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Stripe Doubles Down On Its Developers

Stripe’s MO is to make it easy for businesses to accept payments online. Works With Stripe is Stripe’s latest effort to make it easier for those businesses to add functionality and developers to let their APIs shine through. Karen Webster spoke with Stripe’s Cristina Cordova to get the scoop on what prompted the timing of the launch and how it will position them for what’s next.

One of Silicon Valley’s more vaunted unicorns, payments technology firm Stripe, currently holds a valuation in the neighborhood of $5 billion, raising $290 million over seven investment rounds. It’s a pretty familiar name in the payments sphere — one that even went mainstream last year when its founders, the Collison brothers, went on “60 Minutes” and helped Lesley Stahl payment-enable her fictitious organic pet food store.

Since its start, attracting SMBs to its platform was job number one. As Cristina Cordova, Business Development and Partnerships at Stripe, told Karen Webster in a recent interview, building a great product that those SMBs wanted to use was also job number one.

The idea was that, Cordova said, by building a great product (and finding some great partners), it would develop the right word of mouth in the right circles. An outcome, she noted, it’s more or less seen through a steady succession of positive blogs posts from satisfied customers across many merchant verticals, large and small.

But as any red-blooded payments tech platform knows, earning their platform stripes <haha> in payments means getting developers on board who, in turn, add both richness to the platform through innovative use cases but help attract and keep those SMBs on board.

Such is the goal of Works With Stripe.

Works with Stripe is a directory that serves as the digital home for developers who have integrated Stripe to their own software — making it easy for Stripe customers to add additional functionality to their own businesses and to give developers an incentive to integrate Stripe into their own applications. That can include anything from integrating Avalara to keep track of and pay the necessary tax remittances a business faces or integrating Invoice2go for their supplier payments.

“Certainly, Stripe’s long-held view is that we want to make it quick and easy for developers to integrate with Stripe — and to be discovered by Stripe users,” Cordova said. “We want to make it simple for developers to build really powerful tools on top of Stripe.”

Cordova also emphasized that Stripe actually had the integrations that are part of Works With Stripe before it had the portal. For example, Slack actually built its tie-in with a few phone calls to Stripe and a will to make its inter-enterprise communications messaging service responsive to payments data running through the business in parallel.

So, when Stripe took stock of the number of Slack-like use cases across the payments ecosystem, it made the decision to build the portal to connect itself, its merchant partners and the developers with an ever-widening array of use cases that make payments enablement more efficient for Stripe merchants. Today, there are 300 such APIs and counting.

But creating the next-level home for developers serves two purposes for Stripe, according to Cordova. The first is that it makes Stripe an attractive solution for the company just getting its feet wet in the world of digital payment.

But exposing a directory of APIs she said also makes Stripe’s next-phase goals easier to achieve: being the kind of firm that can grow up — and scale with — with its merchant partners as those partners are successful and have increasingly complicated needs for back-end management, supply chain, invoicing and a whole host of other services that Stripe wants to make it easy to plug right into its platform.

And while, today, these integrations are mostly focused on eCommerce and payments, the future, she said, will be more made up of automation, analytics and systems that can offer smart response across departments and parts of a business. At its core, Stripe is processing payments, but across its ecosystem of associated services, it is using the data it collects from that activity to aggregate information for anyone — and for the system that needs it.

And that, she said, isn’t even the most exciting part of what Works With Stripe can deliver for Stripe and its merchant partners.

“The greatest thing of all is that we don’t know. There are a lot of integrations that we think are out there, and we want to be sure we can bring those integrations to life.”

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