Financial IT had an inspiring interview with Alberto Dalmasso, Founder & CEO of Satispay about industrial changes and the way Satispay differentiates itself in today's marketplace.
Finacial IT: Hi Alberto, first of all thanks for this interview. Can you tell us briefly about Satispay and your background?
Alberto Dalmasso: Satispay is a payment network that allows people to send money from a smartphone app that is both simple and secure. Independent from any specific bank or credit/debit card circuits, Satispay has managed to provide its service while lowering the high commissions that are typical of the electronic payment sector.
The service is completely free for consumers; no sign up costs, top up fees or commissions for money transfers. There are no sign-up costs or monthly fees for businesses either. The sole charge for merchants is a fixed commission of 0.20 € which is only applicable on payments greater than 10 € (all payments below 10 € are free).
It is thus the first instrument that is usable for everyday payments: from transfers between friends to buying a drink at a café.
Regarding my background, I have a degree in economics and after 6 years of working experience, my passion for innovation pushed me to leave my job and found Satispay with my friends Dario Brignone and Samuele Pinta..
Financial IT: What was the major motivating factor for you to set up Satispay?
Alberto: To answer a need that we identified by observing people’s behavior. It was 2013 and me and Dario Brignone were wondering why we could do everything very easily and with convenience with our smartphone but paying. More and more often our cards payment for small amounts were not accepted and we considered a real waste of time going to withdraw or looking for change to exchange money with friend and acquaintances. This is what triggered the idea at the base of Satispay.
While we were studying the mobile payments industry, the European directive on payments was enacted. Unlike banks and other players already involved in the payments we had no previous positions to "defend", therefore this directive for the “internet of payments” was a great opportunity. We began to study how we could fulfill its requirements to create what we had in mind and Satispay was born.
Financial IT: How much have the payments and financial services industries changed since Satispay started off in 2015?
Alberto: As mentioned, the new European directives, the PSD and PSD2 that regulates payments, have allowed many new player to enter a market that was previously populated only by the traditional and consolidate players.
The offer of financial services from “non-banks” that operate mostly online and by app, allows people to manage money from their pc and smartphones, to compare services more easily, to avoid queues, paperwork, transaction fees.
In general since we launched Satispay we have witnessed an increasing interest towards innovation that can make life easier, an interest that together with the availability of the right enabling technology has boosted a change in the expectations of the clientele towards financial players.
The availability of new players and new digital services have raised a question mark on the traditional services and forced traditional players as banks to rethink their offer in order to remain competitive.
For example ICCREA Banca, the holding of all the Credito Cooperativo banks in Italy and one of Satispay’s first investors and industrial partner, understood that the synergies between our service and theirs could generate much appreciated benefits for their clients.
What I believe strikes the most is the awareness that we are looking at a non-stoppable and permanent change of our habits.
Financial IT: Could you please tell us a bit more about your clientele? And what value does your company bring to consumers?
Alberto: Our clients are both the merchants that adopt Satispay to receive payments and the individual users that use Satispay to pay for products and services and exchange money.
For merchants, the payment platform is compatible with most readily available devices in stores. We have developed the Satispay Business app, is available for smartphone/tablet, or computer, and also integrated with the debit/credit card reader (Ingenico) and most of the cash registers’ software, allowing the activation of tens of thousands of new stores and large retail chains.
The app provides stores with a solid marketing channel for communicating to potential customers in a non-invasive way as discounts, promotions and special initiatives are delivered clearly and directly to the receptive and ever-growing community that uses the service habitually.
The number of businesses that have signed up to accept the new payment platform is currently at more than 12,500 with 60 new shops per day. Among our business clients are small and large stores across the country and notable chains as Benetton, Caffè Vergnano, Carrera Jeans, Domino’s Pizza, Grom, MyChef, Old Wild West, Total Erg, Kasanova, Wiener Haus, Repsol.
For the individual user, Satispay allows a better purchase experience in store by reducing waiting time with a faster and more efficient payment process. It also allows exchanging money and paying completely for free and with an easy and safe app.
At present approximately 195,000 users have downloaded the app, of which 100,000 are active users.
Financial IT: The payments industry is expanding rapidly that drives innovation and competition. How does Satispay address these industry trends and challenges?
Alberto: Our independence, flexibility and commitment to change the rules of the game are at the base of our success in such a competitive and dynamic environment and the keys to move forward.
A 2016 report by CITI Research “Sinatra was right: the best is yet to come” identifies four forces driving the changes on the world of mobile payments in Europe: the changing of consumer preferences, linked to the ubiquity of mobile phones, the demand of merchants to handle complex transactions through payments firms and the change of the regulatory environment.
Satispay is based on a proprietary technological platform directly connected to EBACH, that allows us the flexibility to adapt to our customers’ needs, for example being available not only on mobile devices but integrated with card readers and cash registers. Our choice to be a first mover in the integration of technologies is a business strategy to support long-term user growth and the fact that 50% of our team is made of developers is a reflection of how important it is for us to innovate to be able to better answer our clientele’s needs. It is also the technology that allows us to handle complex transactions, as for example managing installment payments, one of our targets for 2017. Having conceived Satispay to potentially work for transactions in all Europe is also a feature that will allow us to be much better positioned to face international competition.
Financial IT: What are the major future plans you have for Satispay?
Alberto: Our growth will pass through a consolidation of our position in Italy, to then move to a European expansion. This is the reason why we already have an office in London, which is definitely at the moment the place with the most favorable ecosystem for fintech companies, preparing the international expansion starting from other countries in the Euro area, like Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Spain to arrive in UK too.