Stripe Heads for Asian Turf War
After expanding to two dozen countries across the globe, it makes sense for the San Francisco-based payments provider to pick Singapore as its launchpad for an assault on Southeast Asia. The city-state is already the latter's financial hub, and it plays host to numerous startups that are attempting to tackle e-commerce in neighboring countries.
But settling in Singapore is no guarantee of an easy ride as central banks and finance ministries in the region grapple not only with how to deal with the potential interruptions to their own financial systems, but whether or not they should even make such approaches possible.
While Singapore has tried to make it simple to start a company, and e-commerce is flourishing, that ease-of-business can't be boxed up and shipped across borders. Central banks, for example, aren't so eager to make life easy for anyone seeking to transfer funds internationally. At the same time, the city is facing a crowded market with players including Braintree and traditional service providers, Bloomberg News reports.
Meanwhile, Rocket Internet learned that Asia is no place for the squeamish when it was forced to sell most of its stake in e-commerce business Lazada to Alibaba, according to this account by TechCrunch's Jon Russell. As Gadfly's Leila Abboud and Chris Hughes pointed out at the time, Rocket was lucky to exit with money in its pocket.
With the backing of a pair of PayPal mafiosi -- Peter Thiel and Elon Musk -- Stripe's founding Collison brothers aren't likely to be naive about the challenges ahead, which is why establishing a foothold in Singapore first is a wise move.
Stripe has raised close to $290 million and had a valuation of $5 billion by the time of its last funding round in December, according to CB Insights. That's a hefty war chest, but with expansion in Southeast Asia a likely next step, those coffers will probably need replenishing sooner rather than later. Even the mafia can't get far without financial muscle.
Stripe has launched in beta mode in both Japan and Hong Kong, making Singapore the first official launch market in Asia ex-Australia.
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