Recurly exhibited at the Game Developer Conference this year in San Francisco. It was a new experience for us, but we were definitely energized by the game developer community and learned quite a bit about the unique billing challenges faced by game development studios.
We were repeatedly asked about Recurly's ability to support the following billing use cases:
Micro-transactions (typically for in-game purchases)
Stored Credit (Also known as the 'Skype Model')
Batched transactions (Also known as the 'Apple iTunes Model')
The Answer? Why YES WE DO!
1) Micro-transaction processing via Recurly
There is no question that micro-transactions are difficult. Recurly helps merchants handle micro-transactions by taking advantage of our 'Intelligent Payment Routing' feature. This allows our customers to specify a threshold for the size of the transaction in order to route payments to the optimal processing partner. PayPal offers special rates for micro-transactions, so some Recurly customers instruct Recurly to route transactions to PayPal when the transaction meets the 'Intelligent Payment Routing' criteria.
2) Stored Credits
Why yes, we can do that! Recurly gives merchants the ability to charge an up-front fee, charge the customer's card and apply a credit to the customer's account. Every time the customer 'consumes' incremental value, the merchant simply posts a charge to the customer's account in Recurly, and we will debit the customer's account so that the new balance is reflected. Recurly confirms every charge submitted with a push notification back to the merchant. The benefit of this use-case is that the merchant doesn't incur transaction processing fees for every single micro-charge posted to the account.
3) Batched Transactions
Many merchants who wish to emulate the Apple iTunes method of batching transactions use Zero Dollar Subscription Plans in Recurly. The way this works is the following: When a merchant sets up a $0 Subscription Plan in Recurly, the plan establishes a billing interval only (think - daily, weekly, monthly etc) . This allows a merchant to post charges to a customer's account in Recurly, and when the billing interval comes up, Recurly will look to see if there are any charges 'sitting' on the customer's account. If there are charges waiting, Recurly sums up the line items on the invoice and posts the batched charge to the payment gateway. If no charges exist, nothing happens. The benefit of this method is that merchants have the pricing latitude to offer small ticket purchases without suffering from brutal marginal economics on each micro-transactions.
Each of these use cases require the ability to work with the Recurly API, and a bit of technical skill on the merchant side. We're psyched to see a few notable game development studios building out their billing operations using Recurly now.
Now that you know a bit more about how our system works, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Contact 'sales 'at' recurly.com'
We're always happy to help get you oriented with our capabilities.