Stripe Now Available for Hong Kong Merchants

We received an invitation from the Stripe guys to join the Private Beta version. We recommend this great platform to manage payments through credit cards. Here I copy paste the original message:

Good news: we are up and running in private beta, and we're excited to invite you to take part. All of our standard docs and features apply — learn more here: https://stripe.com/docs

You can get started right away:

https://stripe.com/welcome/fdRobY

As of today, you can accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express transactions in any of our 100+ supported currencies and be paid out in HKD.

We'd love to hear your feedback, either on using Stripe as a whole, or on Hong Kong-specific details. We'd especially like to hear about any glitches so we can fix them as soon as possible — you can reach our Hong Kong team at support+hk@stripe.com, or get help anytime at https://support.stripe.com/.

Let us know if we can help with anything at all as you're getting started with Stripe.

 

Stripe Helps 440 Global Tech Startups Offshore to Delaware

(Bloomberg) — When global companies think about incorporating offshore, they typically look to places such as Bermuda, Ireland, or the Netherlands. Kenyan entrepreneur Trevor Kimenye decided to go with Delaware.

Kimenye co-founded his digital marketing startup Ongair Inc. in Nairobi two years ago. He said companies around the world use Ongair’s tools to help them communicate with customers through WhatsApp and other messaging apps. Ongair has the look and feel of Silicon Valley software, but whenever it tried to collect payment from companies using its services, there would be an inevitable moment of confusion. “Everyone thought we were from the Valley, and now we’re, like, ‘OK, send this money to a Kenyan bank account,’” Kimenye said. “They were, like: ‘Are you Nigerian princes?’”

Ongair employees hacked together a system of wire-transfer services and web payments tools from PayPal Holdings Inc. to facilitate transactions from around the globe. But Kimenye said he was spending way too much time studying the complexities of foreign-exchange currency markets: “I was becoming a forex guru.” He considered switching to Stripe Inc., but the San Francisco startup, which makes payments tools that are popular with coders in the Valley, doesn’t service Kenya.

So Stripe helped him incorporate in the U.S. through a new program called Atlas. “When we automatically took money for the first time from a credit card, everyone in the office was like, ‘Wow,’” Kimenye said. “We felt it had leveled the playing field for us with other companies in the Valley or in Europe. It was no longer holding us back.”

Stripe has been slowly rolling out Atlas over the last three months, pitching it as a startup in a box. For a $500 fee, an aspiring entrepreneur can get the paperwork needed to incorporate in Delaware, a business account with Silicon Valley Bank, connections to American law and consulting firms, and a Stripe account to accept payments online. So far, Stripe has welcomed 440 startups from 91 countries into Atlas. Stripe said it has received applications from entrepreneurs in just about every country in the world but declined to disclose the number of applicants.

Atlas provides a way for Stripe to make customers come to its home country, instead of having to go to them. Stripe works only with businesses based in 25 countries, mostly developed economies, because establishing operations in a new place can involve coordination with local banks, custom technical work, and language localization. Atlas helps Stripe reach developing markets without having to go through the costly process of opening in each one. While Atlas startups aren’t required to use Stripe to process payments, most likely will. Stripe, a venture-backed startup valued at $5 billion, will take a cut of each transaction—which could grow to become a big revenue stream if the companies take off.

Patrick Collison, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe, said Atlas can help his company gain the loyalty of a growing set of global entrepreneurs. Their governments should like Atlas, too, he said. The program serves as an alternative to sucking entrepreneurial talent away from emerging markets. “When you discover it’s extremely difficult to start a business or gain access to Stripe in your home country, for many people the easiest response to that is to leave and move to where it is,” Collison said. Stripe said most Atlas participants plan to stay in their home countries.

Stripe surveyed Atlas companies and found that 42 percent were incorporating as a business for the first time, while 20 percent had previously tried unsuccessfully to incorporate in the U.S. They said Atlas simplifies a complicated procedure that otherwise would involve flying to the U.S. to meet with banks and lawyers.

As the wait list for Atlas grows, Stripe declined to say when it plans to open the floodgates. The company said it’s still refining the application process. Stripe underestimated how many questions startups would have when signing up. Several applicants found a phone number listed in some of Stripe’s automated e-mails, which belonged to a leader on the Atlas project, and sent him a barrage of messages through WhatsApp: Do we need a U.S. business address? How many shares should we issue through our new company? What do the different roles on a board of directors do?

To address common issues, Stripe added suggestions inside the sign-up form and to an ever-growing list of frequently asked questions. The goal is to help a startup fill out the form and submit electronically signed documents over the course of a few days. Eventually, any company should be able to join Atlas as long as it doesn’t violate Stripe’s rules prohibiting activities such as drug paraphernalia, gambling, pornography, and pyramid schemes. “There are enough gatekeepers and sources of requisite permission in the world,” Collison said. “We don’t want to introduce more.”

Atlas startups are also hoping their presence in the U.S. will help them attract venture capital. Most said they plan to seek funding in the next year, according to Stripe’s study. Paulo Tenorio, who started Brazilian marketing company Trakto, is hoping Atlas will make his startup more desirable to American venture capitalists after getting turned away in the past. “I’m going to say, ‘I have the legal presence you need here. I can be here in a day. I can spend months here,’” Tenorio said. “I’m going to try it out.”

Cyber Security: Ebay Hacked

Important – eBay Password Reset Required

IMPORTANT: PASSWORD UPDATE

Dear eBay Member,

To help ensure customers’ trust and security on eBay, I am asking all eBay users to change their passwords.

Here’s why: Recently, our company discovered a cyberattack on our corporate information network. This attack compromised a database containing eBay user passwords.

What’s important for you to know: We have no evidence that your financial information was accessed or compromised. And your password was encrypted.

What I ask of you:
Go to eBay and change your password. If you changed your password on May 21 or later, we do not need you to take any additional action at this time.

Changing your password may be inconvenient. I realize that. We are doing everything we can to protect your data and changing your password is an extra precautionary step, in addition to the other security measures we have in place.

If you have only visited eBay as a guest user, we do not have a password on file.

If you used the same eBay password on any other site, I encourage you to change your password on those sites too. And if you are a PayPal user, we have no evidence that this attack affected your PayPal account or any PayPal financial information, which is encrypted and stored on a separate secure network.

Here are other steps we are taking:

  • As always, we have strong protections in place for both buyers and sellers in the event of any unauthorized activity on your account.
  • We are applying additional security to protect our customers.
  • We are working with law enforcement and leading security experts to aggressively investigate the matter.

Here’s what we know: This attack occurred between late February and early March and resulted in unauthorized access to a database of eBay users that includes customers’ name, encrypted password, email address, physical address, phone number and date of birth.

However, the file did not contain financial information. And, after conducting extensive testing and analysis of our systems, we have no evidence that any customer financial or credit card information was involved. We also have no indication of a significant spike in fraudulent activity on our site.

We apologize for any inconvenience or concern that this situation may cause you. As a global marketplace, nothing is more important to eBay than the security and trust of our customers. We know our customers have high expectations of us, and we are committed to ensuring a safe and secure online experience for you on any connected device.

Devin Wenig
President, eBay Marketplaces

How to Buy in Taobao, the Biggest Online Mall in China

What is Taobao? Answer: It’s an online shopping website with a huge number of sellers selling any kind of products with really low prices, all competing with each other, hence the reason it’s so popular.

Is Taobao safe? Taobao uses a escrow service. So when you pay, the money goes to Taobao and not the seller. The seller will only receive his payment after you acknowledge arrival of the package. After you check your purchased item and are satisfied with it then you login to Taobao and click “Goods received”. After this, Taobao will release the payment to the seller. But please, don’t try to outsmart the seller and lie about package “didn’t arrive”. He will have proof provided by the courier company and it’s delivery tracking system.

“I am not Chinese,  how do I register” Well, read on for a few hints and tips on how to navigate your way around and become a Taobao pro like the Chinese …

1) Download Google Chrome
First things first – don’t run before you can walk. As you’re aware, Taobao is a Chinese shopping site so it’s in Chinese. This is completely useless to those of us who can’t read Chinese. The advantage of downloading and installing the Google Chrome browser is that it automatically translates pages into the language of your browser.  This is a very easy process – after downloading Chrome, go to the ‘Settings’ tab. Scroll down to the bottom and click ‘Advanced Settings’ and then ‘Languages.’ Here, you can select the language of your browser along with any languages you wish to be translated when viewing web pages.

2) Register for online banking with your Chinese bank
In order to set up an account and pay for your items, you must have a handy little USB key (as given by the Agricultural Bank of China) or security device, provided to you courtesy of your bank. The type of security devices given vary from bank to bank. Bank of China customers for example, are given a device that is not a USB-style plug-in but a stick that automatically generates a unique code when you log in to your online account. Regardless, this is a security feature installed on Taobao – no security key, no purchase. This is a great idea because it means that even if somebody finds out your PIN number and tries to buy something online, they can’t unless they also have access to your key, which has its own separate password (double indemnity if you will). Your bank may or may not charge you a small fee (10 – 20 RMB) for it.

Ideally, go with a Chinese friend to help you in the process of obtaining above-mentioned key. For the purposes of this article, I will explain the process for ABC (Agricultural Bank of China) as this is who I bank with. Please note: the processes for obtaining the device and registering online may vary from bank to bank.

When you go to the bank and request online banking, the staff will give you a USB key. The security staff will then take you to a machine and ask you to choose an eight digit password for the key which you must enter three times. They then set up the key for use and give you a receipt. Now, this is what they may not tell you: On the receipt are two codes: an authorisation code and a verification code. Both have a 14 day validity period and need to be used within this timeframe in order to download the security certificate that enables the key for use on your computer.

3) Download security certificate onto your computer (if with ABC)
This is a two-part process, the first of which is automatically done when you plug the key into your computer. The computer should recognize the new device and open an installation wizard. Follow the steps for downloading the security suite, which is the platform that manages the certificate. The second part requires you to log on to your bank’s website and manually download the certificate itself, now validating your key and making it ready for use. Customers from other banks may not have to deal with this step but they will have to download and install a security feature from their banks.

4) Set up an account
As foreigners, we have fewer options open to us for registering our details and setting up an account. The Chinese use a system called Alipay or Zhifubao in Chinese pinyin which links their bank account directly to their Taobao account. Using this system, they can then deposit money into their Taobao accounts at the drop of a hat whenever they run low, much like using PayPal and making sure it has available funds. However, we can’t do this since we don’t have a Chinese ID card, which means there is only one available method left for us to use: linking your bank card directly to your account and pay using that – instant payment via a debit card. This is where the USB key is needed since you are accessing your funds directly to purchase something, so security is tighter.

To set up the account, log on to www.taobao.com. On the top left hand corner click ‘Register Free.’ This opens a registration page. Complete the information to set up your account and away you go!

5) Paying for goods
Please note: paying for goods can only be done through Internet Explorer. This is currently the only supported browser for making payment, so although you can browse in English on Google Chrome, you must pay for your items in Internet Explorer.

Let’s take the process for a t-shirt …

Once you’ve selected the item that you want, click on the payment button to complete the purchase.  This will load the next screen which will confirm the price, number of items and the address it is to be sent to plus any delivery costs to be incurred. Click next if this information is correct.

After this is the payment screen. Here, a list of banks will appear for you to choose from. You should only choose the one at the bottom of the page listed beneath Internet Banking, like this:

After clicking next, you will be asked to input your USB password, then your debit card password, then your USB password again before clicking OK. (For Bank of China users, you must submit your username and password, obtain a security code via text message and input the code from your security device).

Purchase complete!

6) Returning an item
In the event that you should need to return an item you should talk to the seller first to advise them of this and to obtain a return address and telephone number. They will not refund your money until they have received the returned item, usually 7-10 days. If you want to swap the item then this is fine, they will send you another once they have received the returned item. However, be aware that you are liable for the delivery costs of returning the item unless you have pre-purchased shipping insurance on the payment page. The costs are usually 12 RMB for small / light items and around 20 RMB for larger / heavier items. It is your responsibility (or ask a Chinese friend if you are unable to communicate that well) to contact a local courier company. They will then collect your package and send it back to the seller.