John Collison, Stripe cofounder: Stay calm and keep buying online!

John Collison, the young (though now slightly gray haired) cofounder and president of Stripe, has revealed his thoughts on the state of e-commerce over the past 12-18 months that saw the fintech industry suffer a huge drop in venture capital interest. “The GDP of the internet is pretty good to be honest. Better than anyone thinks, actually.”

Speaking at the Sifted Summit in London on October 4, 2023, Collison, the now 33-year-old Irish entrepreneur who leads one of the past decade’s most successful fintech companies in Stripe, described the recent slump in VC funding in the fintech space as a needed correction that sets up steady growth for the medium term. “Growth now around the market is returning and is pretty robust. Even the crypto market feels healthier now,” he said.

S&P Global reported in July that global fintech funding had halved to $23 billion in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period a year before, and that the number of deals dropped a whopping 64%.

But Collison was supremely bullish on the future. “There are two criteria we look at to see where things are. One, is to look at what fraction of commerce is ecommerce, and today it’s about 10-15%. When you compare how much better the online experience is, we think this figure is way off what it needs to be. Second, we think there should be much more cross-border trade going on. In the EU 25% of commerce is cross border, and we are looking to be the universal translator between countries to allow this figure to grow.”

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He also thinks Europe is in a great spot, even compared to the United States. When he asked audience members who used new banking methods such as Revolut, about half raised their hands, which is far more than would be seen in the US, he said.

Stripe’s success and resilience has been a beacon, especially during the pandemic when online transactions surged and many older companies were forced to adapt. “One of the big permanent changes we’ve seen is large companies that have been around 100 years, and that were not very good at the Internet pre Covid, have suddenly been forced to take it seriously. Those changes were made and they’re going to stay,” he said.

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Not everyone was so pleased with Stripe’s ideas, however. In another discussion titled “Is sextech the next big thing?” Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, lambasted Stripe’s policy of prohibiting adult-themed businesses in an f-word laden rant that took her co-speakers somewhat aback. “We would triple our income overnight if we could work with Stripe,” she barked. “This space could be such a giant f****ing mountain of money, it only needs one of us to get to an exit, and the floodgates would open.”

That’s unlikely to happen soon, but John Collison’s take on the pending return of interest and big numbers in fintech certainly could.


James Durston

James Durston is the Editor-in-Chief for Blue Tech Wave, and a former editor and journalist for some of the world's biggest international media organisations.

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