Donation and charging experiences today generally, Plaid, and others

I just sent a donation to Thunderbird and it was interesting to test the experience.

There was an explicit check-box (default checked) to cover the processing fee that Stripe charges. I like that transparency, and I hope more and more that people can see and get angry about how much financial companies take.

They also offered several alternative payment options: Paypal, Google, and “bank transfer”. The latter one seems the best, potentially no fee. However, it turns out that using it goes through Plaid, and the experience there is troublesome-to-awful. It asks to just verify a phone number, then asks you to log in to your bank website and approve of Plaid having complete access to your account including tracking all transactions you do at your bank. There’s no point at which this obscure extra middle-man service is explained or you have an idea who they are or how they work or what their incentives are.

I ended up just sticking to Stripe and paying the fee. Incidentally, I accepted getting the email newsletter but that sent me to a form with a third-party request to Google to make sure I am “human” (can’t have bots getting newsletters I guess?)

My review here is: there’s some significant efforts to make payments more transparent (showing the fees, showing the options). However, the options remain overall lousy. Maybe Plaid is fine enough, but I don’t trust it without government regulation limiting in a fiduciary manner what they can collect and do with personal data.

AFAICT, platforms are switching to Plaid because it can verify instantly that you actually own a given account, otherwise you have to do the micro-deposit thing, which means waiting until the next business day, confirming the transaction, and only then can you use that account.

Anyway, this bit from Plaid’s site may be of interest to you:

By creating a Plaid Portal account, you can see the types of data that Plaid has shared with your connected apps.

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