Dont Panic


Taking money on the web

11 Nov 2015

The next step for unitsofsound is to move the home version onto the web. This means taking money over the web. I have a rough idea of how much pain this will be, but im soon to find out for sure.

Currently unitsofsound is bought almost exclusively by schools and dyslexia centers who do so with purchase orders and phone calls rather than webpages and credit/debit cards. This works for them and i have no burning desire to change that. However, i thinkg that this will not be acceptible to the general public who are our target for the home version. So i begin my journey into what it takes to accept online payments.

Knowledge so far

My understanding of online payments so far is not exact to say the least. Ive herd of a few buzz words, companies and terms...

  • paypal - yup, used them, know what there about from a customers POV
  • stripe - more hipster version fo paypal
  • payment gateway - someone/thing who takes payment? do i need one? is paypal (etc) a payment gateway?
  • merchent account - dunno, some fancy word for interacting with banks?
  • magento - php framework for a webshop (i think) hosted option?
  • tax rules - sure there was some tax rules etc that have chagned recently

Goals & requirements


I want to reduce operations costs as much as possible, SaaS options are welcomed, automations if not, keep it as simple as possible so there is less to maintain & monitor. This extends a little into the payments, as in, is there a way to refund? what about fraud? i really dont want to hold credit card info!

International payments

Maybe not from day 1, but unitsofsound is on the web and one major bonus of that was to futher the reach of students to outside the UK. so we will need to be able to take payments from USA/Canada and possibly other countries. Ive no idea what repercussions this has in terms of charges, tax, exchanerates etc.

Unified flow

Keeping the whole experience fast & painless for the user is a must. Ill bounce out to a know site (paypal etc) if the benefits are there but if possible it would be desirable to keep the whole thing on our domain.


This is a learning journey so ill try and report back progress, descisions etc in the future