Black Friday bonanza as Stripe processes $18.6bn global transactions

Over the crucial pre-Christmas digital sales weekend Irish-led business Stripe processes 300m transactions, with peak volume of 93,304 per minute.

In what was the largest-ever four-day period on the Irish-led payments platform Stripe some $18.6bn payments were processes as shoppers all over the world snapped up bargains.

The term Black Friday was coined in Philadelphia in the 1960s, to characterize the way physical infrastructure struggled under heightened volume as crowds surged downtown at the start of the Christmas season.

“Peak days like Black Friday give us a glimpse into what an average day on Stripe will look like soon. Stripe is already prepared to handle the much larger volumes our customers will need from us as their businesses grow”

The way people shop has changed a lot since then. Today, nearly half of all shopping around the weekend after Thanksgiving takes place online, which is why since 2005, the period has been known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Stripe was founded in San Francisco 2009 when CEO Patrick Collison was just 22 and his brother John was 19. Prior that the brothers who hail from Nenagh but as teenagers living in Limerick established a start-up in 2007 called Shuppa that later became known as Auctomatic. They sold Auctomatic for $5m when they were just 19 and 17 respectively.

Of the 42 countries in which Stripe powers businesses today, 31 are in Europe. And many of the continent’s largest and fastest growing companies are building on the platform.

The future of retail is omnichannel

But the holiday spending spree is still an infrastructure test—though now of digital financial infrastructure as much as physical roads and stores.

A Stripe public microsite tracked these and a dozen other BFCM metrics in real-time, including the uptime of the Stripe API. During this period of intense activity, the Stripe API maintained availability greater than 99.999%, with a peak of 27,395 requests per second.

This BFCM, Stripe handled a peak volume of 93,304 transactions per minute, while maintaining API uptime greater than 99.999%. This level of reliability ensured that large companies such as Amazon, Shopify, Lightspeed, and Squarespace maximized their revenue potential during the most active shopping days of the year.

“Black Friday-Cyber Monday is the busiest moment of the year for Shopify merchants, and Stripe’s industry-leading uptime and performance helped ensure millions of successful transactions,” said Farhan Thawar, VP of engineering at Shopify.

While BFCM originated in the US, it’s gone global. Over the past weekend, Stripe processed more than 1bn each in GBP, EUR, CAD, and AUD denominated transactions, and facilitated purchases in 185 countries. The top cross-currency purchasing routes were Americans buying from Canadian merchants and British consumers shopping with businesses in the eurozone.

“Black Friday can be a really stressful, high-pressure period for us,” said Edward Whatmore, chief digital officer at Mountain Warehouse, a UK-based company and one of the world’s largest sellers of outdoors equipment.

“To have a stable platform with a high rate of uptime is key, so fortunately we were able to switch to Stripe and push all of our traffic through the platform. With Stripe, we don’t have to worry about reliability. We can rest easy knowing our platform is going to have greater than 99.999% uptime.”

“Every year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are must-attend events for us, as e-commerce professionals,” said Jean-Cédric Costa, CIO at La Redoute, the French multichannel retailer. “We always see a spike in purchases across all countries we operate in. Having a reliable payments partner like Stripe is key to managing these massive volumes, and we are very happy with the enterprise support we get from them.”

BFCM transaction volume on Stripe has increased more than 300x over the last ten years. The Stripe BFCM dashboard tracked the record-setting volume in real-time, along with metrics for a range of Stripe products. In total, during BFCM:

More than 5.4m subscriptions were created with Stripe Billing. That’s more than one subscription for every citizen in Ireland, and means that many businesses on Stripe will benefit from recurring subscription revenue long after BFCM is over.

More than 250,000 Stripe Climate contributions were made. These donations will directly support carbon removal from the atmosphere.

More than 530,000 minutes (equal to more than a full year) of checkout time was saved with Link, Stripe’s one-click checkout.

Over 16.7m fraudulent transaction attempts were prevented with Stripe Radar.

Stripe employs around 1,000 engineers in Dublin to build out its platform.

The business first began supporting Irish businesses in 2013 when only a few hundred Irish businesses used Stripe.

Now, tens of thousands of ventures run on Stripe, with hundreds more joining every week. They include technology companies such as Glofox and Wayflyer that were built on Stripe from day one, and heritage enterprises like the GAA, Irish Life, and Smyths Toys Superstores that are reinventing themselves for the digital age. Over the last decade, Irish businesses have processed more than €20 billion on Stripe.

“As our customers respond to the surge in consumer demand, we’re fixated on continuously improving reliability,” said David Singleton, chief technology officer at Stripe.

“Peak days like Black Friday give us a glimpse into what an average day on Stripe will look like soon. Stripe is already prepared to handle the much larger volumes our customers will need from us as their businesses grow.”

Main image at top: Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.