Stripe: Dead-simple online payments for SMBs

Want to collect money online, but don't know how? San Francisco startup Stripe is trying to make that process much, much easier.

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You've got to hand it to Stripe: it's a noble goal to try to make online payments easier for small- and medium-sized businesses.

If you've ever tried to do such a thing, you'll already know how much of a headache it can be: merchant's accounts, data storage and the interface itself put processing online payments in the leagues of only the biggest, most patient (plodding?) of companies.

The San Francisco-based startup reportedly raised $20 million this morning to change that, courting General Catalyst, Sequoia, Peter Thiel, Elad Gil, Redpoint, Chris Dixon and Aaron Levie. (Interestingly, PayPal co-founders Max Levchin and Elon Musk invested in an earlier round.)

Stripe thinks it should be easier to accept credit cards on the web. As such, they've created a platform that can handle your customers -- all you need to do is embed some Javascript (or Ruby, or PHP, or...) and you're good to go.

At what price? Well, 2.9 percent off the purchase price, plus 30 cents per successful charge. Stripe will transfer earnings to your bank account on a seven-day rolling basis.

The big-picture hope is that Stripe changes the culture of payments online. Always wanted to create an online marketplace? Now it's a little easier. Always wanted to charge readers of your personal blog? Now you can do it without sheepishly offering your PayPal account. (From one publisher to another, good luck with that.)

Several sites are already using the service; you may be familiar with web app springboard dotCloud, design client questionnaire service Osmosis or Fast Company magazine. As we've seen with so many other web services, intuitive wins the day, so it should be interesting to see Stripe grow -- or at least watch competing services (ahem, PayPal) upgrade their offerings to fend off the new kid on the block.

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