Stripe – why all the hype? ….about online payments?

StripeThere was a buzz in Dublin this week when the young (in every sense) payments provider  Stripe  launched its service in Ireland.  Why all the fuss over online payments?  Surely this was cracked years ago?

Well, let me tell you our story, and how we tried to engage with three mature payments providers before we found Stripe.

To avoid red faces in public, I will call them Rose, Rose’s American cousin and Fred.

Suntico background

Suntico is an online financial data platform and private social network for small to medium size companies (SMB’s).   We need to take payments online.  We would also like to enable our customers to take payments online very easily.  We would like to bill in a number of currencies to match the operating currency of our main target customer segments.

Rose – our first attempt

Rose is a UK payments provider with a significant presence in Ireland.  We filled out lots of forms.  Rose visited our office.  We sent her mock-ups of our service and in the end Rose let us become her customer.  She could handle Euros or Sterling only.  I was not too worried, since I knew that she had a US cousin who could help with US and Canadian Dollars.  Rose knew nothing about her cousin though, so I made my own introduction.

Rose’s American cousin

It turned out that Rose and her American cousin are related by a marriage only.  Even though they share the same name and family crest, they share no genes.  Any technical interfaces we build for Rose could not be used by her cousin.  Rose’s cousin was only just starting to work with software companies and that made me nervous.  The whole Rose project was starting to look very tricky.

Fred

I decided to give Fred a try.  Fred is not cheap, but he is a global name and he was my “Plan B”.  It was very easy to sign up to Fred’s basic service.  Though pricey, Fred would get us off the ground.  For the basic service though, a good user experience required that our customer already has an account with Fred (if that is not a contradiction).  To avoid this, we would need to use one of Fred’s more advanced services.  A bit of poking around on the web revealed that Fred’s premium range is a confusing hotch potch of acquired services, stitched together (or not) under the single Fred brand.  I was confused and tried to engage with the local Fred office.  The process started with a screening interview (I go the sense that is was to determine whether or not I am worth bothering with), then took about two weeks of phone calls, emails and me answering the same questions over and over.  It turned out that the service that Fred recommended to me was not available in Ireland.  It is after all a very small country.

Then by chance I stumbled upon Stripe.

Stripe

Over one weekend, one of our developers completed a proof of concept integration to Stripe.  The service is clearly designed for companies like Suntico.  A whole heap of coding we had previously mapped out for managing subscription plans no longer needed to be done.  The online documentation is excellent and if we have any questions, they get answered.  We will be able to reuse the same technical integration for all our target markets – UK, Ireland, US, Canada and Australia.  Best of all, we can leverage our integration with Stripe for our customers – providing them with an incredibly easy way to start accepting online payments from their customers.

Do I want more?  Yes.  I would like direct debits and bank transfers.  I would like to be able to handle all my different currency billing without having to open Suntico bank accounts in multiple jurisdictions.  But this is a great start.

I get the hype about Stripe.

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