Is Stripe Available in Kenya? [+ Best Alternative in Kenya]

June 29th, 2023 by Felix Cheruiyot

Is Stripe available in Kenya

Stripe is an Irish-American payment gateway highly desired by merchants everywhere, including Kenya. But is Stripe available in Kenya, and are there worthy local alternatives?

Every online merchant knows their choice of payment gateway can make or break their business. Keen to give their businesses the best chance for success, many are drawn to the Stripe payment processing platform.

While Stripe’s financial infrastructure has many advantages for online businesses, the payment gateway is not supported in every country.

What are the options for merchants that prefer Stripe but are in countries where it is not supported? Is Stripe available in Kenya, and if it isn’t, what alternative offers the same features and tools?

Read on to get the answers to all these questions.

What is Stripe?

Can Stripe be used in Kenya

Stripe is a payment gateway that allows you to safely accept customer payments on your online store, e-commerce platform, or app. It lets you accept debit cards, credit cards, digital wallets, and even buy now, pay later payments.

With support for 135 currencies, Stripe also offers payment processing terminals for in-person and mobile payments. Stripe is best suited to businesses that generate most of their sales online.

As a company, Stripe is dually registered in the United States of America and Ireland. It is a SaaS business that creates payment management solutions and APIs for online and e-commerce businesses.

Stripe has some of the best developer tools in the industry and boasts fabulous integration and customisation options for online businesses.

One of the biggest perks of using the Stripe payment gateway is the multiple payment methods it supports, which significantly boosts your chances of closing every sale. It reduces the number of abandoned carts.

With its PCI compliance and other security features, Stripe prioritises the security of funds and protection of personal data. One way it does this is by encrypting card data as it is transmitted between the checkout page on the merchant’s website and the card-issuing bank.

Encryption protects customers’ personal data and payment information from interception by malware and criminals.

How does Stripe work?

A checkout process on an online store requires the customer to enter their debit or credit card details. But before the payment can be authorised, there must be communication with the customer’s bank to establish that there is enough money in the customer’s account to fund the purchase.

The communication between merchant and the customer’s bank must happen in real-time and requires an intermediary. As a payment gateway, Stripe acts as the intermediary. If you removed the payment gateway from the process, a merchant would need to have an agreement with every customer’s bank.

That agreement would allow the merchant to automatically debit customers’ bank accounts when they pay with their debit or credit cards. This arrangement is impractical since a typical merchant processes thousands of payments, some of which are across borders. It entails having accounts with banks in every country you do business, which is an altogether cumbersome process.

So Stripe and other payment gateways like it bridge this gap by partnering with card issuing networks like Mastercard and Visa that allow them to process payments without asking for permission from the customer’s bank.

If Stripe establishes, through Visa or Mastercard - working with the customer’s bank, that the balance in the customer’s debit card is insufficient to cover the payment, it does not authorise the payment and communicates this with the customer.

Is Stripe available in Kenya?

Stripe is not supported in Kenya. This means you cannot sign up to use the payment gateway from Kenya. It is not possible to set up a Stripe account in Kenya.

While setting up a Stripe account from Kenya is impossible, there are workarounds. These involve registering a company offshore. For example, in the UK or the USA. In effect, this account will be set up as if you lived in that country, which has several implications for your business.

So, Kenyan citizens who live in Kenya can use Stripe, but the payment gateway does not treat them as Kenyan merchants. Why does this matter?

Implications of setting up Stripe from another country

Payment gateways offer country-specific benefits that can help online businesses serve their customers better and fully exploit their primary market. You can lose some of these benefits by setting up Stripe from another country. Here’s how:

Locks out your primary market’s preferred payment methods

If Kenya is your primary market, you want to be able to accept payment methods that are most accessible to Kenyans. This will be hard to do if you register your Stripe account in, for example, the USA.

Instead of M-Pesa, a ubiquitous mobile payment method used by over 30 million people in Kenya, you would get ACH, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and other digital wallets that very few people in Kenya use.

Many customers will abandon their carts because they can’t use their preferred payment methods. This shrinks your customer base from what it would be if you accepted the M-Pesa mobile wallet as a payment method.

Invites currency conversion fees for you and your customers

Another benefit you would lose is the ability to collect payments in your currency. Since your customer payments will be processed in US dollars, or pound sterling if in the UK, customers will incur currency conversion costs every time a customer in Kenya pays for a purchase.

These are effectively hidden fees that add to what your customers pay, which they won’t be thrilled to discover when they check their bank statements against their receipts.

As the merchant, you aren’t spared these currency conversion fees either. To register your Stripe account in another country, you must also open a bank account there. This is the account that Stripe will deposit the payments it collects from your customers.

If you intend to withdraw the sales proceeds in your country’s currency, like your customers, you will incur currency conversion fees. These fees eat into your profits and are a cost you would avoid if you used a local payment gateway.

Inability to collect in-person and mobile payments through Stripe

Another Stripe feature you lock yourself out of when you register as a foreign entity is the in-person payments that Stripe offers through its POS terminals. This will not matter if you sell entirely online, but you would miss a useful resource if you are following an omnichannel approach.

These cons of setting up your Stripe account in another country mean, as a Kenyan, you cannot open a 100% functional Stripe account. You are best served using a local payment gateway like IntaSend.

Why Intasend is the best Stripe alternative in Kenya

Stripe’s reputation as one of the world’s best payment processing platforms is well-earned. It is trusted and used by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Google, Amazon, and Zoom.

But as good as it is, because it is not supported in Kenya, many of Stripe’s great features are inaccessible to merchants in the country. Thankfully, IntaSend, a local payment gateway for online merchants, offers many of the benefits Stripe offers and then some.

Stripe supports over 135 currencies and a long list of payment methods, including the leading digital wallets. While these currencies and payment options are nice to have, IntaSend offers payment methods that people in Kenya are more familiar with, like Visa, Mastercard, and, crucially, M-Pesa.

M-Pesa has over 30 million users in Kenya. So adding it as a payment method on your checkout pages will give your sales a massive boost. For your international clients, Visa and Mastercard will be the more familiar options

A technology-first payment gateway with great customisation and integration options, Stripe prioritises security and privacy. So does IntaSend, which like Stripe, is PCI DSS-compliant.

Like Stripe, IntaSend offers a digital wallet to its merchant customers. So as well as transferring their payouts to their bank accounts, merchants can choose to manage their funds in their IntaSend digital wallets, which comes with a ton of benefits:

The workaround of registering as an entity in a country where it is supported removes some of the better benefits of using Stripe. With a local payment gateway like IntaSend, your customers can choose their most familiar payment options. You and your clients won’t have to incur currency conversion and other fees.

Choose IntaSend and provide your customers with smoother, streamlined checkout experiences and enjoy business-friendly financial management tools designed for growing businesses in Kenya. Get started with IntaSend here.

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