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Samurai: New Payment Gateway from FeeFighters (feefighters.com)
182 points by sjs382 on Sept 22, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

I'm not happy with PayPal, so I just got really excited when I heard about Samurai from a company with a familiar name.

The note about beta stage is acceptable, it means that it should not be used in heavy production yet, but the Lorem ipsum placeholder text on the Python API page just means it cannot be used under any circumstances yet.

After my initial shock, this package does seem amazing, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty with it; but please take the time to review and polish the pages.

Their heart is in the right place, but Lorem Ipsum in terms and conditions is an obvious red flag and a beta label is not something I care to have on my payment gateway.

Having said all that, I hope it turns out for them. I'd love some competition to some of the terrible products out there.

Terms and conditions:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua...

Ah, I see.

Far too many "Paypal killers" coming about which lack one thing that could actually help them usurp Paypal...international support.

Stripe, Weepay, Samurai - all look amazing, but it is SO frustrating to seem them all release their products and pretend they can challenge the likes of Paypal whilst disregarding the rest of the world.

I know people are promising international support, but are they really going to make the jump after everything gets all cosy with a US only audience?

I've recently deployed 2checkout (I'm UK based). It's not pretty and it's not fully integrated with an API, but it's damn easy, doesn't require Merchant accounts and people can pay you with credit cards or Paypal.

After I signed up I was directed to the "get-started" page where I could submit a test payment. It didn't work (sat on the pulsating "waiting for token").

Eventually I figured out it was because I had not yet confirmed my email address, but there was absolutely nothing on the "get-started" page which told me I had to confirm my email before I could use that page.

Probably should fix that, because I had a strong negative first impression when a simple test payment just sat there doing nothing :)

Is this US-only? (been dying for a good UK based gateway)

Also you should fix the layout of the upgrade screen: http://skitch.com/lfittl/f5rtf

Same question from another EU-country.

UK is a nightmare. :(

Of course it is US only.

US people seem to think the rest of the world looks like Ethiopia and that you have to bribe people left and right and center to get a business started here.

Here's a question based on our current headache: our bank switched processors, and now when we try to do AMEX refunds our gateway (Payflow Pro) returns an error. The old transaction tokens don't work with the new processor.

How do you guys handle this situation?

Hahaha... I should really be shouting this out...

If you are doing big numbers... sign up for Paypal in the UK. 1.4% for UK transactions and 1.9% for other currencies/countries. You need to be doing a considerable amount per month but you are basically getting wholesale rates with Paypal processing for nothing extra. Google matches the lowest rate but foreign transactions are 2.4%.

Just be careful for Paypal's conversion fees. They are 2.5%. You can avoid them by adding foreign bank accounts.

Dealing with Paypal is not for everyone. That is why I don't use them anymore. Got a more suitable service with another provider but it is not a service that most people would be able to use.

I have to say that your video is surprisingly beautiful given the subject matter, though the voiceover is done in a style that sounds like a commercial for a new wonder product that's both a floor wax AND a delicious dessert topping.

Here's another Canuck who can't wait for this to come to Canada.

It looks promising, although for a SaaS startup, once you add a recurring billing provider like Recurly, it can be pricing for under $20 per month apps.

A quick note, the 8 minute tour from here https://samurai.feefighters.com/developers

.. links to a youtube samurai movie clip via the image link and the 5 minute rails demo from the text link.

Yup, it's a wrkinprogress ;)

We just launched into public beta. We aren't charging anyone because we know there are rough edges on our site.

So is this a competitor to something like spreedlycore? I'm trying to find a recurring billing provider which can handle multiple merchant accounts, and the only thing close was spreedlycore, which handles the processing but none of the recurring functionality. Nobody seems to provide a recurring billing solution which supports multiple merchant accounts.

Looks good. But what the hell is so hard about stating regional support upfront? US online? International? EU? Canada? Come on!

Is there anyway to add recurring billing to this system? Can I manually recharge the cards on a monthly basis?

Can this do/allow 3rd party payment aggregation? I can't tell if that's what "intelligent routing" means.

Signed up for Canadian announcement. Any competitor of PayPal is my friend.

You may want to delete the 'Lorem ipsum' paragraph in https://samurai.feefighters.com/developers/api-python

Paypal is a finely-tuned fraud detection system that has a inter-personal payment application bolted onto the side.

Samurai's friendliness to all comers will determine how quickly it must necessarily turn into Paypal, as well.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the quality of the video. The length, dynamism and content were all perfect! Nice one.

Thanks! I will give a shoutout to the guys who helped us with the video: http://demoduck.com. They were a joy to work with.

As a merchant, you should switch to "interchange plus" pricing as soon as you're big enough. Forget the tiered stuff.

Seems to me that Dwolla.com is the way to go. Payment cards online are going away.

Please come to Canada!

It looks like they are already! I'm looking at their site and they have a choice for US or Canada!

one of the big things that helped propel paypal and square is the blended rate. Not finding a way to include amex in your single rate is a mistake.

PayPal does NOT have single rate pricing. AmEx is 3.5%... See the disclosures at the bottom of the page here: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/website-payments-pro

That being said, we'd love to do that but you need to be of a certain size to negotiate with AmEx. Working on it.

Also - we are keeping the same rate for international credit cards, which is something that the other guys don't offer.

paypal used to until around a year ago when Amex forced them to stop. that said i'm a fan of what you guys do

Works with Shopify?

I'm sure it will work in Shopify once somebody adds it to active_merchant. Probably will take a few weeks to months.

Hey guys, to answer the most popular question: Samurai is not yet functional for merchants outside of the US (but it does take international cards). The original FeeFighters product (comparison shopping for merchant accounts) is in Canada though, so you can still get a great deal on a merchant account (http://feefighters.ca)

Samurai will eventually get there at some point. Likely first in Canada in the next month or 2 and then we'll explore Europe. There is SO MUCH DEMAND for international that it's overwhelming. We really wish we could help out... the truth is that each country we enter is really complicated and we have to tread carefully because we need to ensure that our partners are great, that we can provide round the clock support, etc. We just aren't there yet.

Fill this out and we'll let you know when we launch in Canada: https://docs.google.com/a/transfs.com/spreadsheet/embeddedfo...

And this one for Europe: https://docs.google.com/a/transfs.com/spreadsheet/embeddedfo...

Also - for an overview on credit card processing (if you are wondering what the hell a gateway or processor is, etc) - check out our ebook (note this was written pre-samurai): http://feefighters.com/ebooks/what-is-credit-card-processing...

Does that mean it is not open for MERCHANTS outside the US or it won't take CARDS from outside the US? You may want to clarify this for potential customers.

Thanks, I didn't think of that. Clarification noted above.

Your intro clip mentions that the intelligent routing will send foreign payments to foreign merchant accounts - I take it that that part is more of a 'coming soon' portion?

Yup... our backend allows for that but we haven't built the connection to any foreign platforms just yet.

So, yet again another easy-to-use & modern payment gateway that doesn't work outside of the US.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to check these links since I already know it's going to be the same. I will not hold my breath for international support either.

Sounds like that's just the way it is. If it were easy and if they didn't have to set it up for each and every country (it's not like this is The US vs. The World) then you'd see more "international" support.

I don't understand: if the demand is international and there are plenty of viable US options, why build another US-only product?

Someone recently suggested checking out paymate.com. Yes, they're international and best of all, they say they're committed to reducing unfair chargebacks that PayPal customers have become so accustomed too.

I've tried Moneybookers, but they're a little iffy (bad reports about account limitations). So next step is definitely PayMate.com. Fingers crossed.

I'm not privy to details inside FeeFighters, but I'd guess the conversation went something like:

1) We don't have a lot of money to build this thing (Samurai).

2) We are in Chicago, IL, USA. We are familiar with the laws and customs in Chicago. We speak the local language.

3) The laws and language from Chicago, IL, USA happen to be more or less applicable across a very large and fairly wealthy single market. Merchants near Chicago, IL, USA tend to be in their offices when I'm awake and my kids are at school.

4) Let's start with that market and expand to others once we get the resources to do so.

Honestly, American startups don't purposely omit non-US markets. But when you're trying to get to profitability on limited funding, this train of logic will come up and you really need a good reason to decide to pick an unfamiliar market to start.

if the demand is international and there are plenty of viable US options, why build another US-only product?

I'm not sure "there are plenty of viable US options" is entirely accurate. I've tried a bunch of options, and found them all to suck to one degree or another. We're currently using PayPal Web Payments Pro...it also sucks. But, at least their pricing is sane and comprehensible, and I don't hate life when dealing with them fro chargebacks and such (it's all on the web, and no faxing is involved, as was the case with every other merchant services provider I've ever tried or contacted, including supposedly modern options).

Merchant services is shockingly archaic in the US. It may be even more shockingly archaic in the rest of the world, but it's definitely not good here. I'll definitely look into this when it becomes available.

Just for fun everyone should look at this list: http://www.ogone.nl/nl/Extra%20Services/~/media/PDF/Acquirin... (PDF) Look at the number of different companies used to be able to offer Ogone's international payment services. That's lot of relationships to build...

I've stopped bothering.

Anyway, payment processing is a solved problem in the Netherlands. Which other countries have sensible, cheap payment, easy-to-implement solutions that are widely used?

A solved problem in the Netherlands? What payment processor do you recommend?

The options I have looked at in the Netherlands all seem really bad or run on ancient technology. You can't even get Paypal Payments Pro, Amazon payments or google checkout. You can't get Braintree or any of the other web 2.0 payment processors.

Ogone looks sort of OK, but I don't know of any others.

We use MultiSafePay, which is a "online checkout" solution (you're routed to their site with your template if you have the most expensive plan). They support credit cards, but that's based on acceptance by their processor, PaySquare. The problem boils down to, just like Canada mentioned above, there are only two or three credit card processors. Even Ogone uses PaySquare or Atos Worldline in the Netherlands (they, like FeeFighters have different relationships in different countries). Ogone is a spinoff of Fortis bank, so is quite "bank minded".

I meant iDeal, which will allow you to reach most Dutch internet users, as opposed to PayPal or credit cards (relatively few Dutch people have credit cards).

You're okay if you want to do a webshop and just cater to the Dutch market in which case you can use just iDeal.

But if you want to do international recurring payments you don't have that much options in the Netherlands.

You can go with one of the following: Spreedly+Ogone (which needs extra tweaking to support VAT) or Recurly+WireCard

Or pick a more expensive all-in-one solution such as Avangate.

Am I missing others?

Finnish banks have had domestic customer-to-business online payment system (TUPAS) running since 2000 or so. It sounds very similar to the Dutch iDeal scheme. It used to be a pain to set up since you had to sign a contract with each bank chain you wanted to accept payments from, but nowadays you can sign up with a gateway instead.

Not Australia. :)

From our perspective - we really really want to be international.

We would LOVE to deal with non-US companies and people and hope to do so soon, but for our particular business it's a bit hard right now. Creating relationships with credit card processors we trust (and that you should trust) is really hard.

Another part of it is honestly just that the US market is so big and we have room to grow here, and it's not as easy as it seems - For example, we have phone and chat support during normal US business hours. I don't know what we'll do when we have European or Asian customers. Other issues include taxes, currency and currency risk, taking payments, etc. There's a lot to think about there. We really want to do it, but to do it right requires a lot of thought, and we just haven't done it yet.

Not only that but in my experience there are far more options for processors within the US and they are not as conservative in some cases (or so it seems).

In Canada we have a number of processors but there are only two (TWO!) acquiring banks. TD and CIBC if I remember correctly. I believe that relationship has caused a monopoly at the top and extremely conservative processors here in Canada.

I base this on information I've gathered over the last year and a half as a merchant and represents my best knowledge of the industry - if I'm incorrect in any of this I'd love to hear it as it may provide a path for me to loosen some of the chains. It's very, very difficult to progress with an innovative payments model in Canada due to this.

I know people are complaining about not being available in Canada and/or Europe, but the fact that you have Canada in your near future plans gives me hope.

I've added my email to the Canada list, and I look forward to the day you arrive.

Best of luck!

Re: Terms. We added them in yesterday but it hasn't been deployed yet... you'll see them soon. In the meantime: http://feefighters.com/terms-of-service

Another question is on recurring billing: At this point, we've we are making a conscious decision that recurring billing logic should be outside of the gateway... none of the gateways handle it particularly well and it is actually kind of a tricky problem. We are working on getting samurai connected to recurly, spreedly and chargify, all of which are good for that.

Honest question: If Recurly/Spreedly/Chargify/CheddarGetter is satisfactory for my recurring billing, why would I need Samarai? I'd likely just bring a merchant that has its own gateway to one of those services.

I'm currently looking at places like BrainTree which do it all (merchant, gateway, recurring) as they look far more enticing than gluing together a bunch of companies.

I suppose I'm new at this, but it's all very confusing. Why should I choose you + some merchant + some recurring billing service over BrainTree?

I can't speak to BrainTree, but I have been with Chargify + Authorize.net for a while and I'm very pleased with Chargify in particular. I'm not super thrilled with A.net, as I'm completely vendor-locked with their card vault. Plus, their web interface is pretty crappy.

Samurai's costs and their (i think?) support for data portability are a big plus.

If I could get Samurai + Chargify and port over all my existing A.net customers, I think I probably would. Unfortunately, that's kind of academic at this point, as A.net is a black hole AFAIK.

Chargify is partially to "blame" here, too. They push the vault stuff off to the gateway, which leads to your vendor lock-in. Recurly, on the other hand, works fine with Authorize.net and has no such lock-in. I'm in the position of supporting both right now as I migrate away from Chargify.

That is a completely fair question.

If you use Recurly/Spreedly/Chargify/CheddarGetter, you still need a gateway and merchant account. Samurai is both.

Braintree does recurring billing, but doesn't do a great job at it. It also could turn out to be cheaper than it would at Braintree. Braintree charges $20 extra per month for the vault plus $0.01 per card PER MONTH. https://samurai.feefighters.com/pricing

"Braintree does recurring billing, but doesn't do a great job at it."

Would you care to elaborate?

From an entrepreneur/inventor's mindset, there's one good thing about the pain, confusion and idiocy around the mainstream legacy payment/banking systems in the world: it represents a huge opportunity to deliver something better, something smarter and more friendly. In 2011, with current technology, and without having to worry about legal/bureaucratic compliance/inertia, it can and should be pretty easy for humans to send electronic payments to one another. Take Bitcoin for example. While far from perfect, it is one step in that direction. Though anybody that can help make the mainstream payment/banking system a little better, like Samurai/FeeFighters, or BankSimple, even incrementally, is doing a good thing as well.

Oops. I just called them and asked if they do business outside the US. I should have read the damn comments, lol.

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