Founded in September 2011 the goal of Stripe is to make selling on the Internet as easy as possible and to do that they have developed an extensive set of scripts and API's.
Stripe now processes billions of dollars per year for small companies and Internet mega giants alike, and they operate in over 23 countries, employing close to four hundred people, in August 2013 they made the hop across the pond offering their services to UK users.
They are undoubtedly going to be a dominant force in online financial transactions, but with savvy entrepreneur types at the helm, there is a lot that this company can do in the future to revolutionise the antiquated banking system we have here in the UK.
Stripe doesn't just offer credit card processing facilities for internet merchants; they also develop apps and tools to make selling from anywhere a seamless transaction. Much of what Stripe offers is not going to be needed by eCommerce merchants, we just need to know that there is a third party plugin for our chosen software but if you wish to dig deeper, there is a lot more to Stripe than meets the eye.
The pricing structure for Stripe is very simple, you start at 2.4% +20p per transaction and move to a lower price point depending on volume, but you'll need to be processing over £250,000 per year to move up a level. For small volume users, the no fee setup makes Stripe extremely favourable. Check out my guide to eCommerce transaction charges if you want to know what you'll be paying.
The list of eCommerce website builders that accept Stripe is growing quickly, and it is supported by Shopify, BigCommerce, Lemonstand, Zoey, 3dcart, Wix, Weebly amongst others, so you'll have no problems accepting payments by this processor if you choose to do so.
Stripe is built with developers in mind to make as easy as possible to integrate payment services with technology, and the significant advantage of using Stripe over Paypal is that all of the credit card processing can be handled on your side of the server. One of the big drawbacks of using a service like Paypal or even the simple Shopify checkout pages is that once the user leaves your site to pay you have no control over the situation and if the user feels that the sudden change of environment makes them uneasy then it leads to a plethora of abandoned carts.
This is why Stripe is so attractive because being able to offer PCI compliance AND do the credit card processing is a huge asset for eCommerce merchants.
Do you want to take subscription payments? Paypal can do this, but they charge a fee and for small merchants that makes taking subscription payments unfeasible. Stripe offers subscribing users to multiple plan types, and it is simple to upgrade users to higher plans. This kind of flexibility is invaluable, and companies that charge subscriptions for plans such as hosting would do well to look at Stripe as a payment solution.
Apart from the fixed percentage, there are no further fees payable. There is no monthly contract fee and therefore no early termination fee so if you decide to leave for whatever reason you won't be penalised.
This is where Stripe fails the acid test I'm afraid because there is no telephone support available for merchants so if you have a problem you'll have to use their email support. It might work really well, but it's no substitute for hearing a friendly support voice when you really need it.
Telephone support is expensive, but it's precisely the reason PayPal managed to get such a bad rap in the early days because telephone support, or for that case any support in general, was not available.
If you are using one of the more popular eCommerce website builders, then you shouldn't have a problem using Stripe, and the lower fees could save you a lot of money in transaction charges.