Announcement: Beeminder Adds PayPal as a Payment Option

Thursday, July 6, 2017
By dreeves

PayPal logo

Guess what? This is not actually the most buzzworthy Beeminder-related news right now. There’s some even bigger (and entirely unrelated) news that we can’t share yet. How’s that for an infuriatingly vague teaser? But to hold you over, we thought we’d let everyone know that as of this week we finally officially support PayPal. As in, you can now authorize Beeminder to automatically take money from your PayPal account at any point in the future that you may go off track on your goals!

Kermit flipping out with excitement about announcing a thing

Getting approved for this and getting it implemented was a mild horror story that we’ll elide the details of so as not to badmouth the hand that will now be helping feed us. [1] And most of the implementation pain was entirely our own fault. It just involved refactoring and generalizing a bunch of crufty code that assumed that our beloved credit card payment processor, Stripe, was the entirety of the financial universe.

To be clear, we’re not abandoning Stripe, even though PayPal (via its subsidiary, Braintree) can handle credit card processing along with PayPal payments. In fact, we really want to encourage all our users who have a credit card to use it with Beeminder. Note our relegation of PayPal to a text link underneath the big black and yellow button for adding a credit card (which continues to be powered by Stripe):

TODO

It’s funny how divided people are about PayPal. A lot of you can’t fathom why anyone would prefer it. But there are plenty of people, maybe especially in Europe [2], who have made repeated and impassioned pleas that credit cards are not an option for them and we really need to support PayPal. At some point we heard that enough times to be convinced that we were leaving a big pile of money on the table by not accepting PayPal. So now we do. Enjoy!


 

Footnotes

[1] Ok, I’ll let Bethany tell you the funny part in a footnote at least:

Even though I think it’s super clever (and perfectly accurate!) describing the service that Beeminder provides as being to take your money, it turns out that’s not a good pitch to banking types.
 
Yes, I actually said that to some corporate salesperson at PayPal who asked about our business model, and it got reported to an insurance underwriter, and then they said “Uhuh. That sounds too high risk.”
 
I’ll give you a moment to put your palm to your forehead and shake your head slowly back and forth.

 
Done?
 
So, I called in Danny to put on his CEO voice and try to salvage things. We aren’t a high risk customer, after all. We’ve done over a million dollars of business with Stripe now and haven’t had a disputed charge in years!

The conclusion of all that — after much headache and heartache and hair-tearing (and even (gasp) phone conversations) — was that it turned out maybe the only question all along was whether we were too risky to qualify for discounted pricing. We’re actually still not really sure and figure we may yet end up getting our account locked, hence the downplaying of the PayPal option in our UI. (Stripe remains solid as a rock and entirely free of Kafkaesque bureaucracy and is definitely what we recommend any new startup start with.)

[2] Here’s a typical and particularly eloquent pitch from a user for us to add PayPal support:

I live in Europe, in the Netherlands. Here, almost all payments are done without credit cards. I have so far avoided needing to sign up for one. For the same reasons that I want to use Beeminder, I don’t want to use a credit card. They make money on forgetfulness, laziness, and impulses, and I am not confident that I can handle that. So unless you make PayPal or something like that available, I will not use Beeminder beyond the one free slip-up. But I would really like to.

Other arguments against credit cards included security features that block future payments to untrusted merchants, high currency exchange fees, and annual fees. So, alright, the people have spoken!

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