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February 12, 2014

Stripe API Goes on World Tour; Now Taking Payments in 130 Separate Currencies

Those who the winter has gotten down—and let's face it, it's got a lot of people down—may be fancying a bit of a trip to more comfortable climes. It's certainly sounding sweet to Stripe, who recently rolled out a new functionality for its API that allows the payment processor to be put to use in a variety of different countries and in a variety of different currencies. The modified API now allows for 130 different currencies to be accepted by Stripe, which is up substantially from even its most recent version.

This news comes hot on the heels of Stripe's Series C funding round, which brought the company $80 million and was geared toward, in part, helping Stripe get its business going on a global front. This seems to have been just what happened, as now, Stripe merchants will be able to conduct business in a variety of local currencies, allowing, for example, a customer in South Africa to make purchases in the United States, and the relevant charge will be made in rand as opposed to dollars. The seller in turn gets easy access to overseas markets, now only having to proceed through Stripe as opposed to engaging in currency exchanges with financial partners in the region in question.

Reports suggest that the expansion of currencies accepted will have no bearing on fees charged; those who handle under $80,000 in payments a month will be charged 2.9 percent and 30 cents per transaction, and those who perform currency conversion—like the previously mentioned example—pay an additional two percent. Stripe keeps currency exchange rates out of things by simply using a flat fee with consumers, and often negotiates with local banks to handle the exchange rates itself.

However, there's a bit of a down side here; while Stripe can now handle payments in a variety of currencies, it can't do likewise in payments out. Payments out are still made in dollars, euros and pounds sterling, which means that the users mostly have to be in certain locations or have easy access to converters to use Stripe. Plus, those who were hoping for Bitcoin payouts or similar crypto-currencies will be likewise disappointed as Stripe can't handle those either.

Since Stripe reportedly sees itself more as a technology company than a financial services system that sort of limits its future plans. But some see the acquisition of Kickoff as a potential jumping point for new services, including Kickoff's ability to boost collaboration. Couple a collaboration service on with a way to take payments in local currency and the makings of a small yet multinational firm arrive, using local talent as a way to make connections and sell products while at the same time taking money in local currency to send back to the home office. There are also some stirrings that Twitter may have something in mind for Stripe, though specifics were short on the ground.

Looking at Stripe's new services as simply the start of something much bigger presents several opportunities for future growth, though these opportunities may never actually come to fruition. Whether Stripe serves as the basis for small multinational business, or as part of a co-production with a larger firm, is unclear but certainly within the realm of possibility. Seeing which of several possible directions Stripe can go should be quite the exciting experience.




Edited by Cassandra Tucker




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