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Interviews

Interview with Arik Shtilman, CEO of Rapyd, on the underserved markets in the payments space and opportunities

Wednesday 3 July 2019 | 09:21 AM CET

We sat down with Arik Shtilman of Rapyd at Money 2020 to learn more about underserved markets in the payments space, new opportunities, and payment methods integration

Could you tell us a bit about your background? You are a serial entrepreneur, originally from the tech and cloud industry; what drove you to the world of payments?

I came out of cloud computing space having scaled and sold my last company to Avaya. Being a cloud services advocate, I was surprised how payments innovation can’t be scaled with today’s legacy global payments infrastructure. I came to this realisation as we started Rapyd, initially a B2C e-wallet product addressing the challenges consumers face at the intersection of mobile adoption and payments.

The initial Rapyd B2C product was planned to support one country, and required us to integrate with 7 different products and services in order to launch a simple e-wallet product, each with its own unique architecture that required custom development. We needed a country-specific e-money license to meet the necessary regulatory requirements that kept us buried in red tape, even as we worked to solve all the technical challenges. This was all for a single country - something that just wasn’t scalable across payments globally.

While startups in other verticals are content with the classic build-vs-buy scenario, we couldn’t - there’s nothing to buy. Gaining market traction requires a year or more of engineering connecting decades-old systems that were never intended to work together. It was a barrier to innovation that we ourselves were surprised to see.

There is clearly a need to create the infrastructure for global fintech applications. It requires following the precedent set by cloud-computing solutions like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Web Services. So, we pivoted and set out to create a solution that would meet the needs of businesses like our own.

Today, Rapyd is building a global financial technology infrastructure that allows online commerce companies, gig economy platforms, financial institutions or any digital business to embed financial services into their consumer offerings in a very simple way. It’s a full stack of fintech services including payment collection, payment disbursement, compliance, FX, and other core services needed to provide a localised commerce experience.

Do you see any underserved markets in the payment space? Where do the opportunities lie for you?

We think the traditional payment players have been too reliant on the card-based systems. Our approach has been to think of cards as one of the many ways people pay across the globe. There are 4.5 billion people across the globe without a credit card and many of them are using cash, bank payments, and mobile payments. Our mission is to unlock those local consumers and businesses for our clients.

We help businesses easily and quickly launch into new markets or expand in existing ones where consumers have different expectations of buying and selling goods or services. Whether you are a retailer, an internet business selling digital goods, a marketplace or even a B2B entity working suppliers, this is a major challenge; most don’t have resources, knowledge or time to figure out all the vast local complexities. We see this as a trillion-dollar opportunity.

Stripe and General Catalyst recently made a large investment into Rapyd; are you partnering with Stripe, i.e. will Stripe work with your solutions?

Stripe is a great investor and we are appreciative of their support. We share similar visions: to grow the GDP of the Internet and to create seamless local commerce experiences anywhere. We are just coming about this in different ways as we each have a different way of doing that.

Rapyd boasts the ability to offer more than 500 payment methods, which is an impressive number. Do you achieve this through partnering with local parties or do you integrate these payment methods yourself?

It’s both, actually. Since our inception, we have entered into over 150 separate agreements to build networks that spans the world’s most popular payment methods including the collection and disbursement of cash, bank transfers, and e-wallets. We are building out the Rapyd Global Payment Network that connects and harmonises local payments networks across virtually every country around the world. We are respecting and partnering with local infrastructures, and believe that although commerce is becoming more global, payment methods, compliance, currencies will stay local. Cultures and governments are vested in payments and monetary policy and we’re interested in connecting them rather than dictating a top-down network approach to them.

How do you see the capabilities of Rapyd evolving over the next two years?

We see an evolution in the market: over the past 10-15 years, payments players have focused on integrated payments by essentially getting payments embedded into software applications to make the experience easier and more streamlined for users.

We’re entering a new era that we call Integrated Fintech. Over the next 10 years, as commerce continues to be more cross-border and local simultaneously, more functionality needs to be integrated into the experience for the customer and business users.

Integrated Fintech is our roadmap. You’ll see us roll out solutions and capabilities that simplify complexity around FX, identity, loyalty, and personalisation. All are necessary commerce touchpoints in the global economy and we believe there are massive opportunities to simplify the complexity in these areas for our clients and prospects.

About Arik Shtilman

Arik Shtilman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rapyd, a global fintech-as-a-service platform that helps businesses collect and disburse money via locally preferred payment methods. A serial entrepreneur, Arik is experienced in building high-growth technology companies that leverage cloud computing that scale to meet rapid global customer demand. Prior to Rapyd, Arik founded ITNAVIGATOR, a cloud-based contact centre and unified communications platform, which was acquired by Avaya in 2013. Arik previously served on the board of directors at Vigilance Networks and mixeer by Creative Mass.

About Rapyd

Rapyd helps businesses create seamless local commerce experiences anywhere. We empower ecommerce, technology companies, and marketplaces to scale worldwide with our fintech-as-a-service platforms: Collect, Disburse, Wallet, and Issuing. By accessing the Rapyd Global Payment Network, businesses can now focus on growing new markets rather than building infrastructure. Investors include General Catalyst, Stripe, Target Global, TaL Capital, and others. For more information, visit https://www.rapyd.net/.

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