The value of partnerships: Interview with Andrea Dunlop, CEO of Acquiring & Card Solutions at Paysafe Group

Andrea Dunlop is the CEO of Acquiring and Card Solutions at Paysafe Group. She has previously held senior roles at Visa and RBS.

PaymentEye sat down with Andrea at Money 20/20 Europe to discuss the importance of partnerships, and why PSD2 will drive innovation and create strategic partners between banks and fintechs.

Tell us about your role as CEO of Paysafe Cards.

In my role at Paysafe I focus on scaling out the business in a very managed and measured way. I joined Paysafe to establish our licenses with the card schemes so that we could become our own merchant acquirer. I then transitioned into managing the business day-to-day.

At Paysafe, we’re keen to target certain verticals. It’s been an interesting path building out different teams. I’m also responsible for our card issuing business, which is essentially a prepaid card model. You can issue debit cards under the new scheme rules, and we operate a ‘white label’ model, working with businesses and enabling them to issue cards to their customers. We cover loyalty programmes, pay-out, pay roll, FX and travel programs.

PSD2 has been heavily featured at Money20/20 Europe. Are consumers expecting too much from the legislation?

I think there will be a period of uncertainty. I don’t think that we will get everything that everyone is expecting immediately, but it will come in time. I think that the fintechs will drive some of the behaviours around what comes out of PSD2 and I think the banks will then react accordingly.

I don’t think change will come from the banks offering open banking and access to their services, it will be driven by fintechs requesting those services. Banks are already announcing partnerships with fintechs to work on their APIs, so we’re already starting to see some of that collaboration come together.

Last year at Money20/20 Europe there was a lot of competition between banks and fintechs. This year it’s more about partnerships. Do you agree?

Yes, I also have the same understanding from attendees and partners. A lot of the partnerships stem from recognising that we can’t all innovate at the pace that we think we can. It’s not necessarily looking around and watching your competitors, but understanding that if we join forces, we can all move forward a lot quicker. Every business brings something different to the table.

A few years ago, companies wanted to do it all themselves, they wouldn’t necessarily be interested in partnering. I do see much more collaboration happening this year. If there’s something that another company can do better, I don’t want to waste my time building a replica, I would rather form a partnership and get to the market quicker. Even the banks are more inclusive; for banks to look innovative, they have to work together with the fintech companies.

What makes a good partnership?

It’s really the basic values: having trust and being honest. It’s easy to say but very few people truly stick to it. I try hard in my business not to make any false promises, my teams can’t sell what we don’t have. The deals we do with our partners will be deals that we can deliver right now. It’s always good to be honest and upfront, expectations are then managed.

The fintech industry is male dominated; as a leading figure in the industry, would you like to see more women in the playing field?

Women in the fintech industry start at more junior levels, and it inevitably takes time for them to progress in their organisations. There are women who are head of their teams, but they are also few and far between.

I think the challenge here is getting women into the industry, keeping women motivated and pushing them up through the ranks. There should be a recruitment model that for every executive role, there should be a guaranteed female CV amongst the CVs. A lot of senior players go to the people they’ve already worked with, and it can be hard for women to create those same networks.

What’s next for Paysafe? What can we expect to see later this year?

We’re continuing to scale-out of the card services business. We would still call it a seed business within the group. We have a lot of work to do and we’ve been working hard to get key partners in place.

I strive for us to be great at what we do in the card issuing space. Prepaid can be a challenging space to work in. I don’t think many of the players out there do an outstanding job. I would like us to be known as the key player, and that’s something we’re working on with our teams: How can we provide a better and faster service and get renowned in the payments industry for being a solid card issuer?

I believe that one of our strongest qualities at Paysafe is the way we build relationships. That was our culture when we were first started and were a small business, and we will always incorporate the entrepreneurial culture of being very relationship driven. I hope that as we continue to grow and scale that we don’t lose sight of that, because that’s what makes us special.

It is, however, still early days for us. I don’t think there’s going to be anything out there that you haven’t already seen. It’s really about creating that framework where we get a really good level of service. It’s important to also see partners at events such as Money 20/20 Europe, as our partners success is our success.

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