HAVANA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As part of President Obama's historic trip to Havana next week, today Stripe announced the expansion of Stripe Atlas to include Cuban entrepreneurs.
For the first time, Atlas will give Cuban entrepreneurs access to:
-- an incorporated U.S. business entity
-- a U.S. bank account for the newly-created U.S. entity
-- a Stripe account to receive payments from customers around the world
The basic infrastructure for starting an internet business in Cuba is nearly nonexistent. The country's internet penetration is among the lowest in the world, with less than 4% of the population online today. In addition, the financial rails aren't in place to transact with markets outside of Cuba. Hardly anyone has a credit card, so Cubans can't pay -- or more importantly, get paid -- for things available online to billions of people around the world. Despite these challenges in their local market, more than 70% of Cubans surveyed recently said they wanted to start their own business. Stripe Atlas will now allow entrepreneurs to set up an online business and expand beyond Cuban borders to sell to customers anywhere in the world.
“Today's announcement and our work with President Obama here in Havana are about facilitating a smooth path for Cuban entrepreneurs into the modern global economy," said Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe. "The promise of the internet is that geography should be largely irrelevant. But that is not yet true. Especially here in Cuba, people simply do not have access to the high-quality banking or payments infrastructure they need to join the internet economy."
Stripe Atlas gives entrepreneurs around the world a way to access the robust business and banking infrastructure of a global business hub. The U.S. is one of those hubs. Incorporating in Delaware, for example, allows companies to easily issue stock to employees and raise money from global investors. Delaware also provides the stability of clear corporate rules and case law. In addition, many more business services are available to U.S. companies than businesses located in emerging economies.
To help identify and support Cuban entrepreneurs for whom Atlas can be most useful, Stripe is working with Merchise Startup Circle, a Havana-based group supporting the startup community across Cuba. "There are lots of very good software developers, with very good ideas, inside Cuba. But until now, there has been no way for people to put those ideas into practice, no way to create a company that investors could put money into," said Alex Medina, Co-founder and Director of Merchise Startup Circle. "For the first time, Stripe Atlas will give people in our community a way to start their own business online and get paid for the things they create."
Stripe Atlas initially launched on February 24, 2016. During the beta period, entrepreneurs will need an invitation from Stripe or one of our 70 incubator, accelerator and investor partners around the world, including Merchise Startup Circle in Cuba. Beta pricing is $500 USD, which includes around $400 of fees that anyone incorporating a Delaware entity would have to pay. In preparing for the February launch, Stripe worked closely with advisory board members including Lawrence Summers, Fadi Ghandour, Linda Rottenberg and Ben Lawsky.
The expansion of Stripe Atlas to Cuba was facilitated by the rule changes announced earlier this week by the Obama administration. Among other things, the new regulations allow U.S. banks to open accounts for Cuban nationals who reside in Cuba. There are still some restrictions on the types of transactions that American banks are able to process; therefore, Stripe and Silicon Valley Bank will apply normal account due diligence, including reviewing applications from Cuban entrepreneurs and ensuring that any banking services provided to the U.S. business entity comply with the updated guidelines and restrictions.
"We're excited to work with entrepreneurs here in Cuba to help them get started, expand their businesses, and access the full power of the internet economy," said Patrick Collison.
Stripe is a technology platform that developers use to build internet businesses. Thousands of businesses -- ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies -- rely on Stripe’s software tools to accept payments, expand globally, and create new revenue streams. Stripe has been at the forefront of expanding internet commerce, powering new business models, and supporting the latest platforms, from marketplaces to social commerce. Stripe users include Twitter, Kickstarter, Shopify, Salesforce, Lyft, and many more.
Stripe was founded in 2010 by John and Patrick Collison, who set out to fix a critical problem: how online businesses could quickly and easily accept payments from anyone, anywhere in the world. Today, merchants in 24 countries can use Stripe to accept payments in 130+ currencies, as well as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Alipay and Bitcoin. By reducing the barriers to starting and operating a business regardless of location or means, Stripe aims to bring more would-be companies online and accelerate the internet economy.
Stripe has received around $300 million in funding to date from investors including Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Visa, American Express, and PayPal founders Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Elon Musk.
For more about Stripe Atlas, please visit https://stripe.com/atlas/press