Meet Tobias Schreyer, co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer at the PPRO Group. Schreyer has had a passion for payments since he was a child, and that enthusiasm comes in handy when dealing with the challenges that come with ensuring PPRO can serve its global clients while staying compliant with the various payments legislature and regulations across different countries. As part of PYMNTS.com’s Commander In Chief Series, Schreyer shares his secret to seamless product delivery and the importance of building on past experiences.
What does a day in the life of a Chief Commercial Officer look like?
My primary role at the PPRO Group consists of being responsible for the issuing operation at the company, as well as concentrating on sales activities and business development in the e-money account and card issuing segment. I lead a multilingual team of consumer and corporate card program specialists as well as a large customer services team, ensuring that PPRO is positioned to support national and international customer needs whilst complying with all legislative and regulatory controls across all payment formats and countries. My day starts early and ends late, just like most business people. Usually my calendar is crammed with international calls as well as internal and external meetings. When I have time, I cycle 50 miles to work, which gives me plenty of time to structure my day and to come up with new innovative ideas and solutions to problems. I also make sure I take some time out of the office at lunch to exercise, which really helps to clear my mind.
What is the most difficult part of your job and why?
I was always destined to work in the payments industry ever since I started collecting prepaid value calling cards and trading them at stamp and calling card exchanges as a child, so my job is something I’m still very enthusiastic about. However, there are of course very challenging parts about it too. Legislation and regulations differ from country to country and we have to make sure we comply with all of them, but mainly it’s the e-money industry that is highly dynamic and therefore changes fast. With digital services such as e-money accounts quickly emerging as popular alternatives to traditional banking, we have seen a major shift this year, from current favored online payment methods like credit cards and PayPal, to a broader set of online and mobile payment options. This has been a challenge for us – these payment options have not only accommodated changes in the banking market, but also payment preferences from consumers looking to purchase goods cross-border.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
I wish I had more time to turn all of my ideas into a reality. Whenever I’m not in the office, I love spending time with my kids. I would also like to spend more time hiking and skiing if I had it.
Chief Commercial Officers have to herd a lot of cats in order to make the integrated delivery of products seamless. What’s your secret for doing that?
I co-founded PPRO and set up the company’s e-money business whilst being a significant driver in gaining our e-money license by the FCA in 2012. This is also the year when we launched our first prepaid consumer card scheme – VIABUY.
By the middle of 2015, more than 500,000 cards were sold across Europe, earning an industry-leading amount per month in average customer transaction fees. The success of this very profitable program was the result of the analysis of more than 250 co-branded programs that I had actually overlooked in the past, culminating in the development of the “best of the best.”
The secret is all about focusing, researching, learning and correcting. Once I had a plan in mind on how to set up a successful international consumer card program for Europe, we took one step at a time, learning on the way, improving and correcting things. However, I couldn’t have done it alone; you always need a strong team who will have your back and support your ideas. I’m lucky enough to have a strong, loyal and responsible team who I can put all my trust into.
We are now launching several corporate prepaid card programs and we do it in a similar way, building on our past experience through developing existing products and projects.
How do you balance customer product needs with company revenue and profit needs?
Listening to our customers is crucial for business growth. However, meeting customer needs does not always correlate directly with the process of generating profit. It’s therefore important to meet customer needs in ways that balance the cost of delivering satisfying results with the expenses that must be incurred to create these results. It also helps to be working alongside experienced supplier partners, and drawing on our experience in the industry.
What are the most important lessons that CCOs can learn from product failures?
When setting up, I certainly had to overcome hurdles along the way. Gaining an e-money license back in 2012 was not easy at all, but with the right team in place, enthusiasm and relentless effort, we got there. In terms of card products, I have to say that we did not fail in any programs so far at PPRO. The reason for this is again, experience, dedication and a strong team. I have experienced product failures in the past, however, and what I learned is exactly what prevents me from failing now. I think you need to have failed at some point in your career; otherwise you don’t know the essentials and cannot build a really successful product.
Another key lesson I have learned is that you always need support from your colleagues, and even listen to external consultants for some aspects of the business – you cannot do and know everything yourself, even if you wanted to. Thanks to this support, the PPRO Group has become one of Europe’s leading e-money institutions, which is something I could never have achieved alone.
What is a lesson you have learned in interacting with other businesses as a customer that you’ve applied to your work?
This is pretty easy; without great customer support, the best product is not going to hit the roof. Each product will have flaws and every customer will have questions, especially in such critical environments like finance. What I have learned when dealing with other financial institutions is that you need world-class customer support, and this is exactly what we have built with the PPRO Group – and what we are constantly improving and automating. Only a satisfied customer is a long-term customer and this is exactly what you need in this business. The same goes for your products’ features; get rid of the frills and focus on the essentials and those features that benefit the customer most. If you do this successfully, the customer will come and stay.
Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer at PPRO Group
Schreyer, BA in Business Administration, is the Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of PPRO. As an undergraduate in 1995, he set up the Internet service provider GEDIK GmbH in Munich. In 2006, he established Gibraltar-based Transact Network Ltd. Other positions along his career path include Vice President Business Development and Sales at WireCard AG and Director of Payments at Bay Management Ltd. Certified anti-money laundering specialist, Tobias is primarily responsible for issuing operations at PPRO, concentrating on sales activities and business development in the prepaid cards segment.
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