Monday, October 8, 2012

Stripe for Indie Mac Developers

Dan Wood:

I think that there are a few different kinds of Mac indie developers. Those who don't want to have to deal with customer databases and payment processing might as well just use the Mac App Store as the distribution mechanism. Then there are the people who want to be able to sell directly to customers, but want a full-service company to handle the processing issues. FastSpring is great for that. But if you want more control over your purchasing experience, and you can set up some scripts on your server to manage license generation and charge cards, then Stripe is a great way to go. (And also, possibly, PayPal for those prefer that option.)

I’m pretty happy with PayPal Website Payments Pro for payments and E-junkie for the shopping cart, but if I were going to make a change it would probably be to Stripe. (FastSpring looks nice but overly expensive.) Stripe’s fees are higher than PayPal’s volume rate. PayPal adds a few fees, e.g. for the Pro API and for International transactions, but Stripe charges fees for refunds. Overall, my guess is that PayPal is cheaper, but not by a lot. Stripe sounds easier to use, but that’s balanced by the fact that I’ve successfully used PayPal for many years with essentially no problems. It would be nice if E-junkie integrated support for Stripe the way it has for Google Checkout and other processors.

Update (2012-10-24): Dan Wood:

This is a followup to that, describing what we did to build our online store, and what decisions came into play for its user experience.

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There's been a LOT of chatter on the Web about PayPal being deeply evil in any number of horrible ways. My personal experience, on the other hand, matches yours: I've never once had any trouble with them of any kind, aside from their tendency to permanently blacklist any payment method ever removed from an account. What are your thoughts on the mass of PayPal hate out there?

@Gwynne It’s hard to know the truth, but I doubt that a high percentage of PayPal users have had problem. My guess is that it’s mostly large numbers—PayPal has tons of customers, so more than than a few are bound to have had problems—combined with the fact that people are likely to be very vocal about service problems involving money. Also, I think in the early days PayPal had major problems with fraud, which overwhelmed them, and so they were too aggressive in implementing automated countermeasures. The counterargument, I suppose, is that I’m naive and just wait until it happens to me. So that’s one of the reasons I like E-junkie. Should a problem arise, with just a few clicks I could switch to an alternate payment processor without changing my Web site or backend. (Also, Amazon supports an IPN API similar to PayPal’s, so it too could be used as a fallback.)

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