The Digital Payment Space: Growth Powered by Technology, with Checkout.com
There has been a significant shift in the uptake of digital payments in the last few years, much accelerated by the huge rise in people ordering all manner of goods and services from their enforced isolation in the last 18 months.
At Tech Wire Asia, we spoke exclusively to Checkout.com about those recent trends and changes in the industry, as well as about the company’s role in driving acceptance and trust in digital payments.
We asked Matthieu Barral, the Senior Vice President for Sales at the company, about how retail has adapted to online payments. The companies in good positions now were those that, Matthieu told us, were already focused on digital.
“ASOS, for example in the UK, were doing a good job, but increased online retail volume Q1 this year compared to last. Nike was not even 5% online [sales in total], now they were up 80% [in 2020]. Others just broke because they didn’t have ‘it’ online.”
Checkout.com seems to have made a habit of gaining and retaining clients that are capable of pivoting quickly and disrupting existing markets — companies that have ‘it.’ Companies like Deliveroo and ride-hailing giant Grab (huge in the APAC region).
Matthieu made the point that even some of those huge, household name companies still look to third parties for expertise. “But a lot of people are surprised: very large merchants, [might not] have a very mature payments team or [digital payments are] not a big focus of the business at present, […] They still need to maximize what they can get from payments. And obviously, if you have a really great platform, if you have a really great partner, there’s a lot of money to be saved.”
Big players in their respective verticals don’t get to where they are by picking the first payment provider they happen to stumble on. We asked Matthieu what the main requests were that came from potential new clients when the Checkout.com is approached initially. Even those most common requests have changed recently, too, he told us.
“It used to be [the case] that the only way to win versus traditional payment providers was to be different. And to be different is to have better technology. Or do you have a better pricing? Do you have better global cloud coverage? I think we took the approach [of] mainly targeting enterprise level merchants and […] if you serve them well, they won’t leave you.”
If Checkout were a brick-and-mortar store, then, what would have been flying off the shelves in the last year or so, we asked. Barral told us the company has been concentrating on two critical aspects of any payment platform: combating fraud and ensuring payment acceptance rates remain as high as possible.
Having payments fail after marketing and operations team have carefully crafted a great user experience and wonderful products is difficult to swallow for any retailer — thus, Checkout.com’s emphasis here. “Your focus is going to be on: if my customer comes to my site, and my marketing team has spent so much on […] getting them here, is their payment going to be successful? If not, as a Payments team, it’s your fault. So, we need to optimize this as much as we can. So, acceptance rate is the biggest [focus].”
The ongoing issue of fraud continues to trouble many retailers, and in 2021, many of the techniques that new generation banks leverage for KYC (know your customer) are leveraged for Checkout.com’s customers, too.
“Fraud and chargeback management is another big one that we [concentrate on] as well. How can merchants protect themselves from bad actors in the e-commerce space? Maybe that’s organized fraud, maybe that’s friendly fraud. No matter what it is, it costs money to fight, and it takes time from your teams. And so, if you’re an e-commerce startup or a fintech, you maybe don’t have the money [to properly combat fraud]. And maybe if you’re a retail company, you don’t have the people and the human resource to kind of answer those questions. So, you’re going to look to your payments partner to provide that.”
Moving security steps, checks and balances online are having industry-wide implications for banking and for payment providers like Checkout.com. In many ways, the lines between B2C banking and payments provision are being blurred.
“We always know technology is such a linear thing that you know a company might not be doing well if it’s unable to adapt to new technologies. And in the next five years, I think, payment providers will push more and more products and will become like banks — B2B banks. […]I have no loyalty to my bank, especially the new banks. I just want the ones that give me a nice metal card and is the cheapest! Whereas [with] B2B if you have the best product, you usually win – your customers will want to stay with you.”
The long-term future of digital payments and the fintech sector are wildly difficult to predict, but the adage runs true — organizations not capable of change will be left behind by the digital natives that are keen to look to see what’s around the corner.
We tried to draw Matthieu and his team to make some predictions as to what might happen next, but sadly (or perhaps wisely), they declined to put their projections into black and white. However, when we talked about trends in finances, it was perhaps inevitable that the recent cryptocurrency boom came up. It’s created a demand for one of Checkout.com’s newer features that empowers its clients to pay end-users — fast. In the contexts of insurance company payouts, foreign exchange trading houses, and — latterly — cryptocurrency exchanges, using Checkout.com as a payment management system makes sense. It’s just launched its Payouts product, which means end-users can get paid (from their currency dealings, for example) in 30 minutes, not several days.
That type of ability makes end-users stay with their chosen providers of services, and in turn, those providers stick with Checkout.com. Brand loyalty percolates upwards, it seems.
The company has long-term goals and an ethos that goes beyond taking its percentage cut of every trade. “Checkout.com really believes in democratizing financial services. And by do that smoothing out in different regions, we’re unlocking different countries, and cross border transactions for our existing merchants. And again, that’s just giving more people access to different products, it’s creating more diversity in the market, it’s a great benefit to merchants and consumers,” Matthieu concluded.
Fast-moving fintech companies like Checkout.com have the technology and the will to displace traditional banks in many areas, especially where there are good percentages of populations that have been ignored by institutions — the so-called “unbanked.” However, we ran out of time before our discussion could turn political. Suffice it to say that the internet is a neutral, non-judgmental platform on which companies can build truly democratic services. And Checkout.com is right behind any organization that wants to take and make payments online using all the speed and versatility that technology offers.
To uncover how to improve your payments authorization rates through granular data and the right payments partner, download Checkout.com’s guide to Better Payment Performance.
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