Merchant processing services represent one of the most competitive markets in the payments industry and leading a business that demands strong sales acumen coupled with increasingly sophisticated technological services is no small challenge. Daria Rippingale, the CEO of one of the most successful merchant processing businesses in Australia, shares with us her insights on how to identify the inflection points of new payment schemes, what it takes to drive international expansion and how blockchain is going to impact the market in years to come.
Your business model is centered around one-on-one interaction with merchants. How do you keep costs down in a high-touch environment?
The interaction that BillPro has with our merchants is fundamental to our service strategy. Having an understanding of their priorities and customer profiles allows us to provide the most effective solutions, aligned with their short and long-term growth plans. Without this level of insight, and more importantly, the trust established during these interactions, providing sustainable solutions to our customers would not be possible. I don’t see how our business could be governed any other way as there is not, nor should there be, a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to payment processing services.
In order to make our high-touch strategy as efficient as possible, we created a comprehensive merchant management portal to expedite and streamline the communication process. This proprietary system enables merchants to “self-serve”. Of course, our teams are available immediately to interact with merchants if required however this technology allows merchants to resolve their issue independently and quickly as a first port of call.
Cross-border payments are a core component of the BillPro offering. Which are the high-growth corridors and what’s driving this expansion?
While China is the largest retail e-commerce market in the world, with US merchants conducting a significant volume of their cross-border sales in this market, the UK ranks as a close second. With the growing concern that Brexit will negatively impact sales to and from the UK, merchants are slowly diversifying their focus to include other emerging markets. The developing Asia Pacific region offers some of the greatest opportunity for merchants – the rapid growth of consumer spending in neighboring countries like China and India and the fact that this region accounts for a third of the world GDP has boosted growth exponentially. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand are growing at an average annual rate of 4.5 percent each year, and are anticipated to have a GDP of nearly $1 trillion within the next 20 years.
You recently added a number of new payment schemes to BillPro’s acceptance capabilities in Europe. What is the criteria you used for determining these specific schemes should be part of your offering and is it the same criteria you use when considering offering access to new schemes in other countries or regions of the world?
In essence, yes. Even countries in relatively close geographical proximity can have individual nuances as to how their consumers like to pay when shopping online. It is our responsibility to understand these trends so that we can advise merchants of the latest payment solutions available worldwide and those that will best complement their business goals. This is a rapidly-changing industry and we maintain a constant dialogue with merchants to ensure they continue to leverage the best technology with the highest adoption levels.
As we expand throughout Europe, we are adopting more and more payment methods to support local markets. There are hundreds of potential payment products we could adopt, but BillPro focuses on prioritizing the development of payment products that directly meet the needs of our target merchants.
BillPro assesses potential payment methods on three criteria: ease of use, reach, and request. The success of a merchant’s product in a market is directly related to the accessibility of their payment options. In each region, we move into in Europe, we are careful to research and assess the alternative payment methods with the greatest reach and application across a range of ecommerce markets, to assess their priority in our development queue. We also work closely with our merchants to learn which payment methods they anticipate might be beneficial to service their clientele based on active in market experience.
As a PSP that operates in Europe, what impact do you see the new PSD2 regulations that allow direct access to current (checking) accounts having on the merchants you do business with in that region?
The changes in the PSD2 regulations open the door to a new era in personal banking and e-commerce. New regulations allow merchants direct access to consumer transaction data, allowing a generation of “self-banking” applications, personal banking programs and personal wealth management merchants to deliver high-value solutions to end consumers. In Europe, BillPro works with a number of fintech businesses and start-ups that deliver new-era personal finance products, including multi-currency payment cards, mobile wallets, expense management software, and the like. The PSD2 regulations will allow these merchants to integrate their products with reverse transaction data, so they can deliver better services to their customers.
Previously, third party payment processors (TPPs), fintech businesses, and start-ups who delivered these services were unable to have access to real-time banking and data reporting from banks and financial institutions. This delay in receiving reports meant that newly-developed personal finance products, wallet products and bank-payment related businesses would be based on outdated information, which makes for incorrect reporting and limits the functionality and service these types of companies can deliver.
The change to the PSD2 regulations means that businesses that provide ancillary consumer banking products can now have direct access to real-time transactional reporting from financial institutions, allowing them to increase the scope and quality of their offerings (e.g. mobile bank account management, inter-family transfers, currency conversion businesses, travel money etc.).
You’ve spoken in the past about your interest in blockchain? How do you see blockchain changing the PSP business as you know it today?
Blockchain is revolutionary to payments technology. The benefits of blockchain are many – lower costs and disintermediation of transactions, immutable and transparent history that minimizes fraud, and better speed, reliability, and efficiency overall.
Of particular interest is how cross-border merchants and shoppers will be able to take advantage of reduced currency conversion fees and unwarranted declines, both of which have been notable barriers to e-commerce success.
This is an exciting opportunity for our international e-commerce merchants. I believe that we will start to see more bank-backed blockchain programs that will allow the skeptical retailer to integrate with these systems, and the technology becoming the payment of choice worldwide in the coming years.
Blockchain technologies allow for a shift in the traditional way payments and financial products have been delivered worldwide. The impact of blockchain will become apparent over time as it becomes more mainstream and adopted into previously bank-controlled market sectors. There is already a significant push in certain developing regions to use blockchain-backed technology to provide services to the under-banked, offering less restriction to consumers who had been previously rejected by traditional banks.
Having served as CEO at BillPro for more than four years now, what have you found to be the most fulfilling part of running a high growth company in a highly competitive market?
One of the most fulfilling parts of being a CEO has been watching the growth of the company and staff. We have expanded across multiple countries and gone through three office upgrades in the past seven years to accommodate our growth. Experiencing the expansion of the company in line with our growth is so satisfying as it is a tangible representation of our increasing success.
Watching BillPro advancing in stride with the industry’s evolution, expanding and thriving across multiple regions and seeing the growth of our leadership team as they expand the departments they manage, gives me a true sense of success.
Daria Rippingale has led BillPro during a time of both significant geographical expansion and financial growth. BillPro is an international online payments services provider, specializing in e-commerce solutions for merchants of all sizes and all risk types. BillPro offers customized solutions with strong corporate governance and independently-audited PCI DSS compliance, which meet the interests and security needs of all key stakeholders: acquiring banks, resellers, merchants, card issuers, customers and payment networks. Find out more about them here.