Most people know of the ubiquitous PayPal. What many people don’t know is that working with PayPal as a developer, or even a merchant, can be extremely frustrating. They have a rather complex API and poor, often out of date, documentation.
There has even become something of a cult following of “hating” PayPal.
When PayPal came onto the scene it was amazing, but that was almost 20 years ago now. After 20 years the PayPal that ushered in the era of online payments has not aged gracefully. People have been complaining to and about PayPal for years, but since it was the only real game in town it didn’t matter.
There are now many different payment gateways you can use, and today I want to talk about Stripe.
Stripe is amazing. Stripe was developed by developers who had become frustrated with the current payment gateway options (PayPal) and wanted to develop their own system.
I have been developing professionally for nearly a decade now and I have used PayPal in many ways for many clients. I have used all of their different versions from PayPal Flow, PayPal Advanced, PayPal Payflow, PayPal Pro, PayPal Payflow Pro…and probably others. None of these different account versions is particularly good and they all have different requirements and API usage. The documentation for them is almost always either poorly written or multiple versions out of date…which is worse than no documentation at all. Most of the time the clients do not know what version of PayPal they are using and it is often difficult for us to figure that out. We often find that the version of PayPal the merchant is currently using isn’t going to work for their new site or new payment form and will need to be upgraded. Sometimes the only way to upgrade is actually calling into PayPal with various forms identification at the ready…and who wants to do that?
Stripe gets rid of ALL of this unneeded complexity. There is only Stripe. You either have an account or you don’t. The API is as simple as it can be and the documentation is just fantastic. Even after years of using PayPal it will still take me a while to figure out where to begin when setting it up. I learned everything I needed to know about Stripe in an afternoon.
Even if we take a step back from just the development aspect of a particular gateway. The user interface for viewing all your transactions, payments, customers, current subscription plans, coupons, products, and everything else is just soo much cleaner and easier with Stripe. Did you know that PayPal actually has multiple different dashboards and places to go to view your account information depending on your account type? Did you further know that the various dashboards are either overly complex and difficult to navigate or way too simplified and almost useless? Perhaps I sound bitter, but that is what hundreds of hours of trying to work with PayPal has done to me.
Am I saying you should drop your PayPal account and move to Stripe right this second…well, no. It can be a frustrating task to move between payment gateways when you already have a long history with one. However, if you ever have the opportunity to move away from PayPal you should take it! You will not regret it and neither will your developers, they will love you for it…trust me.
For a more detailed breakdown of the difference between these gateways check out this post over at memberful.com.