bobsguide spoke exclusively to Nelson Holzner about his new role as CEO of AEVI
You’ve come from a company you founded to AEVI, what prompted the change?
It was time for a change. My previous company BillPay reached a stage where we were ready to sell. We recognised a trend in the online payments market where the landscape was becoming fragmented, and that meant a concentration of payment providers was inevitable. Therefore, we felt it was better to lead the pack in consolidation.
More importantly, why did I chose AEVI? I really view AEVI as one of the most exciting missions in the European Fintech space right now. I am intrigued by big and complex problems and here at AEVI we are solving some very big problems for the payments industry in innovative and interesting ways.
We already have a global product offering which is addressing real world issues, and the challenge for me is scaling this up through increased sales and distribution, as well as taking a fresh look at the product strategy. I come from a software background, so the fact that AEVI not only provides payment software, but also has its own innovative hardware offering, is also a very important and exciting part of the business for me.
Have you identified AEVI’s key USPs in the market?
What AEVI does on the one hand is allow merchants to connect better to their customers, which is not an easy task. But through value-added B2B apps and services, available via an entirely white-label Global Marketplace, AEVI is enhancing the customer experience by providing a POS service that goes beyond payments for both the merchant and the consumer.
AEVI’s other unique proposition is to give acquirers and banks the right to talk to their merchants. Previously, they never had a lot to offer from an innovation point of view, so they are very eager to connect and present something new and fresh to their customers. AEVIs solutions basically gives them that opportunity through innovative SmartPOS devices, the Global Marketplace and the array of applications available to enhance POS.
The third strand of AEVI’s business that sets us apart is our secure transaction offering. We have simplified the payments process through one single secure payments gateway, designed to reduce the complexities and costs involved in processing payments. At the same time we provide compelling new services such as an easy and intuitive on-boarding tool, as well as dashboards to provide retailers and acquirers with much needed data insights into their business.
How are you looking to grow the business moving forward?
We have a very strong foundation on which to build: 1.2 billion transactions yearly through our platform, and our marketplaces contains more than 70 B2B apps. Over the next few years, we will enhance our global reach and expand our suite of solutions even further. We will be focusing our attentions on the North American payments sector, whilst also continuing to leverage our success in Europe.
We have already seen great success in Australia with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. On top of that we announced last year several very promising partnerships in Europe, and will look to form further strategic partnerships in the region. Our portfolio of App Partners connected to our Global Marketplace is growing week-on-week, and we will also look to expand upon the range of 3rd party devices compatible with our solutions to connect even more devices to our platforms.
The key mission for me is to build a fully blown company, with increased collaboration between our three distinct business lines within AEVI. This will create an even more interesting value proposition for our customers, whilst connecting all the dots to create a great team spirit and company culture.
What will be the biggest challenges you face in your new role?
The biggest challenge for me is creating a real unified company culture that reaches right through our offices and international team. I place a great deal of importance on having a strong company culture and it is a vital component to get right throughout the business if we are to continue being successful. This is of course much easier to do in a small company where everyone sits in the same office, and by definition you breath the same culture. With AEVI being a global company it is something that we must look after and nurture to ensure we get right.
From a product and market perspective, we need to become faster in our execution while keeping the high quality standards AEVI stands for.
In your mind how is PSD2 going to change the payments industry?
The European markets are focused very much on PSD2 right now. Most people are worried about what they have to provide in the near term to comply with the directive before it actually goes live. The more traditional players aren’t embracing it fully, they see it as more of a hindrance with the additional levels of complexity, and the fact they will be forced to open up their systems. From an entrepreneurial stand point, however, we see it as a fantastic business opportunity especially for new companies who through the help of PSD2 will be able to get access to very interesting new data. But still there are many questions surrounding it, such as what access do I get? What does access really mean? When do I get it? Will I have to pay for it?
How will PSD2 affect the AEVI business strategy?
We at AEVI embrace the changes PSD2 will bring to the sector and believe that clarity and opportunity provided by PSD2 are good for the market and our business. As a company fostering and living innovation every day, we see the regulation as an opportunity rather than a threat for AEVI.
Is PSD2 the single biggest game changer to happen to payments since you started in the industry?
PSD2 is certainly the single most important piece of regulation since I have been in payments. From a market, technology and product perspective, however, there are some very important trends which will have a more fundamental impact on payments than the PSD2 regulation. Just think about the rise of e-payments, alternative payment methods, omni-channel offerings, innovative solutions like AliPay TenCentor or blockchain, just to name a few. These are all very important developments which are set to disrupt the payment scene.
Which companies within the payments landscape can benefit from the introduction of PSD2, and how can they do so?
I think that it is going to be a game changer for many payment and Fintech start-ups that don’t have the backing or resources of some of the more established players in the market. It has the potential to be the great equaliser in the industry, with everybody having the same access to previously unobtainable data. The companies that will truly benefit, however, will be those that are willing to embrace the change and offer innovative payment solutions that work in an open and secure way.
What will be the other major trends or factors that are going to affect payments moving forward?
Payments will continue to be a fragmented and complex space. This is why AEVI is so interesting to me, as our focus is on reducing this complexity.
Over time I think there will be two major trends. Payments will become invisible, and reach a point where you don’t even realise that you are paying. You use a service, like UBER for examples, and the payment is so seamlessly integrated that by the time you’ve left the car the payment has been made and processed. So, it becomes less about payments and all about the service or purchase experience.
The second big trend is the opposite, but just as important, and that is enhancing the check-out experience through value-added apps and services that put a smile on the face of the consumer at the point of sale. This is the trend AEVI is shaping with our Marketplace business apps and SmartPOS devices.