start a psp business things you need to know

Start a PSP Business- Things You Need to Know

Written by FirmEU Team

In an era defined by digital transformation, the way we conduct financial transactions has undergone a remarkable evolution. The shift from cash and checks to electronic payments gave rise to an entire ecosystem dedicated to facilitating seamless and secure transactions. At the heart of this ecosystem are Payment Service Providers (PSPs).

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of PSPs, exploring everything you need to know to enter and excel in this dynamic industry. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur seeking to establish a PSP business or simply curious about the inner workings of this critical sector, this blog post will serve as your compass.

What is PSP?

PSP stands for “Payment Service Provider.” A Payment Service Provider is a financial institution or a third-party company that provides services to merchants and businesses, enabling them to accept electronic payments from customers. PSPs play a crucial role in the world of digital commerce by facilitating and securing various forms of online transactions, including credit card payments, bank transfers, digital wallet transactions, and more.

Types of PSP

There are various types of Payment Service Providers (PSPs). Each offers specific services and caters to different segments of the payment industry. Here are some common types of PSPs:


Acquirers, often known as acquiring banks or acquiring institutions, are financial organizations that establish and maintain relationships with merchants to enable them to accept electronic payments. When a customer makes a payment, the acquirer is responsible for receiving the transaction request, verifying it, and transferring the funds to the merchant’s account. Acquirers play a critical role in ensuring that businesses can process payments securely and efficiently. They also handle chargebacks and fraud detection, helping merchants manage risks associated with card transactions.

Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are technology providers that facilitate the transmission of payment data between a merchant’s website or point-of-sale system and the payment processor or acquirer. These gateways ensure that payment information is securely transmitted, often using encryption and tokenization, during online transactions. They serve as the virtual equivalent of a physical point-of-sale terminal, making online payments possible. Payment gateways also often offer features like hosted payment pages, allowing merchants to outsource the payment processing user interface to the gateway provider.

E-Wallet Providers

E-Wallet or Digital Wallet providers offer digital payment solutions that allow users to store their payment card information securely in a mobile app or online account. Users can then make payments using their e-wallet credentials, eliminating the need to enter card details for each transaction. Some popular examples include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. E-wallet providers facilitate faster and more convenient payments, often incorporating additional features such as loyalty program integration, peer-to-peer transfers, and mobile banking services. 

Payment Processors

Payment processors are organizations in charge of the technical aspects of payment transactions. They handle payment data received from businesses and route it to the proper payment networks for authorization (e.g., Visa, MasterCard, or American Express). Once authorized, they ensure that funds are moved from the customer’s account to the merchant’s account. Payment processors play an important role in transaction speed and reliability since they control transaction flow and connectivity to various financial networks.

Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs)

ISOs are organizations or companies that act as intermediaries between merchants and acquiring banks. They often work with smaller or medium-sized businesses that require payment processing services but lack direct relationships with acquiring banks. ISOs assist merchants in obtaining merchant accounts and payment processing solutions. They can also offer additional services such as payment hardware and software solutions and ongoing customer support.

Role of Payment Service Providers

From the things we have looked into in the previous sections, you may agree with us that payment providers play a vital role in business and the financial industry as a whole. In case you just heard about PSP and are thinking about venturing into it but asking yourself “To what end?”, here are several key reasons why PSPs are of paramount importance:

  • Facilitate Electronic Transactions: PSPs enable businesses and consumers to conduct electronic transactions efficiently and securely. In a world where digital payments are increasingly prevalent, PSPs serve as the infrastructure that allows individuals and companies to transfer funds, make purchases, and pay bills online. Without PSPs, the global e-commerce industry would not have experienced the rapid growth and widespread adoption seen today.

  • Enhance Convenience: PSPs contribute to the convenience of digital payments. They offer various payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, and more. This diversity allows consumers to choose their preferred payment method, making transactions more convenient and user-friendly.

  • Global Reach: Many Payment Service Providers operate on an international scale, allowing businesses to expand their reach beyond borders. They offer services that support cross-border transactions and currency conversion. This makes it easier for businesses to engage with customers in different parts of the world.

  • Security and Fraud Prevention: PSPs invest heavily in security measures to protect against fraud and unauthorized access. They employ encryption, tokenization, and advanced fraud detection algorithms to safeguard sensitive payment data. This commitment to security helps instill trust in both merchants and consumers.

  • Business Efficiency: By outsourcing payment processing to PSPs, businesses can focus on their core operations rather than managing the complexities of payment infrastructure. This efficiency allows businesses to allocate resources more effectively.

  • Data Insights: PSPs often provide businesses with valuable data and analytics related to their payment transactions. This data can be used to understand customer behavior, make informed business decisions, and improve marketing strategies.

Now that you have seen the importance of Payment providers, you may agree with me that it is a lucrative business or endeavor to venture into, as businesses are often in need of them. But how do you go about this? Read on!

Steps to Start a PSP Business

Starting a PSP business is a straightforward process, especially when you work with a corporate service provider. These steps involve:

  • Market research and business plan
  • Hire the services of a corporate service provider
  • Company registration 
  • Obtain the necessary licenses
  • Open a bank account
  • Connect with an acquiring bank
  • Development of the payment software
  • Acquire hardware security modules (HSM) and tokenization appliances
  • Legal and regulatory compliance

Conduct Market Research and Develop a Business Plan

The journey of establishing a PSP company begins with thorough market research. Identify the target market, potential competitors, and emerging trends in the payment industry. With the information gathered during the research, create a detailed business plan. This plan should outline the goals of your company, revenue model, and growth strategy. This plan will serve as your blueprint when you want to start a PSP business. If you haven’t done this, please do not move on with the other steps yet.

Engage a Corporate Service Provider

To navigate the complex process of setting up a PSP company, it’s often advisable to hire the services of a corporate service provider with expertise in the payments industry. These professionals can assist you in the registration of your business and obtaining the necessary licenses. Since you are here, look no further as FirmEU got you covered.

Company Registration

Registering your PSP company and obtaining the required licenses are foundational steps in establishing your business. This process serves as the legal framework upon which your PSP operations will be built. Company registration involves formally establishing your PSP as a legal entity. 

The type of business structure you choose (e.g., LLC, corporation, partnership) will depend on the regulations of your jurisdiction and your specific business goals. Registering your company provides you with a legal identity, separates personal and business assets, and allows you to engage in financial activities. 

Obtain the Necessary Licenses

The payment industry is heavily regulated due to the sensitive nature of financial transactions. Therefore, obtaining the necessary licenses is a critical aspect of your PSP’s legal compliance. The specific licenses required vary by jurisdiction, and you should consult with legal experts who specialize in financial regulations to determine which ones you need. Common licenses include money transmitter licenses, electronic money institution licenses, and payment institution licenses.

Open a Bank Account

To operate as a PSP, you’ll need to open a dedicated bank account for handling customer funds and settlements. Choose a reputable bank that understands the unique needs of payment service providers. The bank account will be used to hold and distribute funds related to transactions processed by your PSP. To create a bank account for your PSP business, contact us now.

Connect with an Acquiring Bank

Acquiring banks are the financial institutions that form direct alliances with leading credit card networks like Visa and Mastercard. These strategic partners are instrumental in empowering your PSP business to provide credit card payment processing services for Visa and Mastercard. Without an acquiring bank, you can not offer Visa and Master card services to your merchants. 

Moreover, it’s essential to carefully choose an acquiring bank that aligns with your business model. If your PSP company intends to collaborate with high-risk industries, such as online gaming or adult entertainment, you have to opt for acquiring banks with specialized expertise in those specific sectors. Finding the best acquiring bank to work with may not be so easy for you. Even when you find the bank, the process of setting up a collaboration can be daunting. This is why FirmEU is here for you. We have established relationships with several acquiring banks that will be very willing to work with you. Contact us now to get started.

Develop Payment Software

Now your business entity and even bank account are set. Next, invest in the development of robust payment software that will serve as the core of your PSP operations. This software should support various payment methods, provide secure transaction processing, and offer reporting capabilities. Ensure that the software complies with industry security standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

Acquire Hardware Security Modules (HSM) and Tokenization Appliances

HSMs and tokenization appliances are critical components for securing payment transactions. HSMs are specialized hardware devices used to protect cryptographic keys and perform secure transactions. Tokenization appliances replace sensitive cardholder data with tokens, enhancing security. Acquire and integrate these components into your infrastructure to bolster transaction security. 

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with regulatory requirements is paramount in the payments industry. Work closely with legal experts to ensure your PSP business adheres to all relevant laws and regulations. This may include anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. Establish robust internal policies and procedures to maintain compliance.

By following these comprehensive steps, you can set up a Payment Service Provider company that is legally compliant, secure, and well-prepared to facilitate electronic payments for merchants and consumers. Remember that the payments industry is dynamic, so staying informed about regulatory changes and emerging technologies is essential for long-term success in this field.

How can FirmEU Help you set up a PSP Company?

FirmEU, as your go-to corporate service provider, can play a pivotal role in assisting you with the establishment of your Payment Service Provider (PSP) company. Here’s how FirmEU can help:

Legal and Regulatory Guidance

Here at FirmEU, we provide invaluable insights and guidance on the legal and regulatory requirements for setting up a PSP company. This includes helping you understand and comply with financial regulations, licensing, and other legal aspects specific to your jurisdiction. Moreover, we will assist you in determining the most suitable business structure for your PSP company, whether it’s an LLC, corporation, or another entity. We will also help you navigate the complexities of registration and incorporation.

Network Building

Leveraging our expertise and industry contacts, FirmEU can help you establish relationships with acquiring banks, payment processors, and other key partners. These connections are vital for a PSP’s operations and growth. 

Ongoing Compliance and Support:

After your PSP company is up and running, FirmEU can continue to provide ongoing support by helping you stay compliant with changing regulations, managing legal and financial documentation, and addressing any operational challenges that may arise.

Here at FirmEU, our support ensures that you can focus on the core of your business operations while navigating the complex regulatory and legal landscape with confidence and peace of mind. Contact us today to get started.

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