Podcast: Setting Up Secure Payments For Your Startup

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We spoke to Timothy Munier of MANGOPAY (the third-party payments specialist) about how and when to set up a payment system for your platform.

Chaz:    I’m obviously super excited today. A good friend. I feel as though I’ve actually spoken to this chap more than some members of my team quite recently, which is absolutely fantastic. Anyway, Timmy from Mangobay thanks very much for coming.

Timmy:    Chaz, thanks for having me. Always a pleasure.

Chaz:    Thank you very much. So Timmy, are you natively French or English?

Timmy:    I’m actually confused in that. I’m Swiss-Irish.

Chaz:    Oh, you are seriously confused.

Timmy:    Yes. I’m not quite English, not quite French.

Chaz:    You actually don’t have a clue what you are (laughs). It’s fantastic. Before we kick off and dig into the details today, talking about obviously Mangopay and yourself, give us a bit of a snapshot of you, Timmy, where you’ve come from in your career and then bring that into Mangopay.

Timmy:    Yes, perfect. So I studied economics and political science at university. I very early on developed an interest in all things tech.

Chaz:        As we do.

Timmy:    As we do, yes.

Chaz:        Everyone’s obsessed.

Timmy:    Then obviously financial services as well. So going into fintech was very much the merger of those two areas of interest. So I came across Mangopay, which was doing some really interesting work with the technology they’d built, especially designed for the sharing economy and marketplaces. So I’ve been with Mangopay for just over half a year now.

Chaz: So in essence what are Mangopay? Whether that’s one line or a few sentences, what are they?

Timmy:    So I suppose very briefly, in two words we’re a payment solution. We’ve built our own technology that is focused on sharing economy and marketplace type platforms. So not a traditional payment flow. We really cater to complex payment flows, for platforms that are linking two types of users together, buy-side and sell side, and automatically collecting a commission.

Chaz: I want to dig into that a little bit more. So to be quite open, obviously, I’m with Fat Lama and work for Fat Lama.

Timmy:    Full disclosure, yes.

Chaz:    We use you guys. We use you for a specific reason: taking our payment flow as an example, from start to finish. It’s really complicated. You’ve got someone coming in, you’ve got a request to book, when there’s this technology you guys use where it kind of, in layman terms, ring-fences the money in the account.

Timmy:    That’s right.

Chaz:    That then gets triggered on approval. There’s a deposit being held. There’s a commission taken by us. That’s released and so on. How have you guys managed to take such a complex payment process and put it into layman terms so that people like me can actually understand it?

Timmy:    I think that comes down to really the product we’ve built, the technology. It’s an API. It’s designed to be as easy and flexible as possible, and when I say flexible I mean you can really customise it to suit the specific needs of your platform.

Chaz:    That, by the way, is what we notice, the fact that it’s not just a one solution fits all. You do have the ability to adapt.

Timmy:    Exactly. So you can tweak it to suit the specific needs of every client, and it’s also very scalable. As you know, and as we might get into later on, it’s based on e-wallets. Every user, whether it’s a buyer or a seller, is assigned an e-wallet. This idea of e-wallets is you can create as many e-wallets as is needed, so it’s very scaleable. The fundamental payment flow between wallets remains the same no matter how many users you have or how big you are.

Chaz:    Got it. Another thing there is for start-ups in general, the onboarding process is absolutely crucial. Almost because there is that methodology behind version 1, version 2, version 3 slow integration. You guys, certainly working with us and I know I’ve spoken to, before we integrated with you, some of your other clients. You are just outstanding with that, from the way you obviously have a tech team, you have people like yourself and so on. How does that process actually look? Let’s say me, I’ve got an idea, I’ve tested the market. I’m ready to go. I need a payment solution. What does that look like from then on?

Timmy:    As you said, as an outsider, somebody who’s not working within payments, it can seem like a very complex area.

Chaz:        It’s scary.

Timmy:    It’s shrouded in regulation as well. So when you get to the point where you’re building a company, you’re developing a platform, and you need to integrate a payment solution, you want that to be an easy process. That’s what we try to offer our clients, a very streamlined, straightforward onboarding process, but at the same time has to be in accordance with our regulatory requirements and compliance, so it’s really reconciling the two.

Chaz: You’ve really dealt with all of the headache for us. I’m sure a lot of your clients feel like that. Start-ups are… the last thing you need is regulation when you’re already struggling from every different angle, whether that’s funding, team building, whatever. The stumbling blocks when it comes to regulation in insurance markets and financial services are just an absolute headache, and you guys have obviously been fantastic doing that. The thing is, with I suppose payment solutions, in general, is it’s like an ever-evolving market. Suddenly you have Android Pay and then Apple Pay. You guys are fully up-to-speed with that. How do you guys manage to do that?

Timmy:    You’re right. It’s constantly evolving. We already offer a huge range of payment methods: debit cards, credit cards, bank wire, direct debit. We’re currently in negotiation with some major payment provider institutions to offer more to our clients. So it’s really just about keeping ahead of the curve, keeping up-to-date with what’s going on in payments, what clients want, also in the future what our clients want to offer their users and how we can adapt to that and keep adding. So we have a very detailed roadmap ahead. We’re always adapting it, adding to it, and wanting to add more. On that point, I think it’s important also to point out that Mangopay has been around since 2012, which might not seem like a long time but relative to…

Chaz:        In start-up time it’s a long time, I suppose.

Timmy:    Yes. That’s the thing. The pace at which the digital economy progresses, four years is relatively a lot of experience. So we pre-date the sharing economy.

Chaz:    How do you differentiate yourselves in the market, obviously, because there are some big players, but you’re still managing to capture some of the bigger and better clients, certainly in Europe? How are you managing to do that?

Timmy:    That is true. It’s a very competitive space. Having said that, I think we’re one of the few who really focus on the niche of sharing economy and marketplaces, so any platform that’s providing the medium to link a buyer and a seller together or a borrower and a lender. So our target audience is quite focused. We don’t engage with traditional e-commerce.

Chaz:        Hence why you manage to step up some of the clients.

Timmy:    Yes. Also, our technology is built specifically. It’s born out of a common problem all these platforms face, and that’s a complex payment flow. It’s really built for that.

Chaz:    It is a hellish payment flow. So you mention obviously 2012 is quite a long time, in terms of how things have evolved, how have things evolved and where are they moving towards?

Timmy:    You mean from Mangopay’s perspective?

Chaz:        Payment solutions in general.

Timmy:    It’s a good question.

Chaz:        It’s a hard question.

Timmy:    It’s a hard question, yes. I think you mentioned something interesting earlier on, you have these big players like Android and Apple who aren’t payment institutions, and they can come in and say, “Look, we’re here now. Deal with it. We’ve come up with a payment method.” So you’ve got more players coming into the market, but yes, as I said, at Mangopay we really make an effort to keep ahead of the curve, always listen to our clients and their users. What we can add, what we can offer, where we can add value.

Chaz:    Another thing that I think hopefully we and certainly some of your other clients got quite right was the timing of approaching you guys. I’m really winding things back for a second and putting ourselves in the seat of a start-up. When is the right time and what should the team look like to approach you guys? They obviously need to have some technical expertise on their end and they need to have the capabilities to integrate this API. What would you say is the right stage to actually pull the trigger and pick up the phone to you guys?

Timmy:    That’s a good question. I think it’s never too late to start gathering information, but I think, as we mentioned earlier on, it is an API so it requires a technical integration. So I think it already helps if you’ve built your own platform first. You’ve kind of figured out the functionalities of it, what you want to offer, and then based on that look at the different payment providers and then start integrating the payment API. So it should probably be one of the later steps in the process of building up a company. I don’t know what it was like for Fat Lama. When did you start looking for payment seriously?

Chaz:    What we did was we went through that prototype phase where actually we didn’t have an integrated payment solution at all. It was quite literally a marketplace, kind of like a glorified Gumtree where people could list their stuff and meet up with other people to exchange belongings. So we knew that all we were doing was taking those people online from a payment perspective, so people weren’t doing cash or whatever else they were doing, we were just taking them online. So that was absolutely perfect for us. Coming back to that, the onboarding process from then on was absolutely fantastic.    

Another much broader question is I know Tim who looks after our content and PR and our side, he’s fascinated, and so he should be, by the World Economic Forum delivered this statement around by 2030, no one’s going to own anything, and everyone will still be happy. What do you interpret by that? Do you get what I’m saying there?

Timmy:    Yes. I saw that projection. I think it’s very interesting. Current trends certainly seem to suggest that we’re moving in that kind of direction. Having said that, the sharing economy is still very much in its infancy. Most people on the street don’t know what the sharing economy is yet.

Chaz:        I know, yes.

Timmy:    So five years down the line, there might be new trends, new research that will completely refute that statement. Also, there are some very important points about the sharing economy that I think are going to come to light in the coming months and years as it develops. One is the element of trust, how can you really communicate trust through these online platforms? The other one is its impact on the future of work. For example, right now, it’s how you determine an employee or self-employed.

Chaz:        Exactly. That’s a whole different story.

Timmy:    These are things which could really potentially shape the sharing economy moving forwards. So we’ll have to see how they play out.

Chaz:    Let’s dig into that a little bit deeper. When we were talking about trust and reputation, so a week or so ago we did another podcast that will be released at a similar time to this one with a company called YOTI who do ID verification. We obviously really dug into trust and reputation but I really think payment providers are playing one of the biggest parts in this, in trust and reputation. We’re obviously super passionate about this, trust and reputation is what’s enabling these platforms to thrive, and they can scale and grow faster than anything else. What are your views on that as a whole, tying payment providers into trust and reputation?

Timmy:    That’s a very good point. We do provide the element of trust as well, in that Mangopay, for instance, we’re regulated as a bank. We hold client money in escrow. So when users are making payments through these type of platforms, they have full reassurance that their money is 100% guaranteed.

Chaz:        That’s important.

Timmy:    I think that’s the main point of unease when people make payments online. It’s, ‘Hmm. Where’s my money going? I don’t trust it.’

Chaz:        Completely.

Timmy:    When you use payment solutions, such as Mangopay, there is 100% reassurance that your money is well handled.

Chaz:    It is strange. Admittedly, we’re still in our early stages, but I know other guys that have used you guys and customers do ask that question. It sounds pretty strange but people are asking us, ‘Who holds my money? Okay, Mangopay, who are those guys? Are they regulated?’

Timmy:    You guys, for example, borrowing and lending unused belongings, I think the element of trust isn’t, ‘Is this going to break my radio system?’ I think it’s more, ‘Where’s my money going?’ ‘Am I going to get my money back?’ So that’s where we can really add the extra security and certainty.

Chaz:    I think so. I was going to say from a lending perspective, we often get, ‘When am I going to get paid? How is that going to work?’ but it’s from both sides. I think that the payment flow and what that looks like and obviously there are different payment types that you guys can accept, that’s really important, but it’s absolutely crucial. To round things off, I really want to finish with talking about coming back to Mangopay and their core and really you just opening up to both your existing clients and potential future clients and what you feel as though your value added and your differentiated point, and also how people should get in contact with you guys.

Timmy:    Sure. So Mangopay, we’ve really built this technology that’s focused on the sharing economy marketplace type platforms, so any platform that’s linking a buyer and a seller or a borrower and a lender. From a technology perspective, it’s built on e-wallets, which renders a very complex payment flow very easy to implement, and also very customisable. You can really create the payment flow you want for your platform and implement it into your website and you are automated, end to end. So it really reduces a huge amount of time, effort, headache, and even money as well. So that’s kind of the technology environment. Then the physical flow of money is where we basically hold the money securely for the duration of a transaction so that the user on either end of the transaction has full reassurance that they can rely on Fat Lama to complete this transaction.

Chaz:        The best way for someone to get in contact with you guys is?

Timmy:    Go straight to our website, feel free to give us a call, drop us an email. The digital economy is growing so quickly, so many new interesting platforms popping up all over the place.

Chaz:        Thanks a lot, Timmy. Thanks a lot, Mangopay.

Timmy:    Just before we finish, I’d also like to point out on the point of “own nothing and be happy” which is I think really interesting, what is definitely happening is we’re entering into this paradigm where our perception of ownership is changing. Fat Lama, I think you’re really driving that forward and you’re changing how people view their belongings.

Chaz:        This is why we love you, Timmy.

Timmy:    It’s great. You’re really disrupting the way we view our belongings. It’s good.

Chaz:    I hope so. Thank you very much, Timmy. You’re absolutely awesome. Mangopay is absolutely fantastic. Thanks a lot for coming down.

Timmy:    Thanks a lot, Chaz. Always good.

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