There’s a Canadian flag hanging in the window of Stripe, a hot online-payments startup which just raised $20 million from Sequoia Capital and other investors.That’s because, Stripe cofounder Patrick Collison told Business Insider, he’s taking the business international—expanding first to Canada, then other countries.
Stripe’s not the only payments startup with global ambitions. This week at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Square CEO Jack Dorsey reiterated the company’s plans for international expansion. Square hired PayPal veteran Alyssa Cutright as a vice president for international earlier this year. The company also mentioned an international push as a reason for hiring former Goldman analyst Sarah Friar as its CFO.
Though Stripe and Square are both ostensibly in the broad field of electronic payments, they couldn’t be more different in terms of their products and customers.
Square serves small, local businesses which need to swipe physical credit cards. Stripe’s target market are other Internet businesses which want to efficiently build in features to charge customers for digital purchases or online subscriptions.
Sightglass Coffee, a café in San Francisco’s SoMa district (in which Dorsey is an investor) rings up lattes using a Square card reader and an iPad running its Register software. Exec, a marketplace which lets you call for jack-of-all-trades to perform tasks for you, is a Stripe customer.
But what Square and Stripe have in common is this: They are high-profile Internet startups whose brands already have global reach. So they need to head abroad to satisfy customers who don’t understand why their offerings are limited to American shores.
And to fend off imitators: In the UK, mPowa, a Square knockoff, went as far as copying a photo from Square’s website to show its card-swiping device at work.