Bench strength: Shopify hires accounting software entrepreneur Ian Crosby to oversee banking products

Shopify sign

Shopify has tapped the co-founder and former CEO of accounting software firm Bench to lead the development of its banking products aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Ian Crosby announced in a LinkedIn post earlier this week that he’s joining the Ottawa-based e-commerce giant as its product director for Shopify Balance. Crosby left Bench just over a month ago.

“After leading Bench Accounting for 11 years, I wanted to land somewhere that I could learn from incredible people while also contributing to building something huge and important,” the Vancouver-based entrepreneur wrote. “I ended up at Shopify because it’s the best place in the world to learn with incredible people.”

Rolled out in 2021, Shopify Balance offers products such as physical or virtual cards merchants can use to deposit and withdraw money from ATMs or pay for merchandise online. Its other offerings include a “one-stop shop” where merchants can pay bills and track expenses as well as a rewards program that gives store owners who use the Shopify platform discounts on expenditures such as shipping or marketing.

Shopify says thousands of merchants now use the program.

'Phenomenal product'

Crosby, who co-launched Bench in 2010 and helped grow the company to more than 500 employees, called Shopify Balance “a phenomenal product that is going to be massive,” adding it will “redefine how the fintech industry thinks about banking for SMBs.”

The new hire comes as Shopify navigates some choppy waters.

The glow around Canada's tech darling has started to wane after two years of the pandemic prodding people to shop online more and encouraging businesses to roll out digital stores, delivering a wave of new sales and customers to Shopify.

Despite recently announcing new partnerships with platforms such as video-sharing app TikTok and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, Shopify has seen its stock price plummet from a high of more than $2,200 in November to less than $860 in midday trading Friday on the TSX. During the recent slide, Shopify lost its title as Canada’s most valuable publicly traded company to RBC.

The company said last week it expects revenue growth for 2022 to be lower than the 57 per cent growth it achieved in 2021.

Chief financial officer Amy Shapero attributed the lower guidance to the easing of restrictions meant to quell the COVID-19 pandemic along with the company's decision not to take any share of the first $1 million in revenue developers make every year on the array of booking features, subscription tools and other products they design for Shopify software.

Shopify, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, reported a net loss of US$371.3 million or US$2.95 per diluted share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, weighed down by a US$509.7-million net unrealized loss on equity and other investments. The fourth-quarter result compared with net income of US$123.9 million or 99 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Shopify's fourth-quarter revenue totalled US$1.38 billion, up more than 40 per cent from US$977.7 million a year earlier.