I am helping a few organisations who have been using PayPal Website Standard for recurring contributions, which results in completely unmanagable payments - there's no API to amend them or even cancel them. You can't even change the URL to which PayPal sends webhook IPNs!

This has made supporter development very difficult: "to upgrade, set up a new regular payment and we'll try to react fast enough to cancel your old one (by logging in manually to PayPal and searching for it) so that you don't end up paying twice."

I've advised not using PayPal, for a raft of reasons. Several of these organisations campaign for the NHS yet still insist on using PayPal to collect money from donors - which presumably has the net effect of getting their supporters to subsidise PayPal's share towards the NHS since it does its best to pay as little UK tax as possible. Baffles me, but PayPal is apparently still a must.

PayPal's offerings differ the world over, and they don't make it super clear what's available in which jurisdiction.

I'm looking for a way to use PayPal that

  • is available to UK customers
  • can be used for one off and recurring
  • allows administering (increase/decrease/cancel) recurring contribs by custom code and ideally by UI too.
  • sets up the payments such that we are able to use PayPal's REST API should we need to - as opposed to having to manage things entirely manually through PayPal's sites.
  • can be driven without CiviCRM's Contribution Pages. i.e. I need to be able to setup the payments from a custom donation form, so I need a clear separation of UI from processor logic since the 'head' may be on a different site to CiviCRM.

I've read that PayPal Checkout is now available via an extension that implements Omnipay, a third party library for talking to payment gateways. Although Custom form/api → Civi → Omnipay extension → Omnipay library → PayPal feels like a long chain!

I'm unclear whether PayPal Checkout or PayPal Express is the more modern/flexible - Omnipay seems to support both, and PayPal's website for each just seems to say "faster, better" on both sites!

  • I moved from PayPal Website Standard to PayPal Checkout using Omnipay. Other than the hassle of requesting PayPal's Reference Transactions option be enabled on my account, it was an easy transition and has been working well for several months. The Reference Transactions option is needed for recurring payments. You have to call their Merchant Services line. – Mark Westergaard Apr 11 at 23:37
  • @MarkWestergaard thanks, great to hear. So fo you believe that Checkout is the newest and most modern thing? – artfulrobot Apr 13 at 6:46
  • I don't know that if it's the most modern, but it has worked well with Ominpay and required very little effort to switch. I have noticed that error recovery seems to be much better. I was regularly seeing "Pending (Incomplete Transaction)" payments that appeared to be the result of users failing in some way to complete the PayPal payment screen. With Omnipay and Checkout, the PayPal modal window can be closed with no issues and the user simply returns to their incomplete contribution page. I haven't had a Pending transaction in months since I switched. – Mark Westergaard Apr 13 at 15:21

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