New payment solutions for ecommerce business: growth lessons from payabl.'s CEO

Monday 21 February 2022 08:54 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Interview

Ugne Buraciene, CEO at payabl., has shared her thoughts on the company's journey, the payments’ industry, and the digital payment trends we should keep an eye on – Open Banking, BNPL, SoftPOS, and embedded finance

We would like to start with a couple of words regarding the company’s journey, how far it has grown over the years, and let our audience learn a little bit about your journey as a CEO?

The company was founded 12 years ago, in 2010, as a boutique acquirer by several shareholders with vast experience in the payments industry, in a market that was still identifying its needs. The goal was for the company to become as independent as possible in terms of technology, licenses, and payments infrastructure. Ultimately, it built a reputation as a trusted acquirer and has successfully maintained its position as such. 

In the last two years, we integrated with major APMs such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal, and doubled the number of our employees. As we expand, we expect to be ahead of the game and tackle competition, as we are prepared for the next big steps in our journey. 

We updated our branding three months ago to payabl., bringing the company into yet another stage of growth, and investing in our brand awareness. Following this change, our entire group of companies will work under the same brand, which will soon include a UK acquirer license that we applied for in December 2021.

I had the pleasure to join the company as CEO two years ago and I found it a good opportunity for me, as I come from a similar professional background. My main priority was to modernise the company’s approach, to bring it to a point where I feel we can scale enough and provide the full services needed for the targeted industry. 

Let’s talk about the current business environment when it comes to ecommerce. What payment solutions do ecommerce businesses need to maintain their competitive edge?

There isn’t one solution that can be applied collectively to all businesses. Based on the regions they want to cover, the products and services they offer, and the verticals they operate in, they need to find a provider to support their infrastructure. The competitiveness of the industry comes from a combination of a good payment solution and the overall user experience, which also increases the competitiveness among merchants. Ideally, merchants should focus on their unique combination of what they offer, users’ experience, and sourcing a provider that can supply reliable, fast payments, turnarounds, refunds, and payouts for the business.

What about the marketplaces? How can they provide a one-stop shopping experience while facilitating an optimized checkout for multiple buyers?  

Marketplaces are inherently different to other ecommerce businesses and are part of a complex environment that stems from what they offer and how they handle their operations. For example, some marketplaces build their own engine, do their own onboarding, and perform KYC, or find a provider who can offer all of these services. 

Ultimately, the complexity depends on the marketplace itself and what it promises. If it’s a typical marketplace where the checkout also must be divided between sellers, then payment service providers should be able to do proper reconciliations between the sellers and buyers. I believe there should be a customised solution in such cases, based on the marketplace’s capabilities and volumes. In other words, one should find the right providers first to identify the types of services they need. 

How can legacy infrastructures be improved to better support payments innovation, especially when it comes to real-time payments? How can they win at speed, quality, and security? 

There are less and less excuses to use legacy hardware these days, and in order to maintain a PCI compliant infrastructure there should be steady yearly investment in hardware, unless we’re talking about a cloud-based solution. What is more difficult to manage is the legacy software part of the infrastructure. 

One should continue to assess components within the legacy software – especially monolithic ones – and gradually translate functionalities to microservices. You can look at it from the point of view of a surgeon doing a heart transplant; they need a bypass switch to then remove and replace the ineffective component without ever pausing the traffic on the live system. 

Systems can run on legacy software if they are well-maintained and remove the parts that are not working properly to improve and deliver a modern payments infrastructure over time. Typical targets for big wins could be components like fraud management system or BIN country look up services, that can be removed from the legacy software and turned into a microservice. Smaller services contribute to easier upscaling, better management and testing and thus delivering an overall more resilient system with lots of room for innovation, as you are not bogged down by a common choice of architecture, programming language or databases. 

However, fragmenting the software too much could lead to a situation where the problem becomes worse, rather than better. This calls for a sense of sweet balance and is rather specific to each organization’s ecosystem. Only with the spirit of innovation, trial, and error in a safe supportive environment, one can hope to reach a good balance.

Some proprietary software cannot be replaced and might be too expensive convert to microservices, and big companies are more likely to encounter this issue. But that's the only way forward; breaking it down, examining what is working well, then either re-writing parts of the core system or converting it to microservice.

How did 2021 look to you in terms of digital payment trends? And what are some of these trends that we should continue to keep an eye on in 2022? 

Last year’s trends that the industry will continue to focus on are open banking, BNPL, SoftPOS, and embedded finance. Of all these, I was surprised to see that embedded finance gained so much attention, because it’s not a new concept, nor a newly launched service. 

BNPL needs more regulation in Europe, indeed, because it has created unnecessary debt for the younger generations. Big European markets like Germany, France, and the UK are focused on the protection of their customers, and I reckon there will be changes in regulation to make BNPL a safer alternative payment method. At the same time, BNPL also creates debt for merchants, so there must be additional talks on risk management and who absorbs those costs. The payment method should work in a way that protects both parties – merchants and customers. 

Ideally, we should see more development of the SoftPOS, because some of the existing hardware is creating infrastructure issues for merchants. The near future might bring us Android-based SoftPOS devices across the continent, as they will be easier to replace since we’re talking about software embedded into a machine. Moreover, it will also mean a step forward for the digitisation of smaller merchants, because SoftPOS simplifies the value chain, and it also represents an easier way to accept online payments. 

Open banking is particularly interesting for me and a technology to watch. While it’s still in its earliest stages of development because some banks are not updated enough to handle it, merchants are eager to adopt this payment method as it reduces costs. Ultimately, open banking still requires additional regulation, and will continue to evolve in the next years. 

Can you reveal what payabl. has in the pipeline for this year?  Any plans that you would like to share? 

This year we will focus on our expansion, and we plan to open numerous regional sales offices to thoroughly cover Europe. While many companies are seeking to expand to other markets like Asia and Latin America, we think that Europe has huge potential, and some of the merchants here are overlooked. Our team has considered all the options available to merchants and how to offer them in the most efficient way possible, and I believe we’ve found a way to do that. In addition, we anticipate becoming a UK acquirer by the end of the year, with the FCA license currently pending. 

About Ugne Buraciene

Ugne has 14+ years of experience in banking and payments, through working with multiple global fintech companies. Her experience allowed her to develop expertise and acquire extensive knowledge and understanding of complex payments and banking ecosystems. These include knowledge in acquiring and issuing, banking and open banking, best industry practices, and key principles of international business operations with concrete focus on business development, marketing, and growth.

About payabl.

We are an EU-regulated merchant acquirer that makes online payments, payment accounts, and prepaid cards as easy, reliable, and secure as they should be. We support businesses’ growth by helping them take and make payments globally. Our banking services, gateway capabilities, and easy checkout functionalities exponentially enable our merchants’ development.

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Keywords: BNPL, regulation, Open Banking, Acquirer, acquisition, expansion, payment gateway, cross-border payments, payment methods, local payment method
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce