There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the acceptance of payments from your users via your website. There are many ways to achieve this, some complicated, and others much more complicated (there is no real magic bullet available).
Essentially, at least one payment method or gateway needs to be selected, and the implementation of this gateway can also vary. PayPal is a popular choice, as it allows many different options for integrating with your site, and also allows customers to make payments using a linked bank account instead of a credit card. PayPal also has a low startup cost and less complexity from the business point to view to get underway.
Other solutions may be available via your business banking organisation. Most banks in Australia offer e-commerce solutions that can be integrated into your website for accepting payments. At Praxis Interactive, we have the most experience with Securepay, NAB Transact, and Westpac PayWay. Another option is a third-party gateway such as eWAY, which acts as an intermediary between the website and your merchant bank account for receiving payments.
Once a payment method or gateway has been selected, you then need to determine whether you want customers to enter payment information directly into your website, or whether they should enter the information into the third party gateway provider's website.
By having the payment fields on your own website, you keep customers on your website, however you will require an SSL certificate to be purchased and installed on your site to encrypt credit card information as it is sent to your server. When using a third party gateway's site to accept payment information, an SSL certificate is not required on your website.
You'll also need to evaluate the fees and charges issued by the selected payment gateway, as they can vary significantly. Also, look at what credit cards are accepted by each provider. Visa and Mastercard are almost ubiquitous, but if you need to accept payment via cards such as American Express or Diners, be prepared to be slugged an additional fee by gateway providers.
For more information, please contact the various providers mentioned in this blog post:
...or, alternatively, contact your own bank to discuss how their e-commerce solutions can help you accept payments via your website.