May 5, 2019

Use Stripe to charge users for your mobile apps?


I have a web app that I provide for free at the moment for my users. I'm building compatible iOS/Android apps, and I'm going to charge $5/month for either.

My question is how should I charge my users? I can charge them through the built-in subscription models in the iTunes/Google App store, but both take a heavy 30% cut from income...

Instead, I can just charge them through Stripe on my web app and then once they authenticate in the mobile apps, figure out that they've already paid.

From your experience, is this even allowed or possible? Would Apple or Google flag me for doing this, or ban my account? The "goods" of my service are purely digital (notifications for an eCommerce store).

Thanks in advance :)

  1. 2

    I would not recommend it for products that are not established by themselves as users are more likely to pay via the app store than pay an untrusted brand directly. That being said, once you establish a name for yourself, we have had success by having users pay for the web app that includes access to the mobile app. It has not prevented app store approval as long as we never mention anything like "subscription" or "trial" in the app itself.

    1. 1

      Yes, that's what I thought I should do - just let my customers login and not mention anything like "subscription" or "trial", just give them access to the features they deserve when they authenticate (based on whether they signed up for "premium" service through my website).
      Also - wouldn't they trust me if I offered payment via Stripe? They should know that in the worst case if I happen to be a fraud, they can open a dispute against me. That's at least my impression from the service (and as a heavy PayPal user). Isn't that so?

  2. 1

    Regarding iOS it's simply impossible, you will not pass the review. You can read the App Store Review Guidelines regarding payments here:

    The only good news is, after the first year of subscription you will get 85% of the revenue rather than 70%. You can read more here:

    Good luck 👍

  3. 1

    Apple polices this pretty closely, and doesn't even allow exceptions for other large companies (e.g., Amazon not selling e-books on the Kindle app on the iOS platform.) I've heard it's more viable on Android, though.

    The 30% take of the platform owners may make up for the friction that they remove from the process, though. In other words, if more than 30% of potential buyers bail from your funnel because entering CC details on a mobile device is a hassle, then it's worth it. That's likely why Netflix put up with the 30% take on iOS until 2018.

    1. 1

      Interesting, even though with Stripe + autocomplete on Chrome I don't think this would be an issue, would it? Maybe we can spare the split-testing this way.

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