Trustly: transforming the payments industry

SiGMA sat down with Ciaran O'Malley, Head of Commercial Strategy at Trustly for an exclusive interview

What do you hope to accomplish through your role? What are your long-term goals?

When the opportunity to join Trustly came about, I jumped on it because it was an opportunity to be on the forefront of change. Rather than helping businesses react, it was more about really creating solutions, which is what Trustly is doing at the moment.

Ciaran O’Malley.

It can potentially be summarised as helping us to decide what to sell, where to sell it, and how to sell it. At Trustly, we like to think about it in terms of helping our merchants acquire and retain new end users, and then deliver that experience in the most efficient way possible.

What to sell: I run a team that works very closely with our product department to refine ideas from our wonderful merchants. We also keep a close eye on what’s going on in the market and see how that can be brought into our product.

Where to sell: It’s about keeping your ear to the ground with merchants and looking at where opportunities are arising, whether that be under changes and regulation, or growing markets. We service gaming, financial services, ecommerce, and travel, so there are always opportunities in Europe.

How to sell: I work with a team that really tries to work out what value Trustly brings. Our goal is to quantify it in a way that our merchants can understand, so that they can create business cases themselves if they’re new merchants. It’s very easy to understand if someone is simply reducing your costs but actually what we need to quantify is what extra value we bring in terms of acquiring customers and retaining customers. When you look at payments from a holistic perspective, there are cost savings our product provides that aren’t always immediately obvious.

If we look at acquisition, there are a couple of key areas. Firstly, from a gaming perspective, is the Pay N Play product. This has driven a more seamless registration experience by effectively automating the process. We have also seen that our instant pay-outs are something that merchants really like to advertise as it’s an opportunity to compete on functionality to acquire customers.

When it comes to retaining and building that customer experience, a lot of it is about realising your promises. Payments can really help by delivering that money quickly. It’s satisfying and it helps brands build loyalty. It’s also important that our payments system allows people to relatively seamlessly make deposits from smaller amounts all the way up to larger amounts. The immediate payment and the immediate credit on the merchant side is crucial for that quality experience, which ultimately helps merchants with retention.

On the operational efficiency side, the Pay N Play model helps provide the right information to verify the player and a lot of our merchants really find that valuable. On the pure payments side, the fact that we’re API-driven really helps our merchants, both on the pay-out and on the receiving payments end of things. The fact that we do all the reconciliation also helps our merchants because standard bank transfers don’t typically offer any of these things.

Talking about competing on functionality, it’s such a crowded market at the moment that offering something like this that can give you that edge over your competitors must be crucial.

Exactly. The industry is quite diverse; when I look at the gaming sphere, I see both the extremely sophisticated players and the less sophisticated brands that haven’t been brought up to speed yet. The industry in the past has been able to rely on bonusing and while it will always be a part of the gaming attraction, there’s always the likelihood that someone is going to offer more. Being able to provide a different experience allows you to really create that longer-term vision for the player.

Pay N Play currently offers two different models: Pure and Hybrid. What are the differences between them, the pros and the cons?

In terms of the Pure model, we call it “Pure” because it is the best experience for the player. Effectively, it eliminates the payment and registration stage. The player is presented with one landing screen, he or she simply makes the payment, and the KYC information is passed through to the merchant, who registers an account in the background. The player can go straight into the gaming experience without wasting their time registering an account.

The key here is conversion. In a traditional flow, players are lured to a site by an offer, and are then faced with a registration flow followed by a payment flow. There’s a lot of opportunity for drop-off. With the pure model, on the other hand, you bundle the registration and deposit into one simple flow, where we see a much higher conversion rate.

The Hybrid model is better than a traditional cashier, but there’s still a registration flow, which is a login and a deposit. With two separate flows, you have a greater chance of drop-off and the player doesn’t get instant gratification. The way I look at it, the Hybrid model is an optimisation of the registration flow. It’s more like a normal environment but the registration is less painful. The Pure model is a completely different gaming experience.

Do more merchants start off with the Hybrid model and then move into the Pure model?

The merchants that have made the greatest success with Pay N Play are those that have gone Pure — and not just in terms of our products, but in terms of grasping the concept of instantness. They’ve created sites that are easy for players to navigate, that are highly responsive and load games quickly.

While we have many success cases, for some merchants it’s hard to take that leap because it requires a change in thinking. Increasingly, we’ve had start-ups eager to know our roadmap to deliver it across more countries, but larger corporations seem a little more tentative. As such, in countries where our product is newer, we see more adoption of the Hybrid model.

What are Trustly’s ambitions? Are you looking into any new markets?

Our ambitions are global. In June, we merged with a company in the US to offer a transatlantic product and we’re actively researching our next markets. We look for an environment where we can create a good user experience. From a gaming perspective, we prioritise regulated environments with stable KYC. We also look for markets that have a strong bank payments infrastructure, either with our proprietary technology or local technology. South America is especially exciting to us right now.

Are you exploring any new areas of innovation and how will you integrate them into new verticals?
In terms of innovation, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what our tech can deliver. We are riding this wave of technological change across Europe with PSD2, which requires banks to engage with tech providers by either facilitating direct access or by delivering these APIs.

The opportunity that creates for us across all verticals is massive because it means that our product can improve dramatically, letting us focus on more value-added services. At the moment, keeping our integration with the banks live takes a huge amount of resources. We have a large development team that is doing a lot of maintenance work. Once we are able to reduce that, the potential will be really exciting.

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