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We built Checkout so you don’t have to

Sam Gerstenzang on September 10, 2020

When Stripe first launched, we made it easier for businesses to design their own payment forms while minimizing the PCI burden. In the past 10 years, however, online commerce has become more complicated.

Businesses are now expected to offer any number of mobile wallets, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Alipay. New regulations (like PSD2 in Europe) have led to broader 3D Secure adoption, which has made payment flows more complicated. And that’s when cards are used at all: eighty percent of new internet users are based in regions where local, non-card payment methods with custom payment flows are the norm. When you consider having to adapt to changing browser standards, making payment forms responsive to mobile devices, and translating them into local languages, the cost of maintaining a high-conversion, compliant payment form quickly becomes significant and growing.

In short: Stripe made it easy to build a basic credit card form. But it’s getting increasingly hard to build a first-class checkout page.

When we first launched Stripe Checkout, our prebuilt, hosted payment page, we imagined that it would be useful for people who didn’t want to write any frontend code. While Checkout is indeed very easy to use, we’ve since realized that Checkout’s real value is in making checkout pages more powerful. Unless you intend to support all of the edge-cases yourself (address-autocomplete that works with native autofill, 3D Secure on mobile, Alipay on Desktop…), you’ll likely increase your revenue and save many engineering hours by using Checkout.

“Stripe Checkout is one of my single favourite products ever made and it has allowed us to do so much with Ghost that we would not have been able to accomplish otherwise.”
— John O’Nolan, Founder and CEO at Ghost

“Using Stripe Checkout just made it a lot simpler to think about payments—it’s like an entire component that we can mentally hand off to Stripe.”
— Victoria Kirst, VP of engineering at Glitch

“Throughout my 20 years in e-commerce, checkouts were the last thing you wanted to touch and the first to go down. With Stripe Checkout we don’t maintain this ourselves anymore. It’s the future savings—I can’t emphasize enough how big that is.”
— Bryan Mahoney, Co-founder & CTO at arfa, Inc

Increasing your sales with a better checkout flow

What does that mean in practice? Well, teams of Stripe engineers and designers obsess over every aspect of the checkout page, from reducing load time to streamlining how customers fill in their address. We sweat the details to an extent that would be irrational for nearly any company building their own checkout.

Stripe Checkout adapts to each customer down to their location, device, browser, and individual user settings. For example, Checkout automatically surfaces the right payment methods based on your customer’s location—you don’t have to run A/B tests to identify the highest converting payment methods in Belgium. We just handle it for you. If a customer in Japan accidently has their keyboard set to full-width characters, we’ve done the work to ensure they can seamlessly complete their purchase without needing to build CJK numeral support. (If you don’t quite know what that means, that’s the point! We’ve handled the edge case.)

Always improving

Today, we’re adding support for coupons, tax rates, and two new payment methods. These mark the latest in a series of over 20 major releases in the last year. Checkout now offers a seamless purchase experience with out-of-the-box support for mobile wallets and address auto-complete, helps scale your business globally with over 25 languages and 10 international payment methods, and lets you customize payments for your business with support for tax rates, promo codes, brand configuration tools, and more.

You get the benefit of all this and everything that’s to come: even faster load times, additional payment methods we add, compliance with future payments regulations, and every optimization we make to maximize conversion—all without major code changes on your end. This helps you increase sales with less work, benefiting from our investment in making the world’s safest, best converting checkout experience.

Explore Checkout or let us know how we can make Checkout work better for you.

September 10, 2020

To design and develop an interactive globe

Nick Jones on September 1, 2020 in Engineering

As humans, we’re driven to build models of our world.

A traditional globemaker molds a sphere, mounts it on an axle, balances it with hidden weights, and precisely applies gores—triangular strips of printed earth—to avoid overlap and align latitudes. Cartographers face unenviable trade-offs when making maps. They can either retain the shape of countries, but warp their size—or maintain the size of countries, but contort their shape. In preserving one aspect of our world, they distort another.

These are terrestrial globe gores reissued by Giuseppe di Rossi in 1615.

As visual designers and software engineers, we’re modeling a piece of the world every time we build software. In some cases, it’s the entire world—and that digital world is animated and interactive. There are tools that render 3D objects on the web, but they’re considered sorcery by many. And conjuring that magic doesn’t come without sweat. In WebGL, displaying a single triangle—like a globemaker’s gore—with no lights, textures, interactivity, or motion requires 50+ lines of code.

For the new, we built a 1:40 million-scale, interactive 3D model of the earth. We wanted to convey the interconnected nature of the internet economy and the global scale of our service, while acknowledging how much ground is yet to be covered. Despite expansion to 40 countries and payment processing from 195 countries, we grapple with the complexity of cross-border operations and expansion every day.

We set out to build a globe that inspires a sense of awe, invites people to explore, and conceals details for discovery. Along the way, we evaluated existing tools, designed our own solution, solved four interesting technical challenges, and improved the way we collaborate. Here’s what we learned.

Ways to build the world

It wasn’t a given that we’d build an interactive 3D globe on our landing page. We designed our first version of the globe to communicate nuanced data about the amount of online, cross-border commerce happening between each country. For this reason, it includes extra visual details like country borders. For our landing page, the goal of the globe was to capture our global scale and bring a visual metaphor to life. A week before launch, we had a nice animated map where the globe now sits but we didn’t love it. Despite the impending release, an executive (it was Patrick) posed to us: what would you build if you had the time to do it the way you wish you could?

Read more

September 1, 2020

Introducing the Billing customer portal

Theodora Chu on June 29, 2020

Every recurring revenue business works with customers who want to change a subscription, update a payment method, or view their billing history. But there’s a dilemma most startups face: Divert engineering resources to build this functionality, or not build it at all and rely on support to manually manage updates. The first option slows down your business by taking focus off your core product, while the other provides a less-than-ideal customer experience and doesn’t scale.

That’s why we built the new Billing customer portal.

Stripe Billing is already the fastest way for businesses to set up subscriptions or invoices. The customer portal makes it even easier to create a great experience for your customers while minimizing engineering investment.

Give your customers more control

The customer portal is a secure, Stripe-hosted page that lets your customers manage their subscriptions and billing details. Your customers can:

  • Upgrade, downgrade, or cancel a subscription
  • Update their payment methods
  • View their billing history

customer portal screen

Get started fast

The customer portal is fast to configure, preview, test and deploy—most of our beta users went from start to finish in under an hour. Check out the integration guide for step-by-step instructions.

Tuple integrated the customer portal to allow their customers to easily update a credit card. Ben Orenstein, the CEO of Tuple, noted “it was a no-brainer for us to use Stripe’s pre-built solution. This isn’t our core competency, so it would have been distracting for us to scope and build this ourselves.”

Customize to match your brand

Your customer portal should feel like a natural extension of your product experience. You can customize the appearance of your customer portal by editing the logo, headline, brand color, and accent color.

customization controls

Get the little details right by adding links to your terms of service, privacy policy, and other helpful info for your customers.

We update and iterate so you don’t have to

Integrating the customer portal unlocks a roadmap of new features with no additional engineering work. We already have several improvements in progress, such as support for updating billing & shipping addresses.

The customer portal was also built to help you stay ahead of ever-evolving global requirements. Recent examples of rule changes include Strong Customer Authentication in Europe and updated rules from Visa for free trial and promotion-driven subscriptions. The logic to handle these regulatory and network requirements is built into Billing and the customer portal by default. Rules will continue to change—we’ll do the work to help keep your setup compliant.

To start using Stripe Billing, visit the docs. If you already use Billing, check out the customer portal integration guide to get set up.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or feedback—we’d love to hear from you.

June 29, 2020

Opposing racism

Patrick Collison on June 2, 2020

Racism is antithetical to Stripe’s mission. Our founding purpose is the broader, fairer distribution of opportunity—opportunity accessible to and inclusive of everyone, everywhere.

While no person’s or company’s statement will change society by itself, that limitation shouldn’t paralyze. Social change requires coordinated, broad participation.

We share the deep sadness that so many are currently feeling and the upset at the injustices that lie at the root. Too many innocent people have lost their lives. Too many sickening murders, most recently that of George Floyd, attest to brutal and unjustified treatment. Too many Stripe employees have themselves been the victims of unfair treatment, discrimination, harrassment, and bigotry. And while the US is the current focal point, we are a global company, and issues around race persist as problems in every part of the world.

While it’ll take us time to identify the highest-impact actions, we don’t want to wait to do anything. In the immediate term, we are going to waive $1M of fees to nonprofits that are raising money to combat systemic racism, with a particular bias towards those relevant to the current moment. We will also contribute $100,000 each to five organizations working on reforming US policing practices or the criminal justice system.

Inside Stripe, the fraction of US employees who are Black is substantially lower than that of the American population. We wish it were otherwise and are going to increase our efforts to hire and develop Black employees in all teams and at all levels. Our goal is to meaningfully grow representation over the coming year.

Stripe won’t solve these problems alone. But we share the concern motivating so many others and would like to make crystal clear our support for building a society that solves these challenges, and where safety, security, and access to opportunity are properly accessible to all.

June 2, 2020