eCommerce Insiders

A Look at the Best Payment Processing Providers in 2015

Accepting credit cards online is now easier than ever before.

Gone are the days where you had to suffer through the process of opening a merchant account only to be rejected. There are now tons of companies who let you accept credit cards within a few minutes, literally.

All this competition has led to a drop in processing fees, which you need to be taken advantage of. Let’s find out about some of the best providers for accepting credit cards in 2015.

This guide will be heavily focused on the United States and Canada, since nearly all the payment processors are located there, but I will also try to offer alternatives for other parts of the world, especially Europe. If you reside in a smaller country, your options for accepting credit cards may be more limited.

Stripe_logo,_revised_2014

1) Stripe

First on our list is Stripe. They are a relatively new company in the payment processing space but they have been very good at making their name known.

Started in 2010, Stripe decided to make payment processing easy for software developers by making the integration extremely painless. Before Stripe, it was quite a hassle to add payment processing to any software.

Fast forward to today. Stripe is extremely popular among technology companies, forging partnerships with Twitter, Apple, and possibly even Pinterest. For retailers, Stripe is one of the best options to help you process payments.

PROS:

  • Clear pricing at 2.9% + 0.30/c per transaction. There are no special fees for handling credit cards like American Express, and you can get a lower rate with more volume.
  • No monthly fees or setup costs, and money is deposited into your bank account every two days.
  • You own your customer data (name, credit card info, etc) and you can transfer to another payment processing company if you decide to leave Stripe (securely of course).
  • Signing up for a Stripe account takes minutes and you can be processing payments within 24 hours or less.

CONS:

  • It’s primarily targeted at software developers, but you can find integrations to all popular platforms like WordPress, Shopify, etc. If you’re building a custom store, your developers will love working with Stripe.
  • Only available in the following countries (as of March 2015): Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. They are piloting betas in over 13 other countries, though.
  • The 2 day payout might be too slow for some retailers

SUMMARY:

Stripe is a solid choice for new merchants. They are innovating quickly and are extremely friendly towards merchants. They are even testing the ability to accept Bitcoin.

 

paypal-logo-png

2) Paypal

Paypal is a giant in the payment processing space and they have established their name and reputation over the past 10 years. While they have lost some of their innovative edge recently, they still offer very reliable services and millions of consumers trust the Paypal brand. Competition from other companies like Stripe and Braintree have also forced them to reduce their fees.

Paypal offers two products that are relevant for us: Paypal Standard and Paypal Pro. The biggest difference between the two is that Paypal Standard takes your customers to the Paypal website while Paypal Pro keeps them within your site (important for a consistent checkout experience). Paypal Pro is an extra $35 a month but the other fees stay somewhat similar.

PROS:

  • Pricing starts at 2.9% + 0.30/c per transaction but they have some caveats, especially with cards like American Express and international customers.
  • Discounts in price once you cross $5000 / month in volume.
  • You get the advantage of the Paypal brand, which has a good reputation with consumers.
  • Paypal is catching up with their competitors when it comes to APIs and other features. Expect Paypal to become very similar to companies like Stripe in the near future.
  • They offer tools which make it very easy to add buttons to your website and start accepting payments quickly.

CONS:

  • Their developer resources are still a bit confusing and not as robust, though they are getting better.
  • You do have to pay extra to keep customers within your site (Paypal Pro).
  • You don’t get access to your customer data (credit card info) if you want to leave Paypal. You would have to ask your customers to re-enter their data if you change providers.

SUMMARY:

Paypal is still a solid choice for new merchants and their recent upgrades give us hope that they will stay competitive. The allure of the Paypal brand among consumers is a huge pro that retailers need to keep in mind.

 

braintree-logo

3) Braintree (owned by Paypal)

Our third option is Braintree. They were able to remain competitive in this space even alongside Paypal, and they have a very robust offering, similar to Stripe.

Braintree was officially acquired by Paypal in 2013 but has remained independent from its parent company.

Braintree is so merchant friendly that they created the standard for making credit card data more portable and easier to transfer to another provider. They are committed to keeping customers happy through a great service and not just a software lock in.

PROS:

  • Very robust feature set in an easy-to-access API. Like Stripe, Braintree is focused on developers, but there are quite a few integrations for all popular platforms like WordPress, Shopify, etc.
  • Simple pricing at 2.9% + 0.30/c per transaction with no hidden fees like Paypal.
  • You are also able to accept Paypal payments through Braintree, which gives you the best of both worlds under one API.
  • They are available in North America, most of Europe, and a few countries in Asia.

CONS:

  • Their 2 day payout might be too slow for some retailers.
  • Being owned by Paypal is both good and bad, depending on who you ask. Any restrictions that Paypal has would also apply to Braintree.
  • Their focus is on developers and you would have to find an existing integration or plugin if you want to use them and you aren’t a developer.

SUMMARY:

Braintree is also innovating quickly to catch up with companies like Stripe, but their acquisition by Paypal is giving them an edge with retailers who do want to leverage the Paypal brand. Overall, a solid choice for new merchants.

At the end of the day, payment processing is just one more step retailers need to go through before they can be open for business. This process should be as painless and as easy as possible, and all of these 3 companies fulfill that requirement.

Do you have any experience with companies listed above? What do you think about them?

Ruben Ugarte is a Web Analytics Consultant who has helped companies of all sizes grow through the use of analytics. If you have any questions around how you can use analytics or even how to use tools like Mixpanel or Segment, get in touch with him!

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3 thoughts on “A Look at the Best Payment Processing Providers in 2015

  1. Lydia

    Thanks for these options,
    Competition is very good, especially merchant benefit from it a lot. As you say, services become more flexible and accessible. Good to see, that we now have some strong alternatives to Paypal. I had experience with Paypal, however I had to switch to an alternative due to some of their regulations, and I managed to find few very worthy alternatives.

    Reply
  2. Ruben Daniel Post author

    Hi Lydia,

    Thanks for your comment! The days of Paypal being the only option are definitely changing and that’s a good thing! The competition from companies like Stripe have also forced them to simplify their pricing and make it easier for new merchants to understand what it will actually cost them to accept credit cards online.

    Ruben

    Reply
  3. Alicia@Payfirma

    While I agree that these are all viable options, there are a lot of problems that occur with signing up with an aggregator.

    Exhibit A: https://ecommerce.shopify.com/c/payments-shipping-fulfilment/t/worst-experience-with-stripe-payment-gate-how-many-people-using-stripe-151491

    It’s not as simple as “Gone are the days where you had to suffer through the process of opening a merchant account only to be rejected.”

    That’s not to say that they don’t have their place. For a small merchant just starting out an aggregator would be an excellent option. However as a company grows they need things that an aggregator such as Stripe just cannot provide. I recently did a blog post on this topic that I believe may be informative to merchants doing over a minimum of 50k a year.

    https://www.payfirma.com/blog/why-your-growing-business-must-switch-from-an-aggregator/

    Reply

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