In the world of payments, it’s easy for companies to get carried away with mega trends and aggregated data, forgetting that underneath those summarized figures sit individuals, small businesses, and micro-entities who buy and sell to survive.
Worldline is the fourth largest payment player in the world, and the number one payment processor in Europe, yet its approach to micro-entities and small businesses reflects the care that often sits behind major success stories.
In 2015, the company saw a gap in the Nordics: “We saw that micro entities and small businesses—the local butcher, hairdresser, coffee shop—found it very difficult to understand what they were paying for their payment processing solution, and to whom,” says Mette Lykke Vibe, Head of Denmark at Worldline Global. “These merchants had multiple contracts and vendors, and we wanted to simplify this.”
Worldline’s purpose was simple: Remove all the complexity from payments for merchants, and give them a single payment solution to use regardless of whether the merchant’s customer is paying offline or online. The result was Worldine’s One Commerce omnichannel payments platform.
“Our purpose is to onboard merchants simply into a product that, actually, is quite complex in the background. The complexity in the back-end of payment solutions shouldn’t be the merchant’s problem.”Mette Lykke Vibe, Head of Denmark at Worldline Global
Worldline’s goal with One Commerce was to give merchants a single contract, rather than separate contracts for the device, the EPSP, and possibly even the acquirer. Merchants also only deal with a single interface, regardless of whether they accept their payments online or offline.
“Our purpose is to onboard merchants simply into a product that, actually, is quite complex in the background,” says Mette Lykke Vibe. “The complexity in the back-end of payment solutions shouldn’t be the merchant’s problem.”
Helping merchants during the pandemic
Although the simplified solution was a major achievement in itself, the value of an adaptable, omnichannel, single-vendor platform became apparent during the COVID pandemic.
After the lockdowns went into force, closing merchants’ stores, Worldline recognised that its Omnichannel solution could allow the company to quickly create a payment option to get merchants selling again.
“Many of those merchants didn’t have an online store or the budget and skills to create one,” Mette Lykke Vibe tells NFM. “So, we created and integrated a Pay-by-link option in the Omnichannel platform. Merchants could then share that link on social media to start receiving payments. Because our solution was already multichannel, it wasn’t a major technical challenge. But I’m proud of the team’s effort to get on the phone and tell our customers directly about it.”
Recommended: Explore the Future of Finance at Nordic Fintech Week
Quick access to small loans
Beyond the Omnichannel solution, Worldline also identified another financial challenge that individual merchants were running into: Quick access to small loans.
“We’re not a bank, and have no intention of becoming one,” says Mette Lykka Vibe. “But we can fill a gap where new businesses just need a small loan for some extra tables and chairs or additional personnel for the summer season, or just some minor repairs.”
Worldline’s solution to that is called Growth Finance, a program that offers transparent terms and competitive prices for loans, letting businesses invest in their business when they’re still growing. Worldline provides these loans to existing customers and then takes a percentage out of the merchant’s monthly fees for using its system.
“The solution makes it easy for merchants to have a simple overview of all their payment activities, and also to stick with a single supplier,” says Lykke Vibe.
Growth Finance was also crucial after the COVID lockdowns because it helped businesses get started again after a period of no income. Banks were understandably hesitant to issue too many loans at the time, but it created a catch-22 situation for merchants who needed cash in a hurry. “We were glad we could step in and help,” says Lykke Vibe, “and now Growth Finance is an ongoing part of Worldine’s offerings.”