An assemblage of violins, symbolizing payment orchestration

What Is Payment Orchestration (And Why Have It)?

Payment Orchestration describes the process of integrating and handling different payment service providers, acquirers and banks on a single, unified software layer. The Payment Orchestration software executes the complete payment processing, from validation to routing to settlement. 

The Payment Orchestration Layer / POL (or Payment Orchestration Platform / POP, respectively) bundles user and merchant accounts, acquirers, payment providers, fraud detection services, etc. to initiate, validate, route and process transactions involving those parties. In addition, it handles payment processes such as reconciliation, billing and settlement, payouts and reporting. 

Thus, a Payment Orchestration Layer acts as the entry point and core of a payment system. This approach differs tremendously from separately integrated PSPs. E-commerce platforms and online service providers don’t need to integrate every PSP and every acquirer separately. Instead, they can consume the unified API of the payment orchestration layer, benefiting from a reduced integration complexity. Moreover, a POL simplifies the maintenance and further development of the system for platform owners and for merchants. In the same vein, it eases the interaction with 3rd party service providers.

Read More
A hand holding a handy, on which a stock market app is running, representing the SPAC investment type

Opinion: What the ICO Hype Can Tell Us About SPACs

Hypes are a good thing. No, think about it: They generate attention for products, activities and ideas. And where there is attention, there is scrutiny, too. The humming of the mainstream buzz makes us turn heads and observe closely where the noise is coming from. 

Matthias Gall, co-founder of trimplement
Matthias Gall, co-founder at trimplement, analyses the potential and possible drawbacks of Special Purpose Acquisition Companies.

For the hype-sensitive stock market, this has proven a boon in many cases. Wall Street is loud, and the more volume an investment trend generates, the more it will catch regulators’ interest – besides that of eager venturers. And currently, one investment trend generating much noise is that of SPACs. 

SPACs (short for Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) stood on the sidelines of the stock markets for a few decades. But in recent years, they made a comeback in the investment mainstream – mostly thanks to the web. And there, I could not help but think of another social-media-driven hype of the 2010s: ICOs. 

In fact, SPACs already show the same signs of overvaluation and ultimately disintegration that have befallen ICOs a few years back. But will SPACs go down the path of the ICO? 

In this article I will try to answer this question and a few more, like: 

  • What are SPACs? 
  • Why are they popular?
  • What are their risks and disadvantages? 
  • Is the SPAC hype comparable to the ICO hype? 

Okay then, here goes: SPACs, the specifics… 

Read More
A picture of a Thomas Tittelbach, giving his opinion into the European Payments Initiative

finquiry #3: Thomas Tittelbach on the European Payments Initiative (EPI)

One key goal of the European Union is to establish a unified economic and financial system. Yet, in terms of payment schemes, the Union presents fairly non-uniform today. Regulatory reforms like SCT Inst and PSD2 have only laid the foundations of a profound rebuild of the European financial system. Today, the EU’s financial landscape is still characterized by national payment systems and dominated by US card schemes like Visa, Mastercard and PayPal. 

With the launch of the European Payments Initiative (EPI), this shall change. EPI – formerly also known as Pan-European Payments System Initiative – aims to establish a payment scheme and interbank network that’s applied throughout Europe.  

However, while backed by the European Central Bank the initiative is also met with scepticism. For our fintech interview series “Finquiry” we have spoken with payment and business development expert Thomas Tittelbach about the chances, risks and prospects of EPI. 

Our Guest: Thomas Tittelbach, Managing Partner at aye4fin

Our interview partner Thomas Tittelbach has been a force in the international payment industry for over 20 years. As a serial entrepreneur, he has co-founded and directed the payment companies omba and Payreto and acted as Head of Payment for Clickandbuy. Currently, he applies his extensive skills in P&L, operations, product and partner management as well as his in-depth knowledge of fintech, payment orchestration and business strategy at aye4fin as a Managing Partner. 

Thomas is also a member of the Associate Committee of the CNP Payment Forum. 

Read More
A car computer of a modern car, presenting digital content and e-commerce options

Why Self-Built Automotive Payment Tech Will Make You Outrun Competitors

The future of automotive will not care how fast your car can go. Or how snappy it can look. Instead, innovation will centre around what a car can do. As a manufacturer, you already witness the shift towards connected vehicles, with high-end telematics and web-enabled computers under the hood. Those cars can communicate with external e-commerce applications and service platforms. And that brings technical challenges. One of the most pressing for car manufacturers: Providing a solid automotive payment system to handle all in-car commercial activities. 

One may be tempted to turn to the obvious choice: Turn-key payment software by 3rd parties. But once you scale up, the problem of such an approach will, too. And off-the-shelf solutions begin to show their drawbacks. 

The alternative would be to choose the payment orchestration model and build up your very own payment infrastructure together with a business and/or a software partner ideally with many years of experience in the payment domain. This article will help you answer the following questions:

  • Which use cases require connected car payments?
  • What are the advantages of custom-built payment solutions over standard 3rd-party  payment systems?
  • How will you benefit from payment orchestration realized with the help of a technology partner?

Let’s go for the answers! 

Read More
A computer besides a wallet, symbolizing payment gateways, online payment and ewallets

E-Wallets or Payment Gateways – A Comparison

When we compare e-wallets or payment gateways to payment with card or cash, we often evaluate the former as more convenient. That might be a bit of an overstatement, really. Holding your credit card in front of a card reader does not exactly sound like much work, does it?

No, what really makes modern digital payment methods so powerful is their feature-richness and flexibility. For example, you can simply conduct cross-border payments or transfer tiny amounts of money with digital payment methods. And even if you are bound to our own four walls (for some reason), you can pay for goods and commodities with just a few clicks. 

But payment does not equal payment. Behind the scenes of your checkout page, in the technical profundities of the software, it makes a huge difference whether the payment happens via an e-wallet balance or a digital bank or credit card transfer, facilitated by a payment gateway. 

Payment Gateways vs. E-Wallets? Not Quite!

However, make no mistake and don’t take “Payment gateways or e-wallets” literally. The two are not exact opposites: You need PGs to process a transaction no matter what. The real question is: How exactly does using e-wallets vs. regular payment providers influence the payment process, especially regarding user experience? 

Read More
A robot hand holding a vintage ladies' wallet, representing electronic wallets or e-wallets, respectively

What Is An E-Wallet – Definitions and Technical Distinctions

E-wallets are software programs which securely store data. This data is needed to enable the wallet owner to conduct payments online or at points-of-sale. And they do so by use of a specific device.  

That’s as close to an encompassing definition of e-wallets, or electronic wallets respectively, as we will probably get. But it’s also just the surface of what electronic wallets – sometimes also called digital wallets or (obsoletely) cyberwallets – can do. Over the last decade, e-wallet technology has found application to a variety of use cases. This article will cast a light on the term E-wallet, especially in the context of online payments. In the following paragraphs you’ll find: 

  • Definitions of certain types of e-wallets 
  • An overview of their common functionalities 
  • A breakdown of e-wallet-based payment 
  • An outlook on their role in the future of payments and e-commerce
Read More
Two hands with medical gloves handing over a banknote, representing fintech during the corona year of 2020

How 2020 Changed the Fintech Industry – Trends and Developments

What a year… good thing, we have a new one in replacement. 

Last December, when putting together our annual industry recap articles (you can find some of them here if you are in for nostalgia), we could not have guessed that the fintech scene would be on the brink of profound change. Many predictions, fintech and banking experts had made for 2020, did not occur – or did not occur for the reasons that we assumed would provoke them. 

Everything considered, though, the financial industry got off cheaply in 2020, when compared to other industries. Some branches could even step up their game. 

The question now is, if the fintech trends of 2020 will continue in 2021 or if they will “return to form”, once the restrictions in worldwide trade, business and retail loosen again. A look in the rear-view mirror will give us some implications. 

Read More
A banknote forming a roof over a tiny toy house, representing the niche banking industry.

Niche Banks – The Overlooked Financial Player

Imagine a bank. Now, what does it look like to you? 

We assume that most of you reading this would picture it as a building. Perhaps with a sleek, dark blueish glass front. Perhaps with towering pillars reminiscent of classic empires. Definitely with ATMs and clerks giving out cash, taken from underground vaults.

But let’s be honest here: Nothing of that represents modern banking services. Since the introduction of online banking and smartphones, banking is no longer confined to a physical place such as a bank building. And without the need of such branch offices, offering payment and banking services became an attractive option for companies outside of the traditional banking industry. 

In recent years, we have already seen a wave of new players that offer basic banking services. Those new banking players benefit greatly from the web-centric customer habits of today, if they capitalize on them. That’s especially the case with BigTech corporations and platform economy firms, who are pushing into the market. 

But aside from these financial giants, there is still room for smaller, more focussed financial institutions. Some cater to the general, tech-savvy customer, others occupy a specific niche that larger financial houses don’t address as purposefully. But what do those niche banks look like and what will be their role in banking in the future? 

We start with the basics. 

Read More
Bogdan Dinu, Head of Product at Thunes and interview partner in this cross-border payments talk.

Finquiry #2: Bogdan Dinu on Cross-Border Payments

Since the dawn of the Internet age, global economies have grown closer – as did the underlying financial systems. Today, we can digitally purchase a product with materials from Eastern Europe, produced in Singapore, refined and branded for sale in Canada, and eventually shipped to Brazil. All countries involved in this supply chain have to maintain financial relationships and this also necessitates numerous cross-border payments.

However, that’s easier said than done. Complying to all regulations, security processes and technical requirements necessary to move funds from one country to the other comes with high efforts and costs for service providers.

For our fintech interview series “Finquiry”, we have asked cross-border payments expert Bogdan Dinu to break down what goes behind facilitating effective and low-cost transfers.

Our Guest: Bogdan Dinu, Head of Product at Thunes

Our interview partner Bogdan Dinu is the perfect expert to lead us through the dense jungle of the cross-border payments landscape. As the Head of Product in leading global payments network Thunes, he is set to support the business through its next phase of global expansion. 

Read More
A computer mouse resting on a bundle of euro banknotes, representing electronic money or e-money, respectively

What Is E-Money – Definitions, Processes, Challenges

E-money, short for Electronic Money, is the electronic alternative to cash. Since it started as a concept in the 1980s and rose to prominence during the Dot-Com era, it has acted as one of the biggest game-changers in the financial industry. In a matter of only four years, from 2014 to 2018, the number of electronic money transactions in Europe alone doubled to more than 4 billion. 

This aspiring form of money deserves our attention. To provide a starting point, this article will give an overview of: 

  • The definition of e-money as a whole
  • The subtle distinctions in its applications
  • The process of electronic payment with e-money
  • The potential downsides of e-money
  • And finally, e-money licencing and who should apply for such a license  

Let’s start!

Read More