Chief executive officer of Paybase, Anna Tsyupko, speaks with Financial IT about how the company has evolved over the years, emerging trends and future plans.
Financial IT: First of all, we would like to thank for this interview. Can you tell us more about Paybase and your career path?
Anna: Certainly! Paybase is a payments platform that takes payments from being a painful afterthought to a core part of a business’s value proposition. For any business that needs to facilitate payments between multiple parties, Paybase can provide a flexible solution which not only meets their requirements, but gives them greater customer insight, deeper marketing possibilities, enhanced risk management tools and more. Covering payments, compliance and risk management all under one API, Paybase is perfect for marketplaces, gig/sharing economy platforms and products with complex payments requirements.
As for my path, after graduating university I took up a position in a boutique Private Equity firm. We had a FinTech start-up in our portfolio and as an investment manager you have to know not only everything about the business you are investing in, but about the nuances of the industry as well. I became very interested in the challenges that exist in today’s payments industry and the opportunities there are to innovate and improve the sector.
Financial IT: What are the features that make Paybase unique compared to other payments solutions?
Anna: We can’t be beat on flexibility. Our Logic Engine allows businesses to create their own payment rules. For example, if you run a marketplace, you may want to charge your sellers different fees depending on their volume of sales. But why stop there? You might also want to change these fees temporarily for marketing purposes. Perhaps sellers pay no fees on their birthday or fees are dropped over the holiday period. Paybase allows companies to enact this level of flexibility themselves without extensive technical knowledge and resource, giving them a competitive edge in an increasingly populated market.
This flexibility applies to risk as well as product. Paybase rules allow businesses to set actions on transactions based on their own risk policy. Using the marketplace example again, the company may wish to block a transaction over £100 for a user that has joined within the past 2 hours, but allow a £500 transaction for a more established user. Paybase can offer guidance on risk appropriation, but the firm ultimately has the ability to set rules based on their own level of risk appetite (within Paybase’s framework).
Finally, Paybase offers its Partners an unmatched level of support. A ‘plug-in-and-go’ solution is not appropriate for many modern companies with complex payments requirements. Companies want, and need, to know how to get the best out of payments, risk management and compliance. Paybase offers a close level of contact and training for Partner staff to ensure that they feel covered across all areas.
In essence, Paybase gives businesses the power and support to make payments a genuine part of their offering, instead of a bolted-on requirement. No other payment solution can make such a claim.
Financial IT: How has Paybase evolved since you joined the company?
Anna: When I first joined we were still the social payments app Payfriendz. The app attracted a respectable amount of users and processed a high volume of transactions, but most importantly, it demonstrated the market need for a flexible payments platform. To build a product like Payfriendz that facilitates payments between multiple parties you need an eMoney licence, which is no small ask in itself. Then, you have to find a Gateway and an Acquirer to be able to facilitate top-ups into the e-money accounts, find a processor to be the authoritative holder of record, find a banking partner to process withdrawals and finally find a KYC-provider to perform checks on the users.
When you’re then trying to iterate and improve your product, the weight of so many different partners, often using outdated technology and outdated methods, can massively slow you down. As a startup you need to act fast to respond to increasing customer demands and these obstacles can be the undoing of many promising companies. For these reasons, we decided that we could offer more than a social payments app; we could offer a much needed change to the status quo of the payments industry. In summer 2016, Paybase was born. We have since become a company that helps businesses grow and transform through payments, instead of being inhibited by them. We have worked hard to build a platform we’re very proud of and are excited to launch with our first partners in the near future.
Financial IT: Regarding market competition, where does Paybase stand globally?
Anna: We have big ambitions, but for the moment we are focussing our attention on the UK market. What we offer is relevant to companies all over the globe, so we look forward to the challenge of expanding. There are of course other payment companies that do have a global presence, but no others that offer the kind of technology or level of support that we do.
Financial IT: What are the emerging trends you foresee in the industry today and how do you address these new challenges?
Anna: The gig/sharing economy has changed commerce. The standard payment of buyer to seller in exchange for a good or service, facilitated through a simple payment gateway, is still the main way in which we shop. However, in recent years the gig/sharing economy has exploded, with consumers using platforms or marketplaces in order to connect with others that are offering what they need.
The issue is that payments have not caught up to this change. Stricken by legacy technology and legacy thinking, payments have become the uncomfortable afterthought for modern businesses, as many platforms and marketplaces still centrally accept payments and then manually reconcile funds before sending them to their sellers.
This creates high costs, massive operational overhead and tough inflexibility for businesses that are often trying to find their feet. Paybase eliminates these challenges by offering a solution that can automatically route payments between individual buyers and sellers. No reconciliation is required, allowing more time to be spent on building and improving their product.
What are your major plans for Paybase in 2018 and beyond?
Anna: We launch in early Q2 so that is our focal point for the moment and we are very excited to get our first Partners’ payments up and running shortly. We are also growing our team with several key hires planned for the coming months. We’re confident 2018 will be our best year yet!
We make no secret of the fact we want to expand into Europe within the next year. Looking further into the future, our plan is to contribute towards a genuine shift in finance, making payments accessible, affordable and flexible for all companies.