Sunday 21 January 2018

A bluffer's guide to what STRIPE does

John Collison Co Founder of STRIPE
John Collison Co Founder of STRIPE
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Stripe, founded by Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison in 2010, lets people accept payments from other people online.

It's typically used by retailers who want to let customers pay for things using a credit card. Up to recently, a retailer had to jump through hoops - and face long delays - to gain "merchant account" status from a bank.

But Stripe handles the heavy lifting now, so a business can start taking payments straight away without worrying about things like technical integration or fraud prevention.

Another reason it's doing so well is that its services are easy to set up on ordinary websites created by average web developers. This means that a lot of small retailers can use them if they want.

Stripe has recently started to expand its services by hooking up with Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to start providing in-app purchasing with these social networks.

On Twitter, for example, companies like Adidas and US retailer Best Buy are now selling things within tweets. They do this by sticking a 'buy' button on the tweet. If you're using Twitter in the US, you might soon buy a T-shirt or a pair of runners this way. The idea is that when you're browsing on your phone, you don't have to leave Twitter for a separate website checkout process that takes ages.

This kind of thinking - and follow-through with working solutions - has attracted some of Silicon Valley's investment royalty to Stripe.

It includes people like Peter Thiel and Tesla founder Elon Musk, as well as credit card giant Visa. In the last two years, Stripe has raised almost $200m in funding, giving it a paper valuation of $5bn. This makes it one of Silicon Valley's 'unicorns', a limited collection of elite startups that have achieved a nominal worth of over $1bn.

Patrick and John Collison attended school in Limerick's Castletroy College. Patrick (27), a previous winner of the Young Scientist competition, went to study in Boston's MIT while John (25) went to Harvard next door. They both dropped out, ultimately to create and build Stripe in San Francisco.

Stripe has offices in several countries, including in Ireland.

Stripe's main rival is Paypal, which recently strengthened its arsenal by acquiring another heavyweight payments rival called Braintree.

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