Why I canceled PayPal Pro and built a virtual terminal app using Stripe (Updated 2021)


stripe-paypalWhy I canceled PayPal Pro and built a terminal app with Stripe was the original title and objective. I thought this was going to be a much longer journey than it was. My plan was to reference this code at git and put together my own Stripe Terminal.

The fact is that I have been using PayPal from the very early days even before there was a PayPal Pro product. PayPal Pro made it easy for me to accept credit card payments using the virtual terminal (a web page that allows me to enter the customer’s credit card information to be charged without hardware). In addition, they released a free credit card swipe device (to counter their competitor Square no doubt) that they sent me in the mail for free. That along with the mobile app, made it even more appealing.

I mean I was now better equipped to process mobile payments while out in the world, conferences, meetings etc. However, there was still the $30 per month charge that I had to pay. Takes money to make money right. So it was an expense that was worth the cost.

Stripe on the other hand charges on a per transaction basis, which is more lean and cost efficient for my needs. The only thing that slowed my migration to Stripe from PayPals Pro service was that using Stripe would require some development time to meet my functional needs.

logo-spaceboxThe issue was not coding, the issue was time. I know what my time is worth , I value it and have no problem leveraging cash to buy as much time as I can when it makes sense. It remained a hurdle for several months after I had heard about Stripe. That is until I heard about a service called SpaceBox.

The way I interpreted what I had heard about SpaceBox was that it bridged the gap between Stripe, the new way to accept credit card payments for developers and those that just need a working solution today. Spacebox has a plan that tack’s on an additional 1% per transaction and no monthly fee. The credit card number can be entered into a mobile phone so although a credit card swipe is nice, it’s not a must have. It seemed that I had found a solution to a pain.

At this point, I’ve setup a SpaceBox account in minutes. A simple user-friendly experience I might add. I placed a reminder on my calendar to end the long-standing subscription that I have had with PayPal Pro. I did not have anything but positive experiences using the virtual terminal but disruption and value appear to have arrived with the SpaceBox + Strip combination. I’ll beat this solution up for a month and update this post with my results. Leave your email in the “Receive Updates”  box below or you can just come back to check and I will let you know how it all turns out .

Updated 9152014

There have been a few new discoveries and changes since I wrote this article back in February 2014. For starters Spacebox quietly became Plasso.co. It is not clear if this was due to an acquisition or simple name change. One major difference is the pricing which leads me to believe that Spacebox was acquired. Pricing was 1% per transaction with Spacebox before it became Plasso. Now it appears to be 3% unless you pay a monthly fee of $29 which brings the percentage charge back down to 1%. Even with the price increase, Plasso is still more cost effective than Paypal which is $30 per month plus 2.9% + .30 per transaction as far as SaaS (web based) solutions are concerned.

With that said, there is a new player in the space that is more cost effective than both Plasso and Paypal as virtual terminals go. It is powered by Stripe but it is not an online service. It’s actually a WordPress plugin. If you are not familiar with WordPress, it is a CMS that was originally designed as a blogging platform and is said to power a large percentage of the websites on the Internet. If you are not familiar with WordPress, I wrote an introductory book on WordPress that you can get for free here.

Introducing Stripe Checkout Pro

This plugin written by Phil Derksen allows you to convert your standard  WordPress post and pages into powerful Stripe forms. The plugin is available for a one time cost of $49 (Yearly renewals are required for updates and support). That comes out to around $4 per month, making it more cost effective than Plasso and the Paypal virtual terminal. If you can figure out shortcodes which are pretty easy to use then that is all of the coding skill that you will need. If you can’t, the support is awesome and you will get assistance when you need it. Get Stripe Checkout Pro paid or the Lite version for free (Note the this version has fewer features, specifically it does not have the subscriptions add-on for recurring charges) if you want to trial it.

Updated 792015

I release two add-ons for Stripe Checkout Pro that make it even more valuable than it is out of the box.

The first is Stripe Checkout Pro Companion which I release in 12/2014. The free version is available in the WordPress repository at https://wordpress.org/plugins/stripe-checkouts/. This add-on makes it easy to insert pre-written shortcodes directly into the WordPress Post / Page editor.

Then there is the Stripe Checkout Pro Manager that was released on the 4th or July weekend. This add-on is a necessity if you want to view or edit your Stripe transactions without ever leaving your WordPress admin area. It also extends the ability to view and edit transactions to your customers that are signed into your site with their WordPress account. The free version is available in the WordPress repository at https://wordpress.org/plugins/stripe-manager/.

Other alternatives

There is another solution that is not yet available which plans to offer a 1% transaction charge and no monthly fee virtual terminal (the way Spacebox used to be). It will handle recurring charges and one time charges. There is no name for it yet but you should sign up to get notified of updates for when it is available.

Updated 242021

NOTE:  Features that were offered by the now-defunct Plasso (formerly spacebox) and more can be found in a solution by CloudSwipe.net

9 Replies to “Why I canceled PayPal Pro and built a virtual terminal app using Stripe (Updated 2021)”

  1. Antoine,

    Hello. Thanks for your comment. I would not say better because PayPal Pro is still a great solution.

    In fact, I still use it for some situations but the Spacebox + Stripe combination is currently my preferred method of accepting credit cards payments.

  2. Hey Kyle, in what circumstances are you accepting payment out in the “real world”? I’m intrigued to know what you’re selling to people face to face 🙂

  3. Iain,

    This really depends on what I may be working on at the time. Generally, any services that require billing. E.g. Consulting, training, manually accepting payments for services behind a web app etc.

    The number of uses are endless. Anywhere that you might see someone carrying an old fashioned credit card swiping machine with a spool of white receipt paper, could be replaced with a tablet or smartphone running a virtual terminal. E.g. Flea markets, events, conferences Point of sale, kiosk, etc.


  4. Hi Kyle, I think people need to know one feature of paypal pro that could be a big problem – the “reserve” withholding they do to many accounts. Our business suffers a 40% witholding of all funds received for 2 months! Try running a business with nearly half your cash flow tied up.
    We now have stripe, who pay 100% up within 7 days. Now looking for a virtual terminal to use so we can ditch paypal pro and their witholding.

  5. Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for pointing that out.
    Have you found a virtual terminal yet? What functionality would you need it have?

  6. Hi Kyle
    As if 40% held back for 90 days isn’t enough, try cancelling website payment pro and Payapl will hold your money for 180 days!!
    We have removed paypal and will let the funds drain out over 90 days, and will never, never go near paypal again. Just so arrogant and small new buinesses need them like a hole in the head.
    We are now using UTP (barcalycard), which is a normal hold for 1 week and transfer.

  7. dear kyle,

    does your stripe workaround allow for me to charge monthly recurring subscriptions to my customers as well?

  8. Hi Deep,

    Thanks for the question. My solutions https://www.kylembrown.com/stripe-checkout-pro-manager and https://www.kylembrown.com/stripe-checkout-pro-companion are not work arounds but complete add-ons to the Simple Pay Pro Plugin by Phil Derksen. You can try the find free versions of Phils product or my add-ons at https://wordpress.org/plugins/stripe/ , https://wordpress.org/plugins/stripe-checkouts/, and https://wordpress.org/plugins/stripe-manager/.

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