Recurring payments

Recurring payments can be used to charge customers on a regular basis or to offer automatic top-ups with credits-based services. Since the amount for a recurring payment is variable, other innovative use-cases are possible as well. Like doing a partial prepayment and later a final recurring payment, for more expensive products. Or charging a customer in your Dashboard manually, for orders by phone.

Recurring payments happen in the background. The customer goes through the payment steps only once, for the first payment.

Reducing the risk of chargebacks

To reduce the risk of chargebacks, it’s recommended to communicate how often and how much the customer will be charged as clearly as possible. We suggest notifying the customer a couple of days in advance of the next payment, for example by sending them an email.

How to get started

In the following sections we explain the following topics.

For more information on how to test recurring payments, please refer to our guide for testing the Mollie API.

Setting up the first payment

In order to get started with recurring payments you need to require the customer’s consent through a first payment. It’s similar to a regular payment, but the customer is shown information about your organization, and the customer needs to complete the payment with the account or card that will be used for recurring charges in the future. After the first payment is completed successfully, the customer’s account or card will immediately be chargeable on-demand, or periodically through subscriptions.

  1. Create a unique customer using the Customers API.

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    curl -X POST https://api.mollie.com/v2/customers \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM" \
        -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
        -d "{\"name\":\"Customer A\",\"email\":\"customer@example.org\"}"
    
  2. Save the customer’s id in your database. You need it when performing Payments API calls.

  3. Create a payment for the customer by specifying the customerId and setting the sequenceType parameter to first.

    Note

    For credit card and PayPal payments, you can create a payment with a zero amount which means, no money will be debited from the card or account when doing the first payment.

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    curl -X POST https://api.mollie.com/v2/payments \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM" \
        -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
        -d \
        "{
            \"amount\": {\"currency\":\"EUR\", \"value\":\"0.01\"},
            \"customerId\": \"cst_Ok2DlrJe5\",
            \"sequenceType\": \"first\",
            \"description\": \"First payment\",
            \"redirectUrl\": \"https://webshop.example.org/order/12345/\",
            \"webhookUrl\": \"https://webshop.example.org/payments/webhook/\"
        }"
    
  4. Redirect the customer to the _links.checkout.url to complete the first payment. Make sure to use an HTTP GET redirect.

  5. Once completed there will be a customer mandate that you can access via the Mandates API. If the first payment was paid using a creditcard, the resulting mandate method will be creditcard as well. paypal will result in a paypal mandate. All other first payment methods will be a directdebit mandate.

Note

Not all payment methods support a first payment. When the method parameter is not provided in the API, we take care of this automatically in our Checkout. The following payment methods support a first payment and are thus allowed as a value for the method parameter of a first payment: bancontact belfius creditcard eps giropay ideal inghomepay kbc mybank paypal sofort

Note

Created mandates are unique to your account and can not be transferred to other accounts.

Warning

Using recurring payments with PayPal is only possible if PayPal has activated Reference Transactions on your merchant account. Check if your account is eligible via our Methods API. Make sure to set the sequenceType parameter to first. Your account is eligible if you get PayPal as method returned.

Charging immediately on-demand

Now that the customer has given their consent, it’s possible to perform a recurring payment on-demand. Instead of the regular payment with a redirectUrl, a recurring payment happens in the background without a browser session, i.e. without the customer going through payments steps. You can create a recurring payment with the sequenceType set to recurring when creating a payment with the Payments API.

Please note that in order to do recurring payments, SEPA Direct Debit, PayPal or credit card has to be activated on your profile.

  1. Make sure the customer has valid mandates. Find out using the Mandates API.

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    curl -X GET https://api.mollie.com/v2/customers/cst_4qqhO89gsT/mandates \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM"
    
  2. If there’s at least one mandate with a status set to valid then continue.

  3. Set the sequenceType parameter to recurring to charge the customer on-demand.

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    curl -X POST https://api.mollie.com/v2/payments \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM" \
        -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
        -d \
        "{
            \"amount\": {\"currency\": \"EUR\", \"value\": \"10.00\"},
            \"customerId\": \"cst_Ok2DlrJe5\",
            \"sequenceType\": \"recurring\",
            \"description\": \"Background payment\",
            \"webhookUrl\": \"https://webshop.example.org/payments/webhook/\"
        }"
    
  4. Like regular payments your webhook is called for retrieving status updates.

Note

You should include the PayPal fraud library when you use PayPal for on-demand payments.

Charging periodically with subscriptions

For simple regular recurring payments with constant amounts, you can create subscriptions with the Subscriptions API. Subscription payments will be spawned automatically at the specified frequency, and will show up in your Dashboard.

  1. Make sure the customer has a pending or valid mandate using the Mandates API.

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    curl -X GET https://api.mollie.com/v2/customers/cst_4qqhO89gsT/mandates \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM"
    
  2. Continue if there’s a mandate with its status being either pending or valid, otherwise set up a first payment for the customer first.

  3. Create the subscription using the Subscriptions API.

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    curl -X POST https://api.mollie.com/v2/customers/cst_Ok2DlrJe5/subscriptions \
        -H "Authorization: Bearer test_dHar4XY7LxsDOtmnkVtjNVWXLSlXsM" \
        -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
        -d \
        "{
            \"amount\": {\"currency\":\"EUR\", \"value\":\"25.00\"},
            \"times\": 4,
            \"interval\": \"3 months\",
            \"description\": \"Quarterly payment\",
            \"webhookUrl\": \"https://webshop.example.org/subscriptions/webhook/\"
        }"
    
  4. In the above example the customer is charged €25.00 for 4 times every 3 months, starting today.

  5. The webhook URL will be triggered for every payment to communicate any status updates.

Refer to the documentation of the API client you are using for more examples.

How do webhooks for subscriptions work?

When using our Subscriptions API to charge a customer periodically, new payments are created by Mollie every time the customer is charged. We will call your webhook as usual for these payments. The only difference is, the payment ID will not be known by your system yet when we call the webhook to report the payment’s status.

With normal payments you know the payment ID, because you’ve received this when creating the payment. With subscriptions you don’t know the payment ID in advance. So you’ll receive a webhook call with a payment ID that you’ve never seen before.

The payment object will, however, contain a subscriptionId field that contains the subscription ID you received when the subscription was created. This allows you to recognize where the payment belongs to.

We do not provide webhooks specifically for status changes of a Subscription itself.

How to implement the PayPal fraud library?

Note

You don’t have to implement the library for recurring payments.

Using PayPal for on-demand payments requires an extra set of tools. You should integrate the fraud library of PayPal by adding the Javascript library to your checkout page with the necessary configuration included.

You need to load the library from the PayPal domain through a <script>-tag. Before that, you should provide the configuration for the library with a <script>-tag of the type application/json. Both tags should be placed inside the <head> section.

In the configuration block you need to make sure that you include the fncls attribute as follows: fncls="fnparams-dede7cc5-15fd-4c75-a9f4-36c430ee3a99". The library can not find your configuration without that attribute.

The configuration should contain JSON with the following attributes:

s

string
required
Your unique PayPal Website ID. Please contact your PayPal account manager to get this identifier.

f

string
required
A unique session ID for the current payment. It should be different on every page load and can be 32 characters long. This ID should be posted to us when you create the actual payment via the sessionId parameter.

Warning

Make sure that your configuration block is above the library <script>-tag. Otherwise it will not work.

Example

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<head>
  ...
  <script type="application/json" fncls="fnparams-dede7cc5-15fd-4c75-a9f4-36c430ee3a99">
      {
         "f": "Tk149lticPjL40UUj9cb", // A random session ID, max. 32 characters
         "s": "QkEhN94Ba"            // Your PayPal Website ID
      }
  </script>
  <script type="text/javascript" src="https://c.paypal.com/da/r/fb.js"></script>
  ...
</head>