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review the payment processing and accounting options for DoES #481

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DefProc opened this Issue Apr 26, 2017 · 25 comments

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DefProc commented Apr 26, 2017

It doesn't come up much, but occasionally people ask if they can pay by card — I actually suspect that many people would pay by card if there was the option, but many visitors know we don't currently have card as an option.

I do have an early iZettle card reader (chip and pin only; without contactless), so we'd just need a phone or tablet to connect to it to make it usable, plus a DoES iZettle account. Fees are 2.75% at expected usage, and it could be easily used to allow hotdesk, laser cutting, inductions, material use, and can record cash sales as well as card.

It would require an organiser to use (as payment history and refunds would be available on the device), but it could streamline some of the money collection, so it takes less time for an organiser to process.

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johnmckerrell commented Apr 26, 2017

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aubergine10 Apr 26, 2017

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Direct debit isn't necessary - what you specifically want is recurring invoice / payments (and you don't need banksters for that). In that respect, PayPal should get extra consideration.

FYI: I used to run a small software company and had to deal with:

  • recurring billing for hosting
  • annual billing for software licenses
  • old-school billing (purchase order -> IBAN/SWIFT)
  • over-the-phone payments
  • payments at events (card-machines)

PayPal can handle all of that, it's easy to integrate in to other systems, etc. As long as you keep it GBP-only, the accounting side is also fairly trivial. Obviously, there's the transaction fees that are a bit of a pain - but in terms of getting shit done, PayPal works from the outset.

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

Direct debit isn't necessary - what you specifically want is recurring invoice / payments (and you don't need banksters for that). In that respect, PayPal should get extra consideration.

FYI: I used to run a small software company and had to deal with:

  • recurring billing for hosting
  • annual billing for software licenses
  • old-school billing (purchase order -> IBAN/SWIFT)
  • over-the-phone payments
  • payments at events (card-machines)

PayPal can handle all of that, it's easy to integrate in to other systems, etc. As long as you keep it GBP-only, the accounting side is also fairly trivial. Obviously, there's the transaction fees that are a bit of a pain - but in terms of getting shit done, PayPal works from the outset.

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What sort of billing / invoicing are you using at the moment?

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

What sort of billing / invoicing are you using at the moment?

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johnmckerrell commented Apr 26, 2017

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Bank transfers for suppliers only, or also customers (hot desk etc)?

In terms of fees, they suck - but it's cost of doing business. How much time would be reduced having an automated system, and in turn what benefits would that extra time bandwidth bring to other aspects of DoES?

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

Bank transfers for suppliers only, or also customers (hot desk etc)?

In terms of fees, they suck - but it's cost of doing business. How much time would be reduced having an automated system, and in turn what benefits would that extra time bandwidth bring to other aspects of DoES?

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johnmckerrell commented Apr 26, 2017

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Is that good for customer satisfaction? Would it scale to double the desks in new building? Is it enabling the DoES team to get on with other things?

It feels, to me, that you're watching the pennies (transaction fees) whilst pounds (more customers) fly out the window.

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

Is that good for customer satisfaction? Would it scale to double the desks in new building? Is it enabling the DoES team to get on with other things?

It feels, to me, that you're watching the pennies (transaction fees) whilst pounds (more customers) fly out the window.

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Q1 Tricky to gauge exactly. We've never featured payment options on a customer satisfaction survey, perhaps we should. Most people working with smaller sums of money (e.g. hot desk users or daily workshop users) seem happy paying in cash and often prefer to do so. I'm not saying no-one has asked to pay on a card, but those that do generally say "ok" when we say they can't. People paying larger sums on a regular basis (e.g. for permanent desks) generally want an invoice and if anything have asked for direct debit. This can be done with credit cards yes but I for one don't actually have a credit card linked to my company (and any CC transactions then have to be dealt with as expenses, when I was paying for my own desk I did it using a standing order). Often the permanent desks are being expensed through another company in which that company is looking to be invoiced.

Q2 Would what scale? Invoicing people and tracking payments? I don't think that's where our main problems lie, and if we want to accept credit cards perhaps we should have a github issue for it. Having some way of flagging when people haven't paid and being able to automatically deny them access (at least as a way to raise a red flag) would be useful, I think there is an issue for a CRM system of some sort.

Q3 I don't know that the DoES team spends a large amount of our time on invoicing.

As I say, I'm not aware of any customers turning away because we don't offer credit card payments or automated regular payments.

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johnmckerrell commented Apr 26, 2017

Q1 Tricky to gauge exactly. We've never featured payment options on a customer satisfaction survey, perhaps we should. Most people working with smaller sums of money (e.g. hot desk users or daily workshop users) seem happy paying in cash and often prefer to do so. I'm not saying no-one has asked to pay on a card, but those that do generally say "ok" when we say they can't. People paying larger sums on a regular basis (e.g. for permanent desks) generally want an invoice and if anything have asked for direct debit. This can be done with credit cards yes but I for one don't actually have a credit card linked to my company (and any CC transactions then have to be dealt with as expenses, when I was paying for my own desk I did it using a standing order). Often the permanent desks are being expensed through another company in which that company is looking to be invoiced.

Q2 Would what scale? Invoicing people and tracking payments? I don't think that's where our main problems lie, and if we want to accept credit cards perhaps we should have a github issue for it. Having some way of flagging when people haven't paid and being able to automatically deny them access (at least as a way to raise a red flag) would be useful, I think there is an issue for a CRM system of some sort.

Q3 I don't know that the DoES team spends a large amount of our time on invoicing.

As I say, I'm not aware of any customers turning away because we don't offer credit card payments or automated regular payments.

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Good information, thanks!

Is there a copy of the satisfaction survey questions somewhere that I can look at?

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

Good information, thanks!

Is there a copy of the satisfaction survey questions somewhere that I can look at?

@johnmckerrell johnmckerrell changed the title from geta card machine for DoES to get a card machine for DoES Apr 26, 2017

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I've created a survey issue #482

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johnmckerrell commented Apr 26, 2017

I've created a survey issue #482

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As an information point, my preference would be anyone-but-PayPal, having had the joys of dealing with their "issue resolution" services when they decided I couldn't possibly be legitimately buying something from Italy with a UK PayPal account. I know that's not always possible - I do have a (new) PayPal account these days because of that, but personally I'd rather given someone else the business.

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amcewen commented Apr 26, 2017

As an information point, my preference would be anyone-but-PayPal, having had the joys of dealing with their "issue resolution" services when they decided I couldn't possibly be legitimately buying something from Italy with a UK PayPal account. I know that's not always possible - I do have a (new) PayPal account these days because of that, but personally I'd rather given someone else the business.

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Were you using it as a business or an individual? Most PayPal quirks will be avoided if it's just used for UK-UK transactions. That being said, I'm always open to alternatives.

I'm going to dig through all the services listed above and see if I can summarise them in a google spreadsheet. The bank account will still exist - obviously - so things like standing orders and BACS/SWIFT transfers will sill be available no matter what option(s) we choose.

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aubergine10 commented Apr 26, 2017

Were you using it as a business or an individual? Most PayPal quirks will be avoided if it's just used for UK-UK transactions. That being said, I'm always open to alternatives.

I'm going to dig through all the services listed above and see if I can summarise them in a google spreadsheet. The bank account will still exist - obviously - so things like standing orders and BACS/SWIFT transfers will sill be available no matter what option(s) we choose.

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Website integration definitely needs to factor in to this equation. In particular, I think we need to get much better front-end for the "work space" side of things (more like a brochure site alongside the existing "make space" community site).

Also, we should consider possibility of a future online shop for little things made at DoES (or made by people who attend DoES) - T-shirts, art, small circuits, pizza printers, 4-storey long knitted sleeves, etc... Not anything that will happen soon I imagine, but just something to keep in back of mind for next year maybe?

I've not had a chance this evening to do a comparison chart of the payment gateways / card readers, etc. - I started debugging a script and... oh, look, it's 2am! So that will likely happen Friday now (not to stop anything else happening in interim, I just think it will be good idea to quantify the due diligence on this one as it has far-reaching ramifications if we fubar it).

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aubergine10 commented Apr 27, 2017

Website integration definitely needs to factor in to this equation. In particular, I think we need to get much better front-end for the "work space" side of things (more like a brochure site alongside the existing "make space" community site).

Also, we should consider possibility of a future online shop for little things made at DoES (or made by people who attend DoES) - T-shirts, art, small circuits, pizza printers, 4-storey long knitted sleeves, etc... Not anything that will happen soon I imagine, but just something to keep in back of mind for next year maybe?

I've not had a chance this evening to do a comparison chart of the payment gateways / card readers, etc. - I started debugging a script and... oh, look, it's 2am! So that will likely happen Friday now (not to stop anything else happening in interim, I just think it will be good idea to quantify the due diligence on this one as it has far-reaching ramifications if we fubar it).

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@aubergine10 it was as a UK individual (tho' I'd actually had the account since before the UK option existed, so was a pretty long customer) buying from a UK ebayer. However, I happened to be in Italy when I made the purchase. I was definitely an edge-case, but their systems to cope with such things are disgraceful, and so I'd rather not reward them for ruthlessly optimising for a narrow norm and screw anyone outside of that, if it can be helped.

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amcewen commented Apr 27, 2017

@aubergine10 it was as a UK individual (tho' I'd actually had the account since before the UK option existed, so was a pretty long customer) buying from a UK ebayer. However, I happened to be in Italy when I made the purchase. I was definitely an edge-case, but their systems to cope with such things are disgraceful, and so I'd rather not reward them for ruthlessly optimising for a narrow norm and screw anyone outside of that, if it can be helped.

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DefProc Apr 27, 2017

Hmmm… I was definitely going for the minimum viable option, as I have an iZettle reader that's not doing anything, and can wipe a Nexus 5 that I have sitting around to function as a basic, no cost unit for testing. Unless there's a specific objection to that, I'll follow my nose on that one.

If the issue is growing into a "should DoES completely revamp it's payment processing" it's probably best to break that out. It should also link in with #464 as that has Stripe as a drop-in option to allow pre-payment for hotdesk, laser and induction bookings using youcanbook.me

DefProc commented Apr 27, 2017

Hmmm… I was definitely going for the minimum viable option, as I have an iZettle reader that's not doing anything, and can wipe a Nexus 5 that I have sitting around to function as a basic, no cost unit for testing. Unless there's a specific objection to that, I'll follow my nose on that one.

If the issue is growing into a "should DoES completely revamp it's payment processing" it's probably best to break that out. It should also link in with #464 as that has Stripe as a drop-in option to allow pre-payment for hotdesk, laser and induction bookings using youcanbook.me

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Yup, go with MVO.

Could the ticket be left open as I still want to review those other things as potentially useful for later date.

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aubergine10 commented Apr 27, 2017

Yup, go with MVO.

Could the ticket be left open as I still want to review those other things as potentially useful for later date.

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Been chipping away at the comparison spreadsheet and there are already clear winners.

  • Square + Xero would cover the vast majority of needs from the get go (Xero would replace FreeAgent - see notes below).
  • Stripe and/or Shopify could be added later to branch out and scale up.

The main downsides to replacing FreeAgent with Xero are:

  • Xero doesn't do the HMRC tax return stuff - if that's vital to DoES, pondering is required
  • We'd have to find some way of exporting data from FreeAgent
  • One-off time-consuming task of moving recurring billing to Xero/Square
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aubergine10 commented Apr 29, 2017

Been chipping away at the comparison spreadsheet and there are already clear winners.

  • Square + Xero would cover the vast majority of needs from the get go (Xero would replace FreeAgent - see notes below).
  • Stripe and/or Shopify could be added later to branch out and scale up.

The main downsides to replacing FreeAgent with Xero are:

  • Xero doesn't do the HMRC tax return stuff - if that's vital to DoES, pondering is required
  • We'd have to find some way of exporting data from FreeAgent
  • One-off time-consuming task of moving recurring billing to Xero/Square
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DoESsean commented May 2, 2017

@DefProc DefProc changed the title from get a card machine for DoES to review the payment processing and accounting options for DoES May 3, 2017

@DefProc DefProc referenced this issue May 3, 2017

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get a card machine for DoES #491

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Invoice Ninja was mentioned recently, looks like it doesn't do the HMRC stuff (at least not the PAYE/payroll stuff) but just adding it for consideration.

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johnmckerrell commented Jul 7, 2017

Invoice Ninja was mentioned recently, looks like it doesn't do the HMRC stuff (at least not the PAYE/payroll stuff) but just adding it for consideration.

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Which HMRC bits? I know Xero does VAT and in theory it should do PAYE and such?

https://help.xero.com/uk/Payroll-PAYE-UK

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ajlennon commented Jul 7, 2017

Which HMRC bits? I know Xero does VAT and in theory it should do PAYE and such?

https://help.xero.com/uk/Payroll-PAYE-UK

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I have used Xero for a while and have had bother with it regarding online VAT filings, but still all in all it is a hell of a lot easier to use than Sage. Never used FreeAgent though...

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ajlennon commented Jul 7, 2017

I have used Xero for a while and have had bother with it regarding online VAT filings, but still all in all it is a hell of a lot easier to use than Sage. Never used FreeAgent though...

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DefProc Nov 20, 2017

I've dropped myself off the assignees for this one, as my focus was on the card machine side. This seems to be now more about wider payment and invoice integrations, although it's no longer an issue with a measureable outcome.

Should this be closed as stale?

DefProc commented Nov 20, 2017

I've dropped myself off the assignees for this one, as my focus was on the card machine side. This seems to be now more about wider payment and invoice integrations, although it's no longer an issue with a measureable outcome.

Should this be closed as stale?

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I would say yes, as there's been no activity in quite some time.

From my side of things, there seems little point in switching to a new accounting software unless there is an actual reason to do so, and Freeagent works just fine for our needs. None of the options that I've looked into offer nearly enough benefits for the upheaval that would come with entirely changing how we keep track of the financials.

The iZettle reader is up and running, and gets some limited use - how much of that is down to people not knowing the option is available, I don't know. I think it will be worth having some signage when we move (particularly as it allows for contactless payments through, for example, Apple Pay).

For now, and failing any big updates that people think are going to be worthwhile, I'll close this issue.

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DoESsean commented Nov 21, 2017

I would say yes, as there's been no activity in quite some time.

From my side of things, there seems little point in switching to a new accounting software unless there is an actual reason to do so, and Freeagent works just fine for our needs. None of the options that I've looked into offer nearly enough benefits for the upheaval that would come with entirely changing how we keep track of the financials.

The iZettle reader is up and running, and gets some limited use - how much of that is down to people not knowing the option is available, I don't know. I think it will be worth having some signage when we move (particularly as it allows for contactless payments through, for example, Apple Pay).

For now, and failing any big updates that people think are going to be worthwhile, I'll close this issue.

@DoESsean DoESsean closed this Nov 21, 2017

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