MENA Startups Can Accept Payments Worldwide with Atlas

Mohamad Salhab, Mar 15 2016

 Electronic payment image via


Encouraging news for the MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem! Thanks to renowned international payment technology platform, Stripe, entrepreneurs and developers can now easily start a US-based company (from their home country!), set up a US bank account, and start accepting payments to their apps and other platforms from virtually anywhere in the world.

This was made possible through the launch of Stripe’s global arm, Atlas, in February 2016. The service is currently in an invite-only beta phase, so Stripe has partnered with 60 incubators, accelerators, and investors worldwide. These partners will refer startups that have growth potential to the Atlas service.

In Lebanon, Stripe chose the Beirut-based accelerator, Speed@BDD, as its local partner.

Co-founded by Irish brothers, John and Patrick Collison, Stripe is valued at $5 billion. The platform facilitates payments for many big companies in 24 countries around the globe, including Kickstarter, and has sealed partnerships with Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its backers include Sequoia Capital, PayPal cofounders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, and Visa.

Getting into the Club

Upon signing up with Atlas, startups benefit from a Stripe account that they can immediately use to accept payments from customers in 100+ currencies. Moreover, every startup receives $15,000 in free credit from Amazon Web Services.

 Atlas addresses revenue-generating startups that have existing products and services, and are willing to expand into international markets and regions. The startup should also be open to raising money from international investors – a test for sound finances moving forward.

A mere $500 payment covers the cost of establishing a company in the city of Delaware, USA, which includes company registration, having a Silicon Valley bank account, as well as the cost of legal and tax consultancy.

Next, startups should provide legal paperwork required from Atlas. “Many startups have already reached out to us for referrals, but have yet to complete the required legal paperwork,” said Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed@BDD. Speed@BDD is not gaining financially from this mediation.

To get a referral, entrepreneurs should send an email with details about their business to the following address:

Earn Money by Working from Your Home (Country)

Atlas requires startups to be based in their respective countries of origin – but they can still be connected through Stripe’s global chain.  

Abou Saab believes that this kind of collaboration between markets can nurture the Lebanese ecosystem by facilitating transactions and facilitating  global outreach: “We hope that this will drive advanced startups towards more innovation and achievement while being based in Lebanon. Once this service is fully functional, they won’t need to move out - instead, we believe that this will help keep them here on a permanent basis,” said Abou Saab.

Prior to Atlas, Abou Saab - like most players in the Lebanese digital ecosystem - was aware of the hurdles for both entrepreneurs and users when it comes to making online payments.

“Three of the mobile app startups in our accelerator program needed gateways. They faced challenges with the local options which were not user-friendly. End users were directed to Safari or Chrome for some verification and then back to the app for completing the payment – which was not always made in a timely fashion," he said.



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