Ribbon, the AngelPad-backed payments startup that introduces a simpler checkout experience when buying from merchants online or via social media, is today rolling out two big new features: support for YouTube payments and a new Twitter “in-stream” payment option that lets you buy without ever clicking away from Twitter.com. The company has also reduced its fees in order to be more competitive with payments competitors like PayPal and Stripe.
You can think of Ribbon as a “bit.ly with payments,” co-founder Hany Rashwan once said when describing the service. That is, Ribbon offers sellers a shortened URL that can then be shared in an email or anywhere on the web, including Twitter, Facebook, or even a seller’s own website or e-commerce shop, for instance. Clicking a Ribbon link takes users to an easy-to-use, one-page checkout. But what makes Ribbon unique is how it’s been working to bring that simplified checkout directly to the supported platforms themselves.
That makes it different from something like Chirpify or Soldsie, where people comment or reply “buy” on social media sites in order to make a purchase. Instead, Ribbon is looking to bring an integrated checkout directly to Facebook and Twitter, and soon others, like Pinterest.
Rashwan says the commenting process used by others is not ideal. “We tried letting people reply ‘buy’ to purchase an item, but the flow was just too long for us. It didn’t make sense for our buyers,” he says. People were clicking the links and heading to the one-page checkout instead of interacting with the tweet, Rashwan explains.
However, the one-page checkout is still an option for those viewing the tweet on platforms that don’t offer true in-stream payments, such as Twitter’s native apps and its mobile website – these currently instruct users to “view on web” pointing them to Ribbon.co to make the purchase.
Today’s launch of Twitter in-stream payments is similar to the support Ribbon added earlier this year for making in-stream purchases directly from the Facebook News Feed. Ribbon uses Twitter Card technology to make the process work. And the process of buying is simple. On the expanded tweet, you just click the “Buy Now” button, enter your email and credit-card info, then click “Pay.” Everything takes place on Twitter.com itself – the idea being that by not redirecting you off-site like PayPal does, merchants can increase their conversion rates.
Meanwhile, YouTube is now supported as well, but Ribbon is not as integrated (yet) as it is on Twitter and Facebook. Via YouTube annotations, a video’s viewers can click a link that pops up over the video, which takes them to a Ribbon one-page checkout. Below is an example of how that looks.
Rashwan says that already Ribbon has over 10,000 merchants who have adopted the payments platform. Some are using Ribbon to sell, others to collect donations – like the American Cancer Society, for example, which used Ribbon’s API to create custom links for participants in its Relay for Life. Other sellers have included LitMotors, which has been using Ribbon to take reservations, jazz musician Eric Harland has been selling tickets, and Grammy-nominated artist Paul Wall has been selling songs.
Now that Ribbon has grown a bit, it’s also reducing its fees. Previously, The company charged 5 percent plus 30 cents per transaction, which was higher than Stripe and PayPal which charge 2.9 percent plus 30 cents, and Gumroad which is 5 percent plus 25 cents.
Payouts are now possible every two weeks instead of monthly, and the goal, of course, is to shorten that time frame even further.
“The reason we didn’t do this at the very beginning is that we wanted to make sure that we built something that people wanted that wasn’t solely based on price,” says Rashwan of the price drop. “We wanted to compete on features first.”
Though having pulled in $1.6 million in seed funding also likely helps with that pricing change, too.
Rashwan declined to share details as to the numbers or size of the transactions on Ribbon’s service today, but hinted at its growth noting that 55 percent of March’s transactions occurred within the last week of that month, and 35 percent took place the week prior. The recent bump in adoption, though, could be attributed to the mid-February press coverage the startup had after closing its seed round – it’s too soon to extrapolate those numbers out to imply longer-term commitments from its early adopters.
But the funding has helped the company grow its team (13 by June), and gives it about a year-and-a-half runway to keep building its customer base. The plan is to grow through strategic partners – like recent addition Wix.com – which will give it access to larger networks and communities more quickly.
Ribbon is currently backed by Tim Draper’s Draper Associates, AngelPad, Siemer Ventures, Emil Michael (Klout COO), Naguib Sawiris, Winston Ibrahim (Hydros), MicroVentures, Gokul Rajaram, Sierra Ventures, and InterWest Partners.