The short answer: PayPal’s API — what we use to make payments work — does not offer this functionality in a way where it would function properly for creators. Despite a lot of work on our end, we’ve ultimately realized that we wouldn’t be able to offer an experience for you or your customers that’s up to our standards.
The longer answer: We’ve spent hundreds of hours working with PayPal to get it to work for payment plans and communities. While we’ve gotten it to “work”, we’ve decided not to release it because of all of the future problems it could cause for both you and your customers.
It felt very un-Podia for us to release this feature, as we pride ourselves in keeping Podia simple to use and in making sure it “just works” for you and your customers — especially when it comes to billing.
Here are the issues and what would be required to make PayPal work. Let’s take a look at payment plans:
You’d need to create what’s known as a “REST APP” inside your PayPal account. For those of you who are not familiar with what a “REST APP” is, it’s basically like creating your own programming application. Not user friendly at all.
You’d then need to copy a complicated set of codes from your new PayPal REST APP into your Podia settings area.
When your customer signs up for a payment plan through PayPal, PayPal doesn’t make the initial charge for 24 hours, and there’s no way for us to verify the charge for that entire length of time. What this means is that someone can have free access to your content for 24 hours, and it wouldn’t be until 24 hours later when the charge fails that would we be able to remove them. Not great and definitely prone to abuse, particularly for digital downloads.
If the initial charge goes through but a charges fails in the future, again, we have no way to know about the failure.
The customer can cancel the “subscription” from their PayPal account at any time, which means that we’d no longer be able to charge any of the remaining payments for you.
Those are the big drawbacks, but also it will slow down every other future payment-related update we want to add to your account moving forward.
In the end, PayPal makes the entire payment plan and subscription payments process a mess, and we feel as if it would cause a lot more harm than good for our creators.
We know this is frustrating for some of you, because Stripe is not available in your country yet. The good thing is is that Stripe is now available in 44 countries around the world, and new countries are being added every year. It’s only a matter of time before it’s available everywhere. You could also explore Stripe Atlas if you're in a non-supported country.
If you're on the lookout for Stripe and PayPal alternatives, consider an external checkout. You could set up an automation to enroll via Zapier, or manually enroll your customers!
If you have any questions about setting up payment plans or communities, just let us know.