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Script-Based Credit Card Interfaces

To meet the demand for greater, more flexible access to real-time electronic transaction processing, transaction processing providers are lowering the barriers of entry, and opening the interfaces to their systems, allowing developers an opportunity to create custom interfaces for electronic commerce systems. In this article we show how easy it can be to connect your website to these systems and add real-time credit card processing to your programming arsenal.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Script-Based Credit Card Interfaces
  2. A Word About Security
  3. Testing
  4. PHP and CyberCash
  5. Summary
By: Stephen Junker
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 8
March 14, 2001

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Conducting real-time electronic commerce over the internet is clearly a requirement for any serious internet store, but these days it seems that smaller and smaller ventures seem to have a desire to tap into this new world of potential revenue. One option for these small businesses is to use one of many pre-packaged internet storefront products available from a variety of commerce providers, software developers, and consultants. However, these solutions typically offer limited customization and may have hefty setup and transaction fees. If youíre like me, and you need a tightly visually integrated solution, and youíd rather build than buy, then these solutions arenít for you.

To meet this demand for greater, more flexible access to real-time electronic transaction processing, transaction processing providers are lowering the barriers of entry, and opening the interfaces to their systems, allowing developers an opportunity to create custom interfaces for electronic commerce systems. Providers, such as CyberCash and Authorize.net, will typically offer a number of different methods of interacting with their authorization systems, putting a remarkable amount of power and flexibility in the hands the savvy developer.

In this article, I will show how easy it can be to connect your website to these systems and add real-time credit card processing to your programming arsenal.

Before going into the specifics of picking a provider, providing appropriate security, and exchanging information from the service provider, we should first understand what steps are being taken in a typical electronic commerce transaction, and how those steps occur.

1. You establish secure connection with the user
2. You collect transaction information from the user (cc info, as well as name / address, etc.)
3. You send the userís information to the commerce provider
4. Commerce provider sends information to credit card processing network for verification
5. Commerce provider receives authorization (or denial) information from network
6. Commerce provider sends result of transaction back to your site
7. You display the result of the transaction for the user

Please note that due to space concerns, this article will not cover the construction of internet shopping carts or the creation of commerce sites from scratch. I assume that you have the ability to create a transaction and are ready to submit it for processing. Also, though there are several providers who provider transaction authorization services, this article will discuss how to build a request / response interface with the Authorize.net system. Finally, the few snippets of sample code in this article are done in PHP.

{mospagebreak title=Pick a Provider} The first thing that youíll have to do before starting work on your transaction system is to select the provider who will handle your transactions. If your development project is for someone other than yourself, the client may already have made this decision for you. Otherwise, youíll have the opportunity to choose for yourself. Two of the most popular providers for this service are CyberCash and Authorize.net.

CyberCash (http://www.cybercash.com) was one of the pioneers of the on-line payment authorization industry and is currently the leader in this field with over 25,000 merchants using their automated processing services, according to their website. They offer a wide variety of service options and interfaces, including the HTML form request / response interface that we will demonstrate below. For more detailed information about their product offerings and systems, please see their website.

Authorize.net, founded in 1996, is quickly building a reputation as a leading provider of internet transaction services. Like CyberCash, they offer a variety of options for connection with their verification system, and also provide some excellent tools for integration testing. They furnish comprehensive documentation for their systems, and a special testing interface so that you donít even need to establish an account to build and test your system.

Though both services are equally viable solutions for your transaction processing needs, the bulk of this article will discuss how to build an HTML request / response interface with the Authorize.net system.



 
 
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