Idea: Reoccurring subscriptions #121

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da2x opened this Issue Feb 16, 2017 · 9 comments

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@da2x
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da2x commented Feb 16, 2017

More reliable revenue stream for publishers, less work for users. Lower transaction fees all around.

Users choose an amount or use the suggested amount. In addition to the main PayPal option, they’ll be given options for reoccurring payments monthly (amount) or yearly (Math.ceil(amount) * 10 - 1). E.g. a suggested amount of 5,1$ would suggest 59$/yr. Tipsy could still track how frequently the site is accessed to prove value-for-money and not remind the user to make future contributions to the site.

Opening up for reoccurring payment options also opens up for integration with Patreon.

@karger
Member
karger commented Feb 16, 2017
@da2x
Contributor
da2x commented Feb 16, 2017 edited

You can't change the subscription amount for an ongoing subscription. You'd have to cancel the subscription and set up a new one with the new amount. User would have to request and approve both actions which would mean even more work.

PayPal does have the option of automatic billing, but that requires muc h tighter integration than we can get in an extension. Would require a server answering API calls from PayPal, as well as initiating the payment with the correct amount ever month. Tipsy cannot act in that role on behalf of merchants, it's against PayPal's term of stuff.

@karger
Member
karger commented Feb 16, 2017

Again, not clear it would be effective, but I could imagine setting a "baseline" recurring subscription on paypal that I know is less than I will ultimately owe, then use tipsy to "top up" the payments as I consume more than the minimum. Which could reduce the number/frequency of payments I need to make manually. If I told tipsy about my baseline it could automatically subtract that in its calculations.

@rht
Contributor
rht commented Feb 17, 2017

The baseline recurring subscription solution trades away the condition that the payment structure scale exactly with consumption data, with an approximated one, where updating the subscription amount requires several steps. This hybrid version has more moving parts than just using a subscription model (imagine having to manually update the subscription amount of 10 most-visited-sites and cancel the subscription for the long tail of the consumption data, on a weekly/monthly basis).

I was wondering if paypal has bulk payments, and it turned out it has https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/mass-payments, but this feature is available only for premier/business account (more setup).

@rht
Contributor
rht commented Feb 17, 2017

I meant, with bulk/mass payments, the processing is still done manually but only once, for all the sites. However, there is an extra complication: all sites with tipsy.txt are being processed, where previously the payment for each site is opt-in.

@karger
Member
karger commented Feb 20, 2017

So the mass payment function seems really appealing; it can resolve the biggest nuisance of tipsy with needing to pay one site at a time. I'm may not understand the immediately previous comment, but note that tipsy allows you to tweak the payment intended for each site before you pay---so you can easily knock out sites if you want (that's what the X by the pay button is for). So, there would be this lovely workflow where you look over all the recommended payments by site and update them as you wish; then you click a single "pay" button and paypal's mass pay api takes care of paying everyone at once.

Granted this only work for people with merchant accounts, but this convenience might actually be enough to motivate some people to get merchant accounts. I'm not sure if there's a cost involved or just setup hassle.

So this suggests a "fourth" payment method where a user distinguishes whether their account is personal or merchant (can we tell automatically?) and we set the payment UI accordingly.

Turning back to the "recurring subscription" concept---it's worth asking what tipsy adds here, given that any site can set up its own membership/recurring payment infrastructure with no need for tipsy. But that's also the answer---instead of having to set up all that infrastructure, they just provide some metadata. So yes, this could still be beneficial. On the other hand, it does cast away the "usage-based pricing" that I think is a big benefit of tipsy.

@da2x
Contributor
da2x commented Feb 21, 2017

If the user submits a form without a Premier account (also open for individuals), they’ll be told to provide the required information to update their account to the new account tier. Not a horrible user experience.

The benefit to users of having a subscription option is that “hey, I give 5 USD to this site every month — why not automate it?” For publishers, the value of Tipsy is that users can discover that they can support them. This doesn’t change if Tipsy enables subscriptions.

@karger
Member
karger commented Feb 21, 2017

Does the premier account cost money or otherwise demand anything of the user besides information? I'd rather not be accused of trying to upsell them on paypal.

R.e. subscriptions. I think the answer the "why not automate it" question you pose for users is "It's already automated, by Tipsy". Given bulk payments, there's no benefit to a subscription on one site so long as I need to keep paying other non-subscription sites. And with subscriptions I lose the direct control of my overall spending.

But that can be a feature as well as a bug. Certain users may decide, after they've supported a site for a while, that they believe in the site enough to support them independent of usage, and a subscription would permit that.

But there are subtle UI issues here. For example, do we encourage users to subscribe to anything? I'm not sure we want Tipsy nagging in that way. How we do introduce/propose this idea? Also, there is a potential downside: a user might set up a subscription that takes a site out of the regular tipsy lineup, then end up underpaying that site because the subscription isn't large enough to cover their consumption. If we want to avoid that, Tipsy needs to audit---comparing their subscription payment to what tipsy thinks they "owe" and warning if they go under.

@da2x
Contributor
da2x commented Feb 21, 2017 edited

The short version is that “PayPal charges Premier and Business accounts to receive payments.” Other fees seem to be the exact same between Premier and Personal. However, I’m not sure if this differs by region or if there are any hidden fees. Premier basically lifts a bunch of limits and enables more features, and it’s intended for individuals who occasionally receive money as well as send and spend with PayPal. Government ID verification required, however — which seems to be the main disadvantage compared to Personal accounts. There is a negligible registration fee, but this fee seems to be deposited into your PayPal account so not really a fee. Could be I’m missing something.

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