Voice of the Industry

Innovation at the speed of thought versus governance at the speed of data protection

Thursday 19 October 2017 08:37 CET | Editor: Melisande Mual | Voice of the industry

Christopher Martlew, CTO Payvision & Acapture: In payments we’re not only at the core of ecommerce, but increasingly of in-store commerce

Regulatory background

Before PSD and PCI-DSS, entering the payments business was relatively unregulated. We now have an abundance of rules and regulations with which we need to comply, and soon we’ll have PSD2 and GDPR added to the mix. As an industry, we can be prone to criticizing our controlling institutions, but I believe that the regulators and other rule-making stakeholders provide both barriers to entry and business opportunities.

In our business where PSD2 is aimed at breaking established data monopolies, GDPR endeavors to ensure we handle data with appropriate care. Both provide great business opportunities for established players, as well as for newcomers.

Generally, the rules by which we play make good business sense. Taking care of your customers’ data is good practice in any industry. In payments, we have a complex ecosystem, sharing and processing highly confidential data through downstream and upstream partnerships. So it makes sense to keep that data safe. It also makes sense to have a level playing field for participants and for virtual monopolies to be opened up. Enter the PSD2 era.

So the rule-makers can disrupt, but disruption creates new challenges: The rules will always lag behind innovation, so regulators, governments and global institutions are constantly playing catch-up. The rules raise the barriers to entry, but relying on barriers to protect a business long-term is not a very viable strategy. In payments we’re not only at the core of ecommerce, but increasingly of in-store commerce. Enter the omnichannel consumer experience era.

The consumer is seeing traditional high street brands disappearing as if it were business-as-usual whilst online merchants are opening bricks-and-mortar stores. Amazon is now on the high street and Apple is the world’s most profitable retailer per unit of floor space. Ecommerce continues to grow at 15% in both Europe and the US to around USD 400 million and USD 600 million respectively. Advertising is becoming smarter and improved click-through success is leading to increased conversion – driven largely by mobile.

Our challenge in this omnichannel universe is, quite simply, to make it really easy for consumers to buy stuff and to assist merchants in providing an excellent shopping experience. Enter data science to make sense of the plethora of data involved.

The above regulatory, market and technology changes fed the rationale behind launching Acapture two years ago as a data-driven omnichannel PSP. As we built our new platform, we put flexibility and data at its heart so that Acapture’s services would adapt to suit the client. We also apply machine learning technology to detect fraud and improve conversion rates.

As the PSP business is highly competitive, creativity in both product and technology is needed to keep the top-line growing and the cost-line healthy. Innovation, staying ahead of the game and leveraging the latest technology is critical to survival in fintech.

Combining regulatory opportunity with technology innovation, we recently launched SlicePay – a PSD2 compliant payment solution with an easy-to-integrate product designed to reduce the burden of payouts to multiple parties. SlicePay supports marketplaces, sharing economy operators, franchises, online travel agencies and other companies handling third-party funds to become fully compliant with PSD2.

Technology innovation

Data structures are no longer structured, ‘machine learning’ has entered our vocabulary and our IT platforms with remarkable ease. AI (Artificial Intelligence) sits next to BI (Business Intelligence) and we use CI (Continuous Integration) to integrate our software. The ‘God Protocol’ blockchain might still revolutionize, well, everything. Even security is becoming a business enabler rather than a traffic-light set to red by default. And all the above has to have a strategic foundation for cloud and support the Internet of Things (IoT).

We want self-managing devops teams. We want agile conversations, not reams of documentation. We want to release software to production in elastic virtual machines that will adapt dynamically. We want it all and we want it now… at least that’s what the iconic millennial reputedly requires.

So we have the unstoppable force of agile innovation and organizational speed meeting the immovable object of the rules and regulations. Time-to-market bumps into registering your latest cloud app with the regulator. The daily code-push meets the Risk Committee (as it were). The dichotomy is between innovation at the speed of thought and governance at the speed of data protection. Our challenge as an industry is to offer our clients cutting-edge solutions whilst protecting everybody’s data and getting a good night’s sleep.

Payvision Group is a member of several industry associations, including the European Payment Institutions Federation (EPIF), the European Association of Service Providers for Merchants (EPSM) and the Merchant Risk Council (MRC). These collaborations and our global ecosystem network provide us with the opportunity to discuss and influence the legislative process with the aim of shaping the future industry framework. Furthermore, they allow us to act as trusted advisers, based on intensive market research, to share our knowledge and provide our partners with data and information to guide their strategic decision-making process.

About Christopher Martlew:

As CTO at Payvision and Acapture, Chris leads the IT teams in developing innovative products whilst delivering a highly-reliable platform service. He enjoys the ‘FinTech challenge’ of marrying high-speed agility with robustness and good governance.

From building mission-critical ecommerce solutions to global payment systems, Chris brings over 20 years’ experience in building several successful internet-facing organizations. He has previously held senior executive positions with large multi-nationals as well as (PE-funded) start-ups and scale-ups. Initially trained in Computer Science, Chris also holds an MBA from London Kingston University.

About Acapture

Acapture is the subsidiary company of Payvision, one of the world’s fastest growing global card acquiring networks. Licensed as a payment institution by the Dutch Central Bank, Acapture combines with Payvision to maximize the revenues of merchants and help them grow their business globally. This is done through a complete data-driven omnichannel payment solution, capable of managing a payment at every stage, from checkout to fund collection to settlement.

Together with its parent company, Payvision, Acapture, was awarded Best PSP at the 2017 MPE Awards in Berlin, and it specializes in maximizing revenue for merchants and marketplaces with international ambitions.

About Payvision

Payvision is one of the fastest-growing global acquiring networks in the world. In the last decade, Payvision has independently built an international acquiring network connecting banks, PSPs, ISOs and their global merchants in the US, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. Payvision simplifies the complexity of cross-border ecommerce through a single, highly secure payment processing platform for all transactions processed worldwide, with domestic processing, a high-end reporting interface, and a solid risk management solution.

Together with its subsidiary company, Acapture, Payvision, was awarded Best PSP at the 2017 MPE Awards in Berlin. The two companies form Payvision Group and combine the experience of an industry leader and the flexibility and speed of a start-up, becoming a data-driven omnichannel enterprise. Payvision and Acapture maximize the revenues of merchants and help them grow their business globally through a data-driven omnichannel approach, a complete and reliable payment platform.


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Keywords: Christopher Martlew, Payvision, Acapture, expert opinion, machine learning, blockchain
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