Guillaume Pousaz went seven years without accepting external funding for his start-up. Now Checkout.com is one of the most valuable fintech unicorns in the world.
Pousaz initially wanted to become an investment banker, but he abandoned his studies in Switzerland to become a surfer in California. The Swiss-born entrepreneur then found a job with International Payments Consultants, but left to try his luck in creating a start-up. Pousaz finally launched Checkout.com in 2012 to solve the problem of processing online payments for merchants and their customers.
The company ranked 13th on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list.
Checkout.com mainly flew under the radar until 2019, when it first brought in outside investors to raise a $ 230 million Series A round. The deal – said to have been done on “handshakes” rather than mod sheets – gave the company coveted “unicorn” status, with a valuation of $ 2 billion.
Since then, the company has experienced impressive growth, increasing transaction volumes by 250% over the past year and attracting reputable clients – from the Singaporean rideshare app Grab to the US online brokerage Robinhood – in the process of being built. road.
CNBC recently spoke to Pousaz, who said Checkout is only scratching the surface, despite tripling its valuation last year to become Europe’s most valuable private company.
The following questions and answers have been modified for length and clarity.
CNBC: It was reported that you wanted to become an investment banker, but instead dropped out of college to become a surfer in California before starting Checkout.com.
Pousaz: I was drawn to financial services because of my interest in how they fuel and develop the wider global economy, but I was at a point where I was very curious and adventurous. It took me to California. I was excited about the above all technological Californian creative mindset (as well as surfing!). This is where I got my first exposure to the world of payments. I immediately saw the potential and the issues that existed with many legacy vendors. I knew there had to be a better way to do things globally.
Even then, the e-commerce market was growing 20% ââyear over year. I thought digital commerce and payments would be the key to unlocking the next phase of global economic growth. Since the launch of Checkout.com in 2012, we’ve seen businesses embrace technology and payment collection shift from a commodity service to competitive advantage and a lever for strategic growth.
In the end, I left California and started Checkout.com in the UK, but our early California roots are reflected in our obsession with cutting edge, developer friendly technology. Our holistic approach, our rigor in developing the best technology and the discipline we have had to build a sustainable and profitable business have defined Checkout.com from the start. Today we have a global but local mindset. We believe in the importance of localization in our offering and the need to be on the ground to understand local nuances and consumer preferences to help us serve businesses that have a similar global footprint and outlook.
CNBC: Your business approaches fintech in a different way, thinking not only of payments, but also of payments. How did the approach both benefit and challenge you in such a crowded space?
Pousaz: We created Checkout.com to reinvent digital payments by delivering better performance and simplifying the challenges of scalability on a global scale. It is still our core business, but we have also evolved to create a differentiated offer for our merchants. Our technology is built in a modular fashion, providing businesses with a tailor-made solution developed for their specific needs. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to payments; with Checkout.com, our merchants buy only the products and features they need. Second, our deeply localized approach to product building means we enable global businesses to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers, no matter where they are in the world.
Specifically on payments, we discovered an opportunity to enable merchants to optimize not only how money enters their business – through payments – but also how it flows in and out of their business – through payments. , currency and cash management,, soon, issue. It’s incredibly powerful because it enables innovation in digital commerce, like markets, the odd-job economy, and fintech. We partner with merchants like Klarna, Farfetch, Revolut, and Wise to help them deliver more to their customers. We are only scratching the surface of what is possible with payment capabilities, and consumers are starting to reap the benefits of this innovation.
CNBC: As a digital payment company, what do you think about the rise of certain cryptocurrencies? In the near future, are you planning to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method?
Pousaz: We’re really excited to see the innovation going on in crypto right now. We’re technologists at heart and believe in the power of technology to simplify financial services. Right now, we are working with crypto merchants like Coinbase to facilitate ramps or fiat to crypto payments.
Every now and then our traders tell us that they are considering accepting crypto payments. At the moment, adoption remains relatively low and therefore has not yet been on our roadmap, although I think it is certainly possible in the future. We continue to be engaged in the conversation and developments in cryptocurrencies and believe in the need for strong regulation to protect the ecosystem and the consumers it serves.
CNBC: You’ve said before that the long-term goal is a stock market listing, and more specifically that “there is no alternative at this point, given the size of the company.” Is there a particular route to public procurement that you find most interesting, namely through PSPC, direct listing or traditional IPO?
Pousaz: I think that eventually an announcement will be the right way for Checkout.com. From the early days, we have been profitable, which allows our team to continue to offer innovative product developments to serve as the backbone for the evolution of the digital economy. It has also enabled us to make strategic investments, such as Tamara and Thunes, to support the growth of the FinTech ecosystem on a global scale.
At the moment, we are still a few years away from listing, and the exact form remains to be determined, especially in such a dynamic market. Today, we are still focused on growing the business, providing exceptional customer service and cutting-edge payment technology to our merchants – they are the ones who really change the world.
– CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.
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