In the online payments grounds, two prominent players have emerged as the driving forces behind revolutionizing digital transactions: Stripe and Square. These fintech giants have drastically changed the way businesses of all sizes accept and manage payments, offering innovative solutions, robust features, and seamless user experiences. As they continue to dominate the market, it might be hard for businesses to choose Stripe vs. Square to cover their payment processing needs.
This article delves into the Stripe and Square details, dissecting their key features, strengths, weaknesses, and overall value propositions, to help readers navigate the payment gateway terrain with confidence.
What is Square?
Square is a widely recognized payment platform that offers a range of financial tools and services for businesses and individuals. Founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, Square initially focused on providing small businesses with a convenient way to accept credit card payments using a mobile device. Since then, it has expanded its offerings to encompass a comprehensive suite of payment solutions.
At its core, Square provides point-of-sale (POS) systems that enable businesses to accept payments through various channels, including mobile devices, tablets, and dedicated hardware terminals. The platform supports both in-person and online transactions, allowing businesses to seamlessly process payments across different channels.
Square’s signature product is the Square Reader, a small device that attaches to a smartphone or tablet and transforms it into a portable payment terminal. This easy-to-use card reader allows businesses to accept credit and debit card payments on the go, making it particularly popular among small merchants, independent contractors, and mobile service providers.
In addition to payment processing, Square offers a range of supplementary services. These include features like inventory management, sales analytics, employee management, and customer relationship management tools. Square also provides options for invoicing, recurring payments, and e-commerce integration, making it a versatile platform for businesses of all sizes.
Square has gained popularity for its user-friendly interfaces, transparent pricing, and accessibility to businesses of all types. Its competitive transaction fees and quick funding options have made it an attractive choice for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to simplify their payment processing.
What is Stripe?
Stripe is a widely used online payment platform that provides businesses with the infrastructure to accept and manage payments securely over the internet. It was founded in 2010 by brothers Patrick and John Collison. Stripe’s primary goal is to simplify the process of accepting online payments for businesses of all sizes, from startups to large enterprises.
The platform offers a range of features and services that enable businesses to handle transactions and process payments seamlessly. Stripe provides a unified API (Application Programming Interface) that allows developers to integrate payment functionality into their websites or applications. This API supports a variety of programming languages and frameworks, making it highly versatile.
Stripe supports a wide range of payment methods, including credit and debit cards, digital wallets (such as Apple Pay and Google Pay), bank transfers, and more. It also offers various tools to handle recurring payments, subscriptions, and invoicing. In addition to its payment processing capabilities, Stripe provides services for fraud prevention, international currency conversion, and financial reporting.
One of the key advantages of Stripe is its user-friendly interface and developer-friendly approach. It provides comprehensive documentation and resources, making it easier for businesses to integrate payment functionality into their platforms. Stripe also offers customizable checkout experiences, allowing businesses to tailor the payment process to their branding and user experience preferences.
Stripe’s popularity has grown significantly, and it has become a leading payment platform globally. It is trusted by thousands of businesses, ranging from small startups to large enterprises, across multiple industries. Stripe’s scalable infrastructure, robust security measures, and extensive feature set make it a preferred choice for businesses seeking a reliable and flexible payment solution.
Square vs Stripe – Online payment processing
Online payment processing is an essential aspect of modern business operations. Both Square and Stripe excel in providing online payment processing solutions, with a range of payment methods to cater to diverse business needs. Let’s compare the payment methods offered by Square and Stripe, focusing exclusively on online payments.
Empowering online transactions with Square
When it comes to accepting online payments, Square offers a diverse range of payment methods to empower businesses. Through its Online Store feature, Square enables businesses to establish a professional e-commerce presence and accept payments through various convenient methods.
Credit and debit cards
Square supports major credit and debit cards, such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. This ensures broad compatibility and convenience for customers.
Square also enables acceptance of popular digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. By supporting these mobile payment solutions, businesses can cater to customers who prefer using their smartphones for transactions.
ACH bank transfers
Square facilitates bank transfers through Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments. This option enables customers to make payments directly from their bank accounts, offering an alternative to traditional card-based transactions.
For businesses that primarily deal with invoicing, Square offers an invoicing feature that enables online payment acceptance. Customers can conveniently pay their invoices online using various methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets.
Square’s Virtual Terminal feature allows businesses to accept payments from customers over the phone or via mail orders. This is especially useful for businesses that receive orders remotely and need a secure way to process payments online.
Simplifying online payment integration with Stripe
Stripe is a developer-friendly payment processing platform that emphasizes simplicity and customization. It offers a robust set of tools and payment methods to streamline online transactions. Stripe’s primary offering is its payment gateway, which integrates seamlessly with websites and applications. It supports a wide range of payment methods for online transactions.
Credit and debit cards
Stripe accepts all major credit and debit cards, allowing businesses to reach customers worldwide.
Similar to Square, Stripe supports digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and others, facilitating quick and convenient payments through mobile devices.
Alternative payment methods
Stripe provides support for various alternative payment methods specific to different regions, such as Alipay, WeChat Pay, iDEAL, and more. This enables businesses to cater to customers’ preferences based on their geographical location.
Invoicing and subscriptions
Stripe offers comprehensive invoicing and subscription management solutions for businesses that require recurring payments or subscription-based models. Customers can easily pay their invoices online using credit cards, debit cards, or digital wallets.
Square vs Stripe – In-person payments
If your business includes both online and offline presence, you might want to consider in-person payment processing. At this point, both Square and Stripe offer robust in-person payment processing solutions, each with its own strengths and considerations. Square POS provides an integrated ecosystem, ease of use, and transparent pricing, making it an excellent choice for small to medium-sized businesses. On the other hand, Stripe Terminal offers flexibility, customization, and strong developer support, catering more to businesses with complex needs and technical expertise. Let’s have some more details.
Square POS, also known as Square Point of Sale, is a popular payment processing and point-of-sale system developed by Square, Inc. It offers businesses a comprehensive solution to accept payments, manage sales, and streamline operations.
- Payment processing
Square POS is a mobile-based application that allows merchants to accept credit card payments using a smartphone or tablet. Its portable card reader connects via audio jack or Bluetooth, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes.
- Sales and inventory management
Square POS provides features to help businesses manage sales and inventory effectively. It enables the creation of an item library with photos, descriptions, and customizable prices. Merchants can track sales, apply discounts, taxes, and tips, and generate digital or physical receipts.
- Business tools
Square POS offers valuable business tools, including real-time sales data, inventory tracking, and low stock alerts. Integration with Square Dashboard allows for remote monitoring, customer behavior insights, and sales trend analysis.
- Additional services
Square POS provides additional services like invoicing, online store integration, employee management, and customer loyalty programs. These features enable businesses to expand their operations and offer a seamless experience to customers.
This is a short overview of Square POS, providing general information. You might want to read a more detailed article about it to better understand Square POS and how it works.
Stripe Terminal is a platform provided by Stripe, a leading online payment processing company, that enables businesses to accept in-person payments seamlessly. It offers a suite of hardware and software tools designed to simplify the integration of payment processing into physical retail locations or other offline environments.
Stripe Terminal provides businesses with a range of hardware options to suit their specific needs. This includes devices like card readers, terminals, and printers. The card readers can accept various payment methods, including chip and PIN cards, contactless payments (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay), and traditional magnetic stripe cards. The hardware is designed to be sleek, portable, and easy to set up, allowing businesses to accept payments anywhere.
- Software and SDKs
Alongside the hardware, Stripe Terminal offers powerful software tools and software development kits (SDKs) that enable businesses to integrate payment processing seamlessly into their own applications and systems. The software provides a secure connection to Stripe’s payment infrastructure, ensuring that sensitive customer data is protected. The SDKs are available for popular programming languages, making it easier for developers to incorporate payment functionality into their software.
- Point of Sale (POS) Integration
Stripe Terminal can be seamlessly integrated with various point of sale (POS) systems. This integration allows businesses to synchronize their online and offline sales data, manage inventory, and track customer transactions in a unified manner. By consolidating both online and offline sales channels, businesses gain a holistic view of their operations and can provide a consistent experience to their customers.
- Payments and reporting
Stripe Terminal enables businesses to accept payments and process transactions in real time. The platform supports multiple payment methods and currencies, making it flexible for global businesses. It also provides comprehensive reporting and analytics tools, allowing businesses to gain insights into their sales performance, monitor transaction data, and reconcile payments easily.
Stripe vs Square – Integrations and ecosystems
While both Square and Stripe offer powerful payment processing solutions, their approaches to integrations and ecosystems differ. Square provides a comprehensive ecosystem of products and services, catering to various industries and integrating with popular tools. Stripe, on the other hand, focuses on providing flexible APIs and developer tools for businesses to build custom payment solutions and integrate with existing systems. Let’s break it down.
Square offers a wide array of integrations with popular third-party tools and platforms. It seamlessly integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, enabling businesses to sync their sales and financial data. It also integrates with e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce, Magento, and Shopify, allowing businesses to accept online payments easily. Square’s integration capabilities extend to customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like HubSpot and Mailchimp, facilitating effective customer engagement and marketing.
Square’s ecosystem is built around its core payment processing offerings. In addition to its point-of-sale (POS) hardware, Square provides a range of software solutions like Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants, and Square Appointments, tailored to specific industry needs. These offerings enable businesses to manage inventory, track sales, schedule appointments, and streamline operations. Square also has a powerful analytics tool called Square Dashboard that provides valuable insights into sales, customer behavior, and more.
Stripe has an extensive library of APIs and developer tools, making it highly flexible and adaptable to different business needs. It integrates with a wide range of e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and more. Stripe’s API-driven approach allows businesses to create custom payment flows, set up recurring billing, and manage subscription-based services. It also offers integrations with accounting software, CRM platforms, and other tools to streamline business operations.
Stripe’s ecosystem is centered around its payment infrastructure and developer tools. It provides businesses with a robust set of features to handle online payments securely and efficiently. While Stripe doesn’t offer the same breadth of industry-specific solutions as Square, its focus on developer-friendly APIs and flexibility makes it a popular choice for businesses looking to build custom payment experiences and scale their operations.
Stripe vs Square – Pricing and fees
The services that Square and Stripe provide intersect a lot. However, there are differences in their pricing structures and fees. Let’s explore these differences in more detail.
Payment processing fees
- Square offers straightforward pricing for in-person payments with a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction. However, for online transactions, Square charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. This difference in pricing is due to the increased risk associated with card-not-present transactions.
- Stripe’s pricing structure is also straightforward. It charges a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for both in-person and online payments. Stripe does not differentiate between card-present and card-not-present transactions, simplifying the pricing process for businesses.
- Square offers additional subscription plans tailored to specific business needs. These plans, such as Square for Retail and Square for Restaurants, provide additional features and services beyond the basic payment processing. Each subscription plan has its own pricing, which varies depending on the level of functionality required.
- Stripe does not offer specific subscription plans beyond its core payment processing services. However, Stripe does have additional products and features, such as Stripe Connect for platforms and marketplaces, which may have separate pricing structures.
- Square charges a fee of $0 for the first chargeback received in a 30-day period. For subsequent chargebacks within the same period, the fee increases to $20 per chargeback.
- Stripe also charges a fee for chargebacks, but the exact amount may vary depending on the user’s country. In the United States, the chargeback fee is $15 per dispute.
Additional services and business solutions
- Square offers various additional services that may have separate fees. These include features like Square Capital for business loans, Square Marketing for customer engagement, and Square Online for building an e-commerce website.
- Stripe provides additional services beyond payment processing, such as Stripe Radar for fraud prevention, Stripe Billing for recurring subscriptions, and Stripe Atlas for incorporating a business. The pricing for these services may vary depending on the specific features utilized.
Please be advised that the information about prices and fees is provided as of today. As both Square and Stripe frequently update their pricing structures, it’s advisable to visit their respective websites or contact their support teams to get the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.
You may find more details on Stripe fees in our article “Stripe Fees: A Guide to Stripe Fee Structure for an Ecommerce Business”
Square and Stripe – User experience and customer support
When dealing with online payments, business owners prioritize an easy-to-use and reliable payment system. The user experience should be seamless for both the business and its customers, ensuring a smooth payment process. Reliability is crucial to avoid disruptions and system failures that could result in lost sales and damage the business’s reputation.
Access to responsive customer support is essential to address any issues or glitches promptly, saving time and minimizing potential revenue loss. Reliable support provides peace of mind and allows business owners to focus on other aspects of their operations.
Square and Stripe, both offer user-friendly interfaces, robust features, and reliable customer support.
- Square offers a range of user-friendly payment solutions for businesses of all sizes. Their flagship product, Square Point of Sale (POS), provides a comprehensive system for accepting payments in-person. The Square POS app has an intuitive interface that allows users to easily navigate through various features such as processing payments, managing inventory, and generating reports. Square also offers an online payment gateway called Square Online, which enables businesses to accept payments through their websites or online stores. The platform provides customizable templates and easy integration with popular e-commerce platforms.
- Stripe focuses on providing developers with tools to build customized payment solutions. Their APIs and documentation are well-regarded for their simplicity and developer-friendly nature. Stripe’s user experience is tailored more towards businesses that require a higher level of customization and control over their payment processes. While Stripe does offer pre-built checkout forms and hosted payment pages, its strength lies in its flexibility for developers to create unique payment experiences within their own applications or websites.
- Square offers customer support through various channels, including email, phone, and live chat. Their support team is known for being responsive and helpful, addressing customer inquiries and issues in a timely manner. Square also provides an extensive online knowledge base and community forum where users can find answers to common questions and learn from other Square users’ experiences. Additionally, Square offers additional support options for merchants on higher-tier plans, including dedicated account managers and priority support.
- Stripe provides customer support primarily through email and a ticketing system. Their support team is known for being knowledgeable and responsive, aiming to resolve customer issues promptly. Stripe also offers a comprehensive online documentation library that covers a wide range of topics, including integration guides, API reference, and troubleshooting tips. Additionally, Stripe has an active developer community where users can seek assistance and share insights.
Square and Stripe – Security and compliance
Security and compliance are vital considerations for businesses engaged in online payments due to several key reasons. Firstly, protecting customer data from breaches and unauthorized access is crucial for maintaining privacy and trust. Secondly, robust security measures help mitigate financial losses by preventing fraudulent transactions and associated liabilities. Thirdly, maintaining a positive reputation and customer trust is essential, as security incidents can significantly impact a business’s image. Additionally, compliance with industry regulations such as PCI DSS, GDPR, and AML/KYC is necessary to avoid penalties and legal consequences. By implementing effective security measures, businesses can reduce chargebacks and disputes, ensuring financial stability and positive relationships with payment processors. Smooth operations are facilitated when businesses can focus on their core activities rather than dealing with security breaches or non-compliance issues. Lastly, adhering to security and compliance standards enables businesses to expand internationally and enter new markets while complying with specific local regulations and instilling confidence in customers.
Pros and cons of Square and Stripe
Like everything else in the world, both Square and Stripe have their strengths and weaknesses. When you’re choosing between the platforms, you might want to consider the advantages and potential pitfalls of Square and Stripe and see how those are aligned with their needs. So let’s sum up Square’s and Stripe’s pros and cons.
- All-in-one solution
Square offers a comprehensive suite of services beyond payment processing, including point-of-sale systems, inventory management, and customer relationship management tools.
- User-friendly interface
Square’s intuitive interface makes it easy for small businesses to set up and start accepting payments quickly.
- Offline mode
Square’s offline mode allows businesses to continue accepting payments even when an internet connection is unavailable.
- Square Capital
Square offers financing options through Square Capital, providing small businesses with access to funding based on their transaction history.
- Limited international support
Square is primarily focused on the US and Canada, so it may not be the best choice for businesses with a global customer base.
- Higher transaction fees for some businesses
While Square’s fees are competitive, certain industries such as high-risk businesses or those with large ticket sizes may face higher transaction costs.
- Limited customization options
Square’s checkout page and payment form customization options are relatively limited compared to some other payment processors.
- Limited integrations
Although Square integrates with popular e-commerce platforms and accounting software, its list of integrations is not as extensive as some Stripes’s competitors.
- Global reach
Stripe supports businesses in over 40 countries, making it an excellent choice for businesses with an international customer base.
- Customizable payment experience
Stripe offers extensive customization options, allowing businesses to create a seamless and branded payment experience.
Stripe provides robust developer tools, extensive documentation, and APIs, making it a popular choice for businesses with technical expertise or complex payment needs.
- Diverse payment options
Stripe supports various payment methods, including credit cards, digital wallets, and local payment methods, providing flexibility for businesses and their customers.
- Account stability concerns
Some businesses have reported instances of account holds or suspensions, which can disrupt payment processing operations.
- Complexity for non-technical users
While Stripe offers powerful customization options, it may require technical knowledge or developer assistance to set up and manage effectively.
- Limited offline capabilities
Stripe’s payment processing relies on an internet connection, so it may not be suitable for businesses that need to accept payments in offline environments.
- Additional fees for advanced features
Certain features, such as recurring billing or subscription management, may come with additional costs beyond standard transaction fees.
Final words: how to choose the right payment gateway for your business
As you can see, both Stripe and Square offer many opportunities for businesses to conveniently and securely accept payments via various methods – online and in-person – and manage transactions efficiently, making them potentially suitable for businesses of different sizes and various kinds. Stripe offers unmatched developer-centric capabilities, making it a go-to choice for businesses seeking to customize and optimize their payment processes. On the other hand, Square’s all-in-one approach, with its range of complementary tools and services, makes it an ideal choice for small and medium-sized businesses looking for simplicity and convenience.
So, to understand which platform might be a better fit for your business, you might want to put your particular needs and requirements in front to make your decision based on them. At this point, you need to understand the nuances of these payment gateways and evaluate various factors, including security and compliance, integration and user experience, payment options and global reach, pricing and fees, customer support and reputation, as well as scalability and growth potential. Aligning these factors with your individual business needs, priorities, and long-term goals might drive you to the final decision.