EDC’s Samee Zafar met with Simon Black, CEO of PPRO, to discuss digital payments. PPRO is at the core of online payments a leader in cross-border e-payments and “one of the fastest growing FinTech companies in Europe”. With a single contract and a single integration, PPRO can help PSPs gain access to hundreds of locally preferred payment methods which they can offer to their merchants.

How will the way we pay for what we buy over the internet change over the next few years?

Where do we start? There are so many drivers for change. Consumers are increasingly used to the one-tap convenience of mobile payments. They’re already beginning to demand the same level of convenience from online payment methods too. At the same time, the drive for greater security and risk control — exemplified in PSD2’s requirements for Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) — actually threatens to make the payment experience more intrusive than it is today. The industry is going to need to find a way of reconciling these two developments. But I’m confident that will happen. PSPs and other industry players, including PPRO, are already looking for ways to incorporate the enhanced levels of security customer and regulators require while also making payments frictionless across all relevant platforms. It’s the only way we’re going to succeed in building a truly global e-commerce market, and that’s something businesses and consumers both want.

What are the clear benefits for online merchants accepting local payment methods?

Around 50 percent of all online payments are made using what are generally called ‘alternative payment methods’ (APMs). By ‘alternative’, the market means something other than a credit or debit card. But in many markets around the globe, most consumers don’t have a payment card. In developed markets, this can mean that people prefer to use bank-transfer services or e-wallets. In developing markets, popular APMs are often things such as cash-payment schemes which allow people to order something online but pay for it at a local kiosk or convenience store. Whatever the locally preferred scheme, any merchant that wants to reach those customers, needs to offer the payment method they already use and like. Fail to do that, and you risk your customers simply abandoning the shopping cart and going to a merchant that does let them pay the way they want to.

What does PPRO do that is unique?

Our technology platform is unique and our team is ahead of the industry in acquiring new payment methods and integrating them into our API. Also, as an acquirer we are exclusively a wholesaler. Through our API, we provide our clients — the payment service providers (PSPs) — with access to locally preferred payment methods from around the world. With a single contract and a single integration, PSPs gain access to hundreds of locally preferred payment methods. And because we’re a wholesaler, there’s no concern that we might compete with them in some markets. At the same time, our issuing department helps consumers and companies pay online and in-store, through our range of pre-paid cards. In both cases, our customers rely on the level of reassurance, control, and transparency our business model and our technology gives them.

What are your interests beyond work?

Well, I have two teenage kids and enjoy having fun with them especially watching movies. I’m also an avid foodie. I love cooking and discovering new restaurants. I’m also a keen football fan. I play every week and I’ve been a supporter of my home team since I was a kid – I’m a Mancunian and my favourite colour is red…