Online business payments of a different Stripe now in S'pore

Stripe founder John Collison, seen here with country lead for Singapore Piruze Sabuncu, says the service simplifies payments and fees for businesses online.
Stripe founder John Collison, seen here with country lead for Singapore Piruze Sabuncu, says the service simplifies payments and fees for businesses online.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

A San Francisco-based payments start-up has made its first foray into Asia by expanding into Singapore. Stripe is working with the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises to take businesses online using its simple payments infrastructure.

The announcement, expected today, follows a year of beta-testing here. Stripe does not disclose how many businesses it serves, but counts taxi app Grab, food delivery service Deliveroo and crowdfunding site Kickstarter among its earliest Singapore customers.

Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison started work on Stripe in 2009. It has become one of the most-watched firms in the financial technology space, processing billions of dollars a year for businesses across 25 countries.

Stripe's rapid ascent - it was valued at US$5 billion (S$6.8 billion) after a financing round last year - can seem like a success story out of this world. But 26-year-old John, the firm's president, told The Straits Times on a visit here yesterday: "Part of what normalises it a little bit is the fact that it didn't really happen overnight. We've just been gradually over the past seven years expanding the product offering and making it more useful and getting more users online."

People can generally predict what the firm will do next by looking at what makes life difficult for a new business starting out, he said.

Today, Stripe helps firms accept payments, make currency conversions, manage customer data and safeguard against fraud.

Each transaction processed by Stripe costs a business here 50 cents and a 3.2 per cent fee.

"Before Stripe, there could be 20 different types of fees and businesses couldn't really know upfront what they would pay," said Mr Collison, a gripe he also had when he started another online business in 2007.

He was sure there had to be a better way than for every Internet entrepreneur to struggle through months of paperwork with banks and writing a huge amount of code before launching a business.

Stripe simplifies things because it has established partnerships with banks across the world, allowing it to give software developers tools which they can customise and code it into their own apps.

It employs 550 people worldwide, including four in Singapore. The plan is to add two more members as part of a regional expansion plan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Online business payments of a different Stripe now in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe