John Collison, co-founder of online payments company, Stripe
As John Collison, who co-founded Stripe with his brother Patrick, put it: “He is fabulously experienced in all matters finance, financial regulation and economic policy.”
Stripe, however, is no newcomer to financial technology. It has been building software to power e-commerce since its foundation in 2010. Its valuation has risen threefold in less than a year, with Forbes magazine reporting that investors were valuing Stripe at $115 billion.
Speculation that Stripe is considering an IPO is firmly rejected by Mr Collison.
“No matter what interview I’ve ever done, I’ve always managed to get a question on this, and my answer is always the same, which is no, we’re not planning on any IPO,” he told RTÉ News.
“You should not read too much into anything you read in the papers about that.”
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Collison said hundreds of thousands of new businesses have come online and started with Stripe. As the company increases its operations around the world, “undergirding the internet economy” is increasingly important.
“So, we have to start thinking about the macro environment in which we operate, and the future trends of where things are going,” he said. “I guess part of why we got really excited about Mark is he very much understands the existing apparatus; how to run a really resilient, responsible, secure financial firm because the Bank of England is responsible for regulating such firms in the UK, so he really understands that world.
“At the same time, he has eyes towards the future. He has spent a lot of time on cryptocurrencies and digital currencies and things like that, and where the future of payments is going,” Mr Collison said.
Mr Carney is the United Nations special envoy on climate action and finance, a role with particular focus on shifting public and private finance markets and mobilising private finance to the levels needed to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement.
This is an ambition shared by the Collison brothers.
“One of the things that we bonded over with Mark, is that we are both very passionate about climate,” John Collison said.
“You might have seen the recent Stripe Climate product that we launched. That is something that is already proving really successful where businesses can put a portion of their revenues towards carbon removal.”
Stripe’s product allows any online business to contribute funds to technologies that remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere. Stripe doesn’t take any fees for Stripe Climate contributions, and uses 100% of the funds to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies
“On Mark’s side, he was very early to this, he was asking what should investors be demanding from companies when it comes to the climate.”
The Collison brothers are also passionate about education and have been instrumental in supporting University of Limerick design an Immersive Software Engineering programme, which will redefine computer science education.
🧵 Delighted today to announce a partnership two years in the making: @UL, @Stripe, and many other companies are teaming up to launch Immersive Software Engineering, a new undergrad degree. https://t.co/yfZrsCuTmN
— John Collison (@collision) February 24, 2021
The new integrated undergraduate and Masters degree was designed in partnership with over a dozen leading tech companies from Ireland and around the world, including Stripe, Analog Devices, Zalando, Intercom, Shopify, Manna Aero.
“I think our motivation for this came from seeing what works at Stripe and what doesn’t,” Mr Collison said.
“Computer science and software engineering, despite being a fabulous career to go into, still is one of the best kept secrets. If you talk to some of the big tech companies, 75% say they are very constrained by hiring the right software engineers. We really want to hire lots of software engineers and in Ireland in particular.
“I don’t think enough students consider software engineering as a career, in part because it’s not totally obvious what the next steps are, and it’s not obvious when you’re a student how you can go get connected with all these companies. Part of the goal behind the ISE programme is to provide a really accessible path for talented students – boys and girls, and particularly increasing the representation of girls, coming into computer science.”