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Tools of the Trade: Stripe makes accepting credit cards online easy

Tools of the Trade is a series showcasing an app, gadget or service that entrepreneurs may find useful.

In recent years, an increasing number of companies have devoted themselves to improving the way money moves. Whether you look at the Starbucks-approved Square, the low-cost option Dwolla or today’s featured Tool of the Trade, Stripe, each promises something unique.

The Stripe file

  • Launched: September 2011
  • Short Description: Stripe aims to make it easy to accept credit cards online
  • Audience: Stripe is used by both startups and Fortune 50 companies
  • Competition: The legacy industry of merchant accounts, gateways, processors and banks.
  • Cost: When you charge money with Stripe, a fee of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per successful charge is incurred. Stripe has no setup fees, no monthly fees, no minimum charges, no validation fees and no card storage fees.

It doesn’t take long when visiting Stripe’s website to understand that they are all about developers. One of startup’s best description come from its CrunchBase profile: “(Stripe believes) that enabling transactions on the web is a problem rooted in code, not finance, and they want to help put more websites in business.” The beauty of this focus is that it puts great tools in the hands of some of the smartest creators out there.

I would not recommend Stripe for someone like me who can only hack away at some HTML in an existing CMS. Stripe is not a turnkey solution for the non-developer, but if you have the skills, it will give you the power to accomplish what you need.

My favorite part of Stripe is that it eliminates all the extra pieces for users. It handles each element, including storing credit cards, running subscriptions and processing payouts to a user’s bank. Also, if a user doesn’t do any transactions in their first month then they can hold on to their cash – the service only charges users per transaction.

To learn more about Stripe and its offering to developers, I recently exchanged emails with Cristina Cordova of Stripe’s business development team.

Silicon Prairie News: Where did the idea for Stripe come from and what made you decide to build this product?

Cristina Cordova: Stripe’s founders, John and Patrick, were working on several side projects, for which they needed to integrate payment processing. They were frustrated by the long process of setting up payments for a new online business and wanted to work on their product instead of spending days calling sales reps and faxing forms. They were inspired to a create a simple payment experience that one can implement in minutes, enabling people to focus on building products instead of how they were going to get paid.

SPN: Any pro-tips or advice you would give to developers who want to implement Stripe?

CC: Pro Tip #1: We have in-depth documentation that can help anyone get up and running in no time. If you ever run into any issues, you can always chat with our team via chat or IRC at stripe.com/chat

Pro Tip #2: If a card is declined, for example, use our error codes to offer a guide to your users on what to do next. This can make for a much faster and more straightforward user experience.

Pro Tip #3: You can use webhooks to expand your application without adding complexity to the core payments flow. Notifications are sent for every event to a URL of your choosing, allowing you to trigger email receipts, recurring billing actions, or myriad other actions.

SPN: Anything else you want to add or include?

CC: Stripe is a platform that makes it easy for others to implement their ideas. The internet is humanity’s most exciting invention. It’s always been great at facilitating communication and the real-time exchange of information, but the economic layer has lagged behind. It’s been hard to build a business on the web, and we’re changing that. We’re building the economic infrastructure for the web. Users love Stripe because we make running a business on the internet easy and efficient. If there’s any way we can make it even better, let us know at support@stripe.com.


Credits: Cristina Cordova photo from linkedin.com

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