Stripe's quick disruption of the payment processing industry in the U.K. is measurable in at least one simple way counting clicks.
The challenge for legacy processors is similar to the cart abandonment problem that afflicts e-commerce sites, according to The Chat Shop, a digital technology company that recently completed research on user experience in the U.K. If a company makes hard to get information about payments processing, the answer to their question almost doesn't matter.
Stripe provides answers in just one or two clicks to questions about costs, payment timing, eligibility and other topics, according to the research. For other U.K. processors, it almost always takes at least six clicks and often more than ten to get the same answers, The Chat Shop said.
"It's hard for a new customer to find out what's required to work with a payment processor in most cases," said Mike Dry, growth manager of The Chat Shop. "If you don't know long it will take to deploy a solution, or what will happen if a customer has to refund the money, this can be daunting for a new customer."
The Chat Shop did not estimate how much business the established processors were losing to startups because of slow service, but it said that up to 58% of abandonment is due to navigation issues. And while it takes Stripe about three minutes to produce an answer for a merchant, it takes Barclaycard 12 minutes and Worldpay 10 minutes. It also takes nine steps for a merchant to sign up with Worldpay, four or more for Barclaycard and two for Stripe, according to The Chat Shop's research.
"Apart from Stripe being a notable example of how it's done well, the process to sign up usually takes several days," Dry said.
Often, the processor's websites still adhere to a "one size" design mentality, so the content is not tailored by business size or category, Dry said.
"Someone looking to take payments online for a leisure activity would have different questions than someone looking to start an online e-commerce site," Dry said. "The processors are still putting standard content out there."
"We believe that enabling more transactions is a problem rooted in code and design, not finance," said Tim Drinan, a Stripe spokesperson, in an email.
When measuring factors such as Q&A clicks, Q&A time, signup and merchant resources, The Chat Shop produced a usability score of 89 out of 100 for Stripe, 70 for Sagepay, 64 for WorldPay and 46 for Barclaycard.
Worldpay has taken steps to diversify its technology and Web content in the past year, said Kevin Dallas, chief product and marketing officer for e-commerce at Worldpay, which processed 11.5 billion transactions in 2014.
"One of the challenges for us is we have to address multiple segments and sizes and cater to quite a few needs," Dallas said. "As a business becomes larger or multinational, the complexity grows and their needs become more specific."
Worldpay segments its content for different merchant categories for larger businesses. "There are a lot of different users that come in with a different understanding," Dallas said, adding Worldpay has updated its Web content and issued an API in the past year.
Worldpay also in the past year acquired SecureNet, which provides cloud-based technology that integrates point of sale, mobile and e-commerce payments processing with inventory management and data analytics for merchants. In addition, Worldpay expanded its presence in the U.S.
Barclaycard and Sage Pay did not return requests for comment by deadline.
Other established processors are diversifying their technology to address the growth of digital commerce. First Data, which is preparing to go public after eight years of KKR ownership, is in the midst of a multi-year technology upgrade initiative. Others, such as Heartland Payment Systems, have also bulked up on technology with an emphasis on mobile commerce.
Total System Services (TSYS) is also experimenting with new services. Its $1.4 billion purchase of prepaid card marketer NetSpend in 2013 gave the 30-year-old processor its first consumer-facing business.