Five developer-friendly (or not) European payment gateways

By June 3, 2013 No Comments

For a bit more than a year, we’ve seen arriving some so called ‘Developer Friendly’ payment providers, that are supposed to provide an easy implementation of card processing systems.

It all started in the US with Stripe, but it didn’t take long for Europe to catch up.

I recently had to play with some of them, so here are my findings (I’m concentrating on Ruby gems for links, but you should easily find the ones to match your language).



Paymill is a German startup. The website is polished and the account creation a Breeze. We quite like the functionalities of their user dashboard (cockpit), packed with useful reports. Their Bridge Form allows you to retrieve one of their token without sending information to your server (and no need for SSL then).

Unfortunately our experience was ‘damaged’ by a very confusing documentation.


– Easy signup.

  • Secure rest API.

  • Accept multiple currencies.

  • Bridge form


– Confusing documentation

  • No official active merchant/ruby gem support by Paymill

Pricing: 2,95% + 0.28 € per transaction


Paymill active merchant by Shopify

Paymill non official Ruby gem



Braintree is one of those life savers that you encounter only when you need it. We really liked it.
The integration in our Ruby project (using Active Merchant) literally took 4 minutes. For me it’s big winner.


– Clear interface.

  • Vast credit/debit card support

  • Official Activemerchant integration

  • Really good documentation


  • User interface may be a little bit bare for a non developer.

Pricing: Average of 2.1% + 0.10 € per transaction



Official Ruby client



I don’t need to present Stripe, do I? This is the mother of all developer-friendly payment gateways.
Currently, Europe support is only in beta and we were one of the lucky ones to get an invite.


– Documentation

  • Easy to find help on the web (Europe integration is the same as US one)

  • Good Ruby client

  • Nice client interface


  • Expensive

Pricing: 2.9% + 30p per transaction



Ruby client



Yes, you read me well, Paypal made the list. And in fact I think it’s still a valuable proposition for a lot of people, especially if your project targets users with a Paypal account. The main advantage of Paypal is that you can find a lot of information for its integration, and a lot of project supports it. Also they’ve just recently re-done their documentation/sandbox, and it’s really worth having a look.


– Easy for customers with a Paypal account.

  • Easy integration.

  • New document/sandbox looks good.

  • Lot of developer information accessible.

  • Direct trading (Paypal Express).


– Loads of outdated developer information still accessible.

  • Suffer of a bad reputation among developers.

  • Expensive

Pricing: Varies depending on account.


Paypal express ruby gem



I had to mention Skrill as an example of service not to use, or you will waste your time.

We tried to implement it on an e-commerce project recently as the client really wanted it for some reason… I just don’t know where to start. The documentation is bad, API limits in test mode are really annoying, no developers ‘area’ (ie: you have to email them to open test accounts), the integration never worked ….

Well as you can see not a nice experience. We wasted 3 days trying to integrate Skrill, and at the time, reverted to Paypal Express Checkout in about 2 hours.


Extra resource for Ruby Dev

We recently also played with Railskit SaasKit, and if you’re short in time, it can be helpful.

You will still have to tweak it a bit, but at least you will have everything you need to process recurring payment and sending emails all in one go.


In conclusion

As you can see, there are now many viable options, meaning you can avoid the nightmare of opening an official bank gateway (and we haven’t covered them all here).

One thing to bear in mind is that, even if all of them promise you to activate the account within 2 to 3 days, make sure to plan at least 2 weeks for it. Between sending the paperwork by post and replying to each of their specificities, it’s better to plan ahead.