An indie magazine publication by Subsail

Over the weekend I launched a big internal update to Subsail's payment and renewal system that sees it now comply with a new EU requirement for online payments.

To quote Stripe, Subsail's payment processor,

“Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a new European regulatory requirement to reduce fraud and make online payments more secure.”

Luckily, Stripe makes handling this change very easy by providing a set of new APIs, though it has meant a major rewrite of how Subsail takes initial payments and processes renewal payments.

Alongside these changes, I have also updated Subsail's checkout layout and moved some elements around.

New payment flows

The SCA requirements mean that more of your customers will be asked to confirm payments at checkout. To enable this, Stripe shows a new popup to users after they click "Subscribe", in which they will go through the 3D Secure process.  (See an example)

Once completed, the payment is taken and the subscription created in Subsail just as normal. Note that these confirmations will only be shown to a small proportion of your customers, especially if most of your customer base is outside the EU.

There is nothing else new in the payment flow, and most payments will just complete as they always have.

Renewal confirmations and new email template

Perhaps the biggest change is how renewal payments work. When Subsail takes an initial subscription payment, it tells Stripe to mark it so that future payments can be taken from the card without your customer being present (these are called "off-session" payments).

Most of the time, your renewal payments will go through without incident, however, in some circumstances your customer will need to complete 3D Secure on their renewal payment. In this case, Subsail will send out a new type of email to the customer asking them to confirm the payment. (Once confirmed, the renewal will be completed and the subscription updated.)

For this flow, you will now find a new (editable) email template called "Recurring charge failure (confirmation needed)" in your Automated email page in Subsail. With this email, the customer receives a link to log in to their customer account (password free), to confirm the payment. All they need to do is click a single "Pay" button and complete the 3D Secure verification.

Updates to the checkout page

The main design change to checkout is bringing the discount code field further up the checkout page; it's now grouped with your subscription products.

This makes is quicker for customers to see their discount, especially when they arrive to your checkout via a code's short link.

The block of text that publishers can add to their checkout—useful for explaining how subscriptions work or to describe the different options available—has been moved to the page header, also making it more accessible by taking it out of the checkout form. It can be opened and closed with a single click.

You'll also notice that the payment card fields are more concise (a single input field) and more responsive to user input.

The final update is that discount information and gifter details are now also included in the order summary box when using the "paged" checkout layout (see above).

As always, if you have questions about these changes, please email me at or use the in-app chat.