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Honor Gunday, CEO & Founder, Paymentwall: "Building the Great Pyramid is not done overnight. Paymentwall works on building the most global payments platform"

Thursday 3 October 2013 | 09:56 AM CET

Honor Gunday is CEO and founder of Paymentwall since 2010. He was formerly program manager for Expedia, and has co-founded and incubated startups in Silicon Valley such as Rofo, Adperk, MiNeeds and Zurna (the #2 Turkish social network). Honor graduated with a B.S. in Technology Management from Stanford University. 

First of all, could you tell us a in a few words what Paymentwall does?
Honor Gunday: Paymentwall - if you haven’t heard of us already, is the leading global payments platform in the digital space. We only focus on digital products and services for now like virtual currency, games, dating, subscription services and most recently SaaS, but this doesn’t mean we may not expand to other spaces in the future.

There’s a lot of payment companies out there… what makes Paymentwall special?
Honor Gunday: A merchant can come to Paymentwall, in a minute create an account, integrate Paymentwall’s API within an hour, and start monetizing the whole entire world with 100+ local payment options - users in Brazil can print out their boletos and go to the supermarket and pay, Germans, Dutch can pay with their Bank Transfer, Chinese users can pay with the e-wallets that they’re used to, people can whip out their cell phones and pay with mobile billing, prepaid cards etc… It’s really powerful. Paymentwall makes global payments very simple and this is the key to our success and rapid growth. Another thing that makes us special and that is a source of our innovation is that we are not VC funded; which means our innovation doesn’t have a 4 years expiration date.

What do you feel is important for the global payments market? What is the winning strategy?
Honor Gunday: There is all the buzz about Braintree acquisition by Paypal. Braintree only does credit cards…. which Paypal already did to begin with. Meanwhile, Paymentwall provides a full spectrum of payment options from all around the world. If a company claims to be providing online payments, in 2013 and beyond, this means the whole world, and this means being able to receive payments from these users without discrimination.

What do you mean by discrimination?
Honor Gunday: This means you need to provide the local payment options the users are accustomed to, the global users don’t just use credit cards and people who choose not to use credit cards should not be left out. They use mobile payments, prepaid cards, kiosks, various e-wallets, landline payments, e-vouchers, bank transfer, direct debit and many other payment types that developed around the world in absence of a strong credit card penetration. Paymentwall unites all of these on one platform and makes it easy for people to pay for what they want and however people want to pay and makes merchants more money, like they have never seen before.

It seems that you are very end-user focused. What about the merchants? In addition to ease of integration and quick global processing, what other values do you bring to merchants?
Honor Gunday: Paymentwall believes in TRUE customer service. We don’t put our merchants or end-users through endless loops of bureaucracy, the frustration of unresponsive and careless customer service, the pain and suffering of frozen accounts or hard-ass disciplinary action and penalties. We work with them and try to accommodate their needs, listen to their problems, learn from them, and evolve our product and invest in our technology to become more efficient in dealing with problems from all around the world mirroring our footprint. Throughout the years, our experience and learnings evolved our product into a service that is expected from a high-end company like Louis Vuitton yet more approachable and in the payments space.

We provide the most advanced risk management for digital goods, customer service with the most human touch and common sense, and white glove merchant support that they are shocked to receive after having dealt with “Seemingly modern yet dinosaur-like-behaving companies that treat them badly”.

Tell us about your team. What kind of people work at Paymentwall?
Honor Gunday: One thing you would notice right away at Paymentwall is that we are truly global and diverse. We have over 25 different nationalities working in the company, you really get to see and understand different perspectives and you realise how the cultural part is important especially in payments, since all nations have different payment habits.

Our offices in 5 different regions: San Francisco, Berlin, Kiev, Istanbul and Manila really give us a huge advantage. We can reach our merchant partners within a few hours by flight and we can understand the local needs.

So what is Paymentwall’s goal?
Honor Gunday: Our goal is to build a truly human-centered truly global payments platform of choice for merchants/developers and the product of choice for end-users wherever they may be.

We realise the Great Pyramid -which is on our logo- did not get built overnight, and we have a similar long-term vision at this, so we will continue to invest in technology and processes to improve quality and experience for everyone that uses our product, regardless of short-term gains.

Within Paymentwall’s current business model, the focus seems to be on the online segment. How does the mobile channel fit into this picture?
Honor Gunday: I see the world of payments divided into the following segments:

    Online - Digital (paying for digital products or services that can be delivered with no physical delivery service involved)
    Online - E-Commerce (paying for products that are tangible, and having them delivered to you whether it’s food or goods)
    Offline - in-person (paying for tangible products etc.. and receiving delivery right away)
    Offline - services (paying for services that are in our real world and receiving delivery in a non-physical way (outsourcing, taxi, tickets, hotels)

Paymentwall is focused on Online-Digital and Offline-Services. We don’t like to deal with physical, tangible products or the logistics of the physical delivery lag.

The mobile trend, the way I see it, is end-users using their mobile smart devices to access the content and to transact … as opposed to their desktops or home PCs. This mode shift is happening now en masse... So Mobile is just a new mode of access.

With our Mobiamo mobile billing platform, we are able to get end-users paying with their mobile thru their operator. So this product fits our Online Digital strategy.

To accommodate the shift in users’ mode of access we made our entire payments platform available in HTML5 or as widgets that can be plugged into mobile apps. So the mobile users also will be able to benefit from all the global payment options that Paymentwall brings to them. The merchants also will make more money thanks to more options available for their users. Here our main competitors are the Appstore and Google Play which only allow a limited set of payment types - we provide the full spectrum. The world would be a better place if everyone could get the content they wanted regardless of whether they could get a credit card or regardless of their country of origin.

You have got quite some competition in the mobile payments market. Could you please specify some features that set Mobiamo apart from other similar direct billing services providers?
Honor Gunday: We noticed that a few years ago, most mobile billing companies were funded in a bubble created by VCs trying to cash in on the mobile trend, and this created sub-par products as the companies were trying to cash out as soon as possible with minimally viable products.

Our mobile operator billing product, Mobiamo did not get created under such stress. We took 3 years analysing the shortcomings of the mobile operator billing space with our previous MobilePay+ product which integrated all the providers in the space to bring mobile carrier billing to the merchants. We identified transparency of rates, bad conversion rates, true global coverage, ease of integration, lack of localization, the complexity of price points and the provider commissions to be the main problems. Mobiamo now solves these problems and this is why we expect it to rapidly become one of the main mobile operator billing solutions around the globe.

What next steps does your company plan to undertake?
Honor Gunday: Our next product launch is PW PRO; which is basically a global & local credit card processing product. Merchants will be able to come to Paymentwall, get the widget code or code the API and will be able to start doing credit card processing right away; with no wait. This will be a more robust and more global, and localised solution than what is being offered out there.

Geographic reach is very important to us, we are expanding our operations in various regions. Russia, Brazil, Netherlands/UK are a priority for us to be close to our merchants and payment partners. We will also increase our business development and marketing activities in South East Asia, China, Korea and Japan via our Manila and San Francisco offices.

Mobiamo for Mobile Operator Billing, PW Pro for Credit Card Processing, and Paymentwall Global Payments products will be the main focus for Paymentwall for the next year.

Company description
Paymentwall is the leading Global Payments Platform for digital content and services with over 100 payment options. Paymentwall allows developers and merchants to create an account in seconds and start collecting money from around the World with just 1 API Integration. Paymentwall is helping over 25000 merchants monetize their content and services while having enabled over 150 million end-users make successful purchases.