The pressure to come up with the next “big idea” can often overshadow the opportunity to deliver the best answer to the problem, says Rudolf Booker, CEO and founder of Payvision. Booker tells PYMNTS why innovative solutions can solve for complexity but don’t need to be complicated themselves to deliver what a customer needs.
Sometimes the pressure to come up with the “next best idea” can overshadow the opportunity to deliver the best answer to the problem.
Rudolf Booker, CEO and founder of Payvision, joined PYMNTS for the latest segment in the Commander in Chief series to explain why sparking innovation in payments may mean looking outside the payments industry itself to bring about real and lasting change.
An excerpt from that discussion is provided below…
PYMNTS: What’s a day in the life of Rudolf Booker look like?
RB: Currently, a day in my life is keeping a very good overview of the total company. I get up, I read my emails, I advise and support my team and I do my risk analysis on all my companies and new customers. Lately, I’ve been very much focused on optimization of various internal processes and tools, as well as creating innovative products and services that can be added to our product portfolio and enhance our customers’ experience. Merchants’ new demands force us to grow our offering, to add new payments-related products and not rely on the payment itself.
PYMNTS: Define your company’s approach to innovation.
RB: Just do it! We don’t think too much about the process itself actually. We simply look at the insights we receive from our clients and partners, their needs and struggles and then develop new solutions in-house to solve them. Of course, we are constantly aware of what is happening in the market, observing which new products may fit into our own portfolio or combining various products from different companies into one new solution. We always try to come up with more comprehensive and interesting answers to our customers’ needs. It doesn’t need to be complex solutions, just enough to solve their problem!
This is what innovation actually means in my opinion: finding original, effective ideas to apply and make use of what already exists.
PYMNTS: Where do you look for innovative ideas, and why?
RB: I think innovative ideas can ignite from inside the payments industry, but outside it as well. The FinTech sector is merging, and innovative uses of the existing tools or mechanisms offer new perspectives. Nowadays, one can spot ideas that are not used in the payments business yet but have great potential.
Looking at the “Uberization” of the payments world, we know that the FinTech segment is not in that mode yet; we can’t really use an idea from a customer and transform it into a completely new, innovative product. Except for the peer rating offered on merchants’ websites, be it positive or negative, but then again, that’s more of an original underwriting process, and that’s been already going on for many years.
PYMNTS: What is the most innovative thing you have ever done?
RB: Building Payvision’s global network of acquiring banks was perhaps the most innovative thing of the past 10 years — merging one technology platform, one underwriting model and one point of contact into one single platform, with the same quality in each region. Offering a single integrated end-to-end solution in different countries, regions, channels and currencies, which simplifies international transactions. And also, finding a new, more efficient model to underwrite merchants was definitely very innovative at that time.
PYMNTS: What do you think that most people underestimate about innovating in payments?
RB: I think that most of the people underestimate that innovating in payments is a very long and laborious process. The larger a company becomes, the more one has to hit the brakes on business innovation and development.
We at Payvision have come to the conclusion that buying minority stakes in startups that bring in new market-focused, niche ideas is actually a better way to innovate and add products to our ever-growing payment offering than developing everything in-house, from scratch. If someone new wants to enter this business and avoid the struggle of competing with the already-established players, one has to come up with a clear, efficient answer to a very specific need of the market. And be the best at it. I think that would give one the best chance to build a product that can fit in within the more complete solutions offered by other payment companies.
PYMNTS: What keeps you up at night?
RB: In today’s payment landscape, merchant fraud is something that keeps everybody up at night. This is what our business is about, and we must detect it, keep track of it, be one step ahead of it and protect our merchants and bank partners.
PYMNTS: What trends and changes are you watching that are affecting the industry and your role?
RB: I’m watching very carefully what the EU is doing from a regulatory perspective that will definitely drive our business in the future. It can be very positive, but it can also be negative in some cases. As a general rule, one always has to keep on watching where that regulation is going.
As I said earlier, innovation is a very lengthy and complex process; however, in order to survive in the payments industry, you have to keep on innovating. So, it’s this paradox in which, as a CEO, I need to be able to give constantly new insight and vision to my team.
PYMNTS: What product has had the most impact on payments in the last five years, and why?
RB: Mobile phones have had probably the biggest impact on payments due to the immense changes in customer experience, omnichannel capabilities and security. As mCommerce has seen steady growth over the past years, never before has it been so important for merchants to invest in mobile-compatible technology, to keep up with this fast-paced, evolving landscape and be ready for the mobile revolution.
Also, merchants want to integrate quicker and quicker. They demand instant boarding, and many payments companies have focused on this. Especially because the smaller merchants believe it is more convenient, but they have hardly any knowledge of their provider’s back-end capabilities.
There has also been a lot of attention from investors on payments, almost making this industry seem like it is the fastest-growing and innovative of all, but in reality, there has not been as much innovation as has been marketed. Certain companies appear to be more innovative than others, but the high quality of their offerings and products is still the subject of discussion.
PYMNTS: What advice would you give a young innovator in this space, and why would you tell them to heed it?
RB: I think any young innovator should only focus on one piece of the payments process, be it the front end or back end and base their activity on that, becoming the best at it. The payments market is mature. There are so many active players, and it is extremely difficult to squeeze in another provider that offers the same products as the existent ones. Nowadays, payments companies ought to be more and more integrated, ensuring the lowest cost and delivering new services to add value to their customers/merchants. The era when payment solutions were the only product offered is long gone.
PYMNTS: How do you think the company will change in five years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
RB: We will have to see what happens in the next five years. The market is moving fast, merchants have more and more demands, fraud is advancing at a very fast pace, too, and the payment offering is widely changing. I expect that my team and I will become experts at adapting and partnering with smart startups that can provide us with original products. These products are integrated in a complete payment and eCommerce solution that adds true value to the entire financial cycle and ensures merchants’ loyalty.
Rudolf Booker, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Payvision and Acapture
Rudolf, the founder and CEO of Payvision Group, is a forward-thinking entrepreneur who has decades of experience driving sales growth in the payments industry.
Rudolf understands market trends and, in the earliest years of eCommerce, envisaged the potential of online payment processing. He invested in innovative solutions to support the expansion of the eCommerce and payments industry. He focuses on strategy, leadership, innovation and customers, leading to significant company growth.
He has built a solid, global network of acquiring banks, international payments service providers and merchants. This global network continues to expand into emerging and established markets, as a proof of his holistic vision.