There are giants in the land—with names like Google and PayPal. The Collison brothers have the bold idea to slay those giants (or at least whittle them down to size). Surprisingly, some of the giants are cheering them on.
To beat the competition, the Collisons plan to add value to the 2.9 percent fee by bundling new tools into the core product. Included among Stripe services are the ability to support Apple Pay, sell products directly from tweets, and accept 135+ currencies.
In 2010, brothers John and Patrick Collison co-founded Stripe to solve a problem they encountered when trying to sell their apps for internet and mobile phone—the complexity of the existing payment processes. In an interview with Fast Company, Patrick put it this way, “Google Checkout and PayPal are these confusing things, and we wondered why they hadn’t solved these issues. What’s wrong with them?”
Recognizing that payment technology hadn’t kept up with the ever-increasing demand for online transactions, Moritz and Paypal co-founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, rather than battling the upstarts, jumped in to invest in the company.
Since founding Stripe, the brothers have developed a more ambitious vision—to unseat Paypal to become the go-to vehicle for online payments.
Some people might think the Collison brothers are delusional, but one look at their background should change their minds.
John and his brother Patrick were born in Limerick Ireland to parents with scientific backgrounds. Their father Denis was an electrical engineer and their mother Lily s a microbiologist. While the boys were still young, the parents left their technical backgrounds behind to explore the business world. Denis ran a lakeside 24-bedroom hotel, and Lily launched a corporate training company.
This combination of science and entrepreneurialism wasn’t lost on the brothers, who began computer coding in the 1990s. Keep in mind, Patrick was born in 1988 and John was born in 1990. As computers and coding advanced so did the Collison brothers’ skills and business interests. While still in their teens in 2007, the brothers started Auctomatic, a software company that created a way to manage eBay auctions. The company sold for $5 million in 2008.
Stripe made its official debut in 2011 with John as president and Patrick as chief executive officer. The service became immediately popular with startup companies. All a merchant had to do was add seven lines of code to its site to manage payments. Setting up an account took a matter of minutes as compared to weeks with the competing giants.
Today, Stripe serves as the financial engine for more than 100,000 businesses, most small, but a handful of its best-known clients have grown with the company. Lyft, Shopify, Kickstarter, Postmates, Wish, and Twitter process tens of billions in payments combined through Stripe. It’s possible that within the past year, as many as half of America’s shoppers have purchased something online through Stripe’s services. This volume of business has resulted in a $9.2 billion valuation, making Patrick and John two of the world’s youngest billionaires.
The online payment industry is fiercely competitive. Not only does Stripe have to contend with giants such as Google, Apple, PayPal, and the Dutch company Adyen B.V, but other startups and big banks are out there grasping for a share of the market.
To beat the competition, the Collisons plan to add value to the 2.9 percent fee by bundling new tools into the core product. Included among Stripe services are the ability to support Apple Pay, sell products directly from tweets, and accept 135+ currencies. Stripe has also added a fraud-detection feature.
Stripe’s success at making digital payments simple and easy has led to the more ambitious vision, “building the universal payments infrastructure of the internet.”
The Collison brothers may have turned seven lines of code into a $9.2. Billion startup, but to win the battle with the giants and achieve their grander vision, they will have to not only capture startups but garner business from the big players of global commerce. Stripe’s new partnership with Amazon. com Inc. brings the brothers a giant step closer to their bold vision.