Stripe intent on Asia-Pacific expansion

Written by Kapronasia || March 04 2021

Stripe may be the biggest fintech to fly under the radar in Asia Pacific. In private markets, its valuation is reportedly close to US$100 billion, up from about US$35 billion in April 2020. The San Francisco-based merchant payments provider saw its fortunes soar during the pandemic as its many North American customers moved online. It is now looking east to fuel its next stage of growth, including China, India, Southeast Asia and Australia. In 2020, Stripe increased its staff in the APAC region by 40% to more than 200.

On March 1, Stripe published a report based on a recent Forrester study that found more than 40% of retailers in the APAC region were positively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 46% said that they are speeding up plans to boost revenue and innovate. More than half plan to expand geographically over the next year.

"As the economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt across Asia, retailers have shown impressive resilience by being forward-looking despite significant hurdles and challenges,"Paul Harapin, Stripe's revenue and growth lead for APAC, told The Business Times

The question is, why would merchants in Asia use Stripe? After all, they already have many choices for payments processing both online and in physical stores. There is also the regulatory environment to consider. Asia's largest markets are among the most challenging from a regulatory perspective. Indeed, Stripe is unlikely to be able to compete directly with Alipay and WeChat Pay in China, Paytm in India, or the fintech arms of Grab, Gojek and Sea in Indonesia. It might be able to gain a foothold in some emerging Asian markets through strategic investments in local players. 

For now, Stripe's prospects are probably best in APAC's developed markets, like Singapore, Japan and Australia, where consumer behavior has more in common with the U.S. than developing countries and the regulatory environment is not overly complex.

In December, Stripe's business head for Asia Pacific Noah Pepper told Reuters that the company in Japan was "winning over merchants by cutting payments processing time from weeks to days." He said that Stripe was preparing to enable “konbini” payments for merchants - a payment method in which shoppers buy online but pay cash at convenience stores.

In late February, Stripe announced a partnership with Australian buy now, pay later sensation Afterpay. The agreement allows Stripe merchants in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand to offer Afterpay's installment services to their customers. Afterpay will be available to merchants in Canada soon, Stripe said in a press release.