E-commerce presents a special set of challenges for front-end developers, not the least of which is choosing how the client’s web customers will eventually pay them. If you are the front-end developer on your own website, deciding what payment methods to offer should not be too arduous a task. All of them have their own pros and cons. What can be frustrating, however, is when clients are insistent on a payment method for arbitrary reasons.
There’s no shortage of worldwide freelancers who fancy themselves more technologically and financially informed than is warranted merely because they engage in Bitcoin transactions and know their way around a blockchain (or so they say).
Bitcoin: worth mocking and defending
It’s true that it takes a certain amount of dedication and willingness to entertain monetary risk to become invested in Bitcoin, financially or emotionally. It’s also true that while some mocked the currency at its inception, others saw an opportunity, and there were literal “Bitcoin millionaires” created as what was once worth a dollar exploded in value exponentially. But unless the Euro disappears, America actually puts a wall around its borders (the ocean-facing ones included), and the Chinese decide not to even make a play for the Yuan becoming the world’s reserve currency, Bitcoin becoming an international normal currency (ala E-Coin from Mr. Robot) strains credulity.
It’s true that the American dollar is slowly weakening as the world’s reserve currency. It dropped to a meager 3/4ths of the Canadian dollar just this week:
But hey, stranger things have happened. And Bitcoin fans reading this are probably already shouting it’s not supposed to be fluctuating in value like a stock or a fiat currency! Sure, this is true. But it’s also true that no one generally wants to spend in Bitcoin the equivalent of a pizza today, when next week it could turn into $300. Because a digital, secure and anonymous currency that you can spend as securely and easily as cash is something many businesses and restaurants tried to capitalize on. But Bitcoin has this fundamental problem.
It isn’t supposed to be a traded commodity, but it’s too volatile to be a reliable default currency. So some brave individuals will make a lot off it, and maybe you will too if you accept Bitcoin payments.
Keep in mind, however, that $1000 client payment in Bitcoins today is just as likely to be worth $40 next week as it is to be worth more.
That said, more and more websites are allowing for Bitcoin payment. But Bitcoin itself isn’t always good for Bitcoin. It’s up to you whether you see Bitcoin as an acceptable risk—and that is how you should see it. There’s no shortage of guides for how to begin accepting Bitcoin, but because the process is so convoluted compared to other payment options, many entrepreneurs get focused on how to accept Bitcoin, rather than if they should.
Your best options for now
There are a myriad of payment processing services from outlets both big and small seeking to be the intermediary between as much online transference of money as possible. It’s obviously a sensible business model. And because there are so many that want to get in on it, you should take the time to really weigh the pros and cons of each, and realize you have a number of options to choose from. These payment processors are not perfect, but they seem to be most effective for the most number of people, and integration into your website should be a breeze with any of these five payment processors:
Since opening its doors in 2011, Stripe has become one of the fastest growing ways to transfer payments online. Stripe believes that “building an internet business is a problem rooted in code and design, not finance.” The company, which runs its entire operation with just under 600 employees, claims to be designed specifically for developers, makers, and creators and has some amazing features to back that up, from “Atlas” which allows you to build your business from anywhere, to “Relay” which lets you sell your products in other apps.
One of the most recognizable payment platforms in the world is Paypal. Founded way back in 1999, Paypal boasts nearly 200 million account holders and has a solid reputation for reliability. Paypal has grown and expanded so much that the company has actually developed offshoot payment companies, namely Braintree, Venmo and Xoom.
We Pay began simply as a platform that could easily handle group payments, at a time when no other platforms really could. The company evolved and grew, and began taking on things like specialized crowdfunding sites. After a major shift in direction, the founders and team at We Pay decided to narrow their focus, stop creating new platforms and purely serve existing ones. We Pay claims to have the smoothest, most hassle-free user experience in the game.
Square is perfect for small business owners or anyone who does a lot of business in person. The main claim to fame for Square is the credit card processing device that attaches to your smartphone and allows clients or customers to make a payment on the spot with one swipe. Square has even developed an innovative processing device for credit cards containing the infamous “chip.”
WooCommerce claims to be the most customizable of all payment platforms, and declares proudly that a full 39% of all online shopping sites use them. They provide a “robust framework” specifically for developers to use to build or expand stores for their clients, as well as a huge open-source community to enjoy.
E-commerce has a ton of good, reliable options for payment platforms. The key to finding the right one is determining exactly what you (or your client) need and want to best serve the website and the customers who use it. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open for the next big thing in the future of e-payments.