San Francisco’s Stripe has been increasing its global footprint rapidly, with some calling it ‘the new PayPal.’
Visa has also recently come on board as a strategic partner and investor, bringing the five-year-old payment processing company’s valuation to US$5 billion. While Visa brings its massive scale in all the countries it operates in, it’s looking to Stripe to help improve their mobile product experience.
We caught up with Co-Founder John Collison in Hong Kong and he shared Stripe’s plans for Asia and his company’s product-focused vision. He told e27 that when launching in a new market, Stripe first finds the right partners, does test runs with a few businesses to see how local consumers interact with the product then tailors it accordingly. He cites their European expansion as an example:
“One thing we noticed is when we expanded to Europe is every business there needs to think about multi-currency. They’re selling in euros, pounds and US dollars so they’re juggling all these currencies that US startups aren’t really,” he said. “So we’ll spend a while in private beta in Singapore as it’s only when you have the business up and running that you see what the product experience is really like.”
Now operating in nine countries including Canada, the UK and Australia — Stripe is also collaborating with businesses across Europe in open beta. Although its early days for Asia, Stripe has already launched in private beta for Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong and will be testing and iterating their product over the next little while.
The importance of localisation has not been lost on Stripe and Collison chides US companies with a ‘one size fits all’ mentality.
“I personally feel a lot of American companies are too arrogant when they internationalise — they expect other markets to bend to their will. And you’re not going to succeed that way, the world is not short of examples of companies that have failed like that. If you want to succeed, you have to take the market very, very seriously from a product point of view — and it’s almost like starting again with a beginners mind.”
Forward-thinking Collison sees localisation as a global flattener between businesses in Asia and the US as infrastructure is being laid and improved by payment processing companies such as Stripe. While they’re just focused on affluent Asian markets, as the large majority of their business is in credit cards, Collison’s said his long term product vision is to make Stripe available in the emerging and even frontier markets where the majority of the population is unbanked. That of course, is in the distant future.
“So many people around the world have the ability to communicate with each other, but when it comes to economic interaction — it’s still day one. It’s very hard to move money around online. If you’re operating a business, you should be able to accept money from anyone and anywhere but we can’t do that today. We’re starting to make this better but it’s going to be a very long term project.”
Stripe’s future work is cut out for them with backing from KPCB, Visa, Amex and Sequoia and Collison said all the infrastructure his team lays out now should pay off over the next five to ten years.