“There are so many payments companies out there today,” Casey Bullock, Citcon’s new CEO, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster.
“And many of them try to do too much. They try to do end-to-end payouts or end-to-end issuance,” he added. No single firm can be all things payments-related, he said, and the key to success lies with developing a niche focus, a key competitive edge.
And for Citcon, he told Webster, the guiding principle is to be “hyper-focused on alternative payments.”
Bullock, along with Chuck Huang, who remains chairman at Citcon, told Webster that through the infrastructure that it is building, the company is expanding its payment capabilities for clients in order to support worldwide mobile payments, mobile wallets — and especially, alternative payment methods (APMs).
There’s no need to be the 600-pound gorilla in the space, Bullock said. There’s simply the desire and the ambition for Citcon to scale its revenue well above the $10 million mark, toward $100 million or more, with a longer term push to the $1 billion milestone.
To get there, Huang said, Bullock’s background in sales and marketing will be a key advantage, while Huang said he’ll remain focused on product and vision, and Citcon’s broader corporate strategy.
“I’m coming in with a fresh set of eyes,” Bullock said, adding, “I’ve got more than 20 years of experience in the payments industry, so I have been around the block.” Bullock comes to Citcon from Rapyd, where he was chief revenue officer. And in evaluating the road ahead, he said he’ll be focusing on people, process and platforms, and examining possibilities for strategic partnerships.
Citcon, he added, has been running with a “lean” staff, with roughly 50 staffers spread across the globe, including the U.S., Canada and China.
“The platform is one of the most critical things for me,” he said, adding that Citcon’s platform is designed for the enterprise, and the company’s key market under his watch will continue to be mid-market corporates, in eCommerce, digital content, travel and retail, both online and offline.
The challenge for mid-market players, Bullock said, is that they don’t have the staff or the resources on hand to support payments infrastructure as they enter new markets or strive to meet consumer demands for an ever-broadening roster of payment choices. Those companies, especially smaller ones, need a trusted adviser, and a platform such as Citcon’s offering a single point of connectivity.
“We’re becoming very good at those verticals,” said Bullock, who said that moving forward, “we will look to ‘rinse and repeat’ that model” with omnichannel emphasis on APMs and digital wallets. If Citcon is able to give its clients access to 80% to 90% of the available spend in a given market, then its efforts will be a resounding success.
“The fact that we’re so focused on alternatives and wallets,” Bullock said, “is what we see as a unique advantage. A large-scale acquirer will look at alternative payment types and say it’s a means to [more] acquiring for them. That’s not true for us.”
Citcon’s sharpening its APM focus, and anticipating future trends, in an arena that is hardly homogeneous. He observed that some markets are saturated, such as the Americas (and the U.S. in particular). Buy now, pay later (BNPL) has been a hallmark here, and should continue to be a dominant force in the years to come. In Asia, he said, the evolution of the super app continues (Citcon’s already integrated with many of those super apps), and likely will expand to the U.S. even as some of the players consolidate.
“User preferences are going to change over time — and the more consolidation we see, well, you’re still going to have a lot of consumer choice out there. People are not going to run out of ways to pay for things,” Bullock said.
In looking a the long-term roadmap, Huang said, “we’re still at the beginning of the journey.” It took decades for the payments networks like Visa and Mastercard to craft their ecosystems. Citcon, he told Webster, may be focused on “paying in” right now. But there’s the opportunity to facilitate payouts and person-to-person payments as payments and devices interact seamlessly across channels, with the digital wallet as intermediary as merchants broaden omnichannel presence.
“People are starting to connect the dots on how interconnected these wallet based architectures can be — and how broad the ecosystem is where they can be applied,” Bullock said. “At the end of the day, the customer and the merchant experience is critically important if you’re going to continue to drive success.”