Q&A with Adyen’s Roelant Prins and Peter Caparso

In May, Dutch e-commerce processor Adyen walked away from the first annual CNP Awards at the CNP Expo in Orlando with three honors including the Judges Choice and Customer Choice awards as Best CNP Program Outside the U.S. and the Customer Choice award as Best E-Commerce Platform/Gateway.

Adyen’s solution is based on successful technology originally developed by European e-commerce processing pioneer, Bibit, in the late 1990s. Several years after it was acquired in 2004 by RBS WorldPay, Bibit’s core team reassembled and built a new processing platform for today’s converging multichannel environment based on “battle tested” Bibit technology.

Bibit had built its reputation on forming localized connections with European banks that would give its clients not only access to local payment methods, but less expensive access to those methods as well. Adyen retained Bibit’s focus of providing local payment methods to merchants interested in globalization, but expanded its geographical ambitions by setting up local offices to serve merchants in the U.S., South America and Asia. The company plans to open a second U.S. location in the San Francisco area shortly.

CardNotPresent.com sat down with Roelant Prins, Adyen’s chief commercial officer, and Peter Caparso, the company’s North American president during the CNP Expo to talk about growth, serving a new type of merchant and how mobile is leading to a convergence of the online and POS channels.

CardNotPresent.com: How, in the past year or so, has the type of merchants you’re working with changed?

Peter Caparso Peter Caparso: We originally worked with a lot of video gaming and digital content companies, but now we find, in addition to them, we’re working a lot with retailers, software download companies and some travel companies. We continue to sign and board significant merchants. Not necessarily big merchants, but medium-sized companies, cool tech companies etc.

Roelant Prins: When we started five years ago, people very much liked our story but quite a few prospects said it was not the right time or they really like the solution but the company doesn’t have a lot of experience. So, we started with these tech companies that didn’t mind how young we were. We were in the same phase and they really liked our technology so it was easier. At some point, the larger companies began to recognize we were still out there and heard a lot of good stuff about us.

CNP: How do you make the transition to serving more traditional merchants after starting mostly with digital content providers?

PC: I worked for the phone company right out of college. When you say “I work for New England Telephone,” people don’t swoon, they grimace. But when I bring up Bibit, it really has a good market remembrance in a positive way. When people make the connection that we’re the former Bibit guys, we get a pass over the first hurdle, but there’s still a long way to go.

We’ve brought a new focus to the marketplace; we’re disruptive in a positive way. We’ve taken a brand new approach to the reporting, technology, customer service and let the merchants be the judge. We give them really robust reporting and tools, really good fraud indications and really good terms. In that sense we’ve given the merchant the power back and that’s helped.

RP: In the past 12 months you see the biggest companies no longer have any issues with our inexperience. No one really asks about that anymore. It’s a major breakthrough to get there. The reputation we have is really helping us.

CNP: With American merchants, does being a Dutch company hurt, help or have no effect?

PC: I don’t think it matters. Everyone is trying to go global. The first thing people ask about is support and management. We have a Boston office and very soon are opening one in Northern California. For American merchants, we’ll have native English speakers in customer service on both sides.

And, you can turn it around and leverage it. Everyone wants to sell in Brazil. We’re a Dutch company but we have five people on the ground in Sao Paulo. Many times I’ll bring my country manager on a call with a customer. America remains the focal point, but I can bring in the subject matter experts from the region. But it’s all U.S.-based selling and support.

CNP: Are mobile payments really here or is it still the next big thing?

Roelant Prins RP: We developed a mobile solution that’s really taking off. Using the data generated by our platform, we measure all the time how are things tracking. We look every month at how many of our transactions are running through mobile devices. In September of last year we saw about 3.7 percent of online transactions originating from mobile devices. In April of this year it had grown to 6.9 percent. So, in seven months, transactions doubled. Growth like that is huge. 

CNP: How will mobile payments affect how Adyen operates?

RP: There’s a significant change happening in this industry. The change is that, in our view, we’re not a provider for Internet solutions, for taking payments on Websites. The way we look at it is we’re using Internet technology to process payments in the most effective way. That means we’re building a platform that is capable of taking transactions from the Web, also from mobile, also ultimately from point of sale and doing that all through a single Internet-based platform.

We now see merchants combining the channels. Someone comes to a merchant for the first time on the Web where they store the customer’s payment details from future use. Then they come back and they’re coming in via the same merchant’s mobile app but they can still use and access the payment details we stored when they came through via the Web. And that’s really powerful. Equally we’re looking at point of sale. Everything is going to come together in coming years.

PC: A lot of times I’ll say to customers, I understand you label us a payment company because that’s the easiest thing to do, but we’re not. We’re a technology company playing in the payment space. If you look at our internal vision, you have e-commerce, you have MOTO, you have IPTV, you have mobile. You have all these different channels utilizing our platform with unified reporting on the back end because that’s where the market’s going.

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