Stripe vs. PayPal for processing donations

While relaunching the website for a small nonprofit in the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to review both Stripe and PayPal for use in online donation processing. The difference was extraordinary. PayPal has obviously been around for quite some time. They’re the big boys on the block. Is this why they seem completely oblivious to user experience and customer service?

For the user to enter a simple credit card number in PayPal, they are first led to a confusing intermediary page that looks to have been designed in 1997. There they are forced to create a PayPal account (with multiple steps) before the donation can be completed.

It has always struck me that PayPal is more interested in forcing users to create new PayPal accounts than it is in serving the needs of the user or the needs of the merchant (in this case the nonprofit).

By contrast, Stripe leads the user directly to a simple popup, complete with the nonprofit’s logo, that asks for an email address and the normal credit card info. Click on submit and the user is done!

Behind the scenes, our experience dealing with each company is equally revealing. The PayPal site is like diving into a churning sea with a powerful undertow and riptide. One is lucky to escape with one’s life, and luckier still if you are able to find what you’re looking for. With Stripe, everything was found on the opening Dashboard. We had the API keys we needed within a few minutes, installed and tested and were ready to go.

There’s little doubt which company I’ll be recommending to clients in the future.