MoonClerk Takes on PayPal and Recurly With Recurring Payments Platform

Greenville, SC-based startup MoonClerk is looking to take on PayPal with its recurring payments platform, which is launching soon in private beta. Built on payments provider Stripe’s API, the company wants to provide a payments solution for non-developers, so anyone can set up one-time or recurring payments.

The self-funded company, which is part of the Iron Yard startup accelerator in South Carolina, was started by former Bellstrike and Loft Resumes founder Dodd Caldwell. He said that unlike subscription payments providers like Recurly that focus primarily on developers, MoonClerk is targeting non-technical users.

“There are definitely some players in the space, Chargify, Recurly, but those are really geared towards the developers entirely,” he said. “We’re actually recurring payments for non-technical people, so that anybody can go and start accepting these payments.” He said one of the only options for people who want to accept recurring payments is PayPal, and “there’s a lot of reasons why PayPal may not be the best option.”

Accounts start at $9 per month, plus a 2.9 percent plus $.30 transaction fee (the same as PayPal), with no setup fees. Because MoonClerk is built on Stripe’s API, all transaction fees go directly to them, and MoonClerk then charges monthly tiered pricing, so if a customer processes under $1,000 per month they pay a $9 monthly fee, with fees scaling from there. In comparison, Recurly charges a 1.25 percent plus $.10 transaction fee, with a $69 monthly fee, and Chargify’s starter account is $65 per month, plus payment gateway fees. Stripe also offers recurring payments, but Caldwell says Moonclerk’s focus on non-developers is what sets them apart.

“Basically you can get started accepting recurring payments for $9, whereas Recurly is $69, plus 1.25 percent of transactions, plus your merchant account, plus your gateway, plus you have to get your SSL certificate, plus you have to pay a developer to go implement all of this stuff,” he said.

MoonClerk’s target audience is service providers, including property managers and personal trainers, and merchants who sell physical products (Caldwell gave the example of a wine store that wants to start a wine of the month club). They also focus on digital products, for example musicians who want to sell a subscription to monthly songs, as well as non-profits and churches who want to accept regular donations.

Caldwell said one of the main value propositions of MoonClerk vs. other payments solutions is the setup, which they’ve tried to keep as simple as possible. Merchants don’t have to have a merchant account, and MoonClerk takes care of security issues like getting SSL certificates, and they’ve tried to make it so that people can start accepting recurring payments in a few minutes. For merchants who are setting up an account, they can decide whether to accept one-time or recurring payments, set the frequency for recurring payments (monthly, quarterly, etc), set the duration (for six months, a year, etc), and set a date for the charges to go through.

It also allows customers to send out automatic receipts, which they can customize with their branding and messaging, and to automatically send out reminders to customers who have an about-to-expire credit card, or whose method of payment is declined. MoonClerk users can embed the checkout on their site, or redirect people to a Moonclerk page with their branding (they can customize the background, font, and other design features).

There are certainly advantages to other recurring payment solutions, for example PayPal’s ability to accept payments from global customers, and Recurly’s integration with over 12 payment gateways, with the ability to add several gateways to one merchant account. Recurly also has advanced features like trial periods, setup fees, coupons and discounts, and Mailchimp integration.

Caldwell said that despite the strong competition, he thinks there’s room for more than one player in the recurring payments space. “I don’t think the payments space is a zero-sum game,” he said. “You can do really well at number seven, or whatever number you are in the marketplace, there’s just enough room for a niche.”

Because it’s built on Stripe’s API, MoonClerk could have an easier time convincing users it can be trusted to handle their payments (although Recurly’s recent outage shows that even established companies can have technical debacles). The company will be launching in private beta in the next few weeks, and plans to launch later this fall after testing with initial customers. After launch, it will need to convince merchants that it’s a better alternative to well-known solutions like PayPal in order to carve out a space in the mobile payments industry.


Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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