Founded in 2010 by brothers John and Patrick Collison, Stripe is a relatively new kid on the block.
In an online e-commerce scene dominated by the behemoth of PayPal, Stripe’s task of fighting for prominence may seem like a struggle, but thanks to their intuitive cloud-based infrastructure, the company’s successfully established itself alongside the big boys of merchant platforms.
In the following review, we’ll aim to put their development under the microscope and determine whether the Stripe bandwagon is one worth jumping on.
Stripe bills itself as the ‘new standard in online payments.’ The company offers a comprehensive software platform for internet businesses and already handles billions of pounds worth of payments worldwide.
With their focus firmly placed on providing a flexible and scalable payments platform worldwide, Stripe excels in offering businesses a way of setting themselves up for e-commerce endeavours.
The technology behind Stripe’s payment processes is designed to be so advanced that it ensures their clients are futureproofed, whilst able to market themselves to customers worldwide.
Stripe also comes with a developer platform that enables businesses to really get to grips with the tech at hand – allowing them to tailor fit their payment services to their website visitors.
There’s also an excellent billing and subscriptions portal that’s flexible enough to be designed to complement the customer experience that your company is building.
Through Stripe Connect, businesses are able to accept money and pay out to third parties. E-commerce is rarely a straightforward endeavour, but Stripe insists that their Connect service will provide a ‘complete set of building blocks to support virtually any business model.’ This includes on-demand businesses, crowdfunding, fintech, travel and events.
Stripe also includes smart services like Sigma – an automated reporting tool that’s capable of driving raw data about your business straight to your desktop in a relatively easy-to-follow format.
Elsewhere there’s Atlas, a tool that’s designed to bring convenience to the process of handling the formalities of starting a new business.
Stripe Radar is a fairly new offering from the company also, which hopes to draw on machine learning to fight fraud amongst all industries. An exciting brand new feature is Stripe Issuing. This feature is designed to create and distribute both physical and virtual cards to customers. With just a few lines of code, your business could have its own shopping card that’s supported by all major card networks – but it’s worth noting that this feature is currently invite-only, at the time of writing.
Stripe offers its users a flat pay-as-you-go cost of 1.4% of transactions + a 20p charge for EU-based cards, and 2.9% + 20p for non-EU purchases. This is a thoroughly competitive rate that’s free of monthly fees or hidden charges.
Payments vary slightly based on the type of transaction being made, and SEPA Direct Debit payments incur a fee of 1% + 20p along with a £5 cap. Charges typically fall within the 1% to 2.9% threshold.
Disputes also carry their own fees, and if chargebacks are settled in favour of the customer, your business will be supplied with a £15 charge. However, if a dispute is decided in your favour, the fee will be fully refunded.
It’s also worth noting that Stripe offers custom pricing for their services that are designed to accommodate companies looking to utilise microtransactions or unusually large order values – so it’s worth getting in touch if you’re interested in seeing bespoke rates that suit your business plan.
Stripe carries no early termination fees, which is fantastic news if you’re uneasy at the thought of your venture being tied down to long-term commitments. However, it’s important to emphasise the value in revising your contractual obligations with the company.
Stripe reserves the right to terminate your contractual agreements and withhold payments if it deems fit. Businesses that are prohibited from the platform include those that operate within the investment and credit industries, money and legal services, or cryptocurrencies. Rather than be left in limbo, take a moment to check that your business wouldn’t be deemed a high-risk venture, and is consistent with the platform’s values.
Stripe is an ethical payments platform when it comes to transparent pricing. Their pay-as-you-go model contains no monthly or hidden fees, which is a significant improvement on some similar companies that indulge in less honest practices.
The company’s website features easy-to-follow guidelines on its pricing structure with varied payment types covered in an informative manner.
While Stripe’s sales strategy occasionally drifts into hyperbole, it’s fundamentally accurate and in no way misleading to customers.
While customer service has been Stripe’s Achilles Heel in the past, the company has made strides to improve the support they provide their customers.
Stripe has recently unveiled a renovated 24/7 phone and chat support for all its users in a bid to cater for English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese speaking customers. These recent improvements have provided Stripe with a platform for communicating seamlessly with a broad number of its members and thus transformed their customer service department into a positive facet of the company.
61% of Trustpilot reviews have listed Stripe as an excellent company, while a further 5% have rated the payments platform as ‘great’.
Many recent reviews have been keen to praise the level of customer service provided and the swiftness of replies from the company.
One reviewer was eager to praise the ‘quick payments and reporting tools’ that have helped them to understand their transactions, while another reviewer highlighted the flawless integration between Stripe and WooCommerce platforms.
The company had been drawn into a firefight with dissatisfied customers over the quality of customer service in the past, and it is something that Stripe has worked tirelessly on improving in recent months.
Customers are still reporting negative reviews over banned accounts and a lack of clarity over why their subscriptions have been revoked.
One particularly disappointed user reported that they had lost over $1,700 to fraud on their account, declaring that the company is in need of better fraud detection.
Stripe is a slick and refreshing alternative payments processor. Although customers have shared their gripes about the level of customer service offered in the past, there’s sufficient evidence that the company is making strides in improving this.
If you’re a new business looking for a cost-effective and future-proofed approach to processing payments online, then Stripe may be exactly what you’re after. But be wary of the company’s termination policy that has been known to carry a sting in its tail, and keep vigilant against potential scammers.
Stripe no doubt has lofty ambitions for the level of service it offers, and we can see great new features being regularly rolled out. Once it irons out some of the cracks in its customer experience, the platform could be a virtually flawless entity. For now, it’s a solid four-star endeavour that’s bound to have PayPal looking over its shoulder.
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