SumUp made major news in the European payments space on Tuesday, announcing that American Express and Groupon have been added to its list of investors, providing the company with a double-digit million euro funding round to help continue expanding internationally and to enhance the consumer-to-merchant experience.
PYMNTS.com caught up with SumUp's managing director, Stefan Jeschonnek, to find out the details of the new funding, what this investment means for SumUp, and to hear what they have in store to make a “frictionless payments experience” a reality.
PYMNTS.com: Can you explain to us what it means to have two huge payments names like American Express and Groupon hop aboard as investors? What does this do for the SumUp brand?
Stefan Jeschonnek: It is a big step for us, and it is something we are very proud of. In a way it is a validation of our business model and SumUp as a company.
It is important to understand that investments from American Express and Groupon follow a month-long due diligence. Both companies really went into the depths of our team, our technology and our numbers. The outcome is really something that validates us as a company.
And as a brand, it further adds trust to SumUp as a very serious player and a very establish player, both technologically and geographically.
In the release, you explained that Groupon and American Express shared a vision and commitment to empower small businesses. Can you talk more about these convictions?
American Express very much shares a goal with us, which is card acceptance for merchants of all kinds. So far, it has been very hard worldwide for smaller merchants to be able to accept card payments. This is because you need large static terminals that you can rent from banks. They will pay a monthly fee for it, and it's often a very long contract. At SumUp, we want to make it easy, simple and affordable for everybody, including any small businesses or entrepreneurs, who want to accept card payments.
Ultimately we are growing the card payments market with that and we are making them more accessible to more kinds. American Express very much shares this goal. We both want to empower small businesses.
How will SumUp use its new investments to further improve the point-of-sale experience? Tell PYMNTS.com how you’re planning to use this new backing.
We are actually using the funding for three major topics.
First, we at SumUp aim to build out our technological leadership. To our knowledge, we are the only lower point of sale company in the world that offers a complete in-house built end-to-end payment systems. We have our own hardware team, we've built an entire propriety payments gateway, we have our own risk system, we have our own operations system ... and that is something that is very unique to us as a company. It enables us to be more flexible and faster than other companies. We are using this funding to continue building out that technological leadership.
The second step is that we want to further expand our business internationally, which I will discuss more in a moment.
Our third point, we announced that we are working on a new consumer app. The idea is that we want to go beyond card payments.
Card payments are a real and relevant problem for small merchants. It is difficult for them to accept card payments but ultimately we want to make payments frictionless. We currently are piloting a solution that allows consumers to pay in a completely frictionless way. You can walk into one of your favorite stores, and you can leave your wallet and your phone in your pocket. You can basically pay for the item with just your presence.
This solution brings the interaction between the merchant and consumer into the foreground, and the transactions happen automatically in the background. This is what we mean by changing and reinventing the point-of-sale experience. At SumUp we want to broaden our product scope and our service scope.
SumUp recently opened an office in Moscow and now operates in Russia. In which markets is SumUp looking to expand its services to next, and why do small merchants in these regions need SumUp's payment solutions?
Really the problem that we've seen in Europe and often Russia is that it is very difficult to accept card payments. The contracts are often complicated and you tie yourself into a contract that may last several years. The whole system is not transparent. There is often a monthly fee, a card transaction fee.
This problem really exists worldwide, which is why we are expanding so fast internationally, because we are seeing this problem everywhere and we have a solution to solve it, and that is our thesis.
We built the company from the beginning with an international angle in mind. Our systems are very fast and easier for us to use internationally. With that in mind we are looking to expand further beyond Europe.
We are now live in 11 countries, and we have the largest international footprint compared to any other mobile POS company in the world. We want to build out that leadership geographical position.
Groupon is a great company to have as an investor because they have so much experience in growing a business targeted at small merchants on a global scale in a very short period of time, and its really this experience with international expansion that convinced us to take them on us an investor, and we are very proud to have them on board.
Aside from geographic expansion, what’s next for SumUp? How is this going to help you compete in a crowded European MPOS space?
SumUp is working on a new pilot program, as previously mentioned, which is a new app called SumUp Pay. This application will ideally give SumUp a jump ahead of rivals in Europe.
Customers who use this app will be able to make payments to merchants using the application, by easily saying just their name. The payment will be frictionless and not require the customer to remove their phone or wallet from their pocket.
The app is still closed and not yet available to the public, but SumUp plans to launch the mobile application by February 2014.