Ribbon, A “Bit.ly With Payments,” Brings Simplified Checkout To Any Platform

A new AngelPad-backed payments startup called Ribbon is launching today with a simple concept: Make digital payments easy no matter the platform. To do so, the company has developed a one-page checkout system that lets anyone sell whether on Facebook, Twitter, on the web, email, and in the future, Pinterest, YouTube, and elsewhere.

The company, founded by Hany Rashwan and James Elkins, was inspired by Rashwan’s experience watching a friend try to sell online last year, when Rashwan was still a junior in college. “PayPal has a horrible checkout abandonment rate,” he says. “Up to 95 percent of people leave the PayPal shopping page.” This inspired Rashwan, a programmer since age 12, to start building a solution. He describes that early version of the product as a simpler version of Shopify.

However, after speaking with more users, Rashwan says the company came to realize that what people really wanted was a way to directly monetize their followings on other platforms, like Facebook or Twitter, for example. Today, when someone wants to sell something, they have to redirect traffic to some other place, like PayPal or a marketplace like Etsy, where the percentage taken is seemingly unfair, given that the users themselves were the ones responsible for generating all that traffic. Why couldn’t they just paste in a link instead? With Ribbon, they now can.

To use Ribbon, a seller adds a product — whether digital, physical, or a service — and they’re then given a URL. “Think bit.ly with payments,” says Rashwan. “And that URL is then a one-page checkout. All you need to do to sell across other platforms is copy and paste this URL into your Facebook fan page, your Twitter stream, or your email.”

There are already platforms for social commerce, such as Chirpify, which lets you sell on Instagram and Twitter, or Soldsie, which works via Facebook comments. What makes Ribbon special is that it can auto-detect where the user is coming from and then tailor the resulting experience accordingly. “If you click on it inside Facebook, it will go somewhere different than if you click on it inside Twitter,” Rashwan explains. In the Facebook scenario, for instance, that means users are taken to an app instead of pushed outside of Facebook.

Another major difference between this and others is that Ribbon is not built on top of something like Stripe or PayPal, but is its own payments network. The company has deals with credit card companies to support Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and Discover payments. It also prices the service at 5 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. By contrast, Stripe prices its service at 2.9 percent plus 30 cents, competitor Gumroad is 5 percent plus 25 cents, meanwhile.

Ribbon ran a private alpha for the past month and through word-of-mouth grew its initial install base of 250 to around 3,000 users, indicating early demand for such a service. Today, it’s open to all. Sign up here.