Building a career on top of Stripe's API

How investing time learning Stripe’s API helped me earn thousands of dollars and how you or anyone can do it too!

Let’s talk online money first

If there’s one truth and commonality about most companies on the internet, it’s that they like to make money. Yet, only 3% of all global transactions are conducted online.

Worry not, that’s still a lot of money being moved every single day around the interwebs.

What most people don’t know is to move money on the internet you NEED to be able to process payments:

  • quickly
  • securely
  • effectively

The A-HA moment

Suddenly business owners realize they need a payment processor. If you can deliver it to them, you found a way to invoice them. 🤑

The below is a story based on my personal and professional experience.

Processing payments requires a few things:

  • A payment processing platform
  • An entity paying money
  • An entity receiving money

and obviously…

  • a fee to pay the processing platform for all their hard work.

This is the hardest part to sell to a customer who desperately needs a reliable way to accept payments. Percentages, fees, extra charges…there’s a lot going on. It’s not an easy conversation to have with a business owner who just wants to maximize their profits.

Think of it this way…

When you send a letter via snail-mail you leverage the same 3 things. You need to have at least:

  • a stamp (your processing fee)
  • the letter (the money)
  • the information that goes in the FROM and TO fields (entities paying/receiving)
  • a working mail network. (the platform)

Reliable payment processing

Unreliable transaction processing is a disgrace. Sometimes the user interfaces are unclear. Other times the process takes too long and errors are thrown into the user’s face. That makes for a poor user experience.

If you Google “online payment processing”… the first organic result is Stripe.

Stripe acts as the platform which manages the mail network in the example explained earlier: it allows me to send and receive money. I can pay for services and goods, pay other people… in a very secure and transparent manner. At a very low cost.

Similarly to transporting mail across locations in a network, payment processing is very hard to get right. You need professionals to do it.

There are hidden and visible layers of complexity on every level of the payment flow.
Imagine having to implement multiple payment methods such as:

  • ACH Debit
  • Bancontact
  • Giropay
  • iDEAL
  • AMEX

into your own stack!

Complexity can be a good thing.

Complex systems can be good when they are well thought out. They prove there are a lot of intricacies being handled by the various components of the complex system.

Stripe removes the complexity by providing developers with excellent tools to build payment systems.

When using a tool like Stripe, you know they follow all the best practices to make sure you’re safe when executing online transactions.

No matter at which end of the transaction you’re at.

One API, many opportunities

APIs, Stripe and I

Stripe, Twilio, SendGrid and other similar companies launched around 2010, and all took building APIs very seriously. APIs will eat the world they thought - they were right!

Before Stripe I believed only PayPal, Worldpay and Adyen were the players in the world of online payments. I was so oblivious!

Discovering Stripe

Unlike most API companies, specifically payment ones (remember early Braintree?), using Stripe is like travelling in business class on a 17 hour flight.

Most companies don’t spend nearly enough time documenting and providing developers a great experience, like they do.

Stripe does things the way developers love it:

  • Their documentation is incredibly accurate and thought-out - this alone helped Stripe build a core audience of fanatic customers
  • The visual aspect of everything built by Stripe is flawless - iIt makes you feel empowered, curious and secure, as you know what to expect with every click
  • They make it easy to find whatever documentation you’re looking for
  • They provide wrappers/libraries, technical support and a lot of perks to partners

Doing things the Stripe way helps you succeed

Striving to be as good as Stripe is where many companies want to be.

The way Stripe has done is by showing that investing time in crafting an experience that’s appealing to your core users - developers - will help you scale all your efforts, backed my the support and enthusiasm of your users/customers.

Stripe is currently valued at around $35B. The chance of building a business as successful as Stripe is very small. Yet, you can still aim to be as good as Stripe, in terms of developer experience.

Here’s why I personally recommend Stripe: I’ve used it for multiple projects (software and hardware through Terminals), different clients, different tech-stacks. I have never felt like I was lost. I’ve never had such a smooth experience with any other payment processing companies. I will always recommend Stripe to any project I am involved which requires it.

Conclusions: what Stripe is to me

Here’s how I define Stripe:

  • Simple
  • Focused
  • Professional

The Morale of the story

Choosing a company’s API to build a pipeline of projects and clients can be a very profitable way to ensure a consistent flow of cash into your reserves.

Learning to use Stripe has enabled me to discuss payment processing with a lot of different people. Using their API platform is a great experience, and therefore, implementing Stripe for multiple users and scenarios has never felt like a burden.

One of my most recent projects uses Stripe Terminals and another one uses Stripe to handle millions of USD transactions from a marketplace.

I have learned a great deal through Stripe and I have to thank them for multiple projects that I’ve been able to secure. Basically 💵 in my pocket.

In conclusion

Meeting John at the first Stripe Meetup in London - June 23rd 2015
As a developer and as someone building developer tools you must spend time on documentation, to make sure it’s actually helpful. Building a great system isn’t sufficient if no one else can use it.

Stripe products are laser focused, and they have always released exceptionally well built software for professionals, that are simple to use - for both developers and customers.

To name just a few things, from dashboards, documentation, websites, and APIs…all are created with an incredible attention to detail.

They manage to deliver WOW after WOW after WOW moments, year after year!