Sunday, June 16, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: “Picking up the Baton” – Oliver Rajic, Alpha Fintech by PPRO in ‘The Fintech Magazine’

Payments, like music making, are a collaborative endeavour. And somebody’s got to direct it, says Oliver Rajic, Co-founder and CEO of Alpha Fintech, now part of PPRO

‘I’m playing all the right notes… but not necessarily in the right order’ was British comedian Eric Morecambe’s memorable punchline, delivered during a sketch with the late, great conductor and composer André Previn.

It’s a phrase that might resonate with anyone trying to harmonise their payments business. Here, the ‘notes’ are the myriad ways to pay; the straight lines of the ‘stave’, the payment rails on which they are arranged; and the ‘accidentals’ that moderate the notes, all the other products and services that wrap around a transaction process, from FX to fraud prevention.

Orchestrating all these for the benefit of banks, fintechs and payment service providers that would rather not have to conduct all the sections of this orchestra themselves, is what Alpha Fintech was born to do – specifically, in Asia Pacific (APAC) where the clamour of payment alternatives has reached a crescendo.

It’s not hard to see why. Home to 4.5 billion people (60 per cent of the earth’s population), it’s where payment businesses see one of the biggest opportunities to expand in the near-term. None more so than PPRO, the global digital payments infrastructure provider that acquired Alpha Fintech earlier this year.

Underscoring APAC’s importance, PPRO added Gojek’s GoPay e-wallet (which has had 190 million downloads since 2020) to its platform in June, taking it one step closer to offering complete coverage in Indonesia, where close to 76 million people are expected to join the consumer class by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum. And in September, it integrated Malaysia’s e-wallets GrabPay, Touch ’n Go and Boost.

Alpha Fintech’s Cloud-based payments platform-as-a-service (PaaS) integrates digital payment products and services, ranging from payment processing and merchant management through to risk management, fraud prevention and data analytics. It’s been music to the ears of New Zealand’s BNZ and Southeast Asia’s super-app Grab, among many others.

Grab, for example, tasked Alpha Fintech with providing its solutions to increase authorisation rates and lower cart abandonment, as well as simplifying merchant onboarding risk and financial risk management. As a major regional player, with different conditions prevailing in different markets, this third-party approach makes commercial sense for Grab, which retains control over, and continues to build, its customer interface.

“Whether I’m a payment organisation, a large merchant or a payment processor, ultimately, the combination and permutations of solutions I need will depend on the customer verticals I’m servicing, and that’s why collaboration is more relevant than ever,” says Alpha Fintech’s co-founder Oliver Rajic. “And to be able to collaborate, you need two things: to be able to access and integrate solution providers; and to make them work together, which is service orchestration.”

Its Alpha Fintech’s responsibility, as the PaaS, to make sure all the players perform as one. That’s where service orchestration differs substantially from payment orchestration, where retailers and merchants simply want to be less dependent on a merchant service provider by routing the transaction to multiple providers, thereby increasing authorisation rates and lowering costs.

“The traditional process is that I send out a request for payment to five providers, I pick one, I integrate them and now I’m stuck with them for five years, whether they’re good or bad,” says Rajic. “Given the rate of innovation presently occurring, five years is an unacceptably long time. A year or two from now, you might need something completely different, but what can you do?”

This is where, he believes, service orchestration is going to drive innovation.

“First, by being able to swap solution providers at the click of a button, you can iterate and you can innovate,” says Rajic. “Don’t have one fraud provider, have five of them and customise between them. If it’s a young, innovative solution, access it and switch it on. If they go bankrupt, are not as good as you hoped or something better comes along, swap them out.”

That way, the client’s technology resources aren’t drained by worrying about the operational layer. It also reducesany friction involved in the process, according to Rajic.

“What the app store did to the consumerspace is what service orchestration is going to do to the fintech space,” he says. “It will eliminate friction, drive innovation and drive a completely new way of designing products and solutions.”

Now, doesn’t that sound sublime?


This article was published in The Fintech Magazine Issue 25, Page 33

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