Q&A with Mac Wang at Stripe

During the 12 months to February 2021, Australians spent almost $47 billion on online retail, equating to around 13% of total retail sales, and about 48% higher than for the 12 months to February 2020.[i]

As a result, accepting online payments has become increasingly important for retailers. For time poor small business owners, the ability to process online payments within hours of completing an online application form and seamless integration with existing systems (e.g. Xero) are important criteria when selecting a payment service provider.

Mac Wang, StripeIn contrast, for not-for-profit organisations that rely on online donations, the payment service provider decision can sometimes be superfluous when there is only one default option available, which is the case with fundraising platforms such as Raisely, Funraisin and Enablr (that use Stripe).

Payments Consulting Network Managing Director, Mangala Martinus, caught up with Mac Wang, Head of Australia and New Zealand at Stripe, to discuss how the company is supporting Australian businesses to tap into this e-commerce growth and why platforms and marketplaces choose Stripe to support their clients with seamless payment services.

You can read the highlights of the conversation below.

MM: Please provide an overview of the business and the services it provides.

MW: Stripe was founded in 2010 by brothers, John and Patrick Collison. The duo saw a need to rewire the internet economy at a time when it’s most needed – allowing more businesses in more places to get up and running online, accepting payments safely and quickly over the internet.

Stripe builds the economic infrastructure for the internet. We work with businesses of every size – from new start-ups to public companies – to accept online payments and run technically sophisticated financial operations globally.

Stripe’s foundation is our global payments and treasury network (“GPTN”). So, if you think about our suite of products across three categories – accepting money; storing and managing money; and paying out money – you’ll see that there’s quite a lot for us to build! While we initially conceived of the GPTN for up-and-comers, it turns out that large enterprises want these same capabilities – and want to spend their engineering resources elsewhere.

Stripe is available to businesses in 44 countries.

Stripe users can accept card payments from customers in 195 countries and manages hundreds of billions of dollars of processing volume annually.

Stripe employs about 3,000 people in 16 offices around the world, including Melbourne and Sydney.

MM: What payments services do you offer merchants and not-for-profit organisations in Australia?

MW: Stripe helps new companies start and scale online, and established businesses adapt and accelerate into new markets and launch new business models.

In Australia, the core services we provide include:

  • Payments – Stripe’s powerful APIs and software solutions designed to help businesses accept payments and move money globally. With 135+ currencies and dozens of payment methods, from Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCP, CUP, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay, WeChat Pay, Afterpay, and BECS Direct Debits, Stripe makes it easy to launch new markets and add customers’ preferred way of paying to increase conversion abroad. Stripe Checkout is a prebuilt, hosted payment page optimised for conversion to easily and securely accept payments online. Stripe elements – rich, prebuilt UI componentsㄧallows businesses to design a fully customisable payments form.
  • Connect – a set of programmable APIs and tools that lets you facilitate payments on your software platform, build a marketplace, and pay out sellers or service providers globally – all while having Stripe handle payments compliance. Millions of sellers (drivers, couriers, caregivers, barbers, etc) on Connect marketplaces. Already, 1 in 4 marketplaces on Stripe pay sellers outside their home country.
  • Billing – The fastest way for businesses to bill customers with subscriptions or invoices. It helps capture more revenue, support new products or business models, and accept recurring payments globally.
  • Radar – helps detect and block fraud for any type of business using machine learning that trains on data across millions of global companies. In 2019, Radar prevented 500 million dollars in payment fraud every month and reduced fraud across the Stripe network by 25% in APAC.

MM: What industry sectors and client types do you focus on?

MW: Stripe serves millions of businesses worldwide.

Businesses of all sizes and industries rely on Stripe to accelerate their economic agility. We build our products for the user first, and our mission of building the GPTN enables us to help businesses across all industries. Some of our Australian users include:

  • Employer/team workforce SaaS companies such as Atlassian and Cultureamp.
  • Health companies such as Coviu, Pilot and Mosh.
  • Hospitality industry including Mr Yum and Australian Venue Co.
  • Delivery services including Jimmy Brings, Menulog, Uber and Deliveroo.
  • Enterprise companies including Atlassian, Canva and Xero.

Overall volume in Stripe’s enterprise segment is more than doubling year-over-year (Sept 2020).

MM: What are your key strengths?

MW: There’s a few key ways to think about our role helping adaptive businesses thrive in this digital era:

  • Scalability being able to handle growth and spikes in consumer demand
  • Flexibility being able to make the customer experience as simple and seamless as possible. For example easily supporting payment methods like ApplePay or Afterpay
  • Efficiency integrating quickly and being able to seamlessly expand, including into new global markets, all with one integration

Stripe is powering both the fastest growing companies in the world (Zoom, Slack, Deliveroo) and traditional giants looking to reinvent themselves (Westfield, LVMH).

Stripe is also well positioned to support whatever new types of commerce emerge over the next decade — including marketplaces (e.g. Kickstarter), subscription models (e.g. Atlassian, Typeform, Personio), mobile/distributed commerce (buying inside third-party apps like Facebook or ShopStyle), and store-builder commerce platforms (e.g. Shopify, Squarespace).

Commerce on the internet is still very much in its infancy and there’s a lot of growth still to come.

MM: What do you see as your key differentiators?

MW: Stripe’s vision goes way beyond payment processing. We are building infrastructure focusing on all the things internet businesses need to grow, not just a PSP.

Our products help businesses in hundreds of countries accept payments (Checkout), power complex business models (Connect, Billing), prevent fraud (Radar), analyse their financial data (Sigma), or even get started in the first place (Atlas).

MM: What were your key achievements over the last 12 months?

MW: The biggest achievement was supporting businesses that didn’t have digital payments prior to Covid come online, allowing them to not only survive lockdowns, but thrive. From March to June 2020 alone, we supported 10,000 Australian businesses to come online and more than 70 thousand in Asia Pacific. These new businesses have now processed more than $2.4B+ in revenues so far. During the pandemic, we also saw an average of 5,000 requests a second on our network.

From a product perspective, one we are very proud of is the launch of Stripe Climate. which lets merchants contribute a fraction of their revenue to carbon removal.

We announced a partnership with Afterpay, which allows both new and existing Stripe merchants to easily offer Afterpay.

We are also continuing to enable new payment methods such as BECS Direct Debits in Australia, CUP and JCB in the past year.

MM: What are the key initiatives on your product/service roadmap over the next year?

MW: While I can’t comment on our product roadmap, I can say that we’re always evolving our product offerings to better serve our customers.

MM: What industry changes or trends do you see occurring over the next 2-3 years that will have a major impact on your business and/or your clients?

MW: We’ve all seen, and been part of, the dramatic acceleration of the shift to online, with years of evolution being compressed into a few short months.

And this change is here to stay: Research by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has not only shown that the number of online shoppers and their purchases has significantly increased around the globe since the start of the pandemic, but also that the majority of them intend to continue the digital habits adopted because of COVID-19 after the pandemic.

On the macro level, the digital shift that we saw in the pandemic will continue to gain momentum. These trends include:

  • The continued acceleration of mobile and contactless payments
  • Building competitive advantage by finding new revenue streams, adopting new business models, and expanding internationally
  • Investing and prioritising innovation to stay ahead of the technology curve

For Stripe, this means we will continue to stay focused on making sure businesses can rely on us to simplify global expansion, optimise their payments infrastructure, and easily add new business models and revenue streams.

MM: What key criteria or features should a business consider when evaluating payments service providers?

MW: Businesses should be thinking about the value that a payments provider adds. Some things to consider are:

  • Fraud detection and prevention.
  • Speed of payments.
  • Revenue optimisation features.
  • Ease of integration and customisation.
  • Ease of subscription and billing management.
  • Ability to expand abroad.

Mac Wang participated in the keynote panel on The Secret of E-Commerce Success in Australia at Seamless Australia on 6 May 2021.

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[i] NAB, NAB Online Retail Sales Index: February 2021, https://business.nab.com.au/nab-online-retail-sales-index-february-2021-45598/ – accessed on 4 May 2021.