Stripe is an amazing service that lets you accept payments over the Internet. As a developer if you're developing a web app or mobile app you can accept payments in a matter of minutes it’s literally that easy to use.
Unfortunately it’s currently not supported in Israel where I’m located at and it’s only supported in a number of countries (merchant account support, you can pay from any county). So you're stuck with PayPal or some local providers. For me that wasn't going to due. I didn't want to spend any extra time working on payment integration then I needed to. I wanted to focus on my app and at the end of the day Stripe is just a better product.
So I need to figure out a way to use Stripe in Israel, I need to hack a workaround… Stripe requires you to have a US bank account and a US address.
The US address is pretty easy to do you can sign up for a PO Box (there are a number of online services that offer this).
But the US bank account is a bit more complex. At first I looked at getting a US bank account thru one of the local bank providers like Bank Leumi however that wasn't going to work Leumi is looking for big business not app developers or small startups that are just starting out.
Re-Loadable Prepaid Debit Cards
And then hit me I have been using a prepaid debit card thru the Israel post office for some time now, actually I’m already on my second card first one expired a couple of months ago. But my local card just created a virtual bank account that was in Israel. I need a US bank account.
That was an easy fix I just need to sign-up directly on Payoneer and not thru my local post office.
The sign-up process is pretty easy, you just need to fill out a four step form and then validate your identity by sending them a passport or photo ID.
Once you sign-up, there is a waiting period, about a week and then they send you a prepaid card.
Once you get your pre paid card Payoneer also creates a virtual US bank account for you. That’s it you now have an official US bank account.
Now you can update your Stripe info.
Wait What About SSN?
So Stripe does ask you for an social security number, I just put 000–000–000 and it worked. They do limit the time you can transfer payments made to your account from 2 days to 7 days. And I understand they well contact me to validate my identity which can be done via passport or photo ID.
Local tax authority? First you should look into this based on your countries law. In Israel you just have to report your bi monthly sales it doesn't matter how the money is transferred as long as you accounted for. Of course it’s best to double check everything with your accountant or local law. I’m still not sure how this works. Currently I’m not worried about this as I plan to re register Almog Design under a US company.
Refund policy? Might be an issue, I’m not sure how refunds would work with the pre paid card. My current understanding is that this can’t be done once a payment is made VIA strip and is transferred to the back account the card can’t send the money back. However this can be solved by using a regular credit card to make refund payments. IE if you need to issue an refund you would make the payment or transfer the money back to Strip using your local bank account or credit card. Another option is waiting X time before you transfer the money to your local bank account, as long as the money is still in Stripe you can make a refund. You can also keep a certain amount of money in Stripe for refunds. This is my current plan.
Transfer fees? I’m not sure if this is cost effective, I do believe it the same as using PayPal or local providers. But I haven’t fully looked into this. And in my case it doesn't matter I’m not planning to transfer the money back to an Israeli account.
Is this a hack, loophole and will stripe close this down? That is a possibility but I’m not the first person or the only person doing this. It seems that a number of people are doing this for sometime.
To wrap up, let’s go over the steps.
- Sign-up for Stripe.
- Sign-up for a US PO Box.
- Sign-up at Payoneer (use my referral link).
- Validate your identity.
- Update your Stripe account.
- You're done.
I have only tested this out my account on Linkly. I still need to test out the withdrawal process and having real paying customers not using my personal card. But I feel confident that this will work.
Looking for more hacks or need to hire a developer for your project, I love creating applications that are engaging and usable and believe simplicity combined with a custom innovative approach to each project is the key to a successful experience. Check out my portfolio at Almog Development Studio or why you should develop your startup MVP with me.