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Why Stripe co-founder John Collison thinks his company is the Amazon Web Services of payments

Stripe co-founder John Collison speaks during Day 2 of the GeekWire Summit 2017 at Sheraton Seattle on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

There’s not a lot of regular folks who realize that mobile payments processor Stripe is one of the most influential and widespread companies behind a lot of the services they use daily. For co-founder John Collison, the company’s approach is a lot like that of Amazon Web Services; start off giving companies a basic but extremely useful service, and build from there.

Collison spoke earlier this week at our GeekWire Summit about the progress Stripe has made in just a few short years. The company, founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco (although expanding to Seattle), provides payment-processing services to online merchants and mobile app developers looking to incorporate payment systems into their apps.

“It’s a company that has a high ratio of usage to brand awareness, and we’re quite okay with that,” Collison said. “So long as the people starting startups and the people building internet services know about us, we’re doing our job.”

Stripe occupies a role in the payments world similar to the one enjoyed by Amazon Web Services in the cloud computing world; an indispensable part of an array of consumer-facing services that operates behind the scenes. And it is heading in a similar direction, starting off with basic services and expanding into other areas, like how AWS started off with storage and compute and now offers dozens of computing services to its customers.

“One of the ways we think about it is sort of similar to the cloud shift that happened, where you have people going from managing serves and having DevOps teams in house to realizing this is not really something that’s leveraged for us that we should be spending time on,” Collison said.

In Stripe’s case, it is adding business services like fraud detection, analytics tools, and even helping people incorporate a business starting from scratch. “A credit card processor is actually not that useful a service, everyone is actually trying to serve some sort of underlying business need,” he said.

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