What is a Gateway?
A Gateway (also called a Virtual Terminal) is an online credit card processor. A more nerdy response is, a software device that connects an Internet merchant to their processor. It translates between protocols so that computers on the connected networks can exchange transaction data. You can have a merchant account (typically known as a bank account) and not a gateway, but you cannot have a gateway without a merchant account. All internet merchants (CNP) need some sort of gateway.
How can I get a Gateway?
All you need to do to get a gateway is apply for a Merchant Account and have the provider set you up with one. There are many companies out there that can accomplish this. The easiest way is to click on the 'Settings' button that looks like a wheel in your account then click 'Add Gateway'. There you can either select our in-house Gateway Webconnex Payments and get setup automatically, or select an custom gateway and plug in your merchant details after signing up with their gateway through their direct website. NOTE: there is a 1% fee to use a custom gateway.
Why do I need a Gateway?
A gateway is needed in order to process credit cards. Gateways are the link between your bank account and your registration form. The gateway is the means that requests money to be transferred between your registrant's bank account to yours.
How long does it take to setup a Gateway?
If you go with Webconnex Payments, you can start accepting payments instantly. Other gateways such as Sage, Authorize, etc typically take 1-2 business days to get approved and setup.