Have you heard of Stripe Atlas?
If not, you may be in for a treat, because it's one of the more ambitious endeavors taken on by the Stripe payment processor, enabling affordable worldwide business transactions no matter where your company is located.
How Does Stripe Atlas Work?
The whole point of Stripe Atlas is for companies to setup an online business anywhere in the world. It sounds pretty vague, but in short, it allows for people to establish a real US back account while also incorporating through the US system. As we stated above, it's not necessarily for online businesses, but rather companies that have troubles with targeting US customers and consumers from developing markets.
After that, a company can start accepting payments through the Stripe system, just like any American business would be able to. The idea is that the internet should be an open playground for all entrepreneurs and business people, but in the current social landscape, companies in places like Germany and the US are at a huge advantage since they have access to valuable forms of bank accounts and payment processors.
The process to establish your Stripe Atlas account is fairly simple:
- You must fill out what Stripe calls a “simple” form, but we'll see how this turns out. This incorporates your company as a Delaware-based business. It's supposed to only take a few days to make this happen.
- You don't need to visit a bank to get a business bank account. Rather, Stripe establishes a Silicon Valley Bank account for you, giving companies the same perks they would receive if they were running a company in Silicon Valley.
- A standard Stripe account is setup for your business, meaning that you can collect payments from over 100 currencies around the world.
- As you continue to use the Stripe Atlas program, you receive tax and legal advice. We still can't say how much guidance each business is going to receive, but apparently Orrick, the international tech law firm, and PwC, one of the biggest accounting firms in the world, will be there to help you out. Will you simply have a database of documents to read through, or will Stripe have legal and tax representatives on-call?
What's the Availability of Stripe Atlas Right Now?
To be clear, Atlas is in closed beta right now, and it's only aimed at business in emerging markets. So if your company is located in the US, UK or any other country that wouldn't be considered an emerging market, this is not the service for you.
However, if you're in an emerging market, you can request access to the closed beta offering, but it's unclear as to how many requests Stripe is accepting right now.
Stripe Atlas Solves Some Real Problems
Now that you understand exactly what the Stripe Atlas program can do for your business, let's take a look at what real problems are being solved with this system. To start, since businesses can incorporate and setup a bank account in the US, they are hopefully receiving the same rates and advantages that a tech startup would that resides in California.
In addition, it may provide assistance for companies in emerging market countries that want to raise capital from investors in the US. After all, if you were to start a business in Brazil, with bank accounts in that country, it may seem impossible to convince an investor to risk their money abroad like that. This brings a heightened sense of legitimacy to show American investors that their money is in safe hands.
As you can imagine, if you're not building a startup in Silicon Valley, it creates some difficulties. So, another reason this Stripe Atlas program could come in handy is to expand the growth of startups in other countries. It's hard to say how many people never even thought of making a company due to social, financial or economic troubles in their country. This potentially opens up doors.
The primary reason this may turnout rather well for companies in developing markets is because of the cost cutting. First of all, trying to incorporate outside of a country (depending on that country) can prove extremely expensive, if not impossible. Also, some online businesses must currently convert sales in the US to their own currencies. This becomes even more complex if they then have to convert the money back in order to pay US suppliers.
Finally, if you have a company in India, for example, and you make most of your sales from outside of India, the use of non-Indian credit cards can bring about hefty fees for each transaction. However, with a global processing system like Stripe Atlas, and an American payment processor and bank account, it could make those fees go away (once again this depends on the country you're running business in).
Could Anything Go Wrong?
Since the Stripe Atlas program is built primarily for developing markets who have a global customer base or plan on establishing an operational presence in the United States, it's not absurd to think that some companies will try to abuse the system. We'll see how Stripe handles companies from the US or UK trying to establish accounts, or even if it would help those companies out a bit.
Stripe clearly states that incorporating in the US comes with long term legal and tax implications, so smaller companies could also get into trouble if they don't consult the right experts who can foresee whether or not they're going to end up in trouble in the future.
How Do You Apply for Stripe Atlas?
As stated before, Stripe Atlas is in a private beta, meaning Stripe is doing this all through invitations, and the amount of entrepreneurs who have access is limited. If, however, you'd like to give it a shot, you can apply directly to Stripe or get a referral from anyone in the Stripe Atlas network. The Stripe Atlas networks consists of investors, accelerators and partners from all over the globe, and it seems as if the network is growing every month.
What Do You Think About Stripe Atlas?
What's interesting is that the first 100 users get to use Stripe Atlas for free, but after that a cost is involved. A one-time fee of $500 is charged once everything has been setup. In addition, you'll be charged the standard Stripe 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge.
To round things up, Stripe already functions in 24 countries, so there's really no need to try Atlas unless you work in a country that's not on the list.
If you've had a chance to try out Stripe Atlas, let us know what you think in the comments section below. If you're considering the move, tell us about your concerns.