Shortly after its IPO on the London Stock Exchange, SafeCharge CEO David Avgi spoke with Payment Magnates about SafeCharge, the recent IPO, and his thoughts on the industry.
We were fortunate enough to meet with Avgi days after SafeCharge’s IPO on AIM along with our colleagues at Forex Magnates. SafeCharge is one of largest payment service providers and specializes in highly regulated industry types such as sports-betting and financial services. SafeCharge is also a MasterCard Principle Member and is recognized as a UK financial institution.
Question (Q): Could you please tell us about SafeCharge? How it got started and your place in the industry?
Answer (A): The SafeCharge group was founded in 2007. In that same year, we signed an acquiring agreement with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and also received our PCI level 1 certification. We currently have branches in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Austria , UK and in Israel.
Since 2008 we have focused on expanding our bank network, with agreements with Barclays Card, American Express, and many other European tier 1 financial institutions.
In 2013 we launched our “Cashier” technology and new generation risk management platform. This year we upgraded our infrastructure substantially to support massive future growth in our transactions volume.
2013 was the year we focused on regulations. We have received recognition as a European payment institution and are licensed to process payments for all countries located within the European Economic Area (EEA). Late 2013, we received our principal membership from MasterCard. Being a MasterCard principal member will give us the opportunity to issue prepaid debit cards, which we are planning to launch later this year.
The majority of our growth is organic, which means SafeCharge has taken on more business in highly regulated industries, which is our specialty. We connect our partners to banks and to a wide array of alternative payment methods. We offer customers our PCI tokenization solution. This greatly reduces the scope of PCI compliance for our merchants as we store all the sensitive card and payment data in the safest and secure way possible.
Q: What industries does SafeCharge support?
A: Over the last few years we have become experts in highly regulated industries in Europe, mainly Sport-betting and financial services. We are now expanding the online games industry, and recently signed an agreement with mobile game developer Gaijin Entertainment. We are also targeting the travel and retail sectors with unique solutions.
Retail is not new for us, as we acquired xt: Commerce back in 2010. However, xt: Commerce’s technology is aimed at SMB, our new focus in retail will be on the enterprise level, and our offering specifically focused on larger establishments with a higher transaction volume.
Q: SafeCharge was just listed on the London stock exchange. Could tell us more on the IPO, and how it will affect SafeCharge and its merchants in the future?
A: The AIM IPO means a few things for SafeCharge. Being listed on the London Stock Exchange gives SafeCharge credibility as a UK listed company and demonstrates the strength and stability of our business to our bank partners, customers and our investors such as JP Morgan and Henderson Global Investors, which are two of our biggest investors.
As a company, the IPO was a natural culmination of our growth and we believe that it will elevate SafeCharge to the next level.
Q: And why was the London Stock Exchange chosen as the most appropriate setting for the IPO?
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A: Nearly 50% of SafeCharge’s business originates from the UK. We also process payments for many large firms located within the UK, so we feel AIM is the best place for us to grow given our local track record.
Q: What are SafeCharge’s plans for the future in regards to market expansion after the IPO?
A: We are entering into new markets such as online games, travel and retail as I mentioned earlier in regards to our organic growth. Of course, we plan on additionally continuing our focus on sports-betting and financial services.
Further, we plan on expanding our market reach through mergers and acquisitions of companies similar to SafeCharge. We are looking on expanding our client portfolio and banks particularly in the Asian Pacific (APAC) region.
We already have a robust and proven payment platform which means our market expansion strategy will come from acquiring existing clientele bases and connecting with more banks and financial institutions all over the world.
Q: With your focus on large retailers, are there plans on integrating mobile point of sale solutions?
A: We are planning on expanding our offerings to include mPOS, but currently we are more focused on perfecting the technology before entering the mobile space.
Q: Do you see SafeCharge accepting digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, in the future?
A: We are now looking at Bitcoin and it’s variants as additional payment methods. As a firm which specializes in highly regulated industries, we do not support digital currencies. If Bitcoin were to become regulated and we see our partners are highly interested in adding it to our supported methods we will look into supporting it.
Q: Risk and Fraud is an inevitably associated part accepting payment online. With SafeCharge specializing in High Risk merchants, what fraud and risk prevention services do you offer your merchants?
A: A Risk Management system is a crucial element that any online business must have. As a payment platform we are obligated to protect our merchants from fraudulent activities. Our risk management system has a long list of tools. You can’t rely on only one risk prevention tool to protect your business.
Our risk management solution is integrated into the SafeCharge payment processing platform. All aspects of a transaction initiated from our platform go through the risk management system before it is sent off to the acquiring banks and financial institutions. The entire risk management system is transparent and seamless from the merchants end, and the response is received within ,ml/sec.
The chief asset of our risk management system is our negative database. We have a large database which consists of previous chargebacks and other black lists acquired through many years. . The system also utilizes a powerful rules engine. Our rules engine gives our operators the ability to customize a personal screening process
Q: To finish off, is there anything you would like to add for our readership?
A: I’ll leave you with our mission statement. SafeCharge’s position in the market is a payment partner to our customers, rather than just a payment channel.
We provide our customers with payment technology and a payment platform. It all begins with our advanced “Cashier” checkout page. Cashier supports all devices, geo localization, and personalization to offer the best checkout experience to help with conversion, and above all offering a secure payment solution and reducing the PCI scope.