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PayMill, Stripe clone, rolls out silently across Europe (paymill.com)
173 points by SebMortelmans on Nov 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

This was created by the Samwer brothers, who have an interesting history of cloning sites and flipping them, often to the company they cloned:


So, proceed with caution if you decide to use them. (That being said, I wonder if Stripe will just buy them in order to get European payments working?)

Why do you think developers should proceed with caution? They don't seem malevolent to me. Perhaps you question their methods, which is legitimate, but if you have any other information apart from that, I would like to hear it.

Additionally, I don't know if I can criticise their model. Yes, it's not very innovative, but on the other hand you can think of it as a outsourced European development team for US-based startups. They know the market, the language(s), the problems. They do the development work and then if the original startup wants to buy the product, they can. Who knows, perhaps it might even end up being not much more expensive than setting up the infrastructure and acquiring the knowledge required to operate in the EU. It might also serve as a test case: "is service X really going to work in the EU?". They take the risk that something might not work.

As an EU-based developer (who never used any of their products. yet?), I also think it's valuable for us (EU-based developers). Instead of waiting for startup X to get their act together, they offer us an alternative, which then later might be merged with the original product.

As a side note, there is a bit of a unintentional Schadenfreude to be found in this article as well. Since it's 6 - 7 months old, their investments in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon doesn't look so hot anymore as it did back then. Maybe they should avoid the investment side of things.

Edit: grammar

Generally speaking, I agree, but the Samwer teams often overstep the bounds and going beyond simply duplicating functionality (i.e. blatantly ripping the design features and html/css theme of the website landing page). I think if you talk to people who've worked for their companies (I have) there is the general impression that whatever the boundary is that should not be crossed, it is being crossed.

I didn't mean to imply malevolence, rather misaligned incentives. Their goal isn't to create a stable, long lasting company -- it's to flip it as quickly as possible and make themselves money.

This is important to keep in mind if your company uses them to accept payments.

Stripe is no available in Europe. I don’t think there is anything wrong with creating something that works here instead of waiting.

People keep saying "Stripe, come to Europe!" and "Why isn't there something like Stripe in Europe." A competent company with a track record of success finally builds a good approximation of the Stripe experience for Europe, so why should developers be cautious? Have they shut down companies when they haven't been acquired?

Oliver Samwer's response to the negativity being circled about him. http://www.idea-lab.org/videos

Also, I think it's a bit unfair to reduce the brothers to a "copy-cat" title. This happens everywhere, its just that they are the most successful at it. There are a lot of really cool tech companies in the valley that are relevant to non-english-speaking countries and developing ones but these countries don't fully benefit because the originators of the ideas pay no special attention to this countries. Mere providing different language translations does not breakdown the different albeit subtle differences between different cultures.

I think the samwers should be commended for what they do especially for their German market.

It's a mis-nomer that they frequently end up selling to the US company they cloned. Ebay and Groupon are about the only two examples.

Stripe would never, ever, ever acquire a clone like this. First, because the notion is already rare. But more overwhelming is Stripe's intense focus on creating its own culture and building its own stuff.

Yeah, and it was about time they did Stripe!

If someone was wondering here are the supported countries: Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Rep ., Turkey, UK, Hungary, Cyprus (Greek part), Israel. (from https://www.paymill.com/en-gb/support-3/worth-knowing/terms-...)

What's the point of supporting both Greece and Turkey but not the other part of Cyprus? Just wondering.

Probably simply because they're not officially recognized by the EU.

I bet they aren't officially recognized by USA either, you can still buy Coca-Cola there.

Seriously, I come to think IT products are inferior to physical products in the terms of being able to distribute and make them available regardless of politics.

I suspect citizens of Iran, North Korea, China and the old USSR would disagree with that last sentiment.

Ooh! And the US (Cuban cigars).

Do you think there are no iPhones in Iran or North Korea? Hint: there are.

Even in USSR people managed to smuggle enough British LPs and Japanese tape recorders to kickstart a Rock movement. It's not that hard.

Compare this to major IT services (Amazon, iTunes, movie streaming) not available in quite a few otherwise rich and democratic, albeit small, countries; or even only available in a selected few of countries.

Well, I guess my point was that there are a lot of physical goods that US companies may not sell to these countries due to sanctions - political reasons. Certainly folks circumvent these measures. People also circumvent regional restrictions on Internet services with VPNs. I'm sure this company doesn't want to smuggle its service in. I have no idea why the service isn't available in some specific area, but I suspect "not being recognized by the EU" isn't the primary reason. Though that may make implementation more difficult in an area.

My impression has been that companies have prevented each other from distributing to some of those rich and democratic small countries. Through region specific licensing of their media they've limited distribution. I don't think those are political measures, although certainly in other cases companies have used political means to achieve their goals.

It seems like someone forgot Belgium (again).

No, we haven't. It's missing only from the Terms and Conditions webpage. We have Belgium in our hearts, in our language switcher and in our activation form :-)


Note that the standard form of payment in Poland is wire transfer. There are gateways for it, like przelewy24.pl or payu.pl.

Nobody pays online with a credit card.

While I applaud any move to bring more payment options in Europe this is really still very german focused and appears only half baked. The English documentation is interesting with lots of muddled terminology and when you start the application process bit's of it are still in german in places. The site also seems to lack error and confirm messages (wondering if this is simply not translated)

For those in the UK jumping for joy at a Stripe like payment gateway there is a bit of a gotcha it only supports Euros.

Also there is no details about who is actually processing the payments and several interesting and dubious (but again could simply be translation problems) statements about PCI compliance on the site which could make due diligence interesting.

Something to watch, but for UK merchants I suspect it may be a lot of work to get going so not quite the frictionless option people are holding out for. Be interesting to hear from a German companies perspective to see if similar issues exist on the paymill.de site?

I'm very sorry for the translation problems. We are working to solve these, but we would appreciate if you could send us an email on support@paymill.com if you find something wrong or ambiguous.

But a small correction: we support the local currency of your company. If you are based in the UK, you'll be able to accept GBP. If you need support for other European currencies, you can contact us and we can certainly look into it.

About the PCI compliance: you don't have to be PCI compliant, for one reason: the payment data never reaches your server. Our javascript bridge solution takes care of sending the data directly to our payment servers (which are PCI compliant), so you don't have to be.

I'm not sure what you mean by not being frictionless for UK companies. Is this about the points above? If not, please do let us know what your concerns are :-)

PCI Compliance is about a business not a process being compliant, while your solution reduces the scope of compliance it does not mean the business can just ignore its responsibilities. They still have to go through the motions just the emphasis is on you rather then the business. Which means your own documentation should be clear on what process are compliant, who did your assessment etc. So this can be then used for your merchants when doing their own assessments.

You may wish to change some of your terminology to match the rest of the industry a "reclaim" for instance I assume you mean a chargeback. You also mix the terms reclaim and refund in several places. Assuming you meant chargeback then a chargeback and a refund are two very separate things.

Also as pointed out the FAQ states only Euros are supported, I'm glad to hear that GBP is also supported I shall have another play in a bit. But how then is currency conversion reconciled?

Ultimately the site is littered with mistakes (mostly I'm sure due translation) and these reflect an image of service that's not quite finished.

From the en-gb FAQ: "Which currencies does Paymill accept? Currently, we can only accept €. However we are very hard working to being able to offer you more currencies shortly."

So which is it?

Hi gmac,

this is sadly a historic relief from our German site from our first version of our site, we're gonna fix it tomorrow. Thanks for the hint!

However, we offer domestic currencies, but also USD/EUR if you want to. Just contact us at support@paymill.com, and we can get things done.

I'm based in Europe and do pricing in USD because that's where my customers are. Is your originating currency rule a hard and fast one?

Hi Kudos,

just write us a mail to support@paymill.com. It's possible having USD as currency with our service as well, we just have to change our FAQs tomorrow. ;)

At Spreedlycore we support 40 + payment gateways. (our target audience are developers/applications that need to work with more than one payment gateway) No one's asked us about PayMill yet. It'll be interesting if they do.

It worries me when the first two sentences contradict each other: "Paymill enables you to offer credit card payments on your website within a short time. There is no waiting time" Which one is it?

I hope it's the real deal because the world needs it (we deal with a lot of non US developers around payments all the time so know the pain). But Stripe hasn't nailed it and Braintree couldn't nail the "immediate sign up" outside of the US so I too will wait to hear if it's all that much different.

Lastly looks like just Visa/MC. No AMEX or Discover which isn't the terrible but worth noting vs other options. (AMEX is more expensive so not having it I'm sure helped them get to 2.9%)

Hi jusben1369,

a guy from our business team will contact you in the next days. Looks like a cool service you're offering! :)

We're thinking about AMEX and it could be another possible step in our v3. Actually we want to fix some minor bugs, our blog will updated within the next 1-2 weeks so you can stay tuned on English as well.

We actually didn't have the time to update our blog regularly regarding our European rollout. ;)

About the contradiction: you are right, it sounds a bit strange in English. We'll correct that. But what we mean is: you can start integrating the solution right away in "test mode", no need to wait till your activation is processed. In a couple days, your activation is processed and you can start receiving money for real.

Thanks for the clarification.

> No AMEX or Discover which isn't the terrible but worth noting vs other options

For what it's worth, AMEX is uncommon in my EU country (and I say that as someone who uses AMEX) and I wouldn't be surprised if it's just as rare throughout the EU. I have literally never seen a Discover card.

I've never seen Discover either and it's quite normal to see AMEX not being accepted at small retailers in the UK

The lack of AMEX and Discover seems irrelevant to me. The lack of local cards however is a major issue for some European countries, depending on what you sell. If I where to use Paymill, I would still need someone to handle payments on local Danish cards.

From the look of the API is also seems like Paymill wouldn't be of any use if you ship physical products. Some European countries don't allow you to charge the customers card until the goods are actually shipped. This mean that you do need to be able to reserve the money and later do a "capture".

I love the simplicity of solutions like Stripe and Paymill, but I really don't see them be all that useful. That might of cause be because I'm in the business of shipping physical products in small geographic location.

EDIT: Just noticed Dankort being supported by Spreedlycore, awesome.

They do have pre-authorization: https://www.paymill.com/en-gb/documentation-3/reference/api-...

It says you can trigger the capture to fire a bit later, though you'd probably want that to happen when you ship an order -- which you can do with the API by creating a new Transaction from your preauthorization: https://www.paymill.com/en-gb/documentation-3/reference/api-...

I am from the UK and just finished integrating Spreedly Core with a site I developed on Friday. It was a painless process and made interfacing with the traditional merchant account much easier. I would highly recommend it!

> contradict

It seems like is saying the amount of time required by the developer is small and that you don't have to wait for approval/activation. (i.e. if it was a process it would be both fast and cpu-bound.)

Yeah but I think that's what they want you to believe. I think it's cleverly worded. "There is no waiting time" Stop - ok, in this space we all know what the biggest change has been recently. No waiting time to get a merchant account any more. "........to begin the integration process" Ohhhh. Still I'll wait to be corrected by someone who finds it is immediate - maybe it is true.

> It worries me when the first two sentences contradict each other:

I don't think that's necessarily true. The service lets you get payment processing up on your site in a short time. There is no waiting period to get an account set up to receive payments. It makes sense, its just not super specific.

I didn't know about you, this looks really interesting, I will give it a try, thanks.

> But Stripe hasn't nailed it and Braintree couldn't nail the "immediate sign up" outside of the US so I too will wait to hear if it's all that much different.

Correction: Braintree hasn't nailed it even inside US, despite reports otherwise. Even though you can sign up and get started with a developer account immediately, there is a human underwriter who looks at your account and activates production. This process might take lesser time now, but its not automated (like Stripe) and some people might get rejected on the way.

This step is the key value proposition for me. If Braintree or Paymill doesn't work like that, then they are not comparable to Stripe.

At Braintree, most new merchants are automatically approved to start processing without any human review. In some cases, an application will need an underwriter to take a look at it before it's fully approved. The advantage of this approach is that we won't tell you that you're good to go, but then shut you down a few weeks or months down the road after you've already started processing.

The UK process (at least when we investigated it) and I assume the rest of the recently added countries is still very much send us more paperwork then a bank ever will ask for to a black hole email (or sftp) at Braintree and say a pray.

This is no worse then any of the other payment processors in the UK but hardly the frictionless option that is in the US.

This is major news for startups in Europe. Major news.

The only issue I have is that the activation process seems like any other merchant account application. It will be interesting to hear from people who are rejected in the activation process to see how 'frictionless' these guys really are!

Sorry to hear that, but the activation process is unfortunately needed. That said, you can still start right away integrating our solution into your app. If you decide to indeed use our solution, you can just ask for the activation and in about 2 business days you'll be able to accept "live" payments.

That's awesome, just cool to know why the activation is needed and how long it will take.

I'm stoked to have you guys launched and I'm sure many other developers are also.

I wonder why they require you to "apply" for a merchant account, when Stripe just lets you get started ASAP.

This is nothing but good news, anything that makes accepting payments easier is a god send. If Stripe were gone tomorrow, how more difficult would our lives be?

I thought that, perhaps it's just to remain compliant on their side. Maybe it's the reason they've been able to ship despite the fact Stripe haven't.

Then again those Samwer brothers aren't short for cash.

It's definitely been very annoying for us outside of the US watching the light speed evolution of payment systems happening there and only there.

So this is good news for my European friends.

It's true, the motto of HN is that ideas are nothing, execution is everything.

Yes the Samwise brothers outright steal ideas, but if you object then go and out-execute them in Europe. If you can't do that and the competition was fair, then the market has found a better solution. The only other path is in mandating a monopoly

This is a too narrow view. Africa leads with mobile phone banking (use your phone as a wallet and transfer funds and be able to cash out), Russia and CIS have viable cardless electronic money (you deposit money into electronic kiosks at shops and molls and then pay for goods and services via interwebs or from mobile), China has I guess everything we can imagine and more.

Many in the US have lusted over NFC payments via cellphone, available in Japan.

To those mentioning it looks 'half backed' (and wondering whether it works): Samwer brothers' companies are built to flip. From talking to their devs at meetup (not paymill's, but other rocket company), they mention software dev practices leave a lot to be desired. Whatever it takes to get something out of the door. Code quality is not a priority. This makes me reticent, even though I really need a real EU stripe.

Interesting. This still needs to play out, but it seems like a lesson to geography-bound US startups (airbnb, stripe etc). I guess the question is, how much does execution count for? If I'm a Europe-based dev, do I really care that this isn't Stripe?

Here's a previous HN thread on PayMill with some solid comments: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4380302

This is great news, but I will probably try and wait for Stripe as I have no urgency to move today.

Why? Because this looks like where Stripe were and I know that when Stripe finally makes it to the UK they are the ones pushing the envelope and I want to be where they are.

I also hope Stripe will be more competitive on fees.

Obviously, should the need be pressing then this looks like a good stop-gap.

I've been using this service for a month and a bit now and it's worked really well. There is dramatically more paperwork compared to Stripe, but it works and it's way way better than anything else available in Germany.

I'm using them for a month now and i'm quite happy with the service. Especially compared to the CC gateways we were using before. Their support team is very competent and usually reply within a few minutes. (I had some problems with the Magento Extension but they fixed it and pushed a new version of the extension to their github).

Do I have to be PCI compliant if I use them?

Anybody involved with credit cards needs to be "compliant" The question is not yes or no but always around "Scope" Solutions that effectively use hosted payment pages (or even better in some ways a transparent redirect) so that the card data don't touch your servers usally allow you to just complete a SAQ-A (a self assessment one or two pager) So you must always be compliant but something like this (Stripe, Braintree etc) allows you to minimize scope to the SAQ-A level typically. (Caveats apply. You could build the best application in the world but if your support people start taking credit cards over the phone to help out customers who are struggling and 'set them up' you of course broaden your scope immediately so common sense still applies)

If your business accepts credit card payments, you must be PCI compliant.

Most gateways are structured so that your own systems never see card information.

What means PCI compliant ?

First result on Google - but here it is anyways: http://www.pcicomplianceguide.org/pcifaqs.php#1

You don't have to be PCI compliant to use Paymill, due to our "javascript bridge" solution. In short: the payment details never touches your server, removing the PCI compliance requirement.

Any merchant that accepts credit card payments must be PCI compliant. Even if cardholder data never touches the merchant's servers, the merchant still falls under the scope of SAQ A[1].

1: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/pci_saq_a_v2....

Looks like I'm signing up with these guys then! Just this week I asked the Stripe team when their UK launch would happen.

Can I use PayMill to except payments from clients in the EU if I'm a US-based business?

Your company needs to be registered in one of the countries we support. Other than that, payments can come from any country.

I see you mentioning 'Israel' in your terms of use, but can't select Israel in your countries interface. Can I use PayMill as an Israeli company? Thanks.

Yes. It's missing in the language switcher because of a technical problem, but you can find Israel on the activation form.

Will you support Romania as well?

You can use Stripe for that.

Not if you want to receive in euros.

Correct. I don't want Stripe to do the conversion. We want to receive dollars from US customers, and Euros from EU customers.

I started a reply here simply to comment that Stripe doesn't do currency conversion, they just charge in USD.

But I double-checked their FAQ and couldn't verify that, actually... I can't find details on how they manage the actual charge to foreign cards.

It's an important issue, because if they just charge in USD, holders of foreign cards will presumably see a "foreign transaction fee" in their statement, which discourages future purchases.

If they are able to charge the card in its own currency and avoid the fees, that means they're doing the conversion themselves, and setting the rate.

I still suspect it's the former solution, but I'll have to ask about that....

Shouldn't be too hard to create a script that sends a Stripe form to US customers (either based on country selection or just IP) and a Paymill form to EU customers.

Rocket is at it again.

Is this Samwer-linked?

I really like the way they are presenting their API. A simple example is better than an entire of page of documentation. Kind of how w3schools does it.

The activity of a Payment Service Provider is heavily regulated in EU, a license is required - But no mention of this on the site.

Sorry, but what kind of license are you talking about? In order to use Paymill, you just need to have a company registered in one of the countries we are present (31, at the moment).

Where can I see the list of supported countries?

We have it both in our Terms and Conditions page (hint: Belgium is missing there, but that's a mistake) and in our activation form.

Thanks. Any plans to add Georgia?

I still don't see how Stripe and PayMill are different from companies like SWREG that have existed since the time of Compuserve. Why is everyone so enthusiastic about Stripe? I honestly don't understand.

Good. Stripe waited for Intl forever

holy shit, they support turkey. yay!

I was blown away by that too. Then it made sense considering it's Rocket behind it!

and which is why now i cannot use it even though they support turkey.

they still only support Euro currency.

Nope, we also offer currencies which are supported in your country as well as USD/EUR and other way round, if you contact us directly at support@paymill.com.

Your website is outdated/wrong as it says the opposite.

Yes, correct. We're gonna fix it today and make a live deployment tomorrow. ;)

This connection is untrusted.

The certificate is only valid for the following names: .paymill.de , paymill.de


Anyone else getting this error?

We're working on that, thanks for the hint. We noticed that problem on wednesday, should be fixed at the beginning of the next week (from 12th on).

Alternatively you can hit our website with paymill.com without entering https in your URL.

I tried that but I'm being redirected: http://i.imm.io/LhSg.jpeg

I didn't get that far, but I did notice that their blog is in German and hasn't been updated for over a month.

There are a lot of questions still to be answered before I'd go anywhere near this service for a UK company...

Questions that we'll gladly answer at support@paymill.com ;-)

The site has German words on some pages even though I've switched to the English locale.

Looks like half backed

Would you mind sending an email to support@paymill.com with where these are happening? The original content was in German, and we tried our best to translate it, but something might have slipped (as you noticed).

Holy shit, bootstrap buttons, get me out of there ...

Bootstrap buttons don't look that bad. What really matters is the quality of the service and APIs.

I'm sorry, what? Relevance?

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