Stripe, the payments upstart now valued at $95 billion, has been launching a number of new products to expand beyond the API that helped make its name, to build out its position as a platform for financial services and related business infrastructure. The latest of these is making its debut today: App Marketplace, as the new service is called, is a new offering where Stripe will both provide access to third-party apps, as well as scripts created by app publishers, users and Stripe itself, that incorporate those apps with Stripe. It potentially represents its biggest leap yet away from payments.
The Marketplace is launching with 50 apps that Stripe’s customers are already using as part of their marketing, payments and business development stacks, such as DocuSign, Dropbox, Intercom, Mailchimp, Ramp and Xero. There will be more added over time, Stripe tells me.
Initially, scripts incorporating those apps with Stripe will be free to use — the aim is to get some critical mass around usage, so barriers are low — although given it’s a marketplace, and that it will try to encourage more third parties to build apps for that ecosystem, Stripe might in the future incorporate charging for some of those scripts. Third-party apps that are part of those scripts and are paid services, meanwhile, will charge customers directly if those users are not already subscribers. But as with the scripts themselves, Stripe might also, over time, also bring new payments on to its own platform as well.
And perhaps most interestingly of all, while initially the idea will be to create scripts for some of the most common usages, in theory those scripts can cover any kind of business flow that sits naturally with Stripe, even if it doesn’t involve Stripe services themselves.
“We have requirement in the app review process that it has to have real business functionality,” Bowen Pan, the head of product for Stripe Apps, said in an interview. “So it can’t just be, say, a quiz app. It has to be business focused. But it doesn’t have to have existing Stripe functionality. It can be a productivity workflow that helps with processing.”
The idea with the App Marketplace, Pan told me, came out of the observations that the company was making about how Stripe products are used: in short, payments do not come in a vacuum but are part of wider business services flows that could involve sales or marketing campaigns, customer support teams and the issuing of contracts or other agreements.
Up to now, customers typically have used those tools alongside each other, either building manual integrations or never integrating them at all. (If you’ve ever been on a call or interaction with customer support and have found yourself waiting many minutes for responses … this is typically one of the reasons why: They are looking through and updating multiple databases.)
The idea here is to provide ways to help speed all of that up — and of course make it more likely to keep people within the Stripe ecosystem to carry out all business activity.
The launch of the Marketplace is coming on the heels of a few other product launches that Stripe has made in recent months that have taken the company beyond the services that helped to make its name, namely an API that was largely used to make it easier for merchants and others taking card payments online to do so (even the company’s name, Stripe, is a reference to the magnetic strip on the back of payments cards). That has included making long-awaited strides into cryptocurrency; Connections, a Plaid-like service to help customers pull in financial data from bank accounts; and most recently an ETL product to funnel and analyze Stripe data more effectively in Snowflake and AWS Redshift warehouses.
To be fair, the company has for years been making small moves to expand it beyond payments into adjacent areas like tax calculations, money advances and even business incorporation. This new wave of tools however represents very large financial infrastructure plays that speak to how the company is looking to fully fill out its outsized valuation, these days perhaps an even more important task given what is happening both the public and private funding markets.