Different MAPs require different "gateways" on your site. These gateways are the pieces of code that transmit your customers' orders to and from your bank's transaction authorizing agent. If you plan to process your orders manually, a secure Web form may be good enough to capture credit card information that you can process offline.

For real-time order processing via the Web, however, some MAPs' gateways require extensive modifications to your site, including programming code. If you don't program or haven't hired a programmer, you may find some card-processing systems too complex to use. Some providers and ISPs offer simplified, comprehensive systems that include a "shopping cart" program, order verification and processing, and automated order shipping requests sent straight to your e-mail account, phone, or fax. Several free and low-cost, simple-to-use turnkey e-commerce solutions are available, such as freemerchant.com and Bigstep.com. These Web-based applications offer a complete package to set up a Web site with shopping cart, gateway, merchant account, and Internet processing service technology. CyberCash is one Internet processing service that has merchant development partners to help businesses integrate the technology required to process online transactions into an existing Web site or build a site from scratch. It also offers links to partner financial institutions where you can apply for credit card merchant accounts. Rest assured that you'll be able to find a MAP, gateway, and site building combination suitable to your budget and level of Web authoring ability.

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