After Much Effort, New Naked Capitalism Payment Option: Clover, in Addition to PayPal

We hope you are as excited as we are that we finally have a new payment processor, Clover, in addition to PayPal. But the fraught process of getting to where we are now, and to our great disappointment and frustration, not being ready at fundraiser launch, despite starting a couple of months ago, is why you are getting a shaggy dog story rather than the hoped for triumphalism.

As you will see at the Tip Jar page, the Clover part of the interface is a rough, and will be made more user friendly hopefully pretty soon. Please give feedback in commments, and we – by “we,” I mean Dave – will make such improvements as we can.

If you have low tolerance for complexity, use PayPal (for instance, the Clover part does not give error messages at the end of the input process like most payment systems do; it balks at a incorrect entry, like a card expiration date before today, and won’t let you move to the next one until you’ve fixed it). We want readers to be happy while donating! Oh, and while you are at it, please remember to be generous, not just on your behalf, but also for readers who have tight budgets and can’t give as much as they’d like right now.

The search for a new payment processor has led us to understand why so many small merchants wind up with PayPal despite its high fees and propensity to deplatform publishers who engage in too much wrongthink.

Our banking industry/bank network expert Clive warned us some time ago that independent payments processors tended to crapify over time:

It’s an awful market. The fundamentals are bad – what’s essentially a low-margin commodity service that’s now in a slow-growth trend that’s beset by too many have-a-go new entrants trying to grab some of PayPal’s (plus maybe the Apple/Google Pay other big kids in town) glory but without having an unique proposition (better tech, more scale, cross-selling opportunities, some sort of lower cost base…) that would help them unseat the incumbents.

So what you’re ending up with is a situation whereby everyone competing in this segment ends up like fresh fish. Even if they start off nice (fair fees, good user support, some passable attempt at ethical business practices) it’s going to go bad, eventually. Plus the usual information asymmetry a.k.a. A Market for Lemons – they might start off with a well-deserved good reputation and a not-too-gouging rate card, but when (and it is a when, not an if) the rot sets in you’re kind-a stuck with your sunk cost of setting up to use them plus the slippery-slope into crapified service or gotcha fees isn’t always immediately apparent.

Best thing to do then is to act like you’re trying to pick out the best crack dealer in the neighbourhood. Eventually, like night follows day, they’ll start adulterating the merchandise and giving you the run-around. But if you can get to them in that sweet spot where they’re still making some sort of attempt at professionalism, you might get 5, hopefully a little longer, years of not-awfulness.

Clive had said back then that a traditional merchant processor would probably be the best of bad options, since the fees would be competitive and they would not be subject to crapification via acquisition. But at that time, their monthly minimums were too high to work for us.1 Apparently due to entry of small fry, they’ve loosened up their structures and Clover had a good one.

But old-fashioned merchant processors are not big on providing easy spiffy customer interfaces. We found the WordPress plugin for Clover to have affirmatively bad features for a donation, as opposed to a product, site. So Dave has had to do a lot of unexpected extras, and heroically worked over Labor Day weekend to deliver this new option to you. So please no whinging about Clover not yet being pretty and easy. (We said feedback, not whinging!)

We are pleased to have finally taken this big step, and hope you are pleased too, even if the look and feel is not yet ideal. An additional payment option beyond PayPal and good old-fashioned checks has been on our plate for a long time, and we can now move forward with a new solution.


1 We had a long discussion with Clive two year ago about a promising candidate that our tech guru Dave spend a lot of cycles examining, but that one proved to be extremely intrusive in the customer qualification process, way beyond normal US KYC standards. We looked at other options that are popular here, like Stripe, and they similarly had off-putting requirements, not for the user, but the merchant.

One example was insisting on 2FA, which is actually a poor approach to security, and allowing for only SMS verification. Without oversharing, our decision to nix anyone who allows only for SMS has been validated. That was not the only problem with Stripe but that alone was a deal killer.

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  1. cgregory

    Clover processed my donation and informed me it registered me as donating $0. You might want to check it out.

  2. The Heretic

    Hello, I’m from a Canada. I clicked on your PayPal option, but then it would send me to a webpage that says does not exist. Please check it out.

    I sent some money on Clover instead.

    Thank you, Yves for all the work, analysis and insights that you and your team have provided me over the years. The most important thing you taught me so far, the TINA of the Neo-liberals and Neo-cons is a pile of cow manure. Plus, I really enjoy the links to the articles on politics, sociology and philosophy and science from publications that I would have never thought to even find.

    Again, Thank you

    1. Acacia

      I’m here to report the same problem.

      Looked at the XHTML on the tip jar page vs. same in this page a few months ago at archive DOT org and it appears all the hidden input fields that get sent to PayPal have been lost. These were in the form element whose ID is “doneateplusform”.

      Ergo, PP cannot figure out to whom the payment should be directed, and throws a 404.

      I’m not prepared to sign up for yet another payment processor now, so I’ll wait until this form is fixed, thanks.

    1. Acacia

      Looks like the field will accept more than five digits, as well as letters (i.e., for U.K. post codes). Spaces OK but hyphens get purged by JavaScript.

      Agree that the title “ZIP” makes me balk, as there are so many USian corps whose apps still can’t handle more than the old USPS ZIP code, and this is a dealbreaker for anybody not in CONUS.

      Maybe rename the input field to something “Postal Code (ZIP)”?

      1. lambert strether

        > rename the input field

        There’s a lot of UI/UX work that we haven’t figured out how to do yet. This was not an easy project.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I forgot to mention that it the post. It should work all over the world. Dave e-mailed Clover and has yet to get their input as to how to edit that label.

  3. flora

    Very good. Having more than one banking option or more than one online donation option is very good. Thank you.

  4. El Slobbo

    Clover worked from my corner of Asia, where PayPal rejects “donations”, but strangely enough accepts subscriptions.
    Clover was in fact very smooth nicer than PayPal.
    One more suggestion for us nervous people overseas, can you specify that the amount is in US dollars in the UI?

    1. lambert strether

      I’m glad Clover works in Asia, that was an important use case for us. I believe both aspects of PayPal are working now. Hopefully some kind reader can give it a shot; I did not actually complete the transaction.

      Adding, actually getting the UI to do anything has been a challenge for us; I’m assuming we can smooth away the rough edges over time.

  5. Frank

    This is great, thanks for providing an alternative to the dreaded PayPal. I was facing a conundrum as I wanted to donate, but am living abroad so can’t do a check, and I hate PayPal almost as much as Victoria Nuland. Well, okay, not even close to as much, but you get get the idea.

    Thanks for all you do, this site is fantastic!

    1. Piotr Berman

      “…almost as much as Victoria Nuland.” So Victoria also hates PayPal?! Oh well, English grammar is ambiguous at times.

      1. Frank

        This is some kind of karmic retribution for when I correct Russians on their Russian grammar even though English is my native language.

  6. JW

    I’m from the UK and will make a donation when I get back from holiday – I try not to use PayPal and will try ‘Clunky’ Clover but I wanted to say this. I’ve never been to the US. I have always hated the country and (this is pure prejudice) most of its citizens. Its culture is an abomination. Vietnam made me hate it. And Iraq, and Libya and Afghanistan. And most of Hollywood.
    Naked Capitalism (and a few others like the Gray Zone) has rescued the country for me. The debacle of Ukraine has castrated the Left and fractured lifetime friendships. In the UK there is wall to wall support for a war that the msm insists is justified and that ‘we’ are winning. Naked Capitalism sees it for what it is.
    That takes conviction and intelligence as well as courage.I don’t intend EVER to visit the USA. I’m too old. But I am now less of a political snob – thanks to those in the US who see what the Ukraine war is REALLY about.
    Ukraine is a catalyst for seismic changes that are imminent. It has revealed and brought together a massive iceberg of political awareness across the world that will eventually penetrate even thick Anglo-Saxon skulls. These networks need to be kept and used to tackle the huge climate crisis that threatens to tear everything apart.

  7. marcel

    Just donated via Clover (I am in France), which only asks for my money and not my private life.

    I don’t know whether the payment got through (I got a message that payment was approved) but there was no authentification, neither 2FA nor SMS.

    I don’t know whether the US or the French market is particular, but almost all French banks offer a payment processor interface (with documented APIs and coding examples in many styles and pre-fit for things like WordPress). It took me a few days to complete the work on my end, and never had much hassle since (>3 years).

    1. GramSci

      … adding … this was not necessarily the fault of Clover or the NC form; Here, in Outer Pentagonia, Cloudflare has been acting up for me all morning on other NC pages.

  8. Es s Cetera

    I’m glad you implemented this alternative. I absolutely detest Paypal, try not to use them on principle, have seen Paypal sink many an initiative, taking the donations, and was worried this was to be the fate of NC. Plus, I know I’m not the only one allergic to it, so I hope this move sees an increase in donations.

  9. Don

    Sorry, but cannot make a donation on Clover either. Don’t know if this is the reason (Clover, unlike PayPal, offered no explanation for the “error” — their form does however ask for a “Zip” code, which is not used in Canada, and is differently formatted), but I use a Canadian credit card, and am living in Mexico (where the credit card normally works without problems). It’s not a big deal — I will donate when next back in Canada — just want to let you know about the issues.

  10. FredW

    Two of my payment methods, credit card and paypal, are for money I share with my wife for our common interests, and I don’t want to use one of them for my own donations. On the other hand, I have bitcoin and monero that are exclusively my own, my wife having a negative interest in anything like that. I would be glad to donate to NC if you would only provide a bitcoin, bitcoin lightning, or monero address. Besides being the only methods I care to use, any of these, especially bitcoin lightning, are very cheap to use (zero cost to the receiver), very fast, and very easy to use.

    In my experience with commenting on NC, any positive reference to bitcoin is anathema here, so I expect this comment will not see the light of day. But I remain a cock-eyed optimist.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I appreciate your desire to support our work.

      Please note that we have other methods for you to make a payment, such as debit card and check. I would imagine you have ways to spend money that outside your common interests accounts with your wife, such as for getting your hair cut and going out with the boyz. I must note there are not many barbers or bars that accept crypto. So it’s hard to take your professed reason for not using well-established payment methods as a bona fide obstacle.

      Regarding cypto, we are not willing to enable a criminogenic environment. One of my colleagues reports that the scams in decentralized crypto make SBF look virtuous.

      In addition, you ignore the considerable time cost to me in getting set up to accept crypto, which it makes no business sense for me to incur.

      Technology expert Michael Schrage wrote an article many years back about how most businesses need to fire 10%-15% of their customers, that the customers want the provider to offers services or otherwise operate in a way that is out of line with their business model. They are better off finding new customers than twisting themselves into a pretzel to cater to a difficult minority.

      With respect to payments, you have self-identified as being in that 10% to 15%.

  11. FredW

    No, no — I’m not in that 10% to 15%! I’ll negotiate with my wife and send a PayPal donation, and thank you a million times for the wonderful work you all do.

    But as far as scams go, I think you may be confusing bitcoin itself with various scams that make use of some form of crypto coins. You could say the same about dollar bills, for example. And as far as difficulty in setting up to receive payments, anyone with a bitcoin wallet can post a receiving address with no special effort. Sort of like posting an email address. The only problem that I could see with your accepting bitcoin payments is that you might not like the semi-anonymous character of such in that you feel it could be compromising — in the same way that you might not want to accept a $100 bill in the mail.

    And you are correct: my “professed reason” is not my only one. I feel you give bitcoin a bad rap and would like to see you loosen up a bit on the subject. And thanks for letting my post stand. I’ll understand if you don’t want to post this one, because I understand it’s a bit off the subject of the thread.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thank you for your courteous reply and willingness to donate.

      I am sorry to be late to respond but we still have a difference of views regarding bitcoin.

      First, it has been used often for ransomware, confirming one of our original critiques of crypto and our shock that the authorities and regulators did not understand this issue, that a major use case is crime and a secondary one is tax evasion, which is also a crime.

      Second, bitcoin consumes unjustifiably large amounts of energy. It is directly playing a role in our climate change problem.

      Third, I would have to become involved in the crypto business system, to get a wallet and to exchange bitcoin into something I could use. Again, I do not want to go there due to time cost and philosophical reasons.

    1. The Rev Kev

      PayPal is getting to be more of a pain. You go to use the Tip Jar and when you opt to go with PayPal, it drops you off at their log-in page. When logging in they ask you if you want a verification code sent to your mobile or just use you password. When you opt for using your password, they say that they cannot go any further on the next page without a verification code sent to your mobile. Otherwise no payment can be made. So what is the point of asking about a password?

  12. CM

    I should have said that my favorite method of low-friction remote payment, other than magical fiat pixie paper itself, is to be surreptitiously photographed at the local business counter of USPS. Wherein I pay about a dollar to convert my magical fiat pixie paper into a different kind of dead tree that also can be mailed. I am hoping that I warm up to Trovata. If you can use it from a flip-phone with a slip of yellow legal pad stuck between the battery and the gold-plated spring contacts, I will like it better.

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