Managing Risks & Security 

When it comes to handling online payments, ensuring maximum security is non-negotiable. It's vital to select a payment provider that adheres to the highest security protocols, including PCI DSS 4.0 compliance, and offers effective fraud detection and prevention measures. Such measures not only protect your business and its customers but also build trust, which is critical for sustained growth.


Understanding how the pricing model works is key to making sure the payment solution you pick fits your budget. Payment gateways and aggregators have different fees like transaction fees, monthly fees, setup fees, and chargeback fees. Comparing these costs to your expected transactions and average values can help you find a cost-friendly solution that maximizes your profitability. 

For a deeper dive into what to look for when choosing a payment solution for your business, you can check out our insightful article about key factors to consider when choosing a PSP.


​​Deciding on the right payment solution—be it a gateway or an aggregator—is key for businesses entering the digital world. As we've discussed, each option presents its own set of benefits, designed for different operational needs and business scales. From the enhanced security and global reach of payment gateways to the simplified onboarding and cost-effectiveness of payment aggregators, understanding your business's unique requirements is key. Here at CatalystPay, we emphasize the importance of choosing a system that not only meets your current needs but also supports future growth. Your decision can significantly impact customer satisfaction and operational efficiency, making it essential to consider all aspects carefully. Choose wisely, and let your choice be the catalyst for your business's growth!


  • Is the payment aggregator the same as a payment gateway?

While both facilitate online payments, they operate differently. Payment gateways securely transmit payment data from the merchant to the acquiring bank or payment processor. On the other hand, payment aggregators group multiple merchants under one account, making payment processing simpler for small businesses by avoiding the need for separate accounts.

  • Can I use a payment gateway without a payment aggregator?

Yes, businesses can directly integrate with a payment gateway without going through a payment aggregator. This approach might be preferable for businesses that process a high volume of transactions and require more control over their payment processing and settlement terms. Direct integration with a payment gateway often affords businesses customization options and potentially lower transaction fees at the cost of a more complex setup and stricter compliance requirements.


  • Is a payment processor the same as a payment aggregator?

A Payment Processor handles transactions by transmitting data between the merchant, the customer's bank (issuing bank), and the merchant's bank (acquiring bank). On the other hand, a payment aggregator streamlines this process by enabling multiple merchants to accept payments without having direct ties to a Payment Processor or bank. Both help with transactions, but their functions and methods differ significantly.

  • Are payment gateways and payment aggregators secure?

Payment gateways and payment aggregators follow strict security rules to protect sensitive financial data. They must meet standards like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to encrypt and handle customer information securely. They also use advanced tools to detect and prevent fraud, ensuring secure transactions.

  • How do fees compare between payment gateways and payment aggregators?

Payment aggregators usually have a simple fee system, often charging a flat percentage per transaction, which can be attractive to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). On the other hand, payment gateways, having direct relationships with banks and financial institutions, may provide more competitive rates based on transaction volumes. However, they could also have extra costs such as monthly fees, setup fees, and PCI compliance fees.

Also Read