Fintech company Adyen bridges gap between local enterprises and global markets

Adyen, the fintech company powering the payments systems of companies like Netflix and Spotify, believes there is a big opportunity to serve Australian enterprises looking to go global.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

In the world of ecommerce, there are over 300 different methods of payments, including credit cards, bank transfers, direct debits, e-wallets, mobile payments, local card schemes, pre-pay, post-pay, and e-invoices.

Merchants looking to capture and grow in regional or global markets need to enable consumers to pay using methods they're accustomed to, according to Warren Hayashi, Asia-Pacific president of fintech company Adyen.

But for merchants, this is no easy feat, Hayashi said. That is, being able to accept different payment methods in different geographies is technically complex, inefficient, and expensive.

This is the problem Adyen claims to solve with its "full-stack of payment processing capabilities."

Adyen's technology connects directly to Visa, MasterCard, and 250 other payment methods across online, mobile, and in-store environments.

Its technology supports 4,500 companies around the world including big names like Facebook, Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, Dropbox, Soundcloud, Groupon, Survey Monkey, and Vodafone.

Announced today, the latest customer wins for Adyen are ecommerce marketplace Etsy and Australian-founded crowdsourcing marketplace Freelancer.

Hayashi told ZDNet that merchants using Adyen experience on average a 1.5 percent increase in their authorisation rates and revenue.

"Historically, payments discussions would reside deep in the back office of a retailer or merchant. The conversation would be typically around how to lower the cost of the transaction, how to lower the cost of implementation, how to lower the operational costs of running a payments team.

"It's now a front office discussion where merchants talk about how they can touch more customers around the world, how they can improve revenue by having more transactions come through. We're changing the paradigm around the discussion of payments."

Significant innovations in payments technology has brought both complexity and convenience to transacting electronically, according to Hayashi.

"In the past, it was pretty straightforward. I could be operating one or two stores in one country. I would need terminals, and there would be a bank that can support. [Payments] was always an underinvested part of the business because the margins have been historically thin," Hayashi said.

"With ecommerce, retailers are realising they can touch customers all over the world. But that would mean they need card processing capabilities in 10 countries or 100 countries."

The old way involved merchants localising in every country and plugging into their different banks.

Enterprise merchants would have different groups implementing and managing different payment systems. The online group would have their own service providers, while the stores would have their service providers.

"That's duplicate capabilities. If you're an online play and want to have pop-up stores or even expand full-time into physical stores, you don't want to have to replicate that process," said Hayashi.

"Banks were fragmented in the past, they couldn't cover multiple geographies, so they expanded through acquisitions. They added a gateway layer that consolidates all the 10 different platforms out there.

"But for merchants, they would still see 10 different reports come out of 10 different platforms, which is operationally very difficult to manage."

Adyen eliminates the need for this repetition, he said, and added that often the same customers want to use multiple payment methods.

"If you have a business that's both online and offline, you can be omnichannel ... so instead of having a payments team that manages the store experience and a team that manages the online experience, the merchants are now able to align payments across their consumers," he said.

"Today, it's the same consumer that goes online and goes to stores. There's cross-channel interaction. For example, I might buy online, but pick up [the purchase] in store. Or I might shop in store, but order something that's not available in stock, then have it delivered."

While some fintech companies are proactive about the future of payments -- in that they envision new solutions to drive change in the payments sector -- Adyen prefers to be reactive to changes.

"We don't bet what the world's going to look like and build things ahead of time. When a big customer asks for something, we build it," said Hayashi.

"We kept it very simple. We focus on payment solutions for enterprise merchants. We're not expanding into auxillary banking services."

Security is a top priority for Adyen, Hayashi said, adding that the company is able to detect fraud quicker than many other payments solutions out there.

Rather than having to worry about building infrastructure in-house that can enable and manage different payment methods, and then adding a layer security on top of that, Adyen handles both.

"Typically, security is a separate integration. But we built it into our platform," Hayashi said.

"All the data is coming in from the source of funds anyway. Our platform has a $50 billion processing volume, so you can detect fraudulent transactions pretty quickly. We capture it with our [custom-built security technology] and we stop it across the entire system."

Hayashi said there is a big opportunity for Adyen to make a mark in the Australian market for a number of reasons, one being because Australian enterprises are seeking a stable solution.

"We talked to a lot of enterprises here, and whether it's traditional retailers or pure online players, it's become very evident that they are looking for a stable solution. There were some local players that had some outages last year, which I think was a wake-up call in the industry," said Hayashi.

Hayashi also said Australian enterprises are eager to access global markets.

"A lot of the entrepreneurs coming out of Australia are not satisfied just building an Australian business. They're looking to build a regional or global business. We're helping companies like Freelancer go offshore. That's really important for us."

In 2015, Adyen claims to have surpassed $50 billion in payments processing. It also delivered $350 million in revenue, double that of the previous year.

Despite what this growth would suggest, Adyen operates "completely behind the scenes", according to Hayashi.

"Wallets like PayPal and Alipay engage directly with consumers. We decided that we don't want to be visible to consumers," he said.

"The more invisible we are, the better it is for the merchants because every time there is a new page that comes up during the checkout process or even a new button, it creates greater confusion in the consumer's mind. Every incremental step is another reason for the consumer to drop off."

Recently, we've seen big tech companies aggressively roll out their own version of e-wallets around the world, the most notable being Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay.

The technology has been well-received by Australian organisations, in line with reports suggesting that the nation is one of the first economies in the world to go cashless.

ANZ became the first major Australian bank to make Android Pay available and the only bank in Australia to make Apple Pay available to customers earlier this year.

In August this year, the New South Wales government announced that it would allow Android Pay customers to pay for government services at Service NSW shopfronts using their Android device.

Australia's appetite for fintech adoption ranks among the top seven in the world, according to a study by Ernst & Young.

"A shift to fintech among [higher-income consumers] has the potential to lead to increased margin concentration and loss of market share," said EY Australia's fintech leader Anita Kimber.

"To combat this, banks and insurance will have to review how their products and channel strategies will meet their customers' needs in future. We are already seeing most of them establishing partnerships with fintech providers. This is likely to accelerate."

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