Taking $3,000 per month or less in card payments?
You’ll save with Square
- Date Established
- Amsterdam, NL
- Ideal for international merchants
- Excellent marketplace tools
- No setup or application fees
- No monthly fee
- Excellent customer service
- Good website & advertising
- Few public complaints
- Expensive for low-volume merchants
- Not good for high-risk merchants
- Not for beginning merchants
Adyen is a merchant account provider known for its big name users. Adyen’s star-studded cast of globally oriented clients includes eBay, Uber, Pinterest, Spotify, Microsoft, Groupon, Evernote, Etsy, and Crocs. Are you dazzled yet? Maybe you were until I said Crocs.
Crocs aside, Adyen is about as cool and stylish as a merchant account provider gets. But how did this Dutch company become Silicon Valley’s payment processing darling? The tech-savvy startup has raised millions in venture capital funding and was valued at $2.3 billion in 2015. That year they processed $50 billion in transactions for over 4,500 merchants, and processing volumes have only continued to grow since. Most recently, Adyen reported a processing volume of €159 billion in 2018 (approximately $178 billion USD). Since Adyen is a public company, you can follow the most recent financial information on the Investor Relations page on their website.
One clue to Adyen’s success is in the name itself, which means “start over again” in Suriname Dutch. Co-founder and CEO, Pieter van der Does, pronounces it “Ahd-yuhn.” After his previous Amsterdam-based payments company was bought by Royal Bank of Scotland and became part of WorldPay, Van der Does and a few other former colleagues launched Adyen in 2006. Their first big international account was Groupon in 2013, and the glitzy client list snowballed from there. Now, Adyen operates 20 offices around the world, with the US headquarters nestled comfortably amongst its Silicon Valley buddies in San Francisco.
Adyen’s primary objective was to build new technology and systems from the ground up, bypassing middlemen and old-fashioned payment infrastructure to develop a truly modern, global solution. You’ll notice they’re fond of the word “frictionless.” Indeed, Adyen became an acquirer connected directly to the major card networks, while also developing an in-house gateway platform and technologically advanced risk management tools. In 2017, Adyen was awarded a pan-European banking license, removing even more friction from the transaction settlement process.
Another standout feature of this international processor is “omnichannel” payments. While Adyen started out serving eCommerce clients, in 2012 Adyen incorporated point-of-sale, card-present-transaction capabilities. To my knowledge, there aren’t many broadly international processors that handle all three payment channels — online, in-app, and in-store — in one integrated system.
So Adyen obviously works well for all these big-name, mid-to-enterprise level clients operating on a global scale. But what about the little guy/gal with big dreams? Or how about the forward-thinking merchant with an eye on expansion to new foreign markets? In this review, we’ll explore how Adyen handles the complexity of international processing and help you decide if this processor could be a good fit for your business.
As someone who has lived in Europe and experienced the perils of paying bills in two countries simultaneously, I have deep respect for international payment processors. It can’t be easy, and Adyen seems to manage it as well as anyone. I will approach most of this review from a US perspective to keep things simple, though the global citizen in me resents that a bit. If you’re accustomed to the standard US processing lingo, you should be aware that some of Adyen’s terminology may occasionally sound…well…foreign. For example, they use the term “card schemes” instead of “card networks” to describe Visa, Mastercard, etc. I will do my best to translate where appropriate.
Let’s decide if you should go Dutch.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Adyen is the actual acquirer and processor for your account, not a reseller or ISO. The company describes itself as a “full-stack” Payment Service Provider (PSP), meaning that it provides the payment gateway and processing capability, while also undertaking risk management and merchant acquiring responsibilities. Basically, it’s a true end-to-end solution, handling the entire payment flow. When signing up on the web, you’ll be asked to create a Test Account first. Signing up for this test account will give you access to Adyen’s Customer Area, which you can use to view reports, manage integrations, and more. View a screenshot of the Customer Area below:
Here is a summary of Adyen’s main features and standout points:
- Global Processing With Local Customization: Adyen is a thoroughly international processor. In addition to standard credit and debit cards, the company aims to facilitate payments in as many locally-accepted methods as possible. This is accomplished through Adyen’s ability to adopt an international or local acquiring approach depending on the country. Adyen’s flexibility in this regard can help merchants reduce fees and increase authorization rates for country-specific payment methods. On another international note, merchants can also enable Dynamic Currency Conversion for their customers at the point of sale.
- Omnichannel Payments: This refers to the main three ways businesses operate: online, in-app, and in-store. The omnichannel shopper’s info and complete transaction history are integrated into one overarching system and set of records, resulting in a more seamless purchasing experience.
- Online Payments: All merchants have the option of integrating Adyen with their website, mobile site, or app. Integrating Adyen with your online store enables a few cool features, including one-click checkout and recurring payments.
- Marketplace Payments (MarketPay): Adyen facilitates payments within entire online marketplaces. Ebay would be a prime example of a marketplace — a platform that connects buyers and sellers. Among other features, MarketPay includes the ability to split payments across multiple sub-merchants, transfer funds, and schedule payouts.
- RevenueProtect & RevenueAccelerate: There are a lot of fancy-pants terms thrown around in the explanations of RevenueProtect (Ayden’s risk management feature). Device fingerprinting, risk engine, behavioral analytics, transaction linking — it all just means Adyen uses multiple data analysis tools to prevent as many chargebacks caused by card fraud as possible. RevenueAccelerate seems to include an account updater tool. I wasn’t able to find out if RevenueProtect and RevenueAccelerate were standard features or only available at extra cost. Be sure to ask when you sign up!
- Dynamic Reporting: Beyond basic monthly statements, Adyen’s Customer Area is an in-depth portal into the reasons behind approvals and declines for each payment method accepted at your business. Take a look at the reporting overview for samples of the types of tables and graphs Adyen creates for tracking payments in real time.
- POS Equipment: Adyen lists five hardware options on their site, ranging from countertop options to portable, handheld options. All available hardware is Verifone brand. Although Adyen does offer portable hardware, this hardware is not an audio-jack mobile card reader like what you get from Square. Rather, it’s a card terminal that is small enough to carry in your pocket. Both the hardware and Adyen’s software are fully certified for EMV and NFC transactions, and all relevant payment methods are certified out-of-the-box. You must buy this hardware directly through Adyen.
- POS Software: In case you haven’t caught the theme, Adyen really likes to keep everything in-house. However, Adyen has told me that their business is payments, and so they’ve decided to let the experts take care of POS software. You have three options — (1) standalone Verifone terminals that are pre-programed with Adyen payments software, requiring no third-party POS software integration or cash register, (2) the Terminal API for custom integrations, or (3) ready-to-go plugins. If you choose option 3, Adyen has partnerships many of the major POS software systems including Microsoft Dynamics, Retail Pro, Oracle X Store and Aptos, along with the supporting integration documentation.
- Integrations and Developer Tools: In addition to POS systems, Adyen offers several plugins for eCommerce, clienteling, and billing software. They also provide extensive developer documentation for adding extra features to the baseline system. If you’re not skilled at coding, you’ll need to hire outside help to implement this.
Fees & Rates
Pricing models are organized by global region, country and payment type. On Adyen’s pricing page, US customers will find a mix of interchange-plus pricing (for Visa and Mastercard) and flat rates (for American Express and Discover), which Adyen calls “blend.” If you’re wondering why Adyen calls it “interchange++,” the two pluses refer to the processor markup and any card network fees that apply to the transaction.
Adyen’s advertised interchange processing fee is just is $0.12 per transaction. In the past, Adyen has also had a percentage markup of 0.60% (making a total markup of 0.60% + $0.12), however, I was told over the phone that the current markup includes just the $0.12 flat rate. This means they’ve actually lowered their prices since our last update.
However, interchange++ rates are not the only rates you’ll need to consider. Many payment methods are billed on a flat rate model. You can view all rates on Adyen’s site, but we’ll include a few of the rates for other common US payment methods here:
- Amex: 3.95% + $0.12
- AndroidPay, ApplePay, Samsung Pay: Payment method fee defined by card used + $0.12
- ACH Direct Debit: $0.25 (Refunds $0.20) + $0.12
I was not able to find any information on volume discounts, but that does not mean that they don’t exist. Ask your sales representative about what it takes to qualify for volume discounts.
Other Notable Rates & Fees:
In the past, Adyen listed a few additional fees on their website. These fees have since been removed from the site. When I called Adyen to ask about the fees, I was told that rates depend on the payment method used. I will include below the rates that Adyen used to list for these fees — be aware that these rates may have changed:
- Chargeback/Retrieval: $7.50 for the first stage of the process
- Refund Fee: $0.22
- Reconciliation Fee: 0.20%
Adyen also requires merchants to reach a monthly minimum of 1,000 transactions per month. If you don’t reach that minimum, you’ll have to pay the monthly minimum fee of $120 USD per month.
Fees Not Charged:
- Early termination
- Annual fees
- Monthly fee
- PCI compliance
- Gateway Fee
Overall, Adyen’s pricing is reasonable for a cutting-edge, international payment processor accustomed to serving high-end, complex clients. The all-inclusive pricing style is appealing, and I also like that you automatically receive interchange-plus pricing for Visa and Mastercard, no matter your business type or size. However, lower volume international merchants might consider a simpler merchant service provider with no monthly minimums such as Braintree (read our review) or even Stripe (read our review). US and Canadian merchants might also look at Square (read our review), which has improved on and added to its developer tools recently.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fees
Adyen contracts are indefinite, and there is no early termination fee. The merchant agreement can be terminated by either party by giving at least sixty days’ notice in writing. And since you’ve bought any card terminals outright, there won’t be any need to worry about or buy out the rest of a terminal lease.
In some circumstances, either the merchant or Adyen may terminate the contract immediately. For example, if the service availability is below 90% in a given month, the merchant may terminate the agreement. By the same token, Adyen may terminate the contract if the merchant changes the products or services it’s offering without written permission. These are pretty standard conditions, but see section 10.2 of Adyen’s Merchant Service Agreement for the full explanation.
Adyen is generally not into high-risk clients, and will readily suspend an account if there are too many chargebacks. The chargeback threshold is 0.5% of the total transaction volume for most payment methods, and the merchant could also be subject to fines. This is explained in section 7.1 of the Merchant Service Agreement. Note that the 0.5% figure is more strict than the general industry standard of 1%. Additionally, accounts may be subject to a rolling reserve, which Adyen calls “Deposit Reservation” in section 3.5. That’s a bit more in line with industry practices.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
If there’s one personality trait all my Dutch friends have in common, it’s frankness. Adyen is no exception to this rule. CEO Pieter van der Does cuts through the bull to give simple, straightforward answers to every question in his interviews, and this ethos trickles down through the company.
Adyen is strategically selling its own innovative products and services on their own merit, rather than sending out independent agents to lure new clients with flashy sales pitches. Key Adyen representatives are interviewed at tech conferences and business-to-business networking events, and the company has been featured in high-profile publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal. Marketing materials frequently come in the form of white papers and case studies on its website, which are then shared on social media.
One of Adyen’s major goals is to provide extreme transparency and detailed insight for merchants into their own processing data. In light of this fact, I think the marketing team would recognize the irony of annoying teaser rates, “free” offers, and other sales gimmicks. Just as you’d expect from a tech-savvy startup, the website is clean and well-structured.
While I still think Adyen is a straight-shooting operation, I’m disappointed in the streamlining of its published pricing information. In particular, I’d like to see more information about industry standard fees (chargeback fees, refund fees, etc).
Customer Service & Technical Support
Adyen employs tech support staff around the world. Support for your account may be accessed via email, web and phone during business hours. Emergency support is provided 24 hours a day. A list of worldwide offices and phone numbers may be found at the Contact page, along with a web form for filing technical support tickets. This is all nice to see.
Even nicer to see, the website itself is a wealth of information, easily searchable for developer documents, product descriptions, and case studies. Detailed, country-specific guides may be downloaded for some countries, but you can also find a quick overview of each country’s common payment methods and “inside tips” on how to best enter each market.
The Support tab is split into several helpful FAQ and troubleshooting sections, while the Developer tab contains its own set of resources. You can also bet that Adyen maintains active Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and YouTube accounts that highlight new product developments and industry news. The e-newsletter and blog round out Adyen’s online resources. The blog is the only resource I’ve seen that is out of date; the last post was in 2018.
All signs point toward solid customer service and sales support with Adyen.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Well, you’ll be glad to know that complaints about Adyen are few and far between, at least in English. I put a Dutch friend on the case to see what he could turn up. Aside from one complaint on a consumer protection site about a questionable charge for which Adyen was ultimately not at fault, all he could find was that people want more clarity about Adyen’s role in transactions on their bank statements. Perhaps all you multilingual Merchant Maverick readers could do a search in a few other languages and let us know what you find.
Although Adyen is not accredited with the BBB, a profile associated with the San Francisco office was opened in early 2014. The two complaints listed are from consumers (not merchants) who had troubles with billing through Adyen. The remaining review on the profile is from a merchant who did not like how much personal information Adyen collected during the application process.
I think there could be several reasons for the overall lack of complaints. Firstly, Adyen has high standards and thoroughly vets its client base. Adyen processed a sizable €159 billion in 2018 (making 47% growth year-over-year), and it’s clear this company’s growth has been steady and strategic. Secondly, Adyen carefully monitors the processing data that flows through their gateway, working to maintain their reputation for optimizing authorization rates and reducing chargebacks. Merchants, in turn, may already have a better handle on what’s happening behind the scenes of their transactions via the detailed, real-time reporting system.
And thirdly, Adyen’s customer service is probably just plain good. If you’re experiencing difficulty, you can file a complaint directly with Adyen. They say they’ll respond within eight business hours. They even lay out an explanation regarding their role if you are a shopper who finds a questionable charge from Adyen on your bank statement. With all these pieces in place, Adyen takes a proactive approach so that airing grievances in a public internet forum is truly the last resort.
I have only found a handful of negative reviews online. Here’s what those reviews mention:
- Expensive For Low Volume: This is the most common complaint I’ve seen. A few customers report that Adyen’s pricing works best for larger sellers.
- Not Designed For Small Merchants: This complaint is along the same lines as the previous one. Adyen is geared for mid-market and enterprise level merchants, not small businesses. In fact, one commenter suggested that Ayden is not currently accepting beginning merchants. He included Adyen’s response to his application: “It is not our current focus to onboard marketplaces that are just starting out. The requirements for our marketplace solutions are as follows: Already processing payments, Steady cash-flow or venture capital”
- Room For Improvement In Fraud Detection: Some users say that Ayden’s fraud detection tools could be improved upon. On the other hand, I have also seen reviews praising Ayden’s fraud tools (see Positive Reviews & Testimonials below).
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
You will find several client testimonials and case studies on Adyen’s YouTube channel. Reviews tend to emphasize Adyen’s global compatibility, ease of use, and its forward-thinking, high-tech focus. You’ll see spokespeople from many recognizable brand names.
The Adyen blog is also a good source for case studies, where you can get a flavor for the types of businesses Adyen caters to and the customized solutions it provides. While these posts are all marketing materials to be sure, it’s nice to see some hard data and company-specific details here.
There were only a handful of user reviews on third-party sites. Here’s what users tended to mention in those reviews:
- Ease of Use: Users report that Adyen is easy to implement and use.
- Good Fraud Tools: While some users complained about Adyen’s fraud detection tools, others expressed the opposite opinion. It seems some users like the fraud detection and risk management tools.
- No Monthly/Early Termination Fees: Adyen does not hide any monthly fees or early termination fees. You can always cancel your account with 60 days’ notice.
- International: Mid-market and enterprise merchants are able to sell goods internationally and process payments in many currencies.
- Customer Service: Users report that Adyen’s customer service is helpful and quick.
As a forward-thinking, innovative payment processor, Adyen delivers a set of finely-tuned products and services on an international scale, without the need for sales gimmicks. Interchange-plus is the standard pricing model whenever possible, and the granular data insights available to merchants in real time only add to the transparent feel of the company.
Adyen really seems to do it all. Where most international payment processors have focused on eCommerce and in-app purchases, Adyen adds brick-and-mortar, point of sale setups to the mix. Undoubtedly, other highly-rated international payment processors will add payment channels and methods in the coming years. Domestic providers already offering omnichannel payments will expand into additional countries. But the fact remains, Adyen has a huge head start on both fronts. Not to mention that this company is highly driven to continually improve its already cutting-edge systems.
It’s tempting to be caught up in the excitement of a tech-savvy payments company with an alluring Silicon Valley startup vibe and such notable customers in its care. Most recently, Adyen’s unique approach to global processing was even strong enough to lure eBay away from PayPal. But it’s not the perfect solution for everyone. The CEO has been very open about Adyen’s strategy to only go after big fish from the beginning.
With recent and ongoing changes to the website, there are signs this strategy may be shifting ever so slightly. Lower volume, mobile businesses will still recognize a few glaring disadvantages, though. In particular, the monthly minimum may be difficult for micro-merchants. On the flip side, the decrease in Adyen’s per-transaction fee, while small, should not be overlooked. Also, let’s not forget that Adyen’s pricing model already includes gateway costs, PCI fees, and other common monthly or annual charges.
My overall impression is that Adyen is still not actively pursuing small merchants at the individual level. These businesses are more likely to work with Adyen as a sub-merchant within a larger marketplace, such as Etsy or eBay.
Considering our MM audience of not-Spotify-and-Uber, I give Adyen 4.5 stars. We have other preferred providers to check out if Adyen is not for you. Braintree (read our review) is one notable international processor with competitive rates, no monthly minimums, and an innovative approach that could be worth exploring, and Stripe (read our review) is similarly global with a powerful suite of tools (including support for storefronts). If you’re in the US or Canada, Square (read our review) might suit your needs, with a variety of integrations, developer tools, and a seamless multi-channel experience. No matter who you choose in the end, keep the comments coming. We’d especially love to hear from any smaller merchants who have had direct experience with Adyen.