Spiros Theodossiou, VP of Product Strategy – Skrill

When it comes to payment methods there is a plethora of options, with only a few really standing out. One

When it comes to payment methods there is a plethora of options, with only a few really standing out.
One of those companies is Skrill. Founded in 2001, Skrill has become synonymous with online payments and is one of the most accepted payment methods in the world. Payment Magnates went to interview VP of Product Strategy at Skrill, Spiros Theodossiou to talk about mobile payments, digital currencies and entering new markets among other things.

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Payment Magnates: Could you please give us a brief explanation on Skrill, and what services you offer?
Spiros Theodossiou: Skrill is one of Europe’s largest online payments systems and among the world’s largest independent digital wallet providers with 36 million account holders. We enable customers to make online payments conveniently and securely without revealing personal financial data, as well as to send and receive money online cost-effectively. Our worldwide payment network offers businesses access to direct payment processing via 100 payment options in 200 countries and territories and 40 currencies through just a single integration. We’re focused on providing customers and merchants with secure and convenient payment tools that also keep up with the latest technological advancements. We support our gaming merchants by delivering optimized mobile payment solutions such as 1-Tap, our new mobile payments function, which has been designed to streamline the deposit process in one step. By linking to the user’s digital wallet account, 1-Tap makes it significantly easier for players to add funds without having to re-enter their details. We are also proud of our continued efforts to revolutionize the money transfer process. Our innovative product Skrill iT cuts money transfer fees in half – allowing expatriates to send money home. Available in over 200 countries for senders, Skrill iT brings the power of the Internet to money transfer.  With just a few clicks, money can be sent securely to people in 40 currencies, using just an email address.  That money is received instantly and can then be transferred to a bank account, or withdrawn from more than 1.9 million ATMs worldwide using the Skrill Prepaid MasterCard.

PM: The mobile transaction market is growing at an incredible rate, and we saw that Skrill just recently released a mobile version of their Digital Wallet. Could you please tell us more on the new application, where you see mobile payments going in the near future, and Skrill’s position in this fast growing market?
ST: We recently released the latest version of our mobile app which provides consumers with convenient access to their wallet via their phones. There are two trends that will drive mobile payments in the physical world:

  • Point of sale (POS) moving into the cloud. Merchants will no longer need hardware devices at their stores to enable payment, as their consumers will be able to pay the merchant over the internet. There are some significant changes that will need to happen on the merchant side to enable this, but already we are seeing POS devices moving from hardware devices to software on an iPad. Square is probably one of the leaders in this space even though they are only focused on micro merchants. Expect significant changes in the coming years in the MPOS space.
  • Mobile wallets are gaining traction. Cards and other financial instruments no longer need to be physical. Cheques are on the verge of becoming obsolete and credit cards will soon be digitised. Once a user gets comfortable using their phone to pay instead of pulling out their cards, people will no longer carry their physical wallets around. In the future, software on phones will enable merchant POS terminals to pull the funds. Near Field Communication (NFC) is one avenue that will enable a phone to pay but QR codes and app payments over the internet are alternative options.  Skrill is partnering with a number of vendors to test out all of these avenues to understand how consumers want to use their phone to pay for goods in the physical world.

In the online world, users are no longer using their desktops to surf the web and transact. They are using tablets and their phones as you can use these devices on a bus, train, on the couch or in fact anywhere that is convenient. Mobile devices are having a profound impact in the online and offline world wherever payments are made.

PM: What are the industries and merchant types that Skrill supports?
ST: We focus on most online industries and, as mobile wallets gain traction, we are investigating how best to offer our wallet in the offline space to converge the two. Another area we are investigating is enabling virtual currencies like Bitcoin to be purchased through our wallet. There is so much innovation in the payments space today but we want to ensure we focus on the products and services our customers want to use. Skrill also offers P2P payments over our global network. With our Skrill iT brand we offer competitive remittance solutions across multiple corridors. For more info please visit https://www.skrill.com/about-skrillit/

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PM: For a merchant interested in working with Skrill, what fees are involved?
ST: As with most payments processors, there are fees to receive payments. The fees are typically driven by volume with higher volumes driving lower fees. We offer competitive receiving fees, so any interested merchants should please contact our sales team who can assist them with the right solution and pricing for the users.

PM: Skrill currently supports a large selection of currencies. Do you see Skrill expanding their supported currencies, and maybe adding digital currencies such as Bitcoin?
ST: Yes, absolutely. Skrill will continue to support new currencies as we expand our consumer and merchant footprint and as our merchant expand geographically, as already mentioned in relation to virtual currencies. There are obvious complications with virtual currencies but consumers are starting to use these currencies to transact and we want to be responsive to the needs of our customers while also managing associated risks.  

PM: Speaking of Bitcoin, What are your thoughts on it, and where do you see its placement in the Ecommerce landscape?
ST: What’s happening with Bitcoin is fascinating, but what is driving much of the growth is speculators trading the currency. As long as these speculators trade the currency, it will not stabilise and therefore will not be a tradable currency that merchants are happy to receive payments for. We will be investigating multiple different options ranging from enabling our wallets to buy bitcoins to enabling merchants to receive payments via Bitcoin. When it becomes more stable, it may get regulated by some countries. It is changing the way payments companies need to think about supporting payments moving forward. The big risk is addressing the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) issues as many people use bitcoins to trade in illegal goods and services.

PM: Entering new markets is always challenging. Can you give our merchant readers some advice on how to go about entering new markets?
ST: There are a number of key things that merchants should consider when entering new markets:

  • Consolidating suppliers will give your business greater leverage when negotiating and therefore decrease costs.
  • Plan for potential international expansion by offering local payment methods and currencies.
  • Work with people who understand the industry; talking to people and gaining market knowledge from those that understand payments (and the unique characteristics of your market) will ensure the right decisions are made to enable strong growth and profitability.

PM: We recently saw Skrill receive approval to offer e-wallet services to New Jersey residents for Online Gaming. With the new laws in New Jersey and Delaware, so you see potential in the US for internet gaming?
ST: Absolutely – it’s clear that the market is there and that there is an appetite for online gambling in the US. We’re eager to bring our proven expertise from the European online gambling industry to the States, beginning with New Jersey. Just like many other industries, consumers are looking for more convenient, social experiences online. As the first and only digital wallet provider for New Jersey’s online gambling, we’re making it simpler for online gamblers to manage their funds quickly, safely and easily. We’re encouraged by early results in New Jersey and look forward to the growth of our business throughout the U.S.

PM: Lastly, what differentiates Skrill, from other, similar, payment solutions?
ST: We are not just a solution for merchants. We offer credit card processing and multiple alternative payment options but we also provide a digital wallet offering to acquire both merchants and consumers through one single automated payments interface (API). Therefore, we have a direct relationship with consumers and products such as Skrill 1-Tap mean that merchants benefit from increased conversion rates.

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