Stripe expands payments service to Cuba to support startups

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People stand outside a currency exchange shop to change money in Havana, March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa
People stand outside a currency exchange shop to change money in Havana, March 17, 2016.

Reuters/Enrique De La Osa

Silicon Valley payments company Stripe is bringing its services to Cuba to help entrepreneurs there start new businesses, an action that brings U.S. tech services to Cubans as relations between the two countries thaw.

Stripe, a startup valued at $5 billion that gives websites and apps an easier way to process payments, said on Friday it will extend to Cuba one of its new services, called Stripe Atlas, a product designed to give entrepreneurs access to the basic services for starting a global Internet business.

Stripe Atlas will allow Cuban entrepreneurs to incorporate U.S. businesses, register with the Internal Revenue Service, access a U.S. bank account provided by Silicon Valley Bank and receive payments from anywhere in the world.

Stripe Atlas, which costs $500, is used by businesses in another 185 countries.

About 5 percent of Cuba’s population has Internet access, one of the lowest penetration rates in the world, according to Freedom House. Yet 70 percent of Cubans want to start their own business, according to a survey published in April by The Washington Post.

The company said the White House had reached out to Stripe for help supporting Cubans interested in founding startups. Stripe CEO Patrick Collision will join President Obama’s historic trip to Havana next week.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)