If one needed more proof of how payments and commerce is converging, look no further than the recent appointment of Bryan Murphy as President of YapStone.
Murphy was named President of YapStone on Sept. 21, after a long stint running the North American Verticals Business for eBay – where he focused on fashion, automobiles, electronics, home and garden, collectibles and art — where he remained after his startup WHI Solutions was sold to eBay in 2012. Murphy remarked that even in a company that once owned a pretty massive payments player like PayPal, the payments that power each and every transaction wasn’t necessarily top of his mind.
"When you're a guy running a marketplace — like eBay — the last thing you think about is payments," Murphy told MPD CEO Karen Webster in a recent chat following the announcement of his new position, "until you need to think about them" he added.
For Murphy, that was when something went wrong or when he realized a particular transaction couldn’t be done because they couldn’t enable an option that a customer wanted to use.
That’s why he joined YapStone — a company, he admits, he hadn't thought much about before learning of the chance to join the team.
YapStone, named for the legendary payments method on the Island of Yap, is a well-kept secret. It’s been knee-deep in payments for 15 years, processing $14 billion in annual payments volume and growing 40-50 percent year over year. YapStone’s niche is as a “full-stack” payments platform that does the risk underwriting, onboarding and payments processing for big-ticket, often recurring, payments in the rental marketplace – apartments, vacation properties, housing – and even student loans.
"We offer a turnkey solution that is also highly customized to the markets we serve. We partner closely with the customers in the markets we serve and enable business rules, and businesses expertise around large ticket items and recurring payments, which to me is a really interesting corner of the market right now," Murphy said. "If you look at the world, the small ticket, high volume payments are well cared for. But where payments hasn't transformed yet are in that big ticket. And, I think that's where YapStone is uniquely positioned to really transform that market."
A market that today is pretty much characterized by paper check, which Murphy notes, is slowly but surely going away, thanks to the innovations and the evolution of payments.
"We don’t know when, but we do know that they are going away,” he concluded. "If you kind of draw a curve with your hand to 5 or 10 [years], it dictates how steep the curve is. But the curve is there. I think YapStone’s 15 years of experience positions us to be a real driver of that change – and that's what really got me excited."
As Webster pointed out, 15 years in payments has seen a real evolution in payments, with plenty of companies coming in and out of the market — many with capabilities that 15 years ago were unique to YapStone but today, maybe a little more crowded. Is YapStone positioned for those new sources of competition?
"YapStone’s sweet spot is the intersection of big ticket [payments], efficient onboarding and desire to mitigate risk," Murphy said. “Big ticket sellers or service providers want to mitigate risk and don't ever want to think about payments as a solution. They just want to do what they do. We bring that and more to the many verticals that have these unique attributes, so, I think we fit perfectly.
"There's trillions of dollars of payments volume in just those spaces," he added. "We don't have to be all things to all people to be successful."
Not being all things for all people is key. After all, there's the PayPals, Braintrees and Stripes of the world to do plenty of other types of payments. Not to mention all the new "Pay players” merging into the space. But where those payments players end, is where YapStone believes it not only begins but excels.
"For the verticals we serve, we’re experts — rent payments, vacation rentals. And we power marketplaces and solutions providers in those spaces and have partnerships with hundreds of software companies that service the rent spaces," Murphy said.
While the "Pay" term is getting all the buzz in the payments ecosystem today, Webster noted that there are so many commerce opportunities in the marketplaces that are digital, which all have very unique requirements. This, of course, has also made it a more dynamic space to be part of.
And that's the end game for Murphy and what he plans to bring to the table for YapStone.
"I'm bringing my eCommerce and marketplace to this payments company," he said. "I'm like the blue squirrel — the guy that's got consumer experience, marketplace experience, but also B2B and so that all kind of ties in perfectly in YapStone.
And it fits perfectly into another example of payments and commerce merging like never before.