When is the sum of the parts in payments greater than the whole?
When it involves an acquisition that enables two companies with similarly aligned visions to “step on the gas pedal” and fast forward to an integrated payments future.
That’s at least the view of Brent Warrington, CEO of SecureNet and Tony Catalfano, CEO of WorldPay who sat down with MPD CEO Karen Webster in an exclusive interview about the acquisition of SecureNet by WorldPay announced on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.
These sorts of discussions always start with the obvious question: “what brought you guys together?” The answer, and often in the acquiring space, includes a bunch of flowery lingo about “synergies” and like-minded CEOs with a shared vision. Both Warrington and Catalfano bristle at the former assumption, saying instead that, it’s a “pedal to the gas” type of play for both: WorldPay will provide more resources to SecureNet to help it to scale and SecureNet will provide more capabilities to WorldPay to allow it to accelerate its innovation roadmap.
But make no mistake, the visions of these CEOs are pretty clearly aligned. What began as discussions about partnerships and alliances quickly moved to something, well, more permanent.
When describing how the acquisition took shape, Catalfano, in particular, was struck by just how aligned both companies were right from the start. “Brent and I jelled around this aligned vision we have of the future and that quickly moved from a conversation about his great product and my distribution to how we could put the two together. SecureNet brings the technology, WorldPay bring the distribution, the expertise, the global reach, the customer relationships and that marriage to me is just something we had to do.”
SecureNet is a next generation software platform that enables the integration of payments, multichannel and data for merchants interested in taking advantage of all of the opportunities that technology, mobile devices and omnichannel offer them and their consumers. Warrington describes SecureNet’s solution as a “a best in class, industry-only and technology agnostic payment solution that sits on a simple API” and makes it simple for merchants to keep up with the pace of change in the industry.
And while SecureNet’s customers are merchants, Warrington says that it’s the consumer that really drives their product development and roadmap. Warrington, who “wakes up every day and thinks about the consumer,” is driven by anticipating and then responding to consumer behavior from “now to wherever it is going.” Translation: SecureNet says that it is 1,000 percent focused on helping merchants accommodate the changing preferences of how consumers shop today, want to shop tomorrow and to do that without friction – moving seamlessly from channel to channel. Simplify and streamline are SecureNet’s product mantra.
Given the demand from merchants for that sort of capability, one might imagine that SecureNet has built a nice business over the years fulfilling that value proposition for its merchant customers. Yet, as good as Warrington and SecureNet are, the world of payments – and merchants – is, Warrington admits, pretty big. And therein was one of Warrington’s biggest challenges, that is, until Wednesday – scaling the business and doing it efficiently.
That, Warrington said, was about one word that begins with a capital D – distribution.
As a part of WorldPay, SecureNet has its distribution problems solved at the same time that it can deliver more value to WorldPay’s existing customer relationships. Both companies believe it’s not only about “acting appropriately at the different sizes of the market” but also being open to where they should be partnering and where each holds unique expertise and capability around solving different merchant problems for different merchant categories.
For WorldPay, the acquisition is an opportunity to accelerate dramatically its shift from a more traditional global processor to a software based, multichannel commerce enabler – one that, in Catalfano’s words, is less about payment and more about the ability to create a different experience across channels,” This, Catalfano says, plays to WorldPay’s stated mission of being a leader in “modern money.” Modern money, he says, is about enriching the transaction experience for merchants by accommodating consumer buying preferences and using data and analytics and customer knowledge to drive more sales back to that merchant. Catalfano firmly believes that SecureNet “brought us technology that’s years ahead of anyone else” and a platform that they can leverage – and quickly – to build upon.
Perhaps most exciting for both is what this “bridge from the consumer experience to payments acceptance,” enables them to execute. Catalfano says that the acquisition enables WorldPay to court a whole new set of clients – developers – and create an environment that “doesn’t exist right now” in payments, one where acquirers act more like systems integrators and less like transaction processors.
This solutions-focused approach to solving merchant problems is one that WorldPay has been contemplating for years, but now can make a reality via a cloud-based platform, a set of APIs and new data and channel capabilities that enable developers to embed payments into new business and commerce opportunities. To bring this vision to life, WorldPay will open a new development center in Austin where partners and merchants can actually visit, in person, with members of their team and collaborate to enrich their customer experience across channels. Catalfano believes giving developers a place to talk, collaborate and realize the opportunities of wrapping “data around payments” is, well, the future of payments.
With WorldPay’s modern money approach and SecureNet’s innovative platform, WorldPay and SecureNet hope to “help the merchant’s understand very simply how to deploy new technologies to create new multichannel commerce opportunities that has historically been a very arduous set of activities.” When asked where WorldPay and SecureNet will be 24-36 months from today, Warrington stated, “We get the distribution, the stage, the service excellence and the large enterprise infrastructure globally that comes with WorldPay and the fast, innovative, cutting-edge platform developed on modern technology that SecureNet brings and we think we’re ready for wherever consumers and merchants want to go.”
Catalfano responded, “I think quite frankly these two companies together position us better than anybody in the industry to be able to provide the right solution at the right time and solve real problems.”
The sum of the parts greater than the whole, in payments, or at least that’s their plan.