Not money-laundering, I swear!
July 16, 2008 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Seeking e-commerce partner that supports funds disbursements (and Ruby on Rails).

I'm building a (Rails-based) website for intramural sports teams, and I want to offer teams the ability to collect credit card payments from members for things like jerseys and parties. Essentially, each team would have its own merchant account; but all transactions for all teams would go through our website front-end. Another option would be to have a single merchant account for our organization, then we'd disburse funds to each team on a regular basis; but this option seems messier and more suspicious.

We'd like to use Shopify's well-tested ActiveMerchant library for RoR, and it has a long list of supported payment gateways. So far, I've spoken to and they said they couldn't support the disbursement side; so before going down the list and calling each of the gateways, I thought I'd check here! Any suggestions?
posted by danblaker to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is a really cool idea. I think the big question would be cost of transactions and whether you could get a lower rate if all of the teams were each given a code to signify transactions under one merchant account. You could then cut a check to each team at an agreed disbursement bar from one checking account without dealing with a number of oracles to get to funding.
posted by parmanparman at 12:08 PM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: Clarification: I just spoke to very helpful Braintree rep. She confirmed that I'd need to set up a "multi-merchant" account, where each team would sign up for a merchant account under our umbrella and pay fees directly to Braintree. (She also confirmed that the arbitrary disbursement model is frowned upon by credit card companies.)

Alas, Braintree has a $100k/month minimum for credit card processing per merchant; and even though our site would clear that barrier, the individual teams would not.

What other payment partners support the multi-merchant approach?
posted by danblaker at 12:11 PM on July 16, 2008

Have each team set up a Paypal account and make it easy for them to add a widget to their team page. Then you won't have to deal with the money side at all, at least as far as team assets go.
posted by rhizome at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: Then you won't have to deal with the money side at all, at least as far as team assets go.

Indeed; but the reason we didn't go with PayPal immediately is that we were hoping to automatically skim a small percent of each transaction rather than have to bill each team periodically (or "request a payment" via PayPal). We'd rather spend our time on improving the site than tracking down deadbeat team managers.
posted by danblaker at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: Why don't you use PayPal through the Website Payments Pro. You take the payment, do your skim and then push into their account.
posted by petethered at 1:53 PM on July 16, 2008

Response by poster: Turns out PayPal Pro will be our best option, at least for now. The API is simple enough that we can implement it quickly, and it will meet most of our needs. If we end up needing more, it'll be easy to reuse our custom transaction-tracking code. Sometimes the obvious answer is the best one!
posted by danblaker at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2008

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