Ashlee Vance | Bloomberg
Half of Americans who bought something online in the past year did so, probably unknowingly, via Stripe.
Every day, Americans spend about $1.2 billion online. That figure has roughly doubled in the past five years, according to the Department of Commerce, and it’s likely to double again in the next five as the internet continues to devour traditional retail.
So it might come as a surprise that the web’s financial infrastructure is old and slow. For years, the explosive growth of e-commerce has outpaced the underlying technology; companies wanting to set up shop have had to go to a bank, a payment processor, and “gateways” that handle connections between the two.
This takes weeks, lots of people, and fee after fee. Much of the software that processes the transactions is decades old, and the more modern bits are written by banks, credit card companies, and financial middlemen, none of whom are exactly winning hackathons for elegant coding.