I'm looking to create a website that indexes a list of items in a niche market and, through the website, offers them for sale. I intend the site to be non-profit, but because I'm not buying the items wholesale and retailing them, the only way the site can support itself is by taking a small percentage of the final sale.
The problem for me is that this small percentage seems to be completely eaten up by payment transaction costs of accepting payment from the buyer and transferring that payment to the seller. The easiest and least-costly solution seems to be to use a paypal-type service and let the seller and buyer hash-out payment on their own - which immediately costs the seller about 3%. Can anyone think of an alternative to doing this?
You need to be careful the way that you business plan will work. What it sounds like is factoring which most processors will not support. If they think you are factoring - your merchant account will be terminated and it will be very difficult to get another one.
Of course, there is a very fine line between reselling and factoring. You might also consider some type of classified ads system and charge the merchant to advertise on your website
You could try getting a MOTO merchant account facility at a bank. The MOTO type (Mail Order Telephone Order) are reasonably inexpensive. Then get a manual payment gateway, like from http://e-path.com.au to handle online charge authorisations.
I still pay my merchant account fees at my bank which are less because its a MOTO facility and I do a simple batch upload of the credit card payments made to me through phone, fax and e-Path at the end of the day. And with e-Path they don't charge per transaction either. I feel safer without my merchant account being open to everyone on the net too.
Its quite a cheap solution but it is manual so it may not suit you, but thought I'd mention it cause its done for me exactly what you appear to be asking for.