If you are thinking about changing your online payment provider, you should take a moment to look at an interesting infographic from application performance management company New Relic. Turns out the most popular provider, PayPal, isn't even close to being the fastest processor. That distinction goes to Google Checkout. PayPal has the market share, but if performance is the critical metric for your company, you might want to consider the alternatives.

 

New Relic pulled data from more than 20,000 enterprise customers during one day in April and examined which gateways were the most often used, along with their associated transaction speeds. The company monitors 38 billion transactions every day and its larger customers include Nike, Groupon, Zynga and Intuit.

As you can see from the infographic, PayPal is certainly popular, with more than 66,000 transactions and nearly 60% of the market share. But Google Checkout is the fastest, at a quarter of a second on average, and even its longest time to process a payment was a relatively speedy five seconds. (PayPal's longest time was nearly 10 seconds, which was still faster than some of the other processing gateways.)

Obviously, you aren't going to choose a payment gateway based solely on performance. There are plenty of other factors to consider, including what kind of banking and credit card relationships you have, whether you use any merchant software, and where in the world you are located (New Relic included statistics from Australian companies, for example, which had some of the slowest connections).

But speed is certainly an important consideration when selecting how you will process your transactions. Studies done by StrangeLoop Networks, Amazon and Google found big drops in sales and traffic when their Web pages took longer to load. For example, a half-second delay will cause a 20% drop in Google's traffic, and a tenth-of-a-second delay can cause a drop of 1% in Amazon's sales. Shaving a few tenths of a second to finish processing someone's payment can mean the difference in some big dollars.

Of course, you can easily waste any performance edge if other parts of your website are sluggish, since your potential customers may drop off before they even get to the payment page. But savvy e-commerce operators do everything they can to speed throughput, and payment processing times are an important component of that. Food for thought.