Something as complicated as multi-currency, international mass payments seems impossible to simplify. But that’s been the focus of hyperWALLET over the last several months, says its CEO and President Lisa Shields. Shields recently caught up with MPD CEO Karen Webster to offer her perspective on just how hard (or not so hard) it is to simplify mass payments for businesses and global financial services – and the biggest barrier hyperWALLET eliminates for the customers who need them most.
KW: As those who follow payments know well, hyperWALLET has a really clever solution for a variety of multi-currency, international payment challenges. What we’re trying to do today is get caught up on some of the latest and greatest developments since we last chatted. Tell us, what’s happened?
LS: The main thing we’ve done is we launched our new brand and product alignment. We had a big internal set of discussions and discussions with our customers, and we’ve aligned around the concept of simplification and adopted a new byline – mass payments, simplified. Now, we’re just working hard to live up to that byline.
KW: So how hard is it to simplify something as complicated as mass payments around the world?
LS: Most publicly, this alignment has meant a refreshed logo, and an updated website and resource collateral set. That has been the easy part. Less visibly, the process internally required us to align our account management, developer support teams, and product teams around this concept of simplification for our customers and payees. What we looked at is how the market encounters us, how our customers learn about us, get started with us and expand with us. What we found was that the cool and technical elements about our platform – our payments network and other things the payments geeks enjoy talking about – are not really what our customers care about. Our customers care about removing barriers, not payments. They only care about payments when it represents a barrier to them.
In practice, what it means is that we’ve distilled our capabilities into four distinct solutions based on these payment barriers. We call them Pay By Portal, Pay By Inbox – a streamlined and simple way for businesses to make one-time payments instead of recurring payments – and then Pay By Card and Pay To Bank, which are more traditional products that we think our customers can wrap their heads around.
So what we’re trying to do now as a business is align everything we do around a way a business sees us and not a way the payments industry sees us.
KW: I agree with you, customers just want their problems solved. They don’t care how you do it, as long as it’s done to their satisfaction and removes the barriers and friction they encounter. What is the biggest barrier you eliminate for your customers?
LS: First, let me distinguish between our two distinct kinds of customers. We have businesses that want turnkey services – these businesses need to make 5,000 or 500,000 payments at a time. They need a provider who can compliantly and cost-effectively take care of all of the issues. So our customers don’t want to have to deal with the regulatory side of it, they don’t want to have to deal with exception handling, settlement and client care. Those are solutions we seek to provide in a simple way for our customers.
These customers fall across a variety of spectrums, including market research. Maybe they need to pay 100,000 people who participated in a mass survey, but they only need to get paid once. These customers don’t want to have to worry about global checks and collecting payment details. So broadly, for our business customers, that’s the biggest problem we solve with a payee directed solution.
But we have another whole class of customers. That’s international financial institutions, global financial services brands, and enterprise platform providers. They’re looking to solve a different problem – they want to augment either their product offering or clearing and settlement capabilities. So our intent in our rebranding, presenting our capabilities in the four categories, is to make it easy to start a conversation with global brands in terms that make sense to them.
KW: So in those two distinct segments within the market you serve, it sounds like you’re solving big problems for both of them. Is there one that is more rapidly growing than the other, or are they both on an upward trajectory because of a platform like yours?
LS: It’s clear to us that one is growing much more quickly – that is businesses and end-users of our service, versus financial institutions and global financial services brands. The reason that is, for us, is that businesses just want to make payments and are looking for one provider who can take custody of funds, clear and settle, provide all of the services, and bear the regulatory burden. These businesses making payments are first-party payers, so they don’t have the same regulatory challenges that a bank or global financial services brand may have, outsourcing components of its overall services to a third-party.
So it’s easier for a business to use us than for a bank or another related entity.
KW: So how do they find you?
LS: For businesses, we have a direct sales force, but often times the first interaction starts with a simple Google search. That’s very interesting – businesses that are making lots of payments, especially when they start to cross borders, they come looking. As a matter of fact, we’ve had partners show up at your conference. Customers come to your conference, that’s how desperate they are.
KW: Well, I’m glad we can be a platform for you. That’s awesome! It’s a fascinating niche that’s pretty big that you’ve enabled with the portfolio of solutions you offer. It’s one you don’t necessarily think about when you think payments, but clearly there is a complexity because of the mass nature of the payments you are distributing, and dealing with all regulatory and settlement issues for thousands at a time is certainly daunting for most people.
LS: Yes, and honestly, we didn’t start out solving this problem. I wouldn’t think many new entrants in the market would be starting out specifically to do global mass payments. Because of the complexity, it’s something that develops over time. And honestly, big businesses have had to solve this problem for themselves. Some of the most sophisticated payments solutions, platforms and organizations are internal organizations, behind corporate firewalls. The challenge for them is that those are one-off solutions that tend to be built on 10-20 year old technology and services. So these companies, as they want to adapt to newer offerings in the marketplace and communication protocols, are starting to turn to the market, and they’re not finding a lot out there.
KW: Well it’s been great to get caught up. I know we’ll have more of an opportunity to hear how this new simplification method and mandate translates to the overall portfolio of solutions that you take to market at Innovation Project in just a few weeks.
President & CEO, hyperWALLET
Lisa Shields is the founder and CEO of hyperWALLET Systems Inc. Over the past 13 years Ms. Shields has guided hyperWALLET from technology startup to a respected international payments processor specializing in low value, cross-border clearing solutions.
Under Ms. Shields’ guidance, hyperWALLET has become the de facto standard commission payments provider to the Direct Selling industry, a growing business sector with 90 million participants worldwide and over $150 billion in total sales.
In addition, hyperWALLET operates a financial services business line offering consumer-to-consumer account-based money transfer services.
Prior to founding hyperWALLET, Ms. Shields managed payments acceptance and risk management technology teams for high volume online merchants. Earlier in her career, she held a variety of technology management and technical software development roles.
Ms. Shields was a founding director of the Wireless Innovation Society of British Columbia, and speaks frequently on payment and technology issues with a personal interest in consumer remittances. She holds Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Engineering, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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