Founded in 2010 by Patrick and John Collison, Stripe went head to head with web payment giant Paypal. Their niche was to offer an achingly simple e-commerce payment system that could be integrated into a website with little more than a few lines of code.
Today, e-commerce is a $2 trillion global industry, and over the next three years, this is expected to double to $4 trillion as more and more people shop online, and, in particular, on their phone. Despite predictions of exponential growth, the internet is still rife with structural deficiencies relating to e-commerce that need addressing. These stem from the fact that the web wasn’t developed with commerce at its heart, and it’s still an area which is, architecturally speaking, far from uniform. A myriad of issues including varying payment methods, languages, international tax laws and check-out flows are still somewhat of a minefield and likely why no one, as yet, has been able to wrap them up into a neat little package for business owners and users alike.
E-commerce has another inherent problem relating to scalability. Small businesses wishing to expand can be held back by an inability to adequately upscale their e-commerce solutions to cope with higher demand and increased transaction complexity. As e-commerce continues to grow, so does the intricacy of online business models. This is not great news for in-house developers with already limited time for resource application, a problem known as “technical debt.”
Stripe, unlike many of their competitors, recognised this. Chief Business Officer Billy Alvarado said: “Stripe’s mission is to fix this incomplete part of the internet’s tooling, to build the economic infrastructure for the internet. We’re building the tools, APIs, and the platform to help businesses accept payments, and for new kinds of companies to build previously impossible products and services at internet scale — the kinds of things that you couldn’t do 10 years ago.”
An “economic infrastructure for the internet is the key phrase here.” In 2017, Stripe were by far the firm who took the greatest step towards making this a reality for the little guy.
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