Payments startup Stripe says it’s still too hard to sell stuff online


Co-founder John Collison says the company will take payments from anyone, anywhere, so what’s the problem?

It’s still too hard to sell stuff online. That’s according to someone who would know: John Collison, co-founder of the $5 billion payments startup Stripe.

“The online retailer has a 15 percent conversion rate on mobile,” he said at the Code Commerce event in Las Vegas Tuesday night, adding, “It’s totally standard and totally abysmal.”

Collison cited a key statistic in e-commerce, but by “abysmal,” he also meant there’s a lot more room to grow in e-commerce.

“In many cases, the [e-commerce] market isn’t there yet,” he said, referring to international growth. “We’re now launching Stripe in all these places.” Brazil and Mexico are on the list.

Stripes handles payments for popular apps like Instacart, Lyft and Postmates and competes for business against other young companies, like PayPal-owned Braintree, as well as traditional players such as Authorize.net.

In the past year, Stripe has been making moves to expand beyond its core service. The startup introduced Relay, which was intended to help retailers sell goods to customers where they are already spending time online: On platforms such as social networks and media properties.

But its biggest platform partner, Twitter, has backed away from commerce, raising questions about whether Stripe can find another anchor partner for Relay.

Given Stripe’s growth and high-profile partners as well as the fact that it hired a CFO last year, an IPO appears to be on the horizon, but don’t count on that, Collison said.

“I don’t feel it ranks really high on the bucket list to do this thing,” he said. “We’re very happy to remain long-term independent.”

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