Tom Stafford of DST Global is a well-known face in the world of tech and finance. He often interviews fellow leaders to find out where they see their companies going. At the Singapore Tech Festival, he had the chance to speak with Guillaume Pousaz, founder and CEO of Checkout.com. The young entrepreneur has built a payment platform and the tech behind it from the ground up, so Tom Stafford wanted insight into what he did and how he did it.
What is Checkout.com?
Checkout.com offers a cloud-based payment system that primarily focuses on enterprises. Under a traditional system, web or app-based payments go through gateways, and those gateways register with a bank. Checkout.com completes the entire process on its own, streamlining this work and helping companies get paid faster.
Checkout.com has seen tremendous success. It launched as a bootstrapped company. In 2016, after everything had been built and tested, it started raising capital. At the time of the interview, Pousaz indicated that they had 1,000 employees and 1,400 customers around the globe.
This product is different because it is forward-thinking. It is granular with data and thorough in terms of technology; this helps merchants streamline their payment processes. The features appeal to forward-thinking companies, but it’s simple enough to work well for businesses that are just entering their digital transformation. Companies can use Checkout.com as a single point of contact for all of their payments in one place.
A Hyperlocal Focus
According to the interview with Tom Stafford, Checkout.com has a hyperlocal focus. Pousaz believes in creating a company that knows how to sell to the local player. Each country has its unique local flavor, and you must tailor marketing messages to reach that market.
To accomplish this, Checkout.com empowers local people to make decisions for their regions. The tech stays the same, but marketing methods and specific products change based on what works in a certain target market. This approach provides a rather effective way to reach companies around the world and offer Checkout.com services to them.
No Focus on Mergers or Acquisitions
Even as Pousaz’s company has grown significantly over the past few years, he dislikes mergers and acquisitions as a form of growth. He grew his company almost entirely without them.
Instead, Checkout.com focused on building the technology internally and letting it evolve as the company grew. In this way, they built something that will last.
According to Pousaz, when you purchase companies to build your own, you end up with something like the hydra. You have one entity, the company, but it has nine heads. The newly acquired companies don’t talk to each other properly, and this situation results in poor products.
Nevertheless, Pousaz does feel that mergers and acquisitions have their place. He will buy companies simply for the sake of hiring their team members and bringing them into his fold. This creates a local workforce without bringing in a completely new product or an entire company.
How Checkout.com Views Regulators
Tom Stafford of DST Global also asked Pousaz about his opinion of financial regulators around the globe. Unlike other fintech companies, Pousaz enjoys working with regulators. He said that his company is regulated in the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Brazil, among others.
According to the interview, Europe’s financial services directive known as PSD1 triggered a shift in the payments industry. It gave non-banks the chance to go into the business of payments. This created opportunity and innovation in the market. Regulators now have a responsibility to decide which payment platforms they will allow in their markets. According to Pousaz, this is a good thing because regulators are defending their markets by ensuring that only quality payment platforms are approved.
An Optimistic Look at the Future
In the interview, Tom Stafford of DST Global asked Pousaz what industries he was interested in taking on in the next four years. Pousaz expressed excitement about the future.
“I’m an optimist as an entrepreneur,” he said. “And I’m very excited about what’s happening in jurisdictions like Singapore.”
When the company launched, it started with the goal of operating in all G20 countries. It now owns the fintech in Europe on a large scale. Today, Checkout.com wants to have a presence in every country with at least 100 million people. Pousaz indicates that a big population is key because life is going digital. The more people you have, the more payments will happen, and those payments are going to be digital.
Checkout.com is currently concentrating on Singapore, where it already has a presence. Singapore is home to many companies that operate in other regions, so this is an important market to focus on. From there, they hope to expand into other countries in Asia, including Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, and India.
And Pousaz has good reason to be optimistic. He told Stafford that from 2019 to 2020, the number of transactions handled by the platform tripled. It tripled again from 2020 to 2021.
“Merchants grow, and we grow with them,” he said. Pousaz also predicted that people would stay with the new payment platforms that they’ve embraced. Once they’ve made the change to digital payments, they’re unlikely to go back. The behaviors adopted due to COVID-19 and its aftermath, which pushed people toward digital payments, are going to persist.
Why Focus on Asia?
Why is Checkout.com focusing so strongly on Asia? First, the region has a young, tech-savvy population. Until recently, products that offered payments were fragmented. This frustrated merchants who serve this young population. They didn’t want to have to manage 50 wallets. Checkout.com provides a single payment system that supplies granular data. Merchants know who is paying, how they are paying, and when they are paying. By meeting this need, Checkout.com can quickly become the entire continent’s primary payment platform. In other words, Asia is a dynamic region with strong opportunities.
Checkout.com is poised to become the largest player in the digital payments world. This is possible thanks to smart, forward-thinking decisions, making Guillaume Pousaz a fintech leader worth watching.