When we were deciding on how to implement payments in Unglue.it, we considered two options, Paypal and Amazon Payments. We needed a flexible, easy to use system with the flexibility to implement campaigns where nobody’s credit card gets charged until a campaign succeeds. There were two providers whose systems were in use by similar crowd-funding sites. Kickstarter uses Amazon, and IndieGoGo uses Paypal, for example.
Despite having a good reputation for usability, there were two big disadvantages for Amazon. First, Amazon Payments offers no foreign currency transactions; our understanding is that non-US ungluers will only be able to use major credit cards and will need to pay currency conversion fees. This results in a big bite out of pledges, doubly so for non-US rights holders.The other disadvantage to Amazon Payments is that it’s Amazon; many publishers, fearful of Amazon’s dominance of the ebook market, may be wary of participating in a market that requires users to have yet another Amazon relationship.
So we decided on Paypal. But what we didn’t realize was the length of time it would take to convince Paypal that we were a legitimate operation working closely with rights holders and not some pirate ebook emporium. We passed technical review with Paypal in January, but have been in business review for almost 4 months. Apparently Paypal has been revising its policy for crowd-funding sites, and most likely has been deluged with new crowd-funding applications. We’ve had several back-and-forths with the Paypal team, and we fully expect to get Paypal approval at the end of the process. The extra scrutiny will be valuable to us in the long run to the extent that it makes consumers more trusting of Paypal enabled sites.
In the short run, however, we couldn’t afford to wait. So we implemented Amazon’s Flexible Payment system, and that’s what we’ll be launching with on May 17th. We’ll add Paypal payments (as well as other options) later.
We hope that Amazon Payments will meet the needs of most unglued book supporters, at least to start out. We’d love to know your perspective. If you’re outside the US, have you been able to use Amazon Payments? Do you prefer the usability of Amazon or Paypal? Are there other online payment systems you’ve used that you like to see us support?