When you buy something online, there’s a really high chance that your payment is going to pass through either PayPal or Stripe. Outside of payment gateways like Amazon Pay and such that set themselves apart on purpose, Stripe and PayPal are really the big players in that market. If you sell stuff on the internet, one of your biggest choices will be about how you take payments. That choice comes down, usually, to PayPal vs Stripe.
You get a lot of of the same benefits from either payment gateway (you get money, being the primary one, and both PayPal and Stripe have similar fees), but there are some major differences that make the PayPal vs Stripe choice something you should go into with all the facts. After all, your business is your livelihood, and we only want that to get better and better.
PayPal is one of the oldest payment platforms on the internet, and because of that, it’s pretty much everywhere. The gist of it is simple: it’s an online, one-stop-wallet for payments. Users give them access to whatever credit cards and/or bank accounts and/or addresses they want, and they’re ready for their shopping spree in your store.
Like I said above: PayPal is everywhere. In a lot of ways, it has become the de facto way to pay on the web. In most cases, people can choose between credit card payments or PayPal. Which, for you, means your customers probably already have a PayPal account. So they press one button to pay, and you get your money and their address and all other relevant info right then and there.
PayPal offers tons of buyer and seller protection, too, letting you go through specific and well-laid-out processes for dispute settlement.
It’s easy. Not just from the customer’s side, either. From your perspective, PayPal is a default payment method — if not the only one — for a lot of plugins and ecommerce solutions. In many cases, all you need is to have an account ready, and you just put in your email address. With that done, you can get paid. See? Easy.
Reports, analytics, and other tools are within easy reach. You can find any information you need in your PayPal dashboard. Click a few buttons, run a few reports, and you can export pretty much any data you need as PDF, CSV, TAB, or QuickBooks formats.
PayPal lives everywhere you do. By that, I mean there are roughly a gazillion countries in which you can use PayPal. If you live in one of over 200 countries and/or use or want to accept one of their 25 accepted currencies, you’re good. PayPal gives you one of the largest nets to cast in terms of taking payments, no matter where you are or who you’re selling to.
While you don’t need a separate PayPal account to pay in most cases, it’s pretty much necessary. Some people don’t want a PayPal account and just want to throw their card number at your store. If PayPal is your only option for payment, that alone will run some people away.
PayPal is kind of its own ecosystem. With everything handled within their own platform, you essentially just link out to them for your customer, and they get redirected back to your store. That comes with a slew of issues, the most common of which is that the redirects get interrupted and the sale goes wonky.
Customers pay by PayPal. That’s it. Sure, it connects to bank accounts and credit cards for users, but no Apple Pay, no Android Pay, no Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payments. If it’s not secured in PayPal’s ecosystem, then it’s not part of your users’ wallets.
There are quite a few different payment gateways that aren’t PayPal, but Stripe is the big kahuna of them all. It’s a major gateway that processes all sorts of different kinds of currencies and payment types. They’re not a front-end brand like PayPal, where you have an account. They are solely a behind-the-scenes processor, and your customers will only interact with your site, not Stripe’s.
Stripe is a straight-up, plain-and-simple payment gateway. They process credit card payments. That’s what they do. Because of that singular focus, you have access to a ton more payment options than with PayPal, including Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Android Pay, echecks, credit and debit cards from all major companies (worldwide), and ECH and EFT transfers. It’s all up to you what you take. You are in total control with Stripe. They just handle the payments for you.
Countless API integrations are at your fingertips with Stripe. Instead of relying solely on their internal reporting and analytics, you can seamlessly integrate Stripe’s dashboard with tons of software. And outside of having dedicated libraries for platforms built on Ruby, React Native, Laravel, Angular, Vue, and many, many others, they provide official plugins for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and others.
Big time corporations use Stripe as their payment gateway. When Target, UnderArmour, Blue Apron, and Facebook use Stripe, then you know it’s worth at least taking a look at.
Let’s be totally honest here: getting Stripe set up can be a total pain. The setup process has made a lot of people run screaming back to the welcoming arms of PayPal. (Or Square, but that’s a different post entirely). Stripe requires lots of API key juggling, and your site absolutely must be locked down by SSL, which it should be anyway. If you’re on WordPress, there are both oodles and bunches of plugins for you to use to help ease some of this pain. You’ll still need to make yourself familiar with the documentation and procedures, which again, you should be doing anyway.
It is not available everywhere in the world. They are working on expanding their network, but if you don’t live in one of their supported countries, you can’t accept payments at all. However, if Stripe does support your country, you can take payments from anywhere. For example, if you’re in South Africa, which is not supported, you can take no payments from the United States or elsewhere. But if you’re in the United States, you can take payments from customers in South Africa.
Should You Choose PayPal vs Stripe?
Honestly, use both. You want your customers to have as many payment options as possible, and people have their own preferences on how they want to pay. The only downsides to this approach are that you have to maintain two separate services and keep the data organized, and that’s just extra work to do. That means more responsibility for someone on your team, but it’s also very likely to have a greater ROI than limiting yourself to just one.
You should choose PayPal if you want the simple and easy solution. If you just need to capture payments and not worry about lots of extraneous details, you can’t go wrong with PayPal. It comes standard with most platforms, and people can start paying you right away. You can add Stripe integration later, so maybe starting out with PayPal is a good idea.
You should choose Stripe if you want a fully-integrated payment system. It’s way more complicated to get going. Once you do, it tends to run pretty solidly and silently in the background. Your customers get a lot more options for payments from Stripe. Those additional plugins, integrations, and documentation just make it a stellar service all around. If you need a quick get-up-and-go solution, though, Stripe ain’t it.
What influenced your decision in the PayPal vs Stripe debate?
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