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Pay by Link – A New Payment Option for Retailers

6 Dec 2021


Pay by Link is an easy, secure, alternative way for retailers to accept payments in-store. At the point of checkout, a link is sent to the customer, usually via SMS or email. When the customer clicks on the link, it opens a secure online payment page from the payment service provider with the payment amount predefined and the customer just needs to enter their card details to complete the transaction.

Development of Pay by Link

Pay by Link was initially developed to help businesses such as hotels and tradespeople take payment remotely or in the absence of a card payment device. This helped them to improve their cash flow and gave their customers a quick, simple and secure way to order goods and services or to pay their invoices. The payment link was embedded in or associated with an emailed invoice or electronic document and eliminated the requirement for the hotel to take bank card details over the phone or for tradespeople to carry card terminals.

Payment service providers then extended the use of Pay by Link to call centres and online retailers in order to provide a PCI compliant payment mechanism when they needed to take payment for additional products and services.

The Covid-19 pandemic has further extended the importance and applicability of Pay by Link and fast-tracked the adoption of this technology, as customers have opted increasingly for sales to be processed online or remotely. And with retailers finding new ways for their stores to interact remotely with VIP customers, whether by telephone, live web chat or chat bots, the volume of customer not-present transactions has increased considerably in the last two years. As a result, many retailers have added Pay by Link to the range of payment options they offer in-store, to enable customers to make secure payments remotely, without having to share their sensitive card details over the different channels when placing orders.

Some retailers are now also using Pay by Link QR codes in-store for ‘Touch Free’ payments for social distancing to keep their staff and customers safe. Other retailers are using it on social media apps and at pop-up events. The list of options keeps growing.

Most Pay by Link payment pages can be personalised and branded, and payment service providers may also allow other payment methods to be used in addition to card payments, such as PayPal or amazon pay, giving customers more choice in the ways they can pay.

The payments landscape is undergoing significant and rapid transformation, with new types of digital payments being introduced on a regular basis, such as digital wallets, buy now pay later and open banking. Some payment service providers are offering these through their existing platforms, and some are being offered directly by new providers using similar Pay by Link technology. Pay by Link is, therefore, becoming a major new way of accepting payments, particularly in the new retail environment in which we live today.

Considerations when implementing Pay by Link in-store

There are clear benefits to be gained for retailers from incorporating Pay by Link in-store as part of their payment strategy, but there are also challenges to consider when doing so:

Increased checkout time – The customer will need additional time to complete the payment on their phone, which could impact on queues at busy times.

Internet connection availability – Pay by Link is not possible when the internet connection is down.

Special payment features – A Pay by Link transaction may not support special payment features such as tender options, tipping, currency conversion, and tax-free shopping.

Chargeback protection – The retailer does not benefit from the normal protection against chargebacks that occurs when the customer presents their card to the payment terminal. To address this, the payment service provider could use 3D Secure which offers liability shift for fraud chargebacks.

Transaction Fees – There is still a significant difference in the level of costs charged for Pay by Link transactions and the fees for these transactions are typically higher than for card terminal payments, but they are still potentially lower than the cost of putting the transaction through a hosted website.

Functionality – Pay by Link can work differently with each payment service provider, depending on how it has been designed and implemented.

Choice of payment service provider – There may be advantages in staying with a single payment service provider if they are able to offer Pay by Link, although there may be benefits in dealing directly with another payment service provider for Pay by Link if they have a better offering.

Should you integrate Pay by Link with POS?

Pay by Link can be directly integrated with your POS solution so that the cashier in-store selects Pay by Link as a payment option on the payment screen. At this point, the cashier would enter the customer’s mobile phone number and send it off to the payment service provider, who would build the payment page and send the link to the customer’s mobile phone.

Alternatively, and depending upon the payment service provider, the cashier could trigger a QR code to appear on the payment device for the customer to scan which would similarly provide the link to the payment page. This second option will obviously only work if the customer is present in-store and is not viable for customer not-present transactions.

The benefits of full integration of Pay by Link with POS are the seamless customer experience and the elimination of the need for transaction and payment reconciliation at end of day.


With retailers striving to increase their conversion rate and customers becoming more accustomed to using new methods of payment online and in-store, Pay by Link is a great option to open up new ways of shopping and to maximise sales.

With over twenty years’ experience of developing, implementing and supporting retail payment systems for physical retail and integrating payment software with POS solutions, MWC Partners can bridge the technology and knowledge gap to help payment service providers, online payment companies and retailers integrate their payment systems.

MWC Partners’ dedicated payment software integrations team have helped many of the world’s leading payment service providers to develop solutions for physical retail. Contact us now to discuss how we can help with your next POS/payment integration.

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