In the latest and most dramatic example of Stripe’s new business, look no farther than 90 miles off the Florida coast.
Stripe offers global companies the ability to incorporate on U.S. soil, Delaware to be specific, and gain access to the U.S. economy and financial system. It’s now extending that Stripe Atlas service to Cuba.
This development follows President Obama’s lifting sections of the U.S. embargo against the island nation that until now has restricted Cuban citizens from earning money in the United States, let alone opening a U.S. bank account.
Patrick Collison, Stripe’s CEO, said the expansion coalesced quickly, after White House officials met with Cuban entrepreneurs interested in such service.
Banking and payments, and generally the movement of money, was extremely difficult for them […] and those are the primary impediments to a thriving ecosystem.
To begin, Stripe is set up to work with the Havana-based group known as Merchise Startup Circle, which will assist Stripe’s efforts to navigate the Cuban startup scene and discover businesses that would do well in Delaware (virtualy speaking.)
In broad strokes, the Atlas program is intended for internet businesses planning to sell to customers worldwide, or in the States, and secure American investors or engage in any business that generates a presence in the U.S.
For $500, Stripe will help Cuban businesses incorporate as a Delaware business, open a bank account and begin tax and legal consultations. It’s true that the buy-in amount is quite a hefty sum in some parts of the world, but Stripe’s co-founder John Collison told Re/code that this steep price was set purposefully, to ensure only the most serious entrepreneurs who recognize that “incorporating money is a serious thing” will apply.
There are serious challenges in implementing this program in Cuba. Less than 5% of households in Cuba have internet access. The government hopes 50% of households will have internet by 2020 — an imminent development Stripe believes is precisely why they should start forming profitable relationships in the Caribbean nation. Patrick Collison commentedt:
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A majority of the world’s developers are in what we currently call emerging markets…. Companies that fail to take these markets seriously are really going to be left behind.