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Jun 02, 2021 • Issue #54 by Shawn Wang

Stripe Goes No-Code — Stripe Payment Links Explained by Shawn Wang

Today 1PM EST, Yohei Nakajima, General Partner at Untapped Capital is coming to teach us us how to Build a portal on Airtable using Softr.io. Whether you're a VC trying to give LPs more visibility into their investments or want to give any visibility into your Airtable base, this stream will be interesting to you! Yohei livetweeted his build (that's how the stream came together!)

You can add the stream (and all future streams) to your calendar by clicking here (it auto updates!) and subscribe on Youtube.

You can catch last week's replay of How to track bank activity in Airtable using Fintable with Isa Hasanov!

Onto the update…

Heyo!

This week, I’m excited to welcome Shawn Wang (@swyx) as a guest poster. Shawn is—amongst a long list of things—the author of the coding career handbook, an advocate for the build in public movement, a developer advocate... A prolific writer, I highly recommend you subscribe to his feed over at swyx.io

Today, he's giving us his take on what the launch of Payment links by Stripe means for the no-code world (you!). Enjoy!

It's official: With the new Payment Links feature, Stripe has entered the No Code market. Here’s how it differs from other No Code checkout players like Gumroad.

Why It's a Big Deal

From the developer’s point of view, you can think of the process of getting money from your customers to yourself in 3 stages:

  • Running a Backend Server for backend logic and secrets
  • Building a Frontend UI for customers to enter in their payment details and complete their purchase
  • Creating a PaymentIntent to track a single customer session from end to end. These must be created uniquely for each transaction.

Each of these stages are immensely technical. This is why you previously either needed to hire a developer to wire this up, or use a service like Shopify or Gumroad to do it without code. Many of these services use Stripe under the hood to do payment processing anyway, so arguably you’re just paying different people to set up Stripe for you.

However, in the past year, Stripe has progressively eliminated each one of these stages, opening up a viable new option by cutting out the middleman!

Towards Stripe Checkout

Stripe's roots are famously developer centric. The default approach was to only offer a serverside SDK, and let you wire everything else up yourself.

This gives you maximum control, but it can mean a lot of code to write and maintain. You not only have to code up an attractive, reassuring UI for people to enter their credit card details (though Stripe Elements makes that easier), you also have to continually run a server just to take even a small one-off payment. If your server goes down , or you screw up some JavaScript, there goes your money!

So along comes Stripe Checkout, where Stripe hosts your UI:

[caption align="alignnone" width="980"]

Stripe checkout UI example[/caption]

Wonderful! You not only don't have to code the UI or host it, Stripe is continually improving the checkout page on your behalf. It is even hosting it on their domain, and most people will trust a Stripe domain over your own when entering in their credit card details.

But.

Look upon the Stripe Checkout docs and realize that the PaymentIntent section is not handled at all - you STILL have to write some code and run at least a serverless function to get this thing working!

I know this all too well because I spent a day learning and debugging this when I was launching my self published book.

Stripe Payment Links

Since everyone was writing little serverless functions to coordinate all the PaymentIntent creation and offer a nice URL for all this, the natural next step is for Stripe to do it for you instead!

You can think of Stripe Payment Links as a thin layer atop of Stripe Checkout:


[caption align="alignnone" width="980"]

[/caption]

Now the interface between your user and your business is just a simple URL - the web's firstborn API.

Getting started with it could not be easier.

Assuming you have some products and prices already set up in Stripe, head to your Stripe Dashboard and look for "Payment links" under the Products section. Here is a direct link.

From here you can create a New link for each product, in seconds.

Manifesto | MacroThe big picture idea behind Macro is that non-technical employees should be able to build software to solve their problems. We are not the first to believe this. Many proponents of the no-code movement subscribe to a similar view.

[caption align="alignnone" width="980"]

[/caption]

The final Payment link will just look like this: https://buy.stripe.com/4gwcQB0I9dVpeIw5km (yes, that's a real Payment link URL!). You can now use it inside of low and no code setups like HTML, Wordpress, or WebFlow. It also works for recurring memberships.

But perhaps the biggest 🤯 of all is that you don't even need a website to take the money over the Internet anymore. You can now drop that link over a Discord or Slack app, or even place it as your "link in bio".

That's the beauty of the URL - it's accepted everywhere. As all the best payment solutions should be.

Comparisons

Now that Stripe is handling all three stages of the ecommerce process for the first time, it is inevitable to start comparing it to other vendors that have done the same since forever. Before Stripe, you could easily have spun up a Shopify or Gumroad site and taken payments that way. Is Stripe now going for their lunch?

I don't have any inside info on this, but my intuition is: No. People hire Gumroad and Shopify to do very different jobs.

For example, Gumroad:

  • acts as a Merchant of Record (to drastically simplify tax collection and compliance)
  • provides social proof (in the form of customer reviews)
  • tracks and compensates affiliates
  • gives you platform traffic and revenue via its Discover marketplace
  • does your fulfilment (aka if you are selling digital content, it hosts your files for your customers to download)
  • lets you email your customers for further sales

In exchange for all that, it takes 6.5% of your sales

Stripe Payment Links are available for no extra charge on Stripe's standard integrated pricing.

Conclusion

With Stripe Payment Links, Stripe has taken the tiniest of steps toward letting you take payment directly without writing any code. However there is plenty of room for dedicated No Code payments services to add value atop Stripe. Being familiar with the pros and cons of these various options will help you choose the right one when it comes time for you to sell your No Code product.

by Shawn Wang (@swyx)

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