How I Converted My Subscription Site from Paypal to Stripe in 2 Days

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PayPal to Stripe in 2 Days

Stripe.com is a dream for any developer wanting to build payment processing into their site.

In fact, the API is so easy to use it leaves me wondering why many other API’s make such a mountain out of a molehill. Stripe goes one step further by making every part of website payment integration stupidly easy.

App Store Approval = Days   –>   Stripe Approval = Instant

For example, have you ever tried to get approval to join the App Store and start making money? It takes hours of form filling and fact checking, then days of waiting. With stripe you only need to fill out a single form with your company information and tax ID. Then click a button and – bada-boom bada-bing – you can start collecting money online instantly.

(Assuming you live in the USA and have your company papers in order.)

PayPal Sandbox = Hours   –>   Stripe Sandbox = Instant

Another example is with PayPal, if you want to use the sandbox to test your application it takes hours of fiddling around setting up a sandbox account loging in and out of various vendor, seller accounts etc. But with stripe it is as simple as clicking a swich that says “test” and using a pre-assigned test API key.

Even better than that, all the documentation auto inserts a working test API key into any example code so you can literally copy/paste from their site into yours and things work.

Merchant Account = Headache   –>   Stripe = Merchant Account

You probably already know this, but just in case you didn’t, stripe does not require a merchant account. Simply enter your existing bank routing and account number and stripe sweeps money into your account on a daily basis (with a 7 day lag per sweep). Setting up a merchant account usually takes weeks and requires hours of paperwork to be filled. Most other payment gateways require merchant accounts.

Subscriptions

The subscription side of things is also super easy. Just add a few subscription plans in the stripe control panel and sync the plan ID’s with the ones you are already using on your site. When a customer switches plans stripe does all the annoying prorata stuff for you out of the box (so your customer doesn’t loose money and you don’t have to fiddle around with PayPal partial refunds).

They also have a nice and simple way of getting invoices out the API into your system so you can show customers exactly when what they paid for.

How I Switched in Only 2 Days

The trick here was to keep my infrastructure exactly the same. The only change I made was to the PayPal endpoint (i.e. the PayPal IPN script). At the top of the IPN script I check to see if the request is from PayPal or Stripe. If it’s from stripe I convert Stripe JSON parameters to PayPal IPN POST parameters. Hey presto everything works in an instant.

To get going the only new stuff I needed to add was a credit card form and a cancel button and test, test, test for a day or so.

Nuking Test Data

I was just about to write to the stripe team to suggest it would be awesome if they had a way to nuke all my sandbox test data… but then I wondered if they already had it. In the settings control panel I found a button marked “Clear Test Data”. Simple as that.

Conclusion

Due to the above PayPal IPN trick, ease of testing, ability to erase test data and instant go-live approval I converted my subscription site from PayPal to stripe in only 2 days. I switched it live on day 3. Not too shabby.

I don’t usually rave about this kind of service but they built something in a way that I would have loved to build myself. These guys really thought this through from business to UI to documentation to technology.

Awesome job guys!

Comments

  • Casey says:

    I recently switched to Stripe from Paypal as well as found it stupidly easy as you did. I just tore out the code for Paypal and inserted the Stripe code and within about an hour I was live with Stripe. Great product and definitely more API developers need to look to them as a role model.

  • Hey, very cool. I have only used Paypal and I hate it! Besides the API sucking their site is SOOO slow when you try to mess around with the sandbox. It makes everything so painful. I have the opportunity to implement a payment processor into http://www.mesh01.com later this year and I will definitely be checking out Stripe. Thanks for the info in your article!

  • Sal says:

    2.9% + 30 cents per transaction? Is it worth it? Just curious on what u think about the fees?

    • Justin says:

      If you start turning over millions then you can move to a merchant account and try to squeeze more revenue with lower fees, but until then the convenience vs x% trade is worth it, especially in the early stages of your startup (IMHO).

      • Dan Grossman says:

        Millions? You only need a few thousand a month to make a traditional merchant account much cheaper than this. Even PayPal starts dropping its fees after $3000 per month (2.5%) then $10000 per month (2.2%).

      • Andy Baird says:

        You don’t need to be making millions for you to start losing significant money to that kind of large percentage.

        If you’re taking in $10,000 every month thats a difference of $70 + ($0.30* # number of transactions). Say you charge $50 a month (totally arbitrary) thats a $120 a month convenience fee, or $1440 per year just to have an easier API.

        $1440 is a pretty hefty convenience fee considering were just talking about a few more hours of programming to use another API. I could do it myself or pay for someone else to do it cheaper than that.

        • Justin says:

          It’s taken me 2 years to get to $3,500/month revenue. If you get to $10,000 every month you rock and you deserve to use any payment processor you like.

  • Jason G. says:

    Justin,

    So, you’re able to leave all your existing members on PayPal, and they can still login/cancel, are billed on time, etc. And all new members using the same service are routed to Stripe?

    Pretty amazing. This is exactly what I’m hoping to do.

  • Len Jaffe says:

    What are the PCI compliance ramifications about having a credit card form on your server, instead of forwarding your customers to a PCI-compliant third party?

    • Justin says:

      Check out the stripe docs but as far as I am aware the way they do the workflow removes your site from the PCI compliance equation. The stripe.js submits directly to stripe.com. It’s basically the same as using an iframe.

  • Comments closed