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The new Connect

Brian Krausz on March 23, 2015

In 2012, we noticed that many of the most exciting Stripe users were building businesses that helped others accept money. Shopify was helping e-commerce businesses get started and Postmates was building a mobile restaurant delivery network. In October 2012, we launched Stripe Connect to allow these multi-sided platforms to connect with thousands of seller accounts on Stripe.

Plenty has changed since then. The number of these platforms has exploded: services like Instacart, Kickstarter, Shyp, Tilt, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and Handy. Stripe has helped over half a million sellers get paid on platforms like these. And we’ve learned a lot about the subtleties of each use case.

Regular businesses just need to accept money from buyers, but running one of these platforms is much more complex. They also have to verify seller identity (to comply with know-your-customer laws and to prevent fraud), collect and verify their sellers’ banking information, track seller earnings, help sellers get paid on the right schedule, handle IRS tax reporting requirements, and more. I get tired just thinking about it.

The new Stripe Connect is the result of everything we’ve learned from powering these platforms. The changes we’ve made make setting up accounts for sellers even easier—they don’t need to even come to Stripe. You can now support sellers in more countries. And Stripe helps with everything involved in operating the platform.

Managed accounts

In addition to connecting to regular Stripe accounts (which Connect has supported since 2012), we’re now enabling platforms to spin up and administer “managed accounts”. Managed accounts allow you to customize all aspects of the experience for sellers—from what the setup flow looks like and payment schedules to who pays fees and when info is collected. These managed accounts can be set up for sellers wherever Stripe is supported (18 countries, with more coming this year). This unifies our previously-separate “Transfers API” with Connect.

New Lightweight setup for sellers

With managed accounts, Stripe gets out of the way of your relationship with your sellers or contractors. You can fully customize how sellers join your platform and build very lightweight sign up flows. In fact, you can get a seller started with just a country and email address using the new accounts endpoint:

curl https://api.stripe.com/v1/accounts \
   -u sk_test_BQokikJOvBiI2HlWgH4olfQ2: \
   -d managed=true \
   -d country=US \
   -d email=fleet.driver@example.com

{
  ...
  "id": "acct_12QkqYGSOD4VcegJ",
  "keys": {
    "secret": "sk_live_AxSI9q6ieYWjGIeRbURf6EG0",
    "publishable": "pk_live_h9xguYGf2GcfytemKs5tHrtg",
  },
  "managed": true,
  ...
}

We’ll send back the seller’s account information, which you can use to start creating charges on their behalf right away. We’ll let you know via the account.updated webhook if and when you need to collect any additional info about your sellers.

When creating charges, you can also specify the seller receiving the funds. Stripe will handle paying out the seller on the schedule you specified, and you won’t need to manually reconcile payments and transfers, making accounting and bookkeeping easier:

curl https://api.stripe.com/v1/charges \
   -u sk_test_BQokikJOvBiI2HlWgH4olfQ2: \
   -d amount=1000 \
   -d currency=EUR \
   -d customer=cus_49mpFwI9tFb1AO \
   -d destination=acct_12QkqYGSOD4VcegJ
   -d application_fee=200

New International sellers

Scaling businesses internationally can be pretty hard, but it’s especially difficult for platforms. Traditionally, supporting sellers in other countries required you to either run all international transactions through the U.S. (which meant more declined cards and currency conversion fees) or registering local business entities in every region supported.

With Connect, we’ve worked to help you provide a local experience for your sellers while keeping your code manageable and scalable. For example, you might need a Spanish crowdfunding campaign’s Número de Identificación Fiscal or an Australian boutique’s ABN before they can get paid. In all these cases, we’ll help you out and let you know what info to collect via the aptly-named fields_needed array on the account.

Update Build apps for Stripe users

As before, you can use Connect to get secure access to Stripe data, and use that to build dashboards, invoicing integrations, feature add-ons, and more. If you like being meta, you can now also create integrations specifically for platforms, such as the one built by QuickBooks for self-employed workers.

Pricing

Nearly all of Connect’s functionality is free. The cost for accepting payments remains the same. Setting up managed accounts costs just 0.5% of funds paid out—this flat rate includes ID verification, helping to generate tax documents where necessary, and even international accounts.

We’re thrilled to see diverse marketplaces and platforms being built and grown on Stripe.

Marketplaces have always been a big deal (just ask Bill Gurley), but we think that they’re likely to become more important still. As the rise of smartphones lets internet businesses make the leap from the virtual to the real world, we think that enormously successful marketplaces and platforms remain to be built. We look forward to building the most useful tools and APIs for them along the way.

Thanks very much to our beta users for their feedback which has helped us shape the product. If you have any questions, get in touch!

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