[ic] Pay Pal

Ed LaFrance edl at newmediaems.com
Wed Aug 27 11:40:26 EDT 2003

At 09:42 AM 8/27/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>Has anyone out there added PayPal to there payment options?
>What a bout a good online check option?

Just to put this officially "on the record", I'll make a statement about 
PayPal. At this time, the best way to add PayPal to your shopping cart is 
to copy their code samples for a 'Buy' button and put it on your receipt 
page and receipt email. Then add a PayPal option to ord/checkout.html and 
etc/profiles.order - I would suggest that copying the postal payment option 
and profile, and making a few select changes, as a quick way to do this.

Implemented, this means that the customer can select PayPal as payment 
option and immediately place their order. They then have convenient links 
on the receipt page and in the email to go to the Paypal site (with the 
order number and total due already filled in if you do it correctly) and 
make their payment. Meanwhile, their order goes into the database with a 
status of pending, just like it would with any other delayed payment method.

As I understand it, PayPal's only API for automating payment collection in 
an ecommerce system is IPN: Instant Payment Notification. Unfortunately, 
IPN is what would generally be classified as a relay response system - in 
order for it to work, your customer goes off-site to make their payment, 
and then PayPal's server has to be able to access your customer's 
interchange session to post data (confirmation that payment was made 
successfully), which requires running affected catalogs with WideOpen, 
which is a significant downgrade in catalog security. The programming of 
relay response vs. direct response is also quite a bit more cumbersome (I 
have built one from scratch for another system, and I can tell you it is a 
pain in the butt). And the final killer in my opinion: after all is done, 
the customer STILL has to leave your site and go to PayPal's site, go 
through the login process and their various upsell screens, and make the 
payment! IPN just informs your server that the payment was made, 

If PayPal would adopt a direct-response model for payment integration, 
writing a module for Interchange would be a snap, but they have chosen not 
to do this. Perhaps they feel that most of their customers would not have 
the SSL capability to utilize it securely, or maybe they feel it competes 
with their business offerings somehow.

In any case, PayPal's API needs to evolve to the point where an interchange 
catalog customer can just input their PayPal id and password on the secure 
checkout page, click Place Order, and the deal is done. Until then it will 
be the poor cousin of direct credit card acceptance for online stores.

- Ed L.

New Media E.M.S.              Technology Solutions for Business
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Placerville, CA  95667        edl at newmediaems.com
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