Although online marketplaces experience an economic boom, their growth may be hampered by unforeseen challenges. Yuval Ziv from SafeCharge explains why.
Yuval Ziv is Chief Operating Officer at SafeCharge and has over fifteen years of financial and IT industry experience spanning online payment processing for highly demanding businesses, regulatory compliance, technology advancement, payment culture, and risk management.
He has agreed to talk with us, at The Paypers, about the growth of online marketplaces and what challenges these marketplaces face now and in the future due to regulations, payment methods and security concerns.
How are marketplaces different from traditional ecommerce companies?
Online marketplaces resemble their real-life counterparts – a single place you can visit and buy goods from a multitude of sellers. Being online means that a marketplace can be far bigger, offering a larger variety of physical and virtual goods than any offline market.
While retailers are limited by the inventory they can buy in, sell, and ship, marketplaces can be flexible. They can partner with thousands of sellers to create a marketplace that sells everything a customer could possibly want, or be far more selective and curate a smaller selection of sellers targeted for their customers’ needs.
As well as providing a different experience for consumers, the main difference between marketplaces and traditional ecommerce companies is the complex relationship between many consumers and many sellers, and the unique challenges that comes with this.
What is driving the growth of marketplaces?
There’s no doubt that marketplaces are experiencing explosive growth. Ecommerce sales are expected to reach USD 4 trillion worldwide by 2020 and 40% of these sales will be through marketplaces.
Several factors are driving this growth. The shift to online has meant that consumers have undergone a change in behaviour and preferences — shopping by mobile, for example, and embracing sharing economy models — that marketplaces are well positioned to take advantage of. Marketplaces are also a relatively low risk revenue opportunity because they hold no inventory and allow for international expansion without exposing sellers to the dangers of revenue losses.
Marketplaces are also better placed to anticipate and react to trends and changing customer buying behaviour as they can shift the emphasis on what products are being promoted without needing to change stock. We’re not only seeing new marketplaces, but established retailers shift towards the marketplace model.
What challenges do marketplaces face when dealing with payments?
The two-way relationship that marketplaces have between sellers and buyers adds several complications around payments. The marketplace is effectively acting as a middle man and this has a significant impact on what payments services are necessary.
As well as the payment acceptance any ecommerce provider faces — including the number of different methods accepted, currency conversion, and ensuring a good experience — a marketplace’s pay-out process is also vital for keeping sellers engaged and loyal. Payments need to be split correctly if necessary, both for commission and where a single checkout experience involves multiple sellers.
Also, as marketplace platforms have gained traction they have become increasingly attractive to fraudsters and are exposed to cybercriminal activity. Marketplaces can be victims to particular hard-to-detect types of fraud involving both fake sellers and fake buyers.
How will new regulations impact marketplace businesses?
In order for a marketplace to function, it needs to onboard sellers as part of a KYC (know your customer) process, which is usually highly manual and time consuming, because it needs to be compliant with the latest customer due diligence regulations, including obtaining all the right documentation.
Also, under new PSD2 rules, any intermediary handling of funds between a seller and a buyer must have a payment institution license. Obtaining this license is no small task, and the penalty for non-compliance is significant.
Is the fintech sector providing solutions to these challenges?
In a word, no. Marketplaces have grown both in number and in the amount of business they do, but the payments technology required to keep these businesses running has not caught up. From seller onboarding to regulation and fraud, marketplaces across Europe and beyond are constrained by existing systems built for simpler ecommerce.
This new business model demands a new approach to payments. Money flow is shifting from one-to-many to many-to-many, with consumers flocking to shared economy models — like marketplaces — and fintech needs to meet the challenges these new models face.
What is being done to address these challenges?
Marketplaces need solutions that provide them with regulatory compliance, seamless onboarding of sellers, maximised conversion from browsers to buyers, management of payments — including holding the payment until the product or service is delivered — and pay-out to sellers without delays or high fees.
Our recently launched Marketplace Manager tackles all of these issues. A fully outsourced API means that marketplaces are relieved from KYC requirements at onboarding and are no longer required to have a payments institution license. Fully customisable checkout pages provide a localised payment experience to customers, including one-click checkout. To deal with multiple sellers, Marketplace Manager enables pay-out through a large range of local and international payment options, which can be paid instantaneously via prepaid debit cards, credit transfer on a credit card or via all the popular e-wallets.
There are many other problems that marketplaces face and the possibility to outsource payments will enable marketplaces to focus on other areas important for their success.
SafeCharge International Group Limited is the payment service partner for the world’s most demanding businesses. SafeCharge provides global omnichannel payments services from card acquiring and issuance to payment processing and checkout, all underpinned by advanced risk management solutions.