Why 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.
The 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 .
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.
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/.
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.