Hi, I’m Rachel, the CEO of Intrinio. At Intrinio, we have been hard at work building the “Stripe” of financial data. In this article, I’m going to explain what that means, why it’s important, and list some other companies that are also becoming the “Stripes” of their own categories.
Let’s begin by examining why Stripe is heralded as such a success story in fintech.
Stripe is a fintech company that primarily focuses on facilitating payment transactions. Stripe products and technology power digital payments for online businesses, subscription services, marketplaces, and even in-person retailers.
Since their inception, new products have been launched to combat fraud, send invoices, issue virtual and physical cards, get financing, manage spending, and more. They call it “payments infrastructure” for the internet, and now they are more broadly helping businesses manage their online infrastructure and doing it for millions of them.
It’s been working well for them. In 2021, Stripe was the most highly-valued venture-backed private company in the entire United States, valued at $95 billion in its SERIES H round.
Patrick and John Collision, the founders, have an incredible story of growth and expert execution. They’ve raised money nearly every year they’ve been in business, nailing organic growth, timing, product-market fit, and execution, reaching unicorn status just four years after Stripe’s inception.
This gets to a critical point, what is it about the “Stripe” model, the bones of what they went after, that makes it such a powerful business?
Let’s start with the first, most critical piece of Stripe’s successful model, they capitalized on a massive paradigm shift.
Wealth is created during paradigm shifts. When the world changes underneath our feet, new solutions are needed to support our new way of working, living, and buying - opening the door for creativity and new business creation.
The paradigm shift for Stripe was that nearly all businesses operate online now over four trillion dollars in business. What’s even more of a jaw-dropper than that? That’s only 14% of all commerce!
Now, of course, you could argue that this is old news and that this paradigm shift has been happening for decades, and it has. But, as always, technology takes forever to catch up.
It’s far too easy to forget how complicated and nuanced the “underbelly” of online commerce is. Updating legacy infrastructure doesn’t happen overnight, but there is a ton of it needed to support this paradigm shift.
Service and technology providers that are able to facilitate a massive paradigm shift at the infrastructure level end up generating serious value. Just think of Rockefeller. As Patrick says, “We’re not a glamorous business, just an infrastructure company that hopefully we’ll be able to compound for a long time.”
Okay, Stripe is building a critical technology service in the middle of a massive paradigm shift. Good start.
The second piece to the successful Stripe model is its developer-first approach. In an interview at CB Insights’ 2019 Future of Fintech conference, Stripe CPO William Gaybrick indicated that businesses are more constrained by developer resources than by capital.
If you haven’t noticed, developers are the future. They’re becoming the most powerful resources behind companies, the military, the government, and more. They keep business flowing, the world moving, and your life safe and running smoothly.
Developer tools and API businesses are hot right now, and they aren’t cooling off any time soon. This powerful customer base is responsible for building our next generation of apps and technology. They’re the ones integrating payment processing, live data, and features into the apps you use every day.
Unfortunately, developer experience is often overlooked. The businesses that get it right are striking gold. The ability of developers to easily understand and use an API is critical, and that’s what Stripe nails. With a clean, easy-to-use API, great documentation, SDKs, resources, and developer tools, Stripe has created a playground for engineers. Making life easy for developers is a massive part of Stripe’s success.
Next, let’s talk about modern user experience. Stripe prioritized this from the beginning, keeping control over the design and experience within the platform.
They realized that in an increasingly online world, things needed to get simpler. Much simpler as it’s what customers are demanding. The simplification of the buying process is huge. Making things fast and easy cannot be understated. Instant access and a self-serve model led to the massive adoption of the Stripe technology, appeasing customers and removing barriers to entry.
Today’s consumers, especially developers, don't want to have to talk to anyone. If the buying process is more than a few steps and involves a human, forget about it. World-class support is another important part of a modern user experience, and it’s something most businesses get wrong. Stripe didn’t. Stripe’s modern approach to user experience enabled rapid adoption and branded them as a forward-thinking company
If you are building something big and exciting, you want to work with a hip, exciting company like Stripe because you know you’ll get the experience you want.
That leads us to the last piece of the “Stripe” business model - an innovative customer base. Although Stripe now serves businesses of all sizes, working with early-stage, high-growth companies are part of its DNA.
Some may think this target market is risky, and it is - but risk equals reward. Interfacing and serving early-stage tech companies helps Stripe stay at the forefront of innovation and up to speed with the latest trends. Smart, entrepreneurial clients push them for features, experience, and forward-looking products.
And instead of focusing on businesses, customers, and use cases that are bound to be defunct at some point, Stripe is serving the next generation of buyers and locking them in from the beginning. These customers are defining the future of their industries, and while they may be early stages today, they represent the customer base of tomorrow. Serving them and learning from them gives your business a leg up in the long term.
And that, folks, is the “Stripe” formula:
Design a business around a paradigm shift. Build it specifically for developers, make the user experience phenomenal, and target early-stage, innovative companies.
At Intrinio, we are following this exact same model, but we are applying it to the financial data space within the capital markets ecosystem. What Stripe saw happening in digital commerce and payments is almost in parallel happening in the investing and capital markets space.
Payments are the infrastructure needed for online commerce and financial data is the infrastructure needed to power investing apps and the future of fintech.
Remember the stat - only 14% of commerce is online right now? Well, fewer than 100m of the 300m people in the United States are investing right now. That figure seems low, but it was far lower just 2 years ago. Globally, the percentage of people investing is even smaller.
Investment is becoming democratized, and fintech is the plumbing making it happen. Hundreds of retail trading apps, brokerage platforms, robo-advisory firms, new stock exchanges, online investment managers, and quant funds are hitting the scene.
These customers are also demanding easier, faster access to these infrastructure services, and the developers are running the show. They all need the payments infrastructure Stripe has to offer, but they also need data.
This type of investment or financial data is mission-critical for fintech innovators, and when it’s plugged in with APIs it brings an app or platform alive. Finding and accessing critical data feeds can be very difficult for innovators in finance. Much like the legacy process for accepting payments, the legacy process for procuring a data feed is a nightmare.
Large, legacy providers of financial data feeds like Bloomberg and S&P are operating on archaic infrastructure, charging massive fees, delivering outdated tech, creating poor user experiences, laying miles of red tape and restrictions, and aren’t building developer tools.
Let’s bring the “Stripe” framework back up and talk about how Intrinio is using it to solve the problem of unlocking data for these companies.
The democratization of investing, the explosion of retail trading, and the general emergence of “fintech” created a major paradigm shift in financial data.
Thousands of entrepreneurs and institutions have scrambled to build tools, apps, and investment strategies to support this shift, and their data needs have changed drastically.
Intrinio positioned itself to serve the data needs of this new generation of consumers, and we’re doing things very differently from traditional providers.
Unlike most large data vendors, Intrinio chose to be developer and API-first. This means we don’t offer an interface to look at the data, we just offer the plumbing and pipes so that our customers can build their visions on top of the data.
In fact, we are by developers for developers. As the founder and CEO of Intrinio, I’m a former developer myself, and I’ve ensured that we do everything with developers in mind.
We have a powerful API, clear documentation, easy-to-use SDKs, tutorials, code samples, sandboxes, sales engineers, and stellar support. We’ll always remain API-forward, and we’ll always strive to make developers’ lives easier.
Much like Stripe, if you visit our website, you can sign up, get API keys, and start trialing data in minutes. This is in vast contrast to the traditional data procurement process, and it’s by design.
We have experts ready to chat with you if you need them, and our customer support is the best in the industry. Our goal is to provide the best technology and data sets to our customers and then get out of their way so they can build and grow.
And yes, we use Stripe for quick, seamless payment processing.
John Collison once said, “Stripe really did come about because we were really appalled by how hard it was to charge for things online.”
If you’ve heard the Intrinio founding story, you’ll know it’s identical. In our early days, my co-founder and I struggled to find easy, fast, affordable, and developer-friendly data feed integrations for our own app. They didn’t exist.
The market was hungry for something simpler and more powerful - and we built it.
Lastly, Intrinio’s customer base is full of innovators defining the future of finance.
In many cases, this means early-stage innovators and startups, just like Stripe’s early customers, but we’ve also been impressed with what our institutional clients are building with our data. Either way, our customers are at the forefront of fintech and defining what investing, and capital markets will look like tomorrow, next year, and 50 years down the road.
We love learning from them and appreciate that they keep us on our toes. We listen often and make sure we are tweaking our products and approaches to support them and the future they are building. Some of these customers are extremely young, and some are extremely small. But we know that they are the future, so we are learning as much about them as we can right now.
As you can see, the “Stripe” recipe, applied to the financial data space, works wonders. Intrinio has stepped in to become the Stripe of financial data, but data isn’t the only piece of infrastructure needed to support the fintech paradigm shift.
Here are 4 other companies that are developing critical stripe-style infrastructure for capital markets:
Tradier provides a suite of APIs to power brokerage and advisor platforms.
Their technology enables new platforms to get up and running instantly, taking care of authentication, trading, and account services.
Tradier is ushering in a new, more efficient brokerage service. They’re capitalizing on the fintech paradigm shift, they are API and developer based, they have a seamless, quick-start UI, and they are serving extremely innovative customers.
Laika provides a suite of tools and APIs to completely streamline the compliance process for fintechs and companies selling into financial institutions.
Security, risk, privacy, audits, and more are all made easy, fast, and simple with Laika.
Laika is capitalizing off of the reg-tech paradigm shift. They are API and developer-focused. They have a simple, quick-start model and experience. And their customers are at the forefront of fintech technology.
Plaid enables app developers to connect their apps to user bank and financial accounts safely.
For many fintech companies, this enables a powerful user experience so customers can, for example, transfer money to finance and execute a trade or view their investments alongside their savings.
Plaid is capitalizing on the open banking paradigm shift, delivering API and developer tools, providing quick and seamless UX, and powering some incredibly innovative customer solutions.
MX is another fintech with a Stripe-like brand. They are focused on accelerating the open finance revolution that represents a paradigm shift in personal finance.
With a focus on developer experience, easy-to-use APIs, and an approachable UX, MX fits the mold of a modern tech company changing the way businesses think about their customers
If you are building a fintech app, you integrate Stripe for payment processing, Intrinio for displaying market data, Tradier for brokerage services, Laika for compliance, Plaid for financial account integration, and MX for account analytics.
With every single one of these solutions, you’re up and running in minutes, if not seconds.
You’re enjoying the experience. Your developers are happy. You are saving money. You’re part of a community of like-minded, forward-thinking innovators.
Welcome to the new, streamlined, developer-driven paradigm. It’s about time.
This is the “Stripe” model. At Intrinio, we’re excited to be following a similar path in the financial data space, but the same framework can be applied to a plethora of industries. So don’t be afraid to look under the hood of your industry and look at the unsexy infrastructure.
As Patrick Collison said, “If you want to build stuff that everyone’s heard about at Thanksgiving dinner, Stripe will never be that for you.”
The same goes for Intrinio, the Stripe of financial data. Innovating, under the hood.
Whether you are building your own fintech app, investing in fintechs, or studying the industry - I hope you are on the lookout for new ‘Stripes.’