100 episodes

Podcasts from Glenbrook Partners on the latest developments in payments and fintech. Featuring interviews with opinion leaders, Glenbrook's own take on emerging technologies and industry trends, other news and views on this dynamic industry.

Payments on Fire® Glenbrook Partners, LLC

    • Business
    • 5.0, 2 Ratings

Podcasts from Glenbrook Partners on the latest developments in payments and fintech. Featuring interviews with opinion leaders, Glenbrook's own take on emerging technologies and industry trends, other news and views on this dynamic industry.

    Episode 128 - How a NextGen Payments Company Builds on the Cloud - Eric Rosenthal, Rapyd

    Episode 128 - How a NextGen Payments Company Builds on the Cloud - Eric Rosenthal, Rapyd

    Take a listen to Rapyd's Eric Rosenthal and Glenbrook’s George Peabody as they discuss Rapyd’s swift global expansion, its ability to quickly build new capabilities, and the firm’s cloud-based tech stack. It uses its “white label PayPal” model to payment-enable a wide range of companies and use cases.
    Programming Payments Has Been Hard
    Among the many evolutions in the payments industry over the last decade, and only accelerating today, is the programmability of payments. Prior to that, a portion of payments providers - gateways, processors, and even networks - provided access to their services via direct integration to whatever interface they cared to expose. The API is the layer now employed for that purpose.
    A single interface to core services is, of course, the basic stock in trade of a gateway, an outfit that exposes a single interface to its customers with the promise, among many, of reaching a broad swatch of acquirers out the other side. Networks like American Express and Mastercard have long provided access of their own.
    But this approach, for the many merchants and businesses shifting to digital payments, had a number of shortcomings.
    First, none of these integrations were truly comprehensive. One gateway could get you to the UK, but others were necessary to reach the rest of Europe, often on a country by country basis because payments are local and domestic. To sell in a country, you have to connect to the methods its citizens use. Cards along won’t do it. So, global reach through a minimum set of providers was a challenge.
    A second concern was the effort required to connect to so many providers. A merchant would have to carefully assess the ROI for each development effort in order to sell, say, in Austria or Thailand. Or to take advantage of the fraud services of American Express. Implementing and maintaining so may interfaces - and the contracts or partnerships that exist alongside the technical effort - is a lot of work.
    Things Have Improved - A Lot
    The way over these barriers is now broadly available. A number of providers have applied a common insight - that merchants, enterprises, and sellers will flock to a provider that offers a single, straightforward API that abstracts the complexity of payments so that they can focus more on their commercial goals.
    Multiple providers now offer a single integration through which merchant can reach a global audience and the global range of payment methods.
    That’s one of the insights that inspired firms like Braintree, Stripe, Adyen, and others, including the firm Rapyd, the subject of this Payments on Fire® episode.
    Built on the Cloud
    Rapyd is a young company building out its capability to global scale in a very short period of time. In this discussion with Rapyd’s Eric Rosenthal we hear how the firm’s use of Amazon Web Services has allowed the company to scale operations around the world in a reliable and, critically, compliant manner with respect to data privacy and domicility.
    Eric illustrates the company’s model - a white label PayPal as he calls it - through an example of Rapyd supporting a cash collection supply chain challenge for a global CPG manufacturer.
    Flexibility and Speed
    In our payments consulting work on behalf of merchants and billers, when we support their choice of payments provider, we increasingly see one or more firms like Rapyd competing against incumbents like First Data and Chase. We expect to see them more often in the future.
    Incumbents using legacy infrastructure lack the flexibility to be responsive. We frequently hear about the years long implantation projects some legacy providers require. While a single firm may have built, at one time or another, every possible bit of functionality a merchant may want, the reality is that such breadth is not available on a single platform. Hence those long integration ti

    • 44 min
    Episode 127 - The Hot Topics in Digital Payments - Russ Jones, Glenbrook Partners

    Episode 127 - The Hot Topics in Digital Payments - Russ Jones, Glenbrook Partners

    The transition away from paper to an all digital payments world has been underway for decades. But in the last few years the pace has accelerated. Global tech availability and focused development talent is letting software eat the payments world. Other enablers include business models such as payments facilitation and the focus on commerce, not just payments, for merchants.
    COVID-19 has simply added fuel to the fire. In May, for the first time, Mastercard reported that over 50% of its volume was card not present, transactions all in the digital payment space. The pandemic is yet another forcing function pushing digital payments deeper into our lives, across the key payment use cases employed by individuals, merchants, enterprises, and government.
    Keeping up with all this is what we do at Glenbrook. In this Payments on Fire® episode, Glenbrook's Russ Jones and George talk about what’s hot and how that gets examined in our upcoming Digital Payments Insight Workshop. It will be held online June 24 and 25th. For more on the workshop, check it out here.
    Russ and George talk about the online training experience and how interactivity is supported by the tools we use and the flow we establish. So, take a quick listen to get a taste of what’s hot. If you like it, we look forward to seeing you at the workshop. No trains, planes, or automobiles needed.

    • 16 min
    Episode 126 - New Tech, New Models: ACH at the POS - Craig McDonald, Trustly

    Episode 126 - New Tech, New Models: ACH at the POS - Craig McDonald, Trustly

    Take a listen to Craig McDonald, Chief Business Officer of Trustly and George as they discuss how Trustly makes its proposition possible. While Trustly is ramping up its U.S. presence, it does have timing on its side. In this pandemic-constrained age, merchants will be looking for lower cost payments and certainty. Trustly appears to have attributes to meet those concerns.
     
    In our payments education and payments consulting work, we frequently discuss payments “rails” - the networks and systems that move money either between banks in the open lop payments model or within a single operator’s closed loop network. Think cards, wires, and ACH when you hear “open loop.” Think PayPal when you hear “closed loop.”
    Each set of rails connects to an account of some kind. And has to present itself to the end user to make payment initiation easy.
    We know how to write a check and understand how a wire is initiated. We all know how to initiate a card transaction at both the physical point of sale and online. There’s another important system that most of use all the time if we’re employed. If we actually use it to send a payment, we might know what it’s really called. That, of course, is the automated clearing house, the ACH system.
    The ACH has incredible attributes. Almost every financial institution connects to it so the network effect is huge. And, for the financial institutions that use it, it’s very inexpensive. It can be used to both credit or debit an account.
    But it has some big shortcomings, too. It runs in batch, overnight and a couple of times during the day. It is not a real time payment. There is no authorization. And when a debit transaction is initiated, the system has no way of knowing if there are funds in the account to be debited.
    A number of companies have come and gone over the years who have tried to take advantage of its cost and ubiquity but have been unable to overcome competition from cards, especially debit cards, or the challenges of fraud and security.
    But more modern tools are available today from both the technology and the rules/regulations angles that make the ability to pay a merchant from one’s own bank account, certain for both parties, possible.
    That’s the topic of this Payments on Fire® episode. Trustly has combined broad connectivity into the ACH system with machine learning to effectively guarantee payments to merchants at a lower cost than debit cards. It’s a fascinating example of how new tech can broaden the utility of a system that is decades old.
    Take a listen to Craig McDonald, Chief Business Officer of Trustly and George as they discuss how Trustly makes its proposition possible. While Trustly is ramping up its U.S. presence, it does have timing on its side. In this pandemic-constrained age, merchants will be looking for lower cost payments and certainty. Trustly appears to have attributes to meet those concerns.
     

    • 43 min
    Episode 125 - COVID-19 Relief: Collaboration, Regulation, and Tech Do Good - Roberto Marinho, CEO, César Souto, Conta Zap, Brazil

    Episode 125 - COVID-19 Relief: Collaboration, Regulation, and Tech Do Good - Roberto Marinho, CEO, César Souto, Conta Zap, Brazil

    This illuminating Payments on Fire® episode takes a deep look at a very new Brazilian payments platform called Conta Zap (Zap Account in English) and how a group of community minded people came together with Conta Zap to provide basic income to economically displaced Brazilians during the COVID-19 outbreak.
    The story illustrates how the combination of entrepreneurial thinking, technology, and right-thinking regulation can make a real impact on even those living at the edge.  
    The Situation
    This story is about how that wallet was put into the field to serve a particular community in real need. That community is made up of mostly fishermen, like the one pictured below, living in the Vergel do Lago neighborhood in the northeastern city of Maceio. Most residents are fisherman who sell their catch to restaurants, a transaction shut down due to COVID-19 restaurant closures.

    Already living on the edge, that shutdown put enormous pressure on the 20,000 fishermen working in the area.
    How It Started
    Conta Zap is a digital wallet that simplifies moving money for P2P, bill payment, and other consumer-based transactions. Under Brazilian bank regulations, Conta Zap is also a “payment institution” able to handle payment transactions on behalf of its user but not to be a lender itself.
    When word of the fishermen’s plight reached Conta Zap leadership the idea of using its wallet to get emergency funds to the fishermen was born. The Zap do Bem (roughly translated as Zap for Good) service came to be, based on the Conta Zap wallet. A group of corporate funders donated the funds for the fisherman with each fisherman receiving the equivalent of $35 USD, a meaningful figure to these impoverished workers.
    The idea of Zap do Bem started in mid-March before it was clear that the federal government was going to provide an emergency stipend to poor Brazilians. To get those stipends to the millions of unbanked Brazilians, the government took advantage of recent Brazilian Central Bank regulations that allow for easy opening of low value accounts. These so-called CAIXA Tem digital accounts are offered by the government owned CAIXA Econômica banks. Remarkably, more than 40 million accounts are expected to be opened by individuals who previously did not have an account.
    As with Conta Zap, this has allowed Brazil to disburse funds relatively easily and safely to millions of people. Of course, this hasn’t stopped people from lining up to take money out as cash but it is a very big, important first step in creating a digital ecosystem.
    Multiple Layers of Tech, Regulatory Foresight, and Good Will
    The story is a digital one. The Zap do Bem was not about helping speed cash distribution. Stakeholders combined technology from multiple parties, the generosity of donors, and these important regulatory guardrails to create a valuable service. Here are the ingredients to Zap do Bem’s layer cake:
    The Fishermen. The fishermen needed digital accounts and the means to spend their money. The Merchants. Conta Zap enrolled merchants to accept payments from the Conta Zap wallet. The Donors. A collection of corporate and individual donors agreed to provide the funds to help the fishermen get through the pandemic. Conta Zap provided the digital wallet, enrolling the invited fishermen participants via text message. A Brazilian celebrity sent a message to recipients assuring them that the offer was legitimate. Oi, one of the country’s leading telcos, enabled Conta Zap to verify customer identity using Oi’s geolocation capability for address verification and to help validate the fishermen’s income level by looking at purchase records for prepaid airtime. Oi also helped identify merchants in the neighborhood. That allowed Conta Zap to get those merchants enrolled so the fishermen could begin to spend the donated funds. WhatsApp, by virtue of exposin

    • 32 min
    Episode 124 - Ground Truth: COVID-19’s Payments Impact - Glynn Frechette, PSCU

    Episode 124 - Ground Truth: COVID-19’s Payments Impact - Glynn Frechette, PSCU

    There’s no clearer indicator of COVID-19’s economic impact than payment metrics. In this Payments on Fire® episode, we speak with Bryan Derman, Glenbrook’s managing partner, and Glynn Frechette, SVP of PSCU’s Advisors Plus division, in a discussion of PSCU’s payment trends analysis. Glynn provides an exceptionally detailed view into the pain, and some real gains, that the pandemic has brought to U.S. payments activity.

    PSCU’s analysis points to both the depth of transaction volume declines for a number of segments, especially travel and fuel. And since so many restaurants are shut down (another segment hammered by the pandemic), the data shows how supermarkets and groceries have benefited.
    There’s plenty of detail in this podcast so take a careful listen. To keep up to date on what PSCU is seeing across the country, go to its Resource page. For more, check out PSCU's infographic for the week ending May 3rd.


     
     

    • 37 min
    Episode 123 - A Trip into the Nigerian Payments Ecosystem - Charles Ifedi, eBanqo

    Episode 123 - A Trip into the Nigerian Payments Ecosystem - Charles Ifedi, eBanqo

    It is super instructive to hear about payments evolution. So, it’s time to take a trip. In this Payments on Fire® episode we speak with Charles Ifedi, one of the founders of Interswitch, one of the leading digital payments providers in Nigeria, and founder of customer engagement platform company eBanqo.
    We hear a lot - and deservedly so - about innovative fintech companies but we hear very little about the advanced and highly competitive payment system already in place in Nigeria. Take a listen as Glenbrook partner Elizabeth McQuerry, partner in charge of Glenbrook’s Global payments consulting practice, talks with Charles about the Nigerian payments ecosystem, his role in developing one of the leading payments providers there and and his new venture in improving the front end of financial services with conversational AI .
    Payments in Nigeria are huge in every way. Its large population – some 200 million – allows digital payments to thrive even as the banked population remains stubbornly low at just under 40% of the adult population. Unlike the eastern Africa experience of telco-led companies like M-PESA, Nigerian telcos are not allowed to serve as payments providers. They aren’t banks but their agent networks serve an essential role in last mile service delivery. That said, recent regulatory changes are allowing partner companies of these telcos to apply for the country’s payments services bank license.
    Nigerians have been able to take advantage of instant or real-time payments for a decade. You can’t say that for Americans. It’s quite common to see people making instant payments transfers from their mobile devices via the simple USSD menu interface on feature phones. Those with smartphones take full advantage of app-based interfaces.
    These instant payments are often used to buy things in retail shops as well as to make business or personal transfers.  Payment by debit and credit card is also quite common and Nigeria is home to Verve, the pan-African card brand.
    Listen in as Charles, who was Verve’s first CEO, reflects on developing the Interswitch brand and discusses how Nigerians are making payments at small and large merchants during the Covid-19 lockdown, the successes of ATMs and their challenges to growth, the failure of biometrics, and about the Nigerian payments ecosystem overall.
     

    • 36 min

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