PayPal processes 60% of web transactions, Google is the fastest payment gateway, and some unlucky surfer had to wait over 92 seconds for his online purchase to complete.

Those are only a few of the findings in New Relic’s study of the web’s most popular payment gateways (infographic below). A payment gateway is the web equivalent of a modern cash register: It ensures that you are you, that you appropriately have access to your card, and that you can, in fact, be trusted to pay for the purchase you’re making.

New Relic, a web-app performance management company, monitors 38 billion transactions daily for clients such as Nike, Groupon, and Zynga. The study focused on transactions by 21,000 web applications and came up with some astonishing findings.

PayPal is by far the biggest payment processor on the web, at least according to this sample. During the test period, PayPal processed over 66,000 payments, more than three times as many as the nearest competitor, Google Checkout came in fifth with just over 3400 payments.

Google does win, however, in the speed category. Google Checkout’s average payment processing time was a blistering .26 seconds. In less than a third of a second, New Relic spokesman John Essex said, Google has to “collect and transfer your payment information – name, address, card number, purchase details, etc. – to the financial institution”, and then, of course, query Visa or Mastercard to see if you are a good credit risk, get a response, and return it to the website’s e-commerce engine. PayPal’s performance was only mediocre, but hardly pokey, averaging just under one and a half seconds.

The longest transaction, by far, was via an Australian payment gateway, At least one payment took at least 92.44 seconds to complete. Datacash and were not far behind, at 89 and 56 seconds, respectively. Those are the extremes, however; average performance at these services was 3-4 seconds.

Speed is critical in any web application, according to Essex: “As with any step in the online shopping experience, it’s increasingly critical for the payment gateway functions to happen quickly and effortlessly for the consumer – any lag in transaction time can lead to loss of a return customer. No one likes to be kept waiting.”

Least of all the websites that are waiting for your money.

Image credit: Flick user Steve Snodgrass

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