Online payment and business tools provider Stripe has been used by companies in Singapore for the past year or so in beta – that is, in public testing by local firms.
Today, the US company announced its official launch in the Lion City, its first market in Asia. Public beta tests are currently running in Hong Kong and Japan.
Stripe co-founder and president John Collison tells Tech in Asia that this type of launch, after the company has been at work in a market for a while, is par for the course.
“First we get the product up and running on a technical level,” John says. The first transaction made in a new market always calls for a celebration, he laughs. “As soon as we are confident we can run a business on that infrastructure, we start a private beta. We slowly get a few users on and take care of bugs and unexpected difficulties with financial partners, and so on.”
Then the company validates its new market with a public beta. “That’s where we check we have a product that people actually want,” John says. That’s also the time when Stripe puts boots on the ground. Its Singapore team is currently four people, and it’s looking to add a technical support person and a sales and operations person next.
“When we’re at the point where we’re feeling good about the product, that’s when we actually launch,” John adds.
During its beta period, Stripe signed up several local startups like transportation company Grab, food ordering platform Oddle, and property finder 99.co. John declines to reveal how many clients Stripe has on board here.
Southeast Asia lead Piruze Sabuncu says that two thirds of Singaporean startups backed by “tier 1 VCs” use the service. Stripe counts East Ventures, JFDI, 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, Jungle Ventures, Sequoia, and Quest in that list.
I fully expect us to be opening Stripe to new regions for five years hence.
Piruze points out that Stripe chose a very opportune moment to test and launch in Singapore, as both Android Pay and Apple Pay recently arrived in the country as well as Stripe client Kickstarter. “It gave us very good momentum,” she adds.
While Stripe has been hotly anticipated in Singapore, it’s not the only game in town when it comes to business solutions providers here. PayPal-owned Braintree has been operating in the country since March 2015, while Adyen just opened its Singapore office.
John feels Stripe’s edge against competitors lies in the system’s ease of setup and use, as well as the suite of different software tools and services the company offers its clients. “We never really look to be the first in markets,” he muses. When Stripe launched in 2010, the space was already considered crowded. However, John feels that existing products weren’t taking into account the needs of businesses building apps and websites.
Stripe will continue looking for new markets to grow into, both in Asia and elsewhere. “I fully expect us to be opening Stripe to new regions for five years hence,” John says.
China is not part of the company’s short-term strategy beyond enabling its current clients to serve customers there. “I think us serving businesses in China is a longer-term discussion,” he adds.