SAN FRANCISCO | Online payment startup Stripe is expanding to Canada after debuting in the US last year as a simple tool for developers who want to take payments. The expansion is the first step in a plan to go global and enable payments anywhere on the Internet.
Stripe has been a revelation for thousands of developers in its first year because of the way it allows them to accept online payments by tapping a simple API. But Stripe’s benefits have been limited to the US — until now.
Stripe is answering its most frequently asked question — when will you expand beyond the US — with the launch of service in Canada Wednesday. The move follows a limited beta in Canada in the summer with companies including Tarsnap, MetaLab, and Shopify. Now developers north of the border will be able to take advantage of Stripe’s flat pricing, instant setup and the ability to accept all major credit cards.
Expanding to Canada may not sound that challenging but it’s a big step for Stripe. Patrick Collison, Stripe’s co-founder said Canada presented unique problems because it’s controlled by legacy payment processors and also lacks needed infrastructure and facilities. The company had to work with American Express and Wells Fargo, who built custom software to enable the Stripe system to work.
Previously, the process of setting up online payments in Canada was often frustrating for businesses, who had to work mightily to get set up by banks. It could often take months to get approved for a merchant account.
Tobias Lütke, founder of Shopify, said it took months of pleading and thousands of dollars for unnecessary security audits to convince the banks to let it accept payments. And even though it has integrated with 100 different payment systems, he said none of those implementations was as easy as Stripe.
Collison said moving into Canada has meant Stripe has had to start handling new currencies besides the American dollar. And it’s also learning different ways to acquire information from international businesses. That investment though will pay off as Stripe moves into new markets around the world. Ultimately, Stripe’s goal is bring payments to anywhere on the Internet, Collison said.
“A lot of the work we did to support more than one country will make it easier to move to other countries,” said Collison. “We’ve put a foundation in place to make this a global payment infrastructure.”
Stripe’s international growth can be good for a seller in Kenya who can’t process payments in Europe or the US. But it’s also helpful for many American startups who struggle with global expansion because setting up payments in each country requires a lot of expertise. If Stripe can expand to a lot of international markets, it can enable a lot more online commerce. It’s going to take some time, but with Canada under Stripe’s belt, we might see more countries on board soon.