How the British Council expanded its legacy services online with Stripe

The British Council is a platform for learning English, administering classes and official examinations across the globe. With 10,000 employees, it operates in more than 100 countries and provides its services to more than 80 million people.

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International expansion is critical for the British Council as demand for learning and being certified in English primarily comes from outside of the UK. The British Council needed a payments partner that could help it modernise and expand its online presence, specifically introducing mobile-ready experiences. It also required a flexible solution that could integrate with its existing legacy systems and improve costly interchange fees, a huge challenge when operating international entities.


The British Council leveraged Stripe’s flexible APIs to build on top of its legacy systems. From a single integration, Stripe’s international availability supports the British Council across 144 countries. Together with Stripe, the British Council now offers payment methods adapted to the norms and preferences within each country, as well as optimised checkout experiences across mobile, tablet and desktop. Using Stripe across all locations has also helped streamline the British Council’s reporting and has decreased overhead costs to counteract foreign exchange (FX) fees.


Stripe Elements helped the British Council deliver a best-in-class payment page. Higher conversion rates followed, improving by 30%. With Stripe’s capabilities, the payments page was mobile-ready. This is vital in large mobile payment markets such as India and China, where many of the British Council’s customers live. Working with Stripe, the British Council projects a £5 million increase in revenue.

COVID-19 required the British Council to accelerate online offerings

Due to the requirements of overseeing official language exams, the British Council has a large physical presence in the countries where it operates. COVID-19 changed the way the British Council had to do business. The new platform with Stripe meant the British Council could increase speed to market and easily implement two models: online and offline language classes and examinations. Even as face-to-face instruction resumes, the British Council anticipates using both models in the future.

Using Stripe Radar in new markets

With Stripe, users get access to an integrated product stack, including tools such as Radar, which reduces fraud and offers the ability to go into more detail around transaction disputes. Leveraging Radar, the British Council recognised an opportunity for expanding in markets where it often encounters fraudulent transactions. By actively introducing tailored Radar rules, the British Council already reports a large impact in mitigating declines and fraudulent transactions in markets such as Brazil.

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