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Ask HN: What payment gateways do you use for your app?
67 points by shadowz on Mar 11, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments
I guess the question is more toward the Canadian HN entrepreneurs. Since Authorize.Net require you to have a merchant account in US, we, Canadians, can't use it. What are your choices for merchant account/payment gateway (in terms of building a web app)?

We use Beanstream for our Toronto based company. One nice thing about them is they support something like authorize.net's CIM feature, so you can do recurring billing without having to store CC numbers yourself.

One thing to be aware of, though. It is nigh impossible to get a USD American Express merchant account in Canada. If you plan to charge exclusively in USD, this can be a real problem, as you won't be able to take AmEx. We're soon going to go through the hassle of setting up an account at authorize.net or Braintree so we can take AmEx -- too many of our customers insist on paying either by AmEx or cheque.

For more info about the USD-AmEx-in-Canada problem, see: http://www.freshbooks.com/blog/2008/09/25/freshbooks-now-acc...

Note that it is possible to use a US payment processor for a Canadian company. The two things you need to do are:

a) Get an EIN (we haven't yet done this, but apparently it isn't too difficult, even for foreign corporations)

b) Open a chequing account at a US bank. We've done this using Harris Bank (http://harrisbank.com). Since they are a subsidiary of BMO, they are used to opening accounts for Canadian businesses.

wow, I did not know about the AmEx problem in Canada. Looks like there's more battling to do after setting up my merchant account/payment gateway. Did you guys look at PSIGate at all or did you just go with Beanstream?

I am using paypal, and I would definitely not use them again. They are holding 30% of our order values for 90 days... http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/...

> Since Authorize.Net require you to have a merchant account in US, we, Canadians, can't use it.

Actually we can. The do however require that you open an account with Global Payments Inc and these guys have seriously sleazy sales tactics. They break down their fees into a multitude of categories and groups, and it is fairly unobvious what combination of these fees you are going to hit most frequently. It took me literally a week of back and forth emails with them to get an idea of what the average transaction fee would look like. It was really like pulling a tooth.

I have also dealt with Moneris. Extremely arrogant. They are really big and they basically do not care. They are also the most expensive of all that I have talked to.

Lastly I spoke with VersaPay and they first quoted me fees that were frankly exorbitant. Only after I told them the Global Payments fee level, they brought theirs to the comparable level.

In the end I haven't gone through with any of these, but if I were to pick one now I would probably give VP a try.

YMMV, etc.

We use Braintree. They have a secure vault similar to Authorize.net CIM for storing credit cards safely without PCI concerns. Also, they were the only payment gateway that could give us true multi-currency support. Apparently in most cases you need revenues at least in the 7-figures to swing that, but Braintree set up USD, EUR and GBP for us on the cheap. Note that some payment gateways will claim to support multi-currency, even though what's really happening is they are just doing an exchange rate conversion and the customer gets nailed with an unexpected conversion fee from their bank.

I just looked at the Braintree site. It looks like they provide very developer friendly services which is rare in the industry. The listed rates are high though. If anyone goes with them, keep in mind it's the industry norm to heavily negotiate those.

Our (Braintree's) pricing is actually very competitive. It probably looks higher because we disclose all our fees. Nearly every provider we know of obscures fees both during the sales process and in the monthly reporting statements so merchants never really understand what they're paying. Here's an example of pricing trickery http://bit.ly/9NSZCa . Prospective customers regularly do thorough pricing comparisons and we are consistently among the most competitively priced. Our objective has always been to provide the best value in the industry for a fair price.

I work at a provider (PowerPay) and completely agree about obscured fees. The rates I was referring to are posted on your site and do seem a bit high to me. With that being said, there are a ton of variables involved in pricing an account, so it was a bit unfair of me to bash your prices. I suppose that is why most providers don't list rates on their sites.

I was involved with integrating with Braintree in a startup I worked for.

1. They do have good developer support (why we went with them)

2. They charge more than others, but we were able to negotiate it down a bit.

Braintree was not available in Canada a year ago. Has this changed?

We (Braintree) are currently only set up to provide merchant accounts for businesses with a legal U.S. presence. We do however have some international customers that work with our partners for the merchant account and us for the gateway, vault and recurring billing. Our partners don't maintain any hard and fast volume requirements but instead evaluate opportunities based either on current or expected volumes.

They look great - but - seems that they require a US presence

Anybody here know good payment gateways for us folks outside the US?? (specifically India, in my case)

To be fair, there are a few options out there (see http://www.pluggd.in/review-of-payment-gateways-in-india-297...) but from the quick research I did, they have really high transaction rates (upwards of 6%).

If no better options exist, this might be an opportunity for an entrepreneur, though figuring out and complying around the laws might take some doing.

Setting up a payment gateway is really capital intensive business

Try these guys: http://www.ewayinc.co.in/.

I've used them in Australia and they aren't bad. It was for payment processing of a pre-integrated shopping cart so I can't say much beyond it works, fees are straightforward and they answer the phone and will answer questions (especially sales questions) quickly via chat.

Wirecard is a good option for Europe and parts of Asia. Not sure if they support India. Recurly also supports Wirecard APIs via the ActiveMerchant API.

Here's a list AM supports: http://activemerchant.rubyforge.org/

If you find one out let me know, looking for gateways that will deal with banks in Nepal and India.

Take a look at these guys, http://aaaccess.com/ (based in Atlanta, Georgia USA). They provide a gateway to software/web companies.

Based in the UK, we use a Barclays merchant account and SecureTrading as our payment gateway. SecureTrading is great as they provide excellent customer service. Their payment gateway set-up is a bit funny (involves setting up a java gateway), but it works.

I've written an ActiveMerchant plugin for ST:


I am trying to figure out if I want to accept credit cards on my site, instead of sending the customer to a different site, how I can become PCI Compliant. It sounds like for a low volume of transactions you just have to answer a questioner and keep decent security precautions. Is that true? Also does your host have to be PCI Certified or can it be any VPS host like linode?

I was about to post the same Ask HN yesterday, but for other UK. Anyone have any recommendations?

We usually use PayPal or Google Checkout, but our clients often want to use their business bank's merchant service e.g. Barclays EPDQ. This can sometimes pose a problem, as we use Ubercart and have to find/develop the necessary adapter modules.

Wish we were using BrainTree, as evidenced by a coworker exclaiming that he found a bug in their dev sandbox, and they fixed it in a few minutes and sent him a nice email thanking him. So, anecdotally, they sound great.

Authorize.Net is otherwise stable, though poorly documented, and works when their datacenter isn't on fire.

They look great - but - seems that they require a US presence

TrustCommerce (http://www.trustcommerce.com/) seem like good people. In particular, they seem very FOSS-friendly; see (http://www.trustcommerce.com/opensource.php).

In the US, but we've used PayPal's direct payment gateway (Websites Payment Pro) for a number of client sites, and its been great.

The rates are very reasonable ($30/month, 2-3% + $.30 per transaction), and the only weird requirement is that you have to offer PayPal as a checkout option (and we would anyway).

I'm looking for a subscription model so unless PayPal has a recurring billing, I can't use it. Thanks for the tip anyway.

My experience with payment gateways (note: I have not tried the new subscription services: Chargify, Spreedly, etc) was that their recurring billing support was rather inflexible.

We had to implement it ourselves to get the customer experience we wanted (30 day free trials, that kind of stuff).

So this may be less of a downside than you suppose.

If you're looking at doing subscription stuff, check out spreedly, http://spreedly.com/. They'll handle all of the subscription and billing stuff for you, and abstract away whomever you end up using as a gateway. They do support Paypal as a backend.

I'm pretty sure Paypal does have recurring payments. I think they call it a subscription payment.

AFAIK this is not available through their gateway - you have to send the user to PayPal.com and even then I believe they have to use a PayPal account to subscribe.

If there's a way around this I would love to know.

subscriptions are available through the direct api (your site) and express api (paypal hop) if using websites payments pro. however, if you offer direct, paypal requires that you offer express as well.

payments standard only supports something similar to express, although it's a totally different beast.

That is awesome, thank you.

They have a NVP API for subscription payments.


I haven't tried it yet though.

Perhaps you could combine it with something like Spreedly?


I haven't used them before, but I am looking for an excuse to try them out.

I use these guys: http://www.paysimple.com/ They walked me through getting a merchant account and charge $30/month for the gateway with an API, credit card vault, subscription billing on credit card or ACH

Amazon has a very strong subscriptions/reoccurring billing system with a nice of API for subscription management.


We use Amazon FPS at Mixpanel and it's okay. The fees are certainly low.

However, you have to send your users offsite to a co-branded page to get them signed up, which is a pain in the ass. They also have to have an Amazon account, which many businesses don't (if you're a B2B startup).

If you're looking for a Canadian company, look to Beanstream:


They're based out of Victoria, BC - my hometown! They're supposed to be good, although I can't speak from personal experience.

So what's good about them apart from being from your hometown?

I'm in the process of setting up Beanstream - seem like nice guys out there! And they give test accounts, etc. Very friendly. When you call the 1800 number, someone answers the phone!

Let us know after you get everything running. I'm counting on this as an alternative to PSIGate now.

Have you tried ringing the banks direct?

Back in AU (I now live in Canada) I was able to get a pretty good deal and system from my local bank. I have no idea why it was not promoted online but their merchant facilities did the trick!

My business bank account is with BMO, so I tried to contact their own solution called Moneris. Their sales rep didn't know what I was talking about. They tried to push me to use virtual terminal and other stuff that usually retail uses. In the end, the sales rep said she'd have to talk to the manager to see if they have anything like what I want. So that pretty much failed.

We use Moneris. The product that covers what you want is eselectplus. You can get info on their API here http://www.eselectplus.ca/en/downloadable-content. They are pretty clueless. We went with them because at the time (2006) they were the only company we could find that would support Canadians that had recurring billing. Their API isn't complete. We actually have to do screen scraping against their virtual terminal to compensate for missing APIs.

The Canadian bank ones are garbage. Good opportunity for someone to partner with them.

Although I still did not build any web app, for my software I'm using FastSpring and, if I'm not mistaken, they should be usefull also for subscription based web apps.

Very good support and very good interface. It works very well.

Is there anything like Authorize.net CIM in Canada? The CIM piece is awesome because you don't store any credit card information on your server, which takes all the PCI hassle out of the equation.

That's exactly what I want to know. I definitely do not want to deal with PCI compliance. Sadly Authorize.net doesn't support banks in Canada.

Solutions like CIM only simplify PCI compliance. You're still handling the card info, just not storing it. To completely get away from handling card data you have to send your customer over to another site like PayPal to enter their payment info. A sub-optimal user experience.

That being said, it's less likely for someone to sniff the info as it passes through your server's RAM than if it was stored on disk.

I (Canadian) have an account on http://www.internetsecure.com/ -- I haven't used it yet so I can't advise, but it's one for your list.

Try out http://www.boku.com/publishers/ for mobile payments

My first consideration was paypal, but after doing the same thing you doing, i came up with 2checkout.com

Have a look at Recurly as well: http://recurly.com

We use PayPal though.

Recurly, Chargify, Spreedly, et al don't actually handle the merchant account for you so you still need an account at Authorize.net or similar.

This is true but if you use Recurly you can swap merchant accounts as you need as they store your CC numbers. That plus TransFS is a powerful combination.

We use Chase Paymentech, but probably switching to BrainTree after speaking to them several times.

e-xact: ruby on rails based group out of Vancouver, check out their hosted checkout product which is what we use so we don't need to store credit cards ourselves and avoid all that PCI BS:


I've used e-xact for a few different projects. Never had any problems with them, and they're relatively developer friendly (I wrote the Business::OnlinePayment::Exact module on CPAN).

I use virtual access, not cheap but very good.

full disclosure, run by friends of mine.

I previously used psigate, although I'm not sure I would recommend it

I was actually in contact with them recently. Did you receive bad service? I'd like to know before I go with them.

There was a bit of a hassle with them. Setting up the account was rather annoying.

Authorize.net's CIM with custom app for flexible rebilling.

How has that gone? I am looking into a similar setup.

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