Online payments are still a mess

This is a followup to my previous rant about the state of accepting online subscriptions.

A few things happened after my post. Most importantly the client met with a focus group of potential users, and – among other things – talked pricing with them. Every single one stated they’d much rather prefer paying a one-off yearly fee instead of automated monthly subscriptions.

Also, the payment gateway we had been looking into wasn’t doing terribly much to help us. Matter of fact, they managed to confuse us further (which wasn’t terribly hard, I admit) by giving us vague answers in a ploy to get us to phone them instead of simply emailing them.

All in all, the end result was that we said “screw recurring payments”, and went with the PayPal Website Payments Pro account that was already existing. Sure, the per-transaction fees are somewhat high, however with the amount of transactions we projected – especially after going to yearly payments instead of monthly – it proved to be one of the cheaper solutions.

Add to this the PayPal developer sandbox (which is great for testing stuff) and that implementing it in a Rails application is a breeze using Active Merchant and the choice was obvious.

About that other idea…

As for the other part of my rant (the one where I claim to know anything about business and state that there’s money to be made on an easy-to-understand-and-implement payment solution with recurring subscriptions instead of the mess that currently exists), I’ve talked a bit with a few people who actually knows about this stuff.

Unfortunately it seems the idea of an easy to use payment gateway provider is fighting against policies and general inertia in the banking world. Which is a shame. I still believe there has to be a massive opportunity for a company in this space, and currently PayPal seems to be the only real option.