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What Is Pay By Link and How Can I Give My Customers This Option?

Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

As a small business owner, you will likely be looking for ways in which you can make both you and your customers' lives easier, and a pay by link option is definitely a way in which you can achieve this.

In one of our previous posts we explained how a payment gateway works, and described a portion of it as a “virtual terminal”. Well, Pay By Link is a payment method that actually is a virtual terminal.

It’s not complex or too difficult to understand, but in this article we will explore what a pay by link is, how safe and secure it is to use, and how you can set one up for yourself.

woman on phone and laptop

What is Pay by Link?

Pay by Link is a simple and safe way for your customers to pay. They pay using their credit or debit card through a secure URL link that you provide, typically via email or SMS. It is much the same as paying via an eCommerce platform, but it cuts out the middleman of shopping and sends your customers straight to the payment action.

Pay by link brings a new level of convenience to your business, as you are able to provide payment links within seconds to anyone around the world, meaning location won’t stand in the way of expansion or receiving payments.

There is no requirement for you to have a website or other e-commerce platform like an app. With pay by link you are able to create your own customised payment channel where you can accept payments through your chosen provider.

As a merchant, there are 3 steps in the Pay by Link process for you to follow:

  • Step 1: Create your customised email (include branding, link expiry, and relevant message) and enter appropriate payment details (amount requested and your relevant merchant account details) - then generate your link.
  • Step 2: Send the link to your customer via email, SMS or electronic invoice. They will be taken directly to a secure payment platform.
  • Step 3: The customer will enter their card details and the transaction will be completed, providing the customer with a receipt. You will also be able to check the transaction status and send payment reminder emails afterwards.


Types of Payment Links

There are a variety of payment links that you can use, and your choice of link simply depends on your needs. These can include:

  • One Time Link: This is a single use link that is sent to your customers, often for a one-off payment and can sometimes have a time limit enforced within it.
  • Email Invoice: Often used for repeat payments, or as reminders.
  • “BUY NOW” Button: Only available to eCommerce sites, who can display this button alongside “add to cart”, it will take the customer straight to payment.


In addition to these various types of payment links, there are also a number of channels in which you can distribute your links:

  • Social Media: One of the most popular methods of communication, you can use social media messaging tools to send your customers payment links.
  • QR Code: You can create a QR Code that links directly to the payment checkout.
  • SMS: If you have your customer’s phone number, you can send them a link via text message.
  • Email: You can place links within emails, particularly useful for reminding customers of “abandoned carts”.
  • Invoices: Links can be added directly to your customers invoice, giving them a direct link to pay by.
  • Call centre: You can distribute pay by links to customers whilst on a call to them, useful so they can be talked through the process if need be.
  • In-store: You are able to bring online payments in-store if need be, so they can be there in person but pay online via your link.

qr code to pay for order

Benefits of Pay by Link:

Integrating a Pay By Link payment method into your business can be beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Quick and easy way for you to request/your customers to make payments.
  • No geographical limitations, meaning you can request and receive payments at any time from anywhere in the world, which also means there are no currency limitations.
  • Straightforward payment method, your customers can pay simply through clicking the link provided and entering their details.
  • Increase Revenue: you can maintain a healthy cash flow through a pay by link as you are able to resolve failed transactions, reactivate “abandoned carts” and track transactions progress to ensure completed payment.
  • Updated Software: Compared to having physical terminals that require physical maintenance, repair or replacement - pay by link software is kept up-to-date and functioning by your provider behind the scenes.
  • Flexibility: It gives you the opportunity to offer up another payment option, particularly in the case of in-store deposits being made and pay by links being sent afterwards.


Is Pay by Link Safe and Secure?

We understand that integrating a new payment method can come with concerns, particularly in regards to keeping you and your customers details protected.

Regardless of the provider you opt for, all pay by links are secure. Much like other ecommerce payment processors, the platform will be fully authenticated and protected with all data being encrypted.

The software encrypted to protect you and your customers’ data may vary depending on your chosen provider, but it will be there. Here in the UK we know we are protected by GDPR (2018), but in relation to online payments like Pay by Link, we are covered by Strong Customer Authentication, which is enforced by the Financial Conduct Authority as part of the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2) to help reduce fraudulent activity.


How do you Set up Pay by Link?

Pay by links can be as straightforward to set-up as they are to use, and can be done in just a few quick steps:

  • Step 1: Choose your provider - Sourcing out a provider for your pay by link is straightforward, and the best one can be found from a quick web search and comparison of prices. Be sure to check reviews from real customers.
  • Step 2: Navigate Platform - Navigate your chosen provider’s payment link creation page and select the relevant link.
  • Step 3: Input relevant information - Fill in all required fields of information, typically including recipient’s name, amount due and desired currency.
  • Step 4: Customise Link - Customise your payment link with your branding, or include an option for automatic payment reminders, etc.
  • Step 5: Send Link - Send your payment link to the relevant customer and await payment.

Once you’ve created and provided your first payment link, re-creating them is a straightforward process, but is something you manually do each time. This is something you need to be mindful of when opting to integrate pay by link.



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Written by:
Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Stephen brings a wealth of experience honed through years in the financial sector, particularly in the card processing payments industry. His illustrious career spans key roles at PwC, Natwest, and the role of CFO at WorldPay, before going on to found card processing comparison site, CardSwitcher. He is passionate about helping growing businesses to understand the card processing landscape so they can make savvy financial decisions.