I have high hopes for Stripe Atlas

by on February 25, 2016 at 12:47 am in Economics, Law | Permalink

Stripe Atlas [is] a new product the company unveiled this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up small businesses in the United States. If all goes according to Stripe’s plan, Atlas could let start-up founders sidestep some of the bureaucratic hurdles that often hamper building a new business.

Determining eligibility requires little more than filling out a form. After that, Stripe will incorporate an entrepreneur’s company as a business entity in Delaware, and provide the entrepreneur with a United States bank account and Stripe merchant account to accept payments globally.

The target audience is all of the entrepreneurs outside the United States who want access to the country’s well-developed banking infrastructure and business services. Stripe is particularly interested in attracting entrepreneurs from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia, among other regions.

…Eligible entrepreneurs will also be offered access to basic tax and legal consulting and business services from partners like PricewaterhouseCoopers, and will receive free credit to run their online business on the Amazon Web Services hosting platform.

Atlas is to begin on Wednesday in an invitation-only beta test; entrepreneurs can apply for the program through Stripe or one of the 50-plus start-up accelerator programs that the company has teamed up with globally. The beta program’s cost is $500.

Here is the Mike Isaac NYT article.

1 prior_test1 February 25, 2016 at 3:02 am

Eligible entrepreneurs will also be offered the chance to interact with the American tax/Treasury authorities, in all their glory, while also providing full and complete information of their economic activities to anyone in the U.S. government with the ability to request it (which due to America’s apparently growing thicket of secret regulations, is impossible to judge the extent of).

Part of the hint in how that works is found in this passage – ‘Eligible entrepreneurs will also be offered access to basic tax and legal consulting and business services from partners like PricewaterhouseCoopers.’ Access meaning that Stripe already knows where the invoice is to be sent, of course.

2 dearieme February 25, 2016 at 7:52 am

“Eligible entrepreneurs will also be offered the chance to interact with the American tax/Treasury authorities”: spot on. Our family entrepreneur views the idea of conducting any business in the US, especially as a foreigner (and therefore shake-down target), with horror.

3 Brett Dunbar February 25, 2016 at 5:15 am

So they are selling shell companies (UK company is pretty much a synonym of US corporation)?

It’s hardly a new thing, brokers who trade in both second hand dormant companies and set up new shell companies have been around in the UK and many other places for many decades. It has become somewhat less common as the advantages of a pre-aged company (some things are easier with a company that has existed for a prolonged period) have decreased and registration of a new company has become easier.

4 Alan February 25, 2016 at 6:09 am

‘RE Bank Accounts have three words a nd 15 years experience; Know Your Customer.

5 rayward February 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

It’s an interesting concept: Stripe is creating its own customers. Ironically, Stripe is an Irish company. It’s web site is chock-full of jargon, so it’s difficult to tell what Stripe does (besides processing payments like PayPal), but from the NYT article about Atlas, my impression is that Stripe will provide what are essentially banking services in the U.S. (another non-bank bank) to businesses located elsewhere, whether because the elsewhere doesn’t have modern banking services (that’s what is described in the article) or because elsewhere might be a little too nosy. The potential for facilitating fraud would alarm me but in today’s business environment and global economy, fraud is synonymous with free enterprise.

6 Tom Warner February 25, 2016 at 7:29 am

Seems you and NYT getting carried away with the tech company imprimatur. It’s just an internet payment processor reselling Delaware business formation services.

7 Anon February 25, 2016 at 9:08 am


” shrug.”

8 Jump February 25, 2016 at 9:50 am

Uber, but for business formation.

9 Gafiated February 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

So you’re saying it’s a… Cloud Atlas?

10 Andrew M February 25, 2016 at 7:29 am

“the country’s well-developed banking infrastructure”

Hah, very funny. For a developed country, the US still uses a lot of paper checks (cheques).

11 mulp February 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm

How can they make it easier to setup a small business than Uber, Task Rabbit, Lyft, Airbnb, et al?

Every contractor using those rent seeking services are independent businesses, not employees or workers.

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