How Magento payment extensions work and why we need them

A payment gateway is probably one of the few things that absolutely must be in any web store. You can set up and customize the rest of your features any way you like, but you cannot run an eCommerce business without a payment gateway. This is precisely why Magento web stores use Magento payment extensions.

What is a Magento extension? 

An extension is a piece of code that is plugged in your web store functionality to enable certain features. Today, most extensions built by professional development companies are rather easy to install and require no coding experience to set up and run. Usually, you only need to download the installation package together with the instructions, install the extension and enjoy the new functions immediately.

How do payment extensions work? 

Extensions do exactly what the name suggests - they extend the basic web store functionality by integrating third-party features, in our case, those of payment service providers. Magento extensions allow merchants to implement secure and effective payment services without reinventing the wheel, or coding them from scratch.

What happens “inside” a Magento payment extension?

If we look under the hood, we will see that a payment extension installed in an online store actually creates a gateway to the native functionality of the payment service provider. For the customer, the payment occurs right within your checkout page, but, in fact, the procedure is a bit more complex.

If, for example, you have an Authorize.NET extension installed, your customer will see Authorize.NET as an available payment method during checkout. The same page will contain all the required payment details - the credit card number, expiration date, CVV number, billing address.


The customer will enter the credit card details and a moment later receive a payment confirmation - all on the same page, without leaving the online store. However, there is a lot of data exchanged back and forth behind the scenes. 

As soon as the customer submits their credit card details, the Magento extension encrypts it and sends to the payment service provider for processing. The payment is processed on the provider’s secure server with no data stored locally.

The payment service provider verifies the payment with the customer’s bank and either approves or rejects it, depending on the bank’s response. In both cases, the response is displayed on the checkout screen within seconds.

Payment processing options

While in all cases the payment is processed by the service provider, you can choose the format that the payment processing page will have. For example, with the Global Payments extension, you can have as many as three options of setting up your payment processing page: embedded, lightbox and redirect.

payment details

When the payment processing window is embedded or configured as a lightbox, the payment is processed right on your website page. If, however, you implemented the redirect option, the payment service provider’s web page is opened in a separate tab or window to process the payment. In all cases, the payment service provider’s security mechanisms protect your customers’ data that is sent in an encrypted format.

What else can you get with a payment extension?

In addition to the effective and secure payment processing, you are getting a bunch of other useful features when you install an advanced payment extension. Selection of acceptable credit cards and currencies, invoice issuance, transaction monitoring and management, secure storage of the customers’ data - just to name a few.

All these features are available immediately and only need to be configured to suit your specific requirements. Speaking of requirements - they should be your primary criterion in choosing the payment extensions for your web store. Compare the costs and functionality and select those that suit you best.

Should you require assistance in selecting or setting up a payment extension for your online store, optimizing your website, developing custom eCommerce products, you can always contact our experts for a professional consultation. Online commerce becomes bigger with each passing day, and to remain competitive, you need to offer top quality service every step of the way, from your website design to the checkout experience. We will be happy to help you with that!