Experiments >

Identity provider for SaaS

Experiment #2219th June, 2022by Joshua Nussbaum

After trying to build a couple of SaaS projects, one requirement I see repeatedly is gating access based on payment.

I couldn’t find a solution that work for me out of the box. There are lots of options for authentication, and Stripe Checkout or Elements are easy to add. What’s missing is the part that ties the authentication and billing together.

From what I can tell, these are my options:

  • Roll your own: Building a basic version isn’t too too hard (maybe 1-2 weeks?), but they always end up needing the same features. For example: multiple users per account, OAuth, SSO, MFA, blocking account access when payment fails, ability to change prices, to name a few. I’d prefer a shared solution that can be integrated quickly (ideally in less than 10 minutes).
  • Auth0: It handles authentication, but it doesn’t integrate billing. Also, it can get a bit complicated. I want something that is easy, focused on SaaS business specifically and doesn’t need to cover every scenario.
  • Supabase: It’s a neat product, built by a great team. It does the authentication part, but doesn’t gate based on Stripe. Also it’s an integration at the database level, I’d prefer something that is agnostic to the storage medium. Something that would be focused on SaaS specifically (multiple users per account, multiple accounts per user, account closing form, integrated payment on signup, etc).
  • Clerk: Looks interesting, but requires integration of UI components, and only React is supported ATM. Also billing integration isn’t supported.
  • Memberful: Takes 5-10% of your transaction fees. Not JWT based, requires GraphQL API calls to get info about “current user”. Seems to be more focused on WordPress. I want this to be focused on SaaS apps only. So it’s much slimmer.

The idea

An identity provider (IdP) specifically for SaaS apps.

It should:

  • Take less that 10 minutes to integrate.
  • Handle the Stripe integration for checkout and billing portal.
  • Support OAuth, ie Google, GitHub, Twitter etc..
  • Integrate Stripe Checkout on signup.
  • Handle SSO (Single sign on), making enterprise deals possible without extra work.
  • Allow teams, ie. multiple users per account.
  • JWT based. No need to contact IdP to verify access. The JWT should include info about the member’s payment status and plan.
  • Open source. Using a BSL license.
  • Self hostable for free.
  • Paid hosting option - assuming this idea works out and people actually want to pay for it ;) For now it’s just an experiment.


Each app gets its own subdomain, for example if the app was mydomain.tld, id.mydomain.tld would be handled by the IdP:

Then to integrate signup on a site, it would require just one link:

<a href="https://id.mydomain.tld/signup?plan=optional">
  Sign up

This would send the user into the OAuth flow, followed by a Stripe Checkout, and then back to the main site.

On return, a JWT token will be passed as a query param. It will contain the standard JWT stuff, with the audience attribute aud: set to the plan ID.


The first thing I did was read the OAuth 2.0 RFC and implement an OAuth client:

// oauthClient.js
import fetch from 'node-fetch'

// some provider data is copied from github.com/simov/grant
const providers = {
  bogus: {
    authorize_url: "http://localhost:8282/auth/request/path",
    access_url: "http://localhost:8282/access/token/request",

  google: {
    authorize_url: "https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/v2/auth",
    access_url: "https://oauth2.googleapis.com/token"

  github: {
    authorize_url: "https://github.com/login/oauth/authorize",
    access_url: "https://github.com/login/oauth/access_token",

export default class OAuthClient {
  constructor(config) {
    this.config = config
    this.provider = providers[config.provider]

    if (!this.provider) throw new Error(`Unknown OAuth provider ${config.provider}`)

  // generate a url to the OAuth2 provider's intake
  authorizeUrl() {
    const { client_id, domain } = this.config
    const url = new URL(this.provider.authorize_url)
    const params = url.searchParams

    params.set('response_type', 'code')
    params.set('client_id', client_id)
    params.set('redirect_uri', `https://${domain}/integrations/oauth2/callback`)

    return url.toString()

  // once the OAuth provider redirects the user back with a `code` param
  // use this function to get the access token
  async fetchAccessToken(code) {
    const { client_id, client_secret } = this.config

    const response = await fetch(this.provider.access_url, {
      method: 'POST',
      body: new URLSearchParams({
        grant_type: 'authorization_code',

    return {
      success: response.ok,
      payload: await response.json()


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