Braintree Payments Review

Here we look briefly at Chicago-based Braintree Payments, highlighting some of the features a merchant might consider when picking a payment processor.

Overview

Braintree has some heavy-weight support behind it.  PayPal bought Braintree Payments in 2013 for $800 billion saying their products and development platforms were “complementary.” Obviously PayPal was also interested Venmo, a PayPal competitor.  Braintree purchased Venmo in 2007. Venmo lets people send each other money using an email address or mobile phone number and do so for free.

Braintree was founded in 2007, attracting $69 in venture capital funding, thus showing its potential early on.  The platform is popular with tech startups including Airbnb, Fab, LivingSocial, Uber, Twilio, and GitHub.  Of $12 billion in payments processed by Braintree in 2013, $4 billion were made using mobile devices, showing its wide adoption for mobile payments.

Pricing

While some analysts have said that Braintree’s prices are high, they are the same as Stripe.  The prices shown below do not include any surprises; there are no additional fees like setup or monthly maintenance fees.

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • $15 for each chargeback

Test Drive Braintree

Anyone can create an account in the sandbox to see what the interface looks like.  There’s nothing to give away but an email address.  Since it’s a sandbox, it does not do any real payment processing.  Here is the main dashboard:

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.30.49 PM

Products and Services

Braintree provides its customers with a merchant account if they want one.  So there is no need to pay a bank for that.  In addition, Braintree offers these products and services and more:

  • Credit card vault–stores customer payment data in encrypted format. The ability to download stored credit card information would more easily let the merchant switch to another payment processor if they wanted to. Ecommerce engines connected to that let customers update their payment data.
  • Recurrent billing–storing customer information in the vault makes processing subscriptions, donations, SaaS fees, or any other kind of recurring payments easier.
  • Mobile–works with mobile apps from the ecommerce partners mentioned below. Plus their SDKs lets merchants program their own payment buttons and apps for iOS and Android.
  • International–available to merchants in the US, Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand.  The system supports 130 currencies.
  • Payment gateway–obviously they provide a payment gateway, since that is why you are reading this.

PCI Compliance

For those who open a merchant account with Braintree, the company hands the merchant over to SecurityMetrics. They help Braintree customers obtain and retain PCI Compliance by providing the required annual survey.

Braintree also says that Braintree encryption lets customers create transactions “without the PCI compliance burden that comes with handling unencrypted data.”   A merchant using a credit card must meet PCI compliance.  But other forms of payment do not necessarily need that.  PCI-compliant credit cards and POS, even with EMV chips, are not the best solution for security since those systems do not support end-to-end encryption.

Payment Methods

Braintree supports all of the payment methods mentioned below.  Cash is not one of them, since it is not a brick-and-mortar POS system:

  • PayPal
  • Credit cards
  • Venmo
  • Apple Pay
  • Android Pay
  • Bitcoin, via the Coinbase exchange

Other Tools

  • Fraud Tool–helps protect against chargebacks. They are not automatically added to the customer’s account, since there are several to choose from: basic, advanced, or integration with the Kount cloud service (for a fee).
  • Webhooks–pushes notification to the merchant in the case of certain events in the payment gateway instead of requiring that the merchant check for those.  These include subscription changes, disbursements from the merchant’s account, disputed transactions, and sub-merchant account status changes.  It works like a function callback in event-driven programming by sending a POST to a URL on your site. So the merchant can broadcast that data to any other application.

Developer Tools

There are three options:

  1. Merchants can add Braintree to their ecommerce site using their SDKS listed below.
  2. Use the Braintree Payments extension for Magento. That requires some PHP coding.
  3. Pick an eCommerce engine with Braintree already integrated.  Those are listed under Partners below.  

Braintree says developers can initiate a transaction with as few as “10 lines of code.” Here are 3 lines in Ruby.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 9.30.58 PM

Below we list the supported platforms.  Client mean for inclusion in a mobile apps or web pages.  Server is to integrate with the backend processing in your ecommerce engine.

client:iOSHTML/JavaScriptAndroid
server:RubyPythonPHP
Node.jsJava.NET

Companies without their own programmers can talk to any of these Braintree partners to help with the Braintree integration.

Try-Shopify
BigcommerceSpreeRecurlyFreshbooks
GoodsieShopifyWooCommerceLemonStand
CoreCommerceUberCartUltraCartWufoo
BirdbackHostbillEasy Digital DownloadsInnerfence
ShopSiteFleapayFoxycart(…22 more)

Support

Braintree support provides a knowledge base, whose value often depends on how easy it is to look up information.  So that you actually find what you are looking for, they pay for the Google Custom Search Engine for their site.

Support agents are available from 8 AM CST to 7 PM, except Friday, when it is 8 AM to 5 PM.  There is an emergency request form so that if the merchant opens a ticket after hours they can respond to a prompt to page an agent.

If the merchant suspects the payment platform is down, they can take a quick glance at the system status page to see if there is a general outage in their area.

Reputation

Hear what some of their clients have to say.  

Security

This one is worth mentioning since not even PayPal includes that:  two-factor authentication.  That requires a cellphone-generated token to login, so if a hackers steals a password they cannot login, since they probably would not have the cellphone as well.

FAQs

Any other questions?  Start with their FAQ page here.

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.