Card payment processor Stripe is now available in its first European country, the U.K. British businesses can now add card processing to their websites and accept payments in GBP, EUR and USD. After expanding its service to Canada last year, more international locations should come soon.
“There was a significant amount of work required to build the right relationships on the banking side and make the product work as seamlessly in the U.K. as it does in the U.S.,” Stripe U.K. director Andy Young told me. “We could have rushed out a hacky solution by partnering with existing payments companies in the U.K., but the downside is that this ends up with a much lower-quality product,” he continued. Stripe now has an office in London with four employees and is looking to double or triple this number by the end of the year.
Pricing in the U.K. is 2.4% + £0.20/€0.24/$0.30 per transaction + VAT. It is slightly cheaper than the U.S. pricing (2.9% + $0.30). European businesses will have to collect VAT on every transaction just like they would do using other payment processors. For now, only U.K. users can start charging in USD, GBP and EUR.
“For example, an ecommerce store in London can show prices in GBP for customers in the UK, EUR for customers in France, and USD for customers in the US,” Young said. It remains to be confirmed whether existing U.S. customers will soon be able to take advantage of this feature as well.
Accepting payments in other currencies was one of the most requested features. Most European banks charge a steep fee when you pay with your card in dollars. It hurt the bottom line for online shops who sell digital goods. “In the future we’ll be expanding with more currencies for users worldwide,” Young said.
Long-time partners Shopify, Bigcommerce, Squarespace, BigCartel and Wave updated their Stripe features for the new U.K. version of Stripe. For example, British users can now set up an online shop in Shopify or Squarespace from the U.K. and accept payments in GBP, EUR or USD. In addition to its existing partners, the company partnered with Kashflow and FreeAgent.
International expansions are a big part of Stripe’s current strategy. Yet, it’s a long and complicated process. “A substantial proportion of the work required to build Stripe in the U.S. has been repeated for the U.K.,” Young said. Financial regulatory systems are very different around the world and Stripe wants to provide the same product everywhere — the company needs to accept all the various payment methods, provide the same fee structure and stay competitive with local players.
When asked when Stripe users should expect other international expansions, Young was surprisingly transparent about the company’s plans. “We’re working on quickly expanding to other countries within Europe and Australia, but we don’t have a timeline on our launches there just yet”, he said. “We’re already available in beta in Ireland, France and the Netherlands.”