For the past two months we’ve been finalising agreements with various service providers so that we can finally, finally get our payments up and running. If you’ve been following us for the past few months, you’ll know of our adventures trying to find a payment service provider that would meet our needs while also supporting a Dutch business.
Months of research and headaches later, we now have one paying customer: our boss. The payment loop is up and running in our development environment, meaning that customers should theoretically be able to sign up for a paid Quplo account using a credit card and then get billed monthly via Spreedly.
Here’s the basic architecture we have in place right now:
- Spreedly (in the US) handles monthly billing and the customer-facing payment pages
- Ogone (in Belgium) is our payment service provider and gateway
- Atos Worldline (also in Belgium) supplies our merchant account
Last September we’d started looking around for companies that could help us draw this picture. Unfortunately, none were particularly helpful; clearly, being located in the Netherlands doesn’t make things easier, since many organisations are only easy-going if you’re British or American-based. But if you’re in a “remote” location like one-country-over from the UK, suddenly things drop off. It’s disheartening, but it’s reality.
Why were things so tough? Because we found Spreedly early on, and fell in love. Spreedly kicks ass. It’s a clean little service with great UI design, a really simple API and it just felt right. It wasn’t enterprisey – I could talk to the lead developer directly, with fast email replies. That’s what we needed.
But after we chose Spreedly, we realised the uncomfortable position we’d put ourselves in. Before Spreedly, PayPal looked like the most obvious option, and perhaps it would have been less of a headache. But we decided early on that our customers’ payment experience needed to be as seamless as possible and feel as much like Quplo as we could make it. PayPal just doesn’t cut it. Spreedly did.
Getting rich quick
So then came the unenviable responsibility of delving through dozens of PSPs and merchant account providers, looking for any that would do business with both us and Spreedly. It sounds simple, but there are plenty of companies that won’t do business with you because you’re located in the Netherlands, or because you’re new, or because Spreedly is in the US and you’re in the NL and WTF is up with that, or – and this was the most astonishing to us – you don’t expect to get rich in the first year.
No, we don’t expect to get rich off Quplo. Do we have to in order to ask our customers to pay for the service? Our contacts recommended that, when signing with PSPs, we indicate at least an expected revenue of $60k (sixty thousand!) in the first year, or they and their bank contacts probably wouldn’t take us seriously. Amazing! So how do startups get off the ground in Europe if this is the landscape they’re faced with?
It’s always in the last place you look
After spending far too long looking, getting decreasingly hopeful that things would work out for the better, and even considering opening up an American branch of Q42 just so we could get this thing over with, we found out from Spreedly that they had a customer in Europe who used Ogone and Atos Worldline.
We’d heard of many other customers using a variation of other service providers, but this is the combination that ended up working for us. Most of the others either didn’t respond to our emails or form submissions (typical), or ended up rejecting us for (by now) familiar vague reasons. But Atos Worldline just came through. Things were confusing and took longer than they needed to, but they ended up working out. And so did Ogone, although I continue to despise the quality of their dashboard.
The road to launch
So here we are. For the next few weeks we’ll be testing our payment roundtrip and finalising everything else. We have a few new features we want to launch into the app, as well as general bug fixes, but we hope to be ready to launch payments and graduate Quplo out of beta soon.
Finally, hopefully, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
PS. If you’re already using Quplo, expect an email from us in the coming weeks informing you of what will and won’t change.
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