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Ending Bitcoin support

Tom Karlo on January 23, 2018

At Stripe, we’ve long been excited about the possibilities of cryptocurrencies and the experimentation and innovation that’s come with them. In 2014, we became the first major payments company to support Bitcoin payments.

Our hope was that Bitcoin could become a universal, decentralized substrate for online transactions and help our customers enable buyers in places that had less credit card penetration or use cases where credit card fees were prohibitive.

Over the past year or two, as block size limits have been reached, Bitcoin has evolved to become better-suited to being an asset than being a means of exchange. Given the overall success that the Bitcoin community has achieved, it’s hard to quibble with the decisions that have been made along the way. (And we’re certainly happy to see any novel, ambitious project do so well.)

This has led to Bitcoin becoming less useful for payments, however. Transaction confirmation times have risen substantially; this, in turn, has led to an increase in the failure rate of transactions denominated in fiat currencies. (By the time the transaction is confirmed, fluctuations in Bitcoin price mean that it’s for the “wrong” amount.) Furthermore, fees have risen a great deal. For a regular Bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of U.S. dollars is common, making Bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires.

Because of this, we’ve seen the desire from our customers to accept Bitcoin decrease. And of the businesses that are accepting Bitcoin on Stripe, we’ve seen their revenues from Bitcoin decline substantially. Empirically, there are fewer and fewer use cases for which accepting or paying with Bitcoin makes sense.

Therefore, starting today, we are winding down support for Bitcoin payments. Over the next three months we will work with affected Stripe users to ensure a smooth transition before we stop processing Bitcoin transactions on April 23, 2018.

Despite this, we remain very optimistic about cryptocurrencies overall. There are a lot of efforts that we view as promising and that we can certainly imagine enabling support for in the future. We’re interested in what’s happening with Lightning and other proposals to enable faster payments. OmiseGO is an ambitious and clever proposal; more broadly, Ethereum continues to spawn many high-potential projects. We may add support for Stellar (to which we provided seed funding) if substantive use continues to grow. It’s possible that Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, or another Bitcoin variant, will find a way to achieve significant popularity while keeping settlement times and transaction fees very low. Bitcoin itself may become viable for payments again in the future. And, of course, there’ll be more ideas and technologies in the years ahead.

So, we will continue to pay close attention to the ecosystem and to look for opportunities to help our customers by adding support for cryptocurrencies and new distributed protocols in the future.

January 23, 2018

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Navigate tax season using Stripe Atlas

Arnaud Cavailhez on January 10, 2018

Today, we’re launching features to make business taxes easier for companies using Stripe Atlas.

We’ve heard from many Stripe Atlas entrepreneurs that getting business taxes right is painful. It’s hard to know what taxes you owe, good accountants are expensive and hard to find, and fixing mistakes is even more expensive. All of this takes time away from building your product and company.

Now, Stripe Atlas helps startups handle two primary U.S. tax requirements:

Delaware franchise tax

Paying franchise tax and filing an annual report is a requirement for all Delaware corporations; it’s traditionally involved a bill in the mail and a confusing government website. You can now submit this filing with just a few clicks from the Stripe dashboard and no preparation fee.

A screenshot of the Stripe Dashboard showing the workflow for filing taxes in Delaware

Corporate income taxes

Since every company’s situation is different, we recommend working with an accountant to prepare corporate income taxes. We’ve handpicked experts used by top startups and worked with them to offer discounts of up to 50% for Stripe Atlas users. And Atlas makes it easy to collaborate with them: from the Dashboard, you can select the accountant who's right for you, answer a few questions about your business, and they’ll reach out to finalize your return.

We’ve also published a new guide to help demystify tax season.

We launched Stripe Atlas to make it simple to start a company. With tools for handling taxes, issuing stock to founders, renewing a registered agent, and a post-incorporation checklist, we hope Atlas continues to be helpful as you operate and grow your company as well. If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out!

The best way to start an internet business. Join Stripe Atlas

January 10, 2018

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Better Stripe Connect support in Sigma

Brian Zeng on December 20, 2017

We built Sigma to help businesses quickly analyze their Stripe data and get to insights faster. Today, we’re adding the ability for Connect platforms to query data about their connected accounts as well.

Platforms like DoorDash, Catawiki, OrderMyGear, and others accept money and pay out to hundreds of thousands of sellers and service providers around the world. For platforms like these, analyzing data for specific accounts or across accounts gets very tricky—often requiring paginating and collating responses across multiple API calls or exporting disparate datasets into a custom analytics stack.

Since launch, many platforms and marketplaces have already started using Sigma to query aggregate data about their businesses. With this update, platforms can quickly use standard SQL queries to look up data for both a specific connected account or across connected accounts.

For example, platforms can now generate a summary of their connected accounts with details such as number of charges, total processed volume, and current balance in various currencies to quickly identify parts of the platform that need attention or new business opportunities:

Business name Country Number of charges Gross volume Currency
Rocketship Inc. US 6,230 321252.49 usd
Pampurred Cats US 1,011 22233.49 usd
Vinted Vellum HK 35,508 952146.23 hkd
Monster Cookies CA 62,744 1334934.66 cad

Platforms can also customize the reports to include just the data columns that are most useful. You can look up the verification status of connected accounts and follow up with sellers who haven’t completed the onboarding process or use Sigma to find connected accounts with active disputes:

Service provider Payments enabled Payouts enabled Verification required Account balance
Hemant B. TRUE TRUE 0
Brian Z. TRUE FALSE legal_entity.verification.document -12.98
Charlie M. TRUE TRUE 0

As with any Sigma query, you can turn these platform-specific queries into a daily, weekly, or monthly report—we’ll automatically run the query on the chosen schedule and email you the results.

These new features currently work for Stripe Connect platforms using Custom or Express accounts. (We don’t have support for platforms querying their Standard accounts at this time.)

We hope these new data tables help platforms analyze their business quickly and easily. If you have questions or feedback, we’d love to hear from you!

Start a free trial of Stripe Sigma for your platform. Request access

December 20, 2017

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Learning to operate Kubernetes reliably

Julia Evans on December 20, 2017 in Engineering

We recently built a distributed cron job scheduling system on top of Kubernetes, an exciting new platform for container orchestration. Kubernetes is very popular right now and makes a lot of exciting promises: one of the most exciting is that engineers don’t need to know or care what machines their applications run on.

Distributed systems are really hard, and managing services on distributed systems is one of the hardest problems operations teams face. Breaking in new software in production and learning how to operate it reliably is something we take very seriously. As an example of why learning to operate Kubernetes is important (and why it’s hard!), here’s a fantastic postmortem of a one-hour outage caused by a bug in Kubernetes.

In this post, we’ll explain why we chose to build on top of Kubernetes. We’ll examine how we integrated Kubernetes into our existing infrastructure, our approach to building confidence in (and improving) our Kubernetes’ cluster’s reliability, and the abstractions we’ve built on top of Kubernetes.

Read more

December 20, 2017

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Stripe Connect now supports Express accounts for businesses

Tim Peacock on December 13, 2017

We’ve consistently heard from platforms that onboarding sellers is still one of the hardest challenges they face. Earlier this year, we launched Express accounts for Connect platforms to provide you a quick and easy way to onboard individuals as sellers and service providers while maintaining control over the look and feel of the experience. Express platforms have already onboarded thousands of individuals across industries ranging from childcare to streetwear. Starting today, you can also onboard businesses on your platform with Express.

Paying out businesses requires some identity verification and tax checks to comply with financial laws and regulation. In addition to providing platforms a pre-built, customizable onboarding experience and reporting dashboard, Express now automatically collects the right info when onboarding both individuals and businesses.

For example, Lugg, an on-demand marketplace for moving and delivery, connects customers with “Luggers” who can help them move or transport large items. While many of the Luggers are individual workers, some are moving companies (incorporated as businesses). In just five days, a single engineer at Lugg was able to integrate Express to speed up their previously manual onboarding process and support both individuals and businesses signing up for their platform.

Express also lets you customize the branding of the onboarding flow and dashboard so it matches the rest of your product experience.

Online wedding marketplace WeddingWire used Express to launch a new payments feature that lets couples pay their wedding vendors online, eliminating the hassle of sending checks or carrying envelopes of cash around on their wedding day.

“With the pre-built UI offered by Express, we were able to go from concept to initial launch in a just a few weeks—the fastest we’ve ever launched a new feature of this scale.”
— Andy Ivanovich, VP Finance & Strategy, WeddingWire

WeddingWire customized the signup experience for wedding vendors so it matches the “WeddingWire Teal” branding

We’re excited to help more marketplaces and platforms get started with Express’ quick integration process, but we think existing platforms can also find Express useful. In the past few weeks, publishing platform Medium integrated Express to streamline how writers on their platform get paid for their work.

"Previously, we built our own tool that required ongoing maintenance. After spending just one week on the Express integration, our writers can now get signed up easily, in a UI that reflects our branding. Express has also eliminated tedious maintenance work and helps writers feel more secure when entering payment details."
— Jamie Talbot, Director of Engineering, Medium

Express is currently available in the U.S. with support for more countries coming soon. If you’re interested in using Express for your platform, you can check out our guide to getting started. (If you already use Express, you can support onboarding businesses with a single parameter change.)

If you have any questions or feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Want to learn more about Express? Get in touch

December 13, 2017

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Kicking off Stripe’s private beta in India

Anand Balaji on December 12, 2017

Today, we’re starting an invite-only beta for Stripe in India with a small group of companies. These businesses will help us test our platform in the Indian market and provide feedback on features that we’ll need to build to support all Indian businesses looking to accept online payments and run their companies on Stripe.

Supporting Indian entrepreneurs is critical to our mission of expanding the GDP of the internet. Now more than ever, India is uniquely positioned to move more commerce online: In just the past two years, the percentage of India’s population connected to the internet has more than doubled to 500 million users. And in 2016, India saw more than twice the number of new businesses start as the United States.

With Stripe Atlas, we’ve already been able to help some Indian entrepreneurs build and scale global companies. However, we believe that by operating locally in India—with the ability for Indian companies to connect their local bank accounts to Stripe and get paid out in rupees—we can help support even more businesses and more types of business models (such as local marketplaces) in the years to come.

We’re thrilled to bring the Stripe platform to India and build new products specifically for Indian businesses. (If you’re excited by this challenge, join our engineering team to help us accelerate our progress!)

We’ll slowly add more users to the beta in the next few months to test specific functionality. If you’re interested, you can sign up to stay updated!

December 12, 2017

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Improving reviews in Radar

Matt DuVall on November 29, 2017

When we launched Stripe Radar to help you prevent payment fraud, we built in the ability to manually review suspicious payments. Suspicious payments are flagged for review either by Radar’s machine learning systems or when they trigger a custom rule set by your business.

Since fraud generally increases during the holiday season, we’re launching several new features today to provide more signals and contextual data to improve the review flow:

Use behavioral patterns to identify fraud

Radar’s machine learning systems use hundreds of signals and heuristics to determine whether a payment might be fraudulent. When manually reviewing suspicious payments, we’ve found that behavioral signals provide useful data, so we’re adding some of these signals to the review page.

When reviewing payments, you’ll now see the operating system and device type used to make the purchase, the number of pages viewed before a purchase, and the purchase session duration. (Fraudulent purchases will often have suspiciously quick session lengths compared to a typical session for your business.)

Additionally, to help you quickly identify discrepancies, we now also display the distance between the location of the IP address used to make the purchase and the address associated with the credit card.

See related payments when reviewing charges

A particularly useful fraud detection mechanism is to cross-reference related payments, so you’ll now see related payments inline when reviewing a charge. Stripe’s machine learning systems already look for anomalies and suspicious patterns across billions of dollars of payments data. We’re now augmenting this by directly surfacing related payments made on your account for additional human analysis.

Radar will automatically surface payments that share the same IP address, card, or customer as the payment you are currently reviewing. This should help catch common fraud patterns such as naive card testing (where many different cards would share a single IP address) or trial abuse (where many “customers” would share the same card):

These data points reveal fraud patterns that might be otherwise tricky to detect. Is the user purchasing goods on a device that is nowhere near the billing address? Did they view only one page before making a $2500 purchase?

During our beta for these features, the team at Watsi (a healthcare nonprofit) reported that it took significantly less time to review payments than before and that it was easier to accurately identify fraudulent donations.

If you’re interested in getting started or want to learn more about how to enable these signals for your business, check out our integration guide and best practices. To take full advantage of the functionality, you just need to include Stripe.js across your site (not just the checkout page) and pass relevant customer information—like name, email address, and billing and shipping addresses—to Stripe using the customer object. We’ll then automatically handle the rest.

We hope this update is useful for your business during the upcoming holiday season. If you have any questions or feedback, please let us know!

November 29, 2017

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Issue stock to founders using Stripe Atlas

Alex Kehayias on October 31, 2017

Today, we’re launching a tool that helps Stripe Atlas companies issue stock to founders, as well as a few more features to help after incorporation.

Since launching Stripe Atlas, we’ve worked with thousands of founders who are building everything from a behavioral therapist chatbot to a search engine for enterprises. We’ve repeatedly heard from them that the challenges of starting a business hardly end with incorporation—there are often many complexities to navigate around the company’s legal and financial infrastructure as well:

Issuing stock to founders

Stripe Atlas companies can now issue stock to their founding team for free. Companies can generate, review, sign, and store a full set of stock issuance documents using Atlas. These documents feature terms that are standard among many tech startups and top investors, such as four year vesting with a one year cliff. They’re generated from templates prepared by Orrick, a leading law firm for technology companies.

Issuing stock is often a vital part of starting a company and tricky to get right. (Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for startups to spend thousands of dollars on legal bills figuring this out, or potentially tens of thousands to correct mistakes after the fact.) Properly issued stock establishes founders’ stake in the long term success of the company, can protect the company’s intellectual property, and defines what happens if any of the founders leave. Future investors and employees will also look for industry-standard equity terms when deciding to work with you.

We built our stock issuance tool to make the process much simpler to navigate. Here’s how it works:

To help you navigate this important process, we’ve also published a new Stripe Atlas guide with help from experts at Orrick to provide many more details and background around allocating stock.

A checklist for next steps after incorporation

Getting the details right at the time of incorporation helps avoid painful fixes down the road. Based on feedback from Stripe Atlas companies, we’re launching a personalized checklist in the Dashboard of the most important tasks you should consider after incorporating, such as hiring an accountant or registering your business locally. We’re working to automate as many of these tasks as possible. To start, we’re adding a tool to renew a registered agent—a legally-required bit of busywork for companies incorporated in Delaware—with a single click.

We hope these new tools are helpful to founders! If you have any feedback or questions about Stripe Atlas, please let us know—we’re excited to help companies around the world get started and grow their businesses.

The best way to start an internet business. Join Stripe Atlas

October 31, 2017