04 Nov 2019

Digital craftsmen and their payments Catch-22

We unashamedly dedicate this post to the craftsmen of our age — and, by that, we do mean the gender-neutral term for everyone weaving the digital fabric we wrap around our lives.

The world of digital innovators was laid out in full, vibrant colour at Techday London last month and at the practically inhuman scale of WebSummit earlier this month in Lisbon. WebSummit drew over 70,000 to be courted by big tech, national jurisdictions, and hundreds of startups covering every nook of human activity, including the tools to make an innovator’s life easier. These represent a humongous industry in their own right, and those who master such tools are today’s true craftsmen.

And yet, the payments world was conspicuously absent at both events (or very well hidden). Fintech-focused events like Money2020, the Paris Fintech Forum and Innovate Finance Global Summit draw sizable crowds for sure, but mainly from the fintech industry itself. Strangely, payment platforms are not more present at events that bring participation from their target customers. Or maybe no one is focusing on startups because the fees structure for payments solutions means that they are only accessible to the bigger fish?

The innovators currently taking part in our closed beta are all early-stage digital startups spanning an extraordinary range of business models and target markets. And they corroborate this.

We have a shared interest in making payments work for these innovators, and we keep in very close contact. A remarkably common theme has emerged amongst them: To raise investment, we need to show that some customers are using our solution and that it solves a problem for them. But to get even a single transaction to work involves committing a lot of money upfront, for which we would need to raise money.

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