Stripe Launches Atlas – Future of Cloud Incorporations?

Michael MicheliniBanking, Blog, Corporate2 Comments

Thank you everyone, have been notified over and over about the new Stripe Atlas and I have talked to quite a few of you about it. This is a reason I love being a blogger – people reach out to help keep me informed on the changing industries in international business and corporate setup.

Today we will dig into what Stripe Atlas is, and more important what it may mean for the future of corporate setup, banking, and merchant accounts.

What Is Stipe Atlas?

So literally yesterday (Thurs Feb 25, 2016) Stripe announced this new program. So a lot of developments and tweaks may come in the near future.

The main gist is that they will make a one stop shop for new entrepreneurs and startups FROM ANYWHERE in the world open up a US company, US bank account, and get a Stripe merchant account. Its still in private beta so invite only, but afterwards they say the Atlas program will cost $500 US dollars.

While some agencies in the market may say they already provide a one stop solution – this is a bit different. It is one form! So just go there, fill out all your information, make the payment and you are done.

Imagine someone in Zimbabwe, Africa logging into the Stripe Atlas program from an internet cafe in downtown, applying, and getting a US Delaware C corporation company, bank account, and merchant account – without ever needing to be in America!

They would then pay taxes in America on that income, they would be taxed in Africa personally as an owner of the company (for salary and dividends), but not corporate tax as he/she doesn’t have a company in Africa.

While we don’t know if this Atlas program will allow all nationalities and circumstances to be approved – it is a big step in that direction.

Cloud companies!

Why Is It Revolutionary?

So still, some of you may read it and say “so what, a form to fill out to open a company, bank account, and merchant account in one”. True, it is just that for now.

But others have gotten me more up to speed saying it will be an “API for incorporations”. Think of it this way, if everyone goes to this Stripe program to open a company and then plug into the other parts of the process – every 3rd party company that needs to be setup when a new business is established will want to plug in as well.

So, just like a shopping cart to buy products and “add to cart”, imagine this as the “add to cart” shopping experience for setting up your new company.

Hong Kong, Will You Help Us Do Something Like This?

So now, when people contacted me about this Stripe Atlas, a lot of them said it would be great if something like this existed for Hong Kong company setup and upkeep.

Sure, I’d love this too! Yet as we’ve discussed a lot on this blog, opening the bank account as well as the merchant account has been quite a slow process. Especially the banking, which still needs to be done in person.

Yet, Larry Salibra from the Hong Kong Bitcoin Association has let me know that they finally have budgets for Blockchain technology for HK (government article)!

There are people here trying our best to make Hong Kong business as open and accessible – but its a big process. Some of the issues are banks explain that the US government is making the FATCA forms a big headache and the KYC (know your customer) process very strict.

So what I don’t understand is, the US government makes it hard to open a bank account in other countries, but easy for people to signup on Stripe Atlas and get a bank account without being present? Something doesn’t add up to me. Either the Hong Kong banks are not understanding what the US regulations need them to do, or there is some unfair requirements US is making banks outside of US do while making things easy to do within the US border?

I’m trying to dig deeper into the reasoning for this, and would always appreciate comments and feedback here if you can shed some light on it!

Stripe Hong Kong? When?

As our blog ranks high in Google for Stripe in Hong Kong – we get tons of people reaching out to us asking when it will actually be here. They spoke at the Rise startup conference last summer (2015) and said they were coming to Asia by the end of 2015 – yet still not in Hong Kong!

I got a tip (for what its worth) from someone on Linkedin (that doesn’t want to be revealed) saying he has “heard” there will be a private beta for Stripe in Hong Kong in Q2 2016. So let’s hope.

So annoying they are still not here! Been trying to get them here since 2013!

Yet we do have Braintree Payments here, as well as a ton of others you can find on our merchant account comparison page. So we are getting more and more options.

Getting Closer to Business Without Borders

The Stripe Atlas program is very exciting. It is dropping borders! Well, another way, putting all these users into the American system.

Discussing with quite a few people a lot smarter than me, I do have the conclusion that it will help entrepreneurship around the world. A ton of clients I talk to really get bogged down in all this paperwork and procedures just to get a bank account, merchant account, credit card, etc.

Why should a new entrepreneur waste so much time on administrative work? The real value is in building a product or service that will add value to the world!

Are Your Incorporations Plans Changing Due to Stripe Atlas?

What do you think of the Stripe Atlas program? Will you close all your businesses around the world and incorporate in America for 500 dollars? Stripe is much cheaper at 2.9% processing rate than the normal 4% industry average for offshore merchant accounts (as we’re higher risk regions).

I’d love to hear if you are adjusting any of your corporate structures due to this program.

Some have said in our huddle about this that in Hong Kong, maybe a new entrepreneur will skip setting up a Hong Kong company and simply register in America – to get the easy banking, the easy Stripe merchant account, and skip a lot of the headaches. Yet if he or she would need to do any local Hong Kong business, it may need him to open a company here. Yet online, there are no real borders, and they could run it all out of their apartment.

I will be following this closely and it would be great to hear from other’s reactions to this announcement in the comment section here – cheers!

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Renaud Anjoran
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That’s pretty interesting. I’m wondering about the A to Z costs and procedures (yearly accounting? closing the bank account and the company? etc.)
By the way, your link to Stripe Atlas at the start of the article is broken.

Michael Michelini
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That – setting up is always the more straight forward one, its the upkeep and ongoing (and as you mentioned, closing) that is more complex.

Fixed the link, thanks for reading and commenting Renaud!