Are you on the cusp of financial growth and in search for a scalable solution for your business? Digital-centric Braintree cater to a wide range of businesses, but their forte undoubtedly lies in assisting tech-driven enterprises – it’s no wonder that Silicon Valley titans from the likes of Airbnb and Uber put their trust in their services.
Braintree are part of the PayPal family but make no mistake – They have a strong standalone personality that makes them incredibly unique and cutting-edge in the highly competitive payment processing industry. In fact, since its acquisition in 2013 by PayPal, Braintree grew more than 25 times in payment transactions and beat their acquisitor to their game in terms of scalability and payment options.
Is this purely hype? Absolutely NOT – As an unstoppable ecommerce force, Braintree offer some of the most attractive rates on the UK market and an incredible array of features and products.
One more thing – Unlike other online payment giants such as Square or Stripe, Braintree are actually a direct processor which means exactly what you guessed – You have your own ID merchant account!
- Braintree’s tailored services to both SMEs and large enterprises are second to none. With a pricing model starting at 1.9% + £0.20/transactions and offering discounted rates for enterprises selling more than £50K/month, Braintree are the ecommerce solution to beat!
- Unique services – From Braintree’s Sandbox which enables you to sample the experience of processing payments to data portability which gives secure access to your customers’ payment information, Braintree abound in solid and ingenious ecommerce solutions.
- Global scalability – Through an impressive arsenal of payment methods and currencies, Braintree equip your business and professional ambitions with the resources to achieve more than you expect.
- Customer service – Just like in the case of many budget payment processors, their customer service may not be on par with traditional competitors’. If you have little technical knowledge or you’re a layperson in the payment processing industry you might find yourself frustrated at times. However, given their magnitude and size on the market, complaints are fewer than one might expect.
Braintree Products and Features
The very first aspect to be considered is that Braintree offer two payment processing solutions for their customers and clients – Standard and Enterprise. Throughout this review, our main focus will be on the standard version but we’ll touch upon the enterprise version concomitantly.
In addition to this segmentation, Braintree offer 4 types of products/accounts – Direct, Marketplace (available only in the US), Auth (available only in the US) and Contextual commerce (we’ll take about this in a minute). Braintree Direct is their most popular end-to-end payment solution for merchants wishing to sell to customers on web, mobile or native apps.
Cutting-edge, bold and redefining the future of payment processing, Braintree’s products can take your business to a whole new level. The way Braintree advertise and market their flagship products might come across as too pretentious and pompous for the digitally uninitiated, but eliminate the fancy terminology and things are much clearer!
Sandbox – As the name suggests, Sandbox (not to be confused with a litter box) is a service that allows you to test Braintree’s payment processing prowess before signing up for an account and going live. The system is so well-thought and meticulously designed that you can experience almost all features as if your business were live and active. You simply need to sign up for a sandbox account in no time, and you can juggle around with sample transactions and simulated chargebacks, get a feel of API integration processes, play with subscriptions and recurring billing. No worries if you make mistakes along the way – your sandbox account is not linked whatsoever to your production account so test away to your heart’s content.
Contextual commerce – This aforementioned product is quite sophisticated in what it does. Its infrastructure tools enable secure transfer or sharing of payment information between partnered businesses with the end result of creating new distribution channels. Confused already? It’s rather simple if you put it in more accessible terms – Think of when you buy a British Airways flight ticket on SkyScanner and your payment details are shared among the two parties – the aggregator and the airline, in this case. “Wow”, you might say… but do you actually need it? Obviously the product is designed for more tech-centric companies but it can be used for small enterprises as well. If your business is a small aggregator website advertising some local hotels, lodgings or B&Bs (not everything is on Airbnb) then contextual commerce is a great solution for your company.
Data portability – Just like in a marriage, you need to know that if things do not pan out you can simply pack up your personal things and leave without consequences – hopefully! That’s exactly what Braintree’s data portability service allows you to do – take away all the personal information of your customers if you decide to part ways with Braintree. Keep in mind that many merchant account providers lock in this information on secure servers and once you decide to cancel with them, you lose all that precious data. This means your loyal customers would have to re-input all their payment details if you switch providers. So, this prenup with Braintree is really impressive!
Webhooks – A webhook is a notification that tells you when a specific event (credit card charge, paid transfer, updated account) has taken or will take place in your gateway. In real life, what you can actually do with a webhook is notify a customer that their recurring payment or subscription has failed, check to see if a chargeback dispute was filed among other options. Some parameters in your dashboard (website or payment gateway) can perform this functionality too so if you do not feel comfortable using it, no problem!
Drop-in UI, Custom UI and Hosted Fields– These refer to a hosted payment page, API integration and iframes, respectively. All are PCI DSS compliant, highly customisable and mould on your website’s responsive design for the web, mobile and native apps. The friction-free and customisable checkout flow ensures that you convey your brand identity to your customers while they complete a payment within seconds. It’s a win-win!
Control Panel – The feature-packed Control Panel puts the power into your hands! From settlements and transaction summaries to statements and reporting, the control panel will become glued to the way you manage your transactions. What’s more – Braintree’s Vault is highly secure so you can confidently access sensitive information such as customers’ payment method tokens and addresses which can be downloaded in a CSV file. For the Enterprise edition, you can also connect your Braintree data to your platform via special plugins.
Braintree Third-party Integration
- Shopping carts: WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Drupa and many others. Unfortunately, Shopify is not supported.
- Accounting and invoicing: Freshbooks, ChargeDesk and many more.
- Analytics: Baremetrics, ChartMogul, Stride and others.
- Recurring billing: Wallee, Zuora, Chargebee.
For a full list, please click here.
Account updater – Whenever a customer’s card (Visa, mastercard, Discover) is about to expire or if any details change, Braintree will automatically obtain the new payment details and store them securely in their Vault. This is another instance when the webhooks will come in handy and flag about-to-expire cards. No action needed on your part – just watch how conversion increases thanks to a lower probability of declined transactions.
Recurring billing – We couldn’t leave this out, could we? Braintree advertise this service as an autopilot for your payments and they are not far off the truth. You simply need to create a plan for subscriptions and even donations if you wish, while Braintree handle the hard work from the back-office. Recurring billing is linked to your Control Panel for a seamless account management and all the sensitive information is stored in the Vault. Again, you may configure the webhooks to send automatic notifications to customers for recurring payments.
And the bad? If Braintree had offered a POS system/station they would have probably reached that status of “too good to be true”. Fear not though! There are plenty of convenient and efficacious workarounds and you could opt for a card reader solution as a micro-entrepreneur or small business owner. iZettle or SumUp are great providers of these sorts, however the downside is that you won’t have integrated payments or a single account. US-based startups App Ninjas and Innerfence offer mPOS which let you swipe cards with a Braintree merchant account – although they have no dedicated support for UK customers. It’s a good start and hopefully the UK will be next on the list for their expansion plans.
Braintree Payment Services
Braintree promise to pin your business right up there with the global players and if you know how to play your cards right, your business success can soar off the charts! In addition to opening the doors to the 200 million + PayPal users, Braintree offer you the key to the Chinese market as well through its recent deal with UnionPay.
Although still in the beta version, the support for UnionPay will make Chinese online shoppers more confident to order on your website. With 130+ currencies and multiple settlement currency options, your business could not be better equipped to withstand the hindrances of international commerce.
While Braintree offer a plethora of payment methods for US merchants, in the UK options like Venmo, Visa checkout, Masterpass, and ACH Direct Debit are not available at the moment.
|Debit and credit cards||Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, JCB, Discover, American Express and UnionPay|
|PayPal||PayPal, PayPal Credit|
|Express and seamless Checkout||PayPal One Touch, Amex Express Checkout (for businesses serving US card members)|
|Mobile payments||Apple Pay, Android Pay, Pay with Google|
Braintree Costs and Fees
Let’s start with the good news – There are no contractual fees, annual renewals, cancellation penalties or monthly minimums. On top of that, your Standard account comes with basic and advanced fraud protection while the Enterprise account equips your payment gateway with more advanced features. We’ll talk about this later!
Let’s continue with the great news! The transparent flat rate pricing that Braintree offer is truly competitive on the market and European merchants also have the option for interchange-plus pricing. For businesses with a turnover under £50,000/month, Braintree charge a flat rate of 1.9% + £0.20 per transaction (2.4% + £0.20 per transaction for Amex Express) with an additional 1% fee for transactions presented outside of your home currency. A flat £20 per chargeback applies to all disputes. Needless to say, transactions completed through PayPal are determined directly by the processor.
If you were to take into consideration some extra monthly costs like chargebacks, you would notice that the effective rate of your payment processor is less than 2.1%. That’s a fantastic rate even for low-volume businesses which cannot achieve that £10,000+ revenue per month! When you consider that the payouts are honoured within 2 working days, you’ve got yourself a fair deal and a solid provider.
Most online payment processors offer some type of security for your payment gateway and account, normally at no extra costs. Braintree are no exception to the rule and in fact they do go the extra mile to ensure the highest level of security. If you value constant security checks and the ability to enable the tools most relevant to the way you accept transactions, these features will maximise conversion rates while lowering fraud risks.
|PCI DSS compliance – You do not need to worry one bit about getting compliant yourself. Whether you choose the hosted payment page or API integration, Braintree will provide PCI DSS compliance at no charge.|
|Basic fraud protection – This includes AVS which helps verify your customer’s postal code information and CVV which validates the 3 or 4 digit number on credit and debit cards. The third basic security feature is monikered risk threshold which refers to a set of actions/velocity checks you can configure to alert you of suspicious events in a given timeframe – such as a customer adding too many credit cards to their account. Remember – Basic fraud protection is not enabled by default so you will have to configure it manually from the Control Panel! This fraud protection comes with your Braintree Direct account.|
|Advanced fraud protection – In partnership with Kount (an all-in-one fraud and risk management solution headquartered in the US), Braintree aim to tackle and fight next-generation fraudsters. The features presented in this ecommerce solution are incredibly solid and efficient against most aggressive security attacks. Geolocation, device information, 3-D Secure and custom security rules are some of the tools Braintree provide you with to cement your payment gateway’s security. The downside is that not all shopping carts support this advanced fraud protection. Currently, the tools are only available for some accounts such as Braintree Direct and Enterprise.|
Braintree Customer Service & Support
Compared to other online payment processors, Braintree are definitely not to scoff at and they do have dedicated services for UK merchants. Although support (technical, sales) is available only Monday through Friday, Braintree have dedicated lines and email addresses for each type of inquiry (accounts, technical, sales) and a physical office in London. As such, although they are not there for you around the clock, you can rest assured that Braintree are fast in handling inquiries and you won’t be transferred around or put on hold unreasonably.
In addition to their knowledgeable technical team, Braintree support your business with extended technical documentation – although you do need more than basic programming/coding skills to leverage these guidelines.
On the BBB page, there are 14 reviews (7 negative reviews + 7 complaints) which relate to sudden account termination due to high risk, withhold of funds, chargeback and disputes and hidden fees. Some complaints are legit but – while reading through them you can easily realise that many negative reviews come down to customer’s misunderstanding of Braintree’s terms and conditions and advertising strategy. Based on these reviews Braintree currently hold a B+ and a 3-star rating on the BBB which to be honest is not entirely relevant or objective. On Trustpilot they fare even worse with 15 negative reviews and a 1-star rating – complaints are more or less the same in nature as the ones on the BBB.
However – On the other side of the coin, Braintree have dozens of positive and excellent reviews and a 4.1 star rating on Glassdoor in terms of employee satisfaction. As such, if you tried to even it out you would notice that the positive reviews outweigh the negative ones and given the giant size of the company we’d say they are considerably reliable and supportive.
Braintree are the perfect ecommerce payment solution for merchants who value innovative and forward-thinking strategies and have some understanding of programming languages.
If you focus your efforts on brick-and-mortar sales, run an online boutique store or sell your arts and crafts, Braintree probably won’t benefit you substantially.
While we would easily award them a high rating for all the available features, advertising transparency, competitive pricing and rates, enhanced security and focus on global markets, they are indeed more suitable for certain types of businesses. Evaluate your company’s needs and goals to the best of your ability and decide if Braintree are the ecommerce solution that can trigger further growth for your business.