“We can make an impact by bringing solutions that are engineered to solve common problems merchants encounter”

Earlier this year, international payment service provider ECommPay announced the appointment of Paul Marcantonio as its new Head of UK & Western Europe. PaymentEye sat down with Paul six months on to find out more about his vision for the company.

How did you get into payments?

My sales career began working for top video game publishers (SEGA, Ubisoft, THQ), partnering with major retail outlets and mass market distributors. During my 12-year career in video games, the market shifted somewhat, with more publishers developing a digital strategy, moving in-line with the convergence from physical to digital distribution. Consumers no longer needed to leave their houses to buy and play video games, decreasing demand for physical products.

The changing behaviours in video game distribution encouraged me to evaluate how payments played a role in the ever-changing ecosystem. My thought process was simple: whenever there’s a sale, physical or digital, there needs to be a payment. I was introduced to ClickandBuy International, who were looking to bolster awareness of their e-Wallet and build on their presence within the videogame and betting and gambling markets. It was a natural fit. During my tenure, I was Head of International Sales and Executive Director, regulated by the FCA.

My involvement in the payments industry has been exciting, especially because there is a lot of crossover from different industries. My video game and retail contacts have been beneficial in understanding the confluence between gaming and betting, which is a particularly hot topic in payments.

You joined ECommPay at the start of the year. Why did the role appeal?

There’s a lot that attracted me to ECommPay, but one of the key elements was the importance the company puts on partner relationships and managing payment solutions. For ECommPay, it’s not just about signing a contact and moving on – that churn and burn mentality – rather, it’s about integrating a partner and taking the time to get under the skin of their business.  I was particularly impressed with the fact that ECommPay brought three key elements together: direct acquiring as Principal Member of VISA and Mastercard; an impressive PSP platform, boasting a comprehensive suite of alternative payments and geographies; and the payments technology division, all available within a single integration.

We strive to understand the pain points of our clients – both existing and prospective – so we can work with them to provide a tailored solution. While it can be effective to introduce an off-to-shelf solution or a one-size-fits-all payment service, I question whether it is actually benefiting the partner at a granular level. ECommPay invests time and effort into creating bespoke solutions, taking into account the unique circumstances of each client’s business.

Does your hiring indicate a change of business strategy for ECommPay?

I feel extremely humbled by the fact that ECommPay has looked to me to drive the UK and Western European business forward. It’s both a tremendous opportunity and a challenge, which I’ve embraced. I’m building on the fantastic job ECommPay has done in bringing on board valuable and long term strategic partners, helping them expand into new regions and extend their capabilities.

My background in betting and gambling, video gaming and digital commerce has helped forge our strategy. Localised knowledge of the UK market and exposure across various industries within digital payments has altered our strategy, but I’m not re-inventing the wheel. I’m ensuring that our plans, products, and service capacity are sufficiently localised, so that we can offer a market leading suite of relevant services to a diverse merchant portfolio.

Have the first six months in the role lived up to your expectations?

The first six months surpassed my expectations, especially regarding the company’s core competencies and capabilities. As a payments disruptor, we’re very agile and adaptable, which allows us to create bespoke solutions for a range of companies, regardless of size, industry, or turnover. I’ve been laser focused on business verticals that I feel we can add a tangible value and, as such, have established relationships with key contacts within these verticals. I challenged them to share their pain points, so we’re now working together on how ECommPay can help take their business to the next level.

We’ve also established more of a presence in the UK. ECommPay is strong in other territories, where we have offices in seven locations across the globe, but we’re now actively bringing that accumulated knowledge and expertise over here.

What have you learned about the industry in the past six months that surprised you?

It’s a crowded space! There are so many payment providers vying for the same clients that it becomes difficult for organisations to make an informed choice. Cost is important, because it’s the first thing everyone asks about, but we prefer to emphasise the cost to value ratio. Payments, we’ve been told, is not particularly sexy to clients, and when you are talking about savings of a few basis points there is a lack of impetus, so we’re focused on educating merchants on how the payments process affects conversion, retention, and revenues.

What do you think are the major points of discussion currently in the industry?

The hot topics right now are regulation and directives. With deadlines for AML4, PSD2, eIDAS, and GDPR fast approaching, financial institutions must implement measures to become compliant. ECommPay must adapt to the changes in the European payments landscape to sustain our competitive advantage. We’ve developed our strategies, and are now offering consulting services to clients.

I also expect there to be further discussion on the threat fintechs pose to traditional banking institutions. Fintechs capture the Millennial mentality and imagination, attracting customers away from high street banks, which challenges the latter to develop new strategies and introduce new products. Ultimately, this is the environment which gave rise to ECommPay, offering cutting-edge, fast-paced technologies.

What do you think are going to be key issues that suppliers like ECommPay are looking to solve for clients in the next 12 months?

I’d connect this to the previous question – we’re staying current, up-to-date on all the incoming changes. As I mentioned previously, ECommPay is willing to advise merchants on European directives and regulatory measures, helping them become compliant in the most cost-effective way. We furthermore need to ensure that we maintain the expected customer journey within the confines of the new regulations – frictionless, safe, and secure payments.

Does ECommPay have any major projects or announcements in the pipeline that we can expect to hear before the end of 2017?

We position ourselves as a payment technology disruptor, with a team of more than 100 technology specialists and developers creating new tools, plug-ins, and patches. They’re dedicated to ensuring our system is up-to-date, which is why they’re undertaking a comprehensive renewal and update of all capabilities this year. We’re also producing more specific solutions for the verticals we’re targeting.

I think that there is a big opportunity to be disruptive in payments, so we will continue to explore the different ways we can make an impact by bringing solutions engineered to solve common problems merchants encounter. The objective for the year is to continue constantly updating, reviewing, and stress testing our products to improve our portfolio and resources.

Is ECommPay looking to diversify its client market?

Yes, definitely. We’ve been very successful in gaming and Forex, and that will always be a core focus for us, but I would like us to look at diversifying our portfolio as well. I’ve pinpointed which industries we can complement with our range of products and services. In terms of where we’re heading next, it’s not rocket science to guess which areas we might be targeting, but we want to take a very careful, strategic approach.

We’ve been going for a little under six years, and although we are still relatively new to the market, we have been tremendously successful. I want us to continue establishing ourselves as a trusted and compliant business across multiple verticals. We pride ourselves on our technology and have zero appetite for risk, so I’d love to hear the issues our prospective partners are facing in order to see where our solutions could work for them.

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