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Basing these comments purely on the credit-card processing side of things:

Context - small business, using PayPal for almost five years, large transaction values, small transaction volumes, global dispersion of customers, multiple currencies.

1. PayPal works (mostly) without issue for customers from a wide geographic region (my customers are from many countries all over the world).

2. The exchange rates offered via PayPal are TERRIBLE. Several percentage points, on top of the several percentage points initial processing fee. Either the business, or the customer, is paying for these bad exchange rates (dependent upon the source/destination of funds). This can be an additional five percent.

3. Customer service from PayPal is lacking, but in the case of disputes, things have worked out in the way I would logically expect, around 99% of the time. In the other 1%, PayPal refunded the money, I have never lost anything (neither have my customers) due to disputes.

4. STRIPE has categorized my business as high-risk, and therefore won't offer me their services. I won't specify my business type here - I can safely guess there is nobody on this planet that would consider my business type "high-risk".

Some of the categories of what constitutes a high-risk business are obvious - gambling, porn, etc etc, other categories make no sense at all. (I have never had a single disputed charge in four years of operation)

Semi-regularly, I search and compare cc-processing alternatives. Mostly, due to the currency exchange fees, poor customer service, and stories of PayPal accounts being frozen/locked due to spurious reasons.

I consider PayPal the best of the worst choices.




At a previous job we also used PayPal. We tried switching to a traditional credit card processor, which was a nightmare.

We had a seasonal business that processed sales of $1 million+ revenue in a week, once a year. Around 60% of sales were international. This combination was like kryptonite to card processors. We finally got accepted by one, the fees weren't much better than PayPal. It was amusing seeing TFA describe PayPal's API as "a horrible experience" after having implemented that traditional processor's API.

We ended up going back to PayPal after one season.

Although in the end, our decade-old business was killed by relying on PayPal's fraud detection. We got hit by a flood of China IP-sourced carders and the chargebacks ruined us. This can happen with any traditional card processor as well, it was really on us for being too naive (and being spared from fraud in the past decade)


Did you have significant legitimate China business? These days it's probably not as effective a technique, but back in the mid 00s we ended up just banning entire countries at my company because well over 50% of transactions from those countries ended up being fraudulent.


We did end up banning China, but there such a delay between the transactions and the chargebacks that it was too late. We also tried preemptively refunding suspicious charges, but you get hit with the chargeback fee regardless.


The PayPal fraud was the reason we went to a traditional CC processor. In a single month we were hit with over 1000 french PayPal accounts and we had some legit French business, so we couldn't block them. We ended up getting frozen by PayPal for a while, switched to Authorize.Net, and after a couple months PayPal started releasing funds again, and We had too many charge backs on Authorize.Net to continue using it.


>I consider PayPal the best of the worst choices.

You don't have to be able to outrun a bear. You only need to outrun the slowest hiker in your group.

PayPal has done as well as it has because their competition has been pretty awful for a long time.


I do not agree with their categorization of gambling as high risk either. Gambling companies are heavily regulated and at least in Europe there are very few fraud cases due to 3D Secure.


It's high risk due to the number of charge backs. Same for ingame currency.


Could you email me at edwin@stripe.com? I'd like to look into this categorization.


Thanks, but there is no point in emailing - I've been through this with Stripe reps in two different countries.

(BTW, the Stripe categorization lists differ from one country to another).


This is my opinion too after spending far more time than I wish looking into this. PayPal is the worst except for all the competitors.


2. Stripe's currency conversion rates are also terrible. And you're forced into converting the currency rather than being able to deposit it in the currency my users pay in...


There are lots of legal reasons for this. To be able to settle in a currency, you must have an acquirer that can accomplish that (ie, they have a bank account there). And then next, the Stripe and you will likely need to setup a local entity to have a bank account that can take the money. This then exposes them to more regulation from that country.

A processor just doing cross currency and settling in a few countries is much easier to do.


Stripe can certainly take USD - and my local (Australian) bank certainly accepts USD, as I have a USD bank account with them. But I'd cut them more slack if they didn't sting me for currency conversion as well.


«The exchange rates offered via PayPal are TERRIBLE»

This is why Bitcoin is not such a bad choice after all. People on HN tend to criticize the Bitcoin option for international payments, saying the combined overhead of the buyer converting his local currency to bitcoins + the overhead of the seller converting the bitcoins to his local currency is too high. But the reality is that this is still less overhead than the next best option (Paypal).


Bitcoin is unequivocally worse for this, as you say, you face two currency conversions, one from buyer currency to BTC and one from BTC to seller currency. Each time you pay 1-2% (or more depending on jurisdiction) and it takes days, which given its huge volatility exposes both sides to massive FOREX risk on top of that. PLUS a BTC transaction fee (currently $0.26). Not to mention the non-trivial chance your exchange will shut down or run away with your money during the process. [Hello, Quadriga]

1-2% + $0.26 + 1-2% + FOREX risk + 1 week + forefeiture risk is strictly worse than even PayPal.


You don't know what you are talking about.

Most Bitcoin exchanges have fees that are a fraction of a percent. Not 1-2%. Paypal has international fees approaching 5%(!)

It doesn't take days to buy some BTC. Buying or selling is instantaneous (once you have an account at an exchange, which is a one-time thing to setup, certainly not a step to go through for every transaction as you seem to imply!)

Volatility has been declining over the last few years. Besides, volatility has an overall net-zero effect on your transactions: half the time you make a bit of extra money, half the time you lose a bit of money, so it averages to zero gains/losses.

Finally, use a trustworthy exchange. These are really not hard to find: Coinbase, Gemini, etc.


It sounds like you need Adyen. You can process intl PayPal through Adyen as well.


Adyen is more enterprise focused, right?

What would you say Adyen's biggest advantages are over Stripe and PayPal?


They support a vast number of currencies and a vast number of payment methods.




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