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Stripe Launches Stripe Tax To Integrate Sales Tax Calculations

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On the heels of acquiring sales tax specialist TaxJar in April, today Stripe is making another big move in the area of tax by launching Stripe Tax to integrate Sales Tax calculations into its service offerings.

The $95 billion payments behemoth is launching a new product called Stripe Tax, which will provide automatic, updated sales tax calculations (covering sales tax, VAT, and GST) and related accounting services to Stripe payments customers initially in some 30 countries and across the U.S.

Stripe Tax is a separate service from TaxJar, but the two are not unconnected: as Stripe Tax was being built out of Stripe’s offices in Dublin over the last several months, Stripe’s business lead for EMEA Matt Henderson told me that the team had identified TaxJar as a strong company in the field and that ultimately led to M&A between them.

Sales tax — and specifically a more seamless way to deal with charging and tracking sales tax — is a painful issue for people doing business online. Digital and physical goods are taxed in over 130 countries, Stripe said, and within that, there can be a huge amount of variation and compliance complexity, since codes get updated all the time, too. Mishandled sales tax, meanwhile, can result in pretty hefty fines, sometimes up to 30 percent interest on past-due amounts.

Unsurprisingly, a sales tax tool has been the most requested feature from Stripe’s customers, Henderson said, a request that presumably only got louder in the last year, as e-commerce and digital transactions went through the roof with Covid-19.

Arguably, that makes Stripe Tax one of the company’s more significant product launches, not to mention the first since announcing its monster funding round earlier this year.

Previously, Stripe customers would have resorted to using a third-party service (like TaxJar) to work out sales tax, or more typically those Stripe customers would have opted to limit the number of places they sold goods and services, in order to minimize the pain of dealing with multiple, complex, and usually quite localized tax codes.

Stripe said that a survey of its customers found that two-thirds of respondents said that the challenge of implementing sales tax actually limited their growth.

TaxJar has built a strong system for handling that, but the company — based out of Massachusetts — is primarily focused on the U.S. market, which has a sales tax that is complicated enough (there are 11,000 different tax jurisdictions in the country).

Stripe Tax, on the other hand, is being built from the ground up as a product aimed specifically at increasing touchpoints and stickiness with Stripe customers specifically.

Stripe Tax provides real-time tax calculation based on customer location and product sold; transparent itemizing for customers; tax ID management in areas (like Europe) where business customers can provide their code and get a reverse charge on tax if they are under a certain turnover threshold themselves; and reconciliation and reporting across all transactions to make filing and remittance easier.

However, Stripe Tax can only be used on the Stripe platform.

This could pose some problems for some customers — these days many of the strongest retailers will take an ‘omnichannel’ approach that might cover selling through marketplaces, selling through websites, selling through social media, and more — and not all of those storefronts might be powered by Stripe. It will be worth watching whether future iterations of Stripe Tax can account for that.

“No one leaps out of bed in the morning excited to deal with taxes,” said John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe in a statement. “For most businesses, managing tax compliance is a painful distraction. We simplify everything about calculating and collecting sales taxes, VAT, and GST, so our users can focus on building their businesses.”

Stripe’s most significant product launch prior to Stripe Tax — Stripe Treasury — underscores how the company is currently very focused on diversifying outside of their basic payments business and opening the platform too much wider, more scaled transactions. Treasury, which is still in invite-only mode, saw Stripe partner with established banks to provide a business banking service, providing a way for its customers to handle money that they generate from their Stripe-powered businesses.

Stripe Tax will currently be available in 30 countries, here is the full country list where Stripe Tax is launching in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

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TeamApt Transactions Hit N1.4T In May

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Nigeria’s one of Nigeria’s leading fintech companies, Teamapt said it transacted N1.4 trillion ($3.5billion) value in 68 million transactions volume in May 2021 on its agency banking platform.

The data sourced from the monthly report of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities (SANEF), an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to promote agency banking and mobile money in the country, shows that Teamapt controls 74 percent of the total agency banking operations within the period.

The company which is currently leading Nigeria’s agency banking industry provides financial services for the underserved mass market through Moniepoint – its financial access product, and Monnify – its payment gateway infrastructure.

At a media briefing on Thursday in Lagos, officials of Teamapt revealing more of its transaction figures and financial performance for the past months said in less than two years, the company has grown rapidly to operate the largest agency banking platform with a network of over 100,000 agents.

In March 2021, it hit a milestone of transactions worth over N1trillion ($2.4bn) for the first time. In May, the value increased to N1.4 trillion ($3.5bn) with 68 million transactions in volume, and between April 2020 and April 2021, the total value of transactions processed has gone up to $16 billion.

Speaking on the company’s plans to transform financial services in Africa, CEO and founder of TeamApt, Mr. Tosin Eniolorunda said “To achieve our mission of providing financial happiness for all, we started out by building working infrastructure and distributing this in every of Nigeria’s 36 states.

“So far, Moniepoint has served over 25 percent of the 48 million banked Nigerians, previously underserved by the financial system. This is a great feat but we still have a lot of work to do. Many Nigerians are still underserved, and with this pain not exclusive to Nigeria but shared among Africans, we intend to scale into more regions of the continent.

“We remain focused on innovating, and we expect that in the future, through Moniepoint, we will reach more people across Africa and build their trust in the financial system and processes. We look forward to empowering our agents with the facilities to offer other financial services directly to customers, beyond deposits and withdrawals,’’ Eniolorunda added.

TeamApt reiterated its commitment to transform financial services in Africa, the company was founded in 2015 and started out by building infrastructure for tier-one financial institutions.

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SEC Plans to Launch Regulatory Incubation Programme For Fintechs

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced plans to launch a regulatory incubation (RI) programme for fintech operating or seeking to operate in the Nigerian capital market.

According to a circular published on the commission’s website on Wednesday, June 16, it says that the initiative will be launched in the third quarter of 2021 and will operate by admitting identified fintech business models and processes in cohorts for a one-year period.

The RI program comprises two phases of participation – an initial assessment phase and the regulatory incubation phase.

The SEC said that the categories to be admitted into each cohort will be determined based on submissions received through the fintech assessment form and communicated ahead of each take-off date.

The circular read: “Review of completed Fintech Assessment Forms will continue on an ongoing basis. FinTechs who consider that there is no specific regulation governing their business models or who require clarity on the appropriate regulatory regime for seeking the authorization of the Commission, are encouraged to complete the Fintech Assessment Form.

The commission maintained that it designed the RI program in order to address the needs of new business models and processes that require regulatory authorization to continue carrying out full or ancillary technology-driven capital market activities.

It will serve as an interim measure to aid the evolution of effective regulation which accommodates the innovation by fintech without compromising market integrity and within limits that ensure investor protection.

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Finance Apps’ Deployment Rises by 160% in Nigeria – Report

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AppsFlyer, a global marketing measurement firm has released the 2021 edition of its ‘State of Finance App Marketing,’ report, carried out across Nigeria and other selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report however showed that COVID-19 pandemic directly impacted how consumers interact with financial institutions and how the institutions themselves operate.

According to the report, Financial Technology (FinTech) apps were in high demand, experiencing a 132 per cent leap globally in downloads in the last two years, while sub-Saharan Africa saw impressive growth, with installs in Nigeria climbing 160 per cent, up 100 per cent in Kenya and rising by 52 per cent in South Africa.

Commenting on the growth of finance apps across Africa, the Regional Vice President for EMEA, in charge of Strategic Projects for AppsFlyer, Daniel Junowicz, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the adoption of financial technology globally and in emerging markets especially, finance apps helped millions of consumers and businesses remain connected. This trend is likely to continue and understanding how to best market their apps will be key to African businesses standing out from the crowd and growing their customer base.”

Junowicz added, “With this year heading for a record with total spend globally, reaching no less than $1.2 billion in Q1 alone, we believe that combining different types of marketing activities in addition to improving the registration funnel by optimizing and shortening the time from install to registration will give marketers the edge to utilize their 2021 budget to the fullest.”

Giving details of the deployment of finance apps in Africa, Junowicz said demand for finance apps became all-time high, where downloads of finance apps shot up over the last year. With 56 per cent of the unbanked population in Nigeria many are turning to apps to access key financial solutions including, loans 43.3 per cent, financial services at 35.6 per cent, and investments at 20.3 per cent.

“Nigeria’s Cost Per Install is up 70 per cent since Q2, leading to a spike in spend, especially in Q1 2021 when budgets almost tripled. While each of the three key regions have experienced growth in marketing activity in the last year, Kenya’s overall growth in the last two years has fallen,” the report said.

Giving key global insights about the use of finance app, the report stated that digital banking installs up 45 per cent, while traditional banks gain 22 per cent in 2021. Finance app installs increased 20 per cent overall, but financial services and traditional banking app installs saw only a 15 per cent increase between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. However, only in the first quarter of 2021, traditional banks picked up speed with a 22 per cent rise in installs.

It said there was 3.3 times growth in the number of re-marketing conversions between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021, adding that following a 32 per cent drop in spend in Q2 of 2020 in global market, efforts rebounded in Q3 and with rising user acquisition costs, marketers increased activity in remarketing, which soared 3 times by Q1 2021. Overall, the growth path of non-organic installs continued upward, hitting 172 per cent growth between 2019 and now.

The report added: “Demand for finance apps is rising across the globe, as 29 of the top 40 finance markets by app installs, enjoyed a growth of at least 20 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY), however it was the developing markets that dominated the number of installs. The average number of downloads in developing markets was 70 per cent higher than the average in developed markets, with India, Brazil and Indonesia making up almost half of the global number of downloads.”

Head of Content and Mobile Insight at AppsFlyer, Shani Rosenfelder, said: “FinTech experienced rapid digital transformation over the last year, with the pandemic leading to a shift in mindset even for those that have been slow to adapt.

“Marketers should strive for efficiency with their spend by following the rising Cost Per Install trend and focusing on user acquisition to meet new demand. Marketers should also explore more affordable re-marketing campaigns to keep their brand top of mind amid rising market competition.”

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