Partnership with SOFORT - Interview with Lena Hackelöer from Brite Payments

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Interview with Lena Hackelöer, CEO and founder of Brite Payments, about the future of Brite - also after the partnership with Sofort.


Since 2019 Brite Payments is developing payment solutions. This year they hit a major milestone with their partnership with SOFORT / Klarna. We interview Lena Hackelöer about her startup journey, innovative products, trends and Brite Payments future roadmap.

How was Brite Payments founded, what does it offer and what do we need to know about the team? I started working in the payments space in 2010 when I joined Klarna, and while gaining more experience in my role and my subsequent positions within other prominent payment businesses, I have been closely following the evolution of industry. I identified that although there has been huge transformation within the sector, there was still a gap for an instant payment offering on a large scale with a brand positioning that would attract consumers while offering a superior merchant experience, at least compared to what was on the market at that point in time. Once I had developed this idea further, I met with my co-founder Robert Arnesson, who has a background in development and had looked at existing solutions from a technical point of view in the past. My vision, combined with Robert’s technical expertise, resonated well with a fund which is powered by Swedish family offices and tech entrepreneurs mostly. They provided our seed fund, and allowed me to start recruiting some of the best people I had worked with in payments in the past, who have since joined our journey. Brite is an instant payments provider, which leverages Open Banking technology to process A2A payments in real-time between consumers and online merchants. When consumers use Brite, no signup or credit card details are needed as they can authenticate themselves with top-of-mind details using their bank’s usual identification method. We currently operate across 21 markets in Europe and are connected to more than 3,800 banks within the EU, however this figure is continually growing as we continue reaching new consumers. We pride ourselves on our workforce, hiring some top talents from within the industry, with years of previous experience, and now leveraging Brite as a second generation fintech. Over the past year, Brite has more than doubled its workforce and I am proud to be working with such talented, ambitious colleagues who are really driving our sustainable business growth. What have been the milestones Brite Payments hit so far since 2019 and what have been the biggest challenges so far? There have been many significant milestones that we have celebrated at Brite since we created the business. In 2019, our biggest milestone was receiving our licence as a payments institute, allowing us to process payments and hold funds on behalf of our clients across Europe. Securing the licence was important to us because the ease and convenience that our solution provides has always been a key consideration, and the ability to hold funds helps support that. In the following year, we launched into three markets in rapid succession: Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands - it was a great feeling to reach new customers and feel the increasing demand for our product. In 2021, opening our offices in Spain and hiring teams in Malta and across the Baltics was our next big milestone. We wanted to quickly establish local bases where our teams could work directly with our customers there, which is something we are continuing to build. This year, we have already achieved a significant milestone: the launch of our Single Sign solution. The launch, an open banking equivalent of ‘one click payments’, allows customers to pay straight from their bank account with only one authentication where applicable and has been shown to help users pay up to 40% faster. Conversely, the biggest challenge we have faced within the payments space is regulation, and the lack of alignment across different regulators in Europe. These variations can make staying abreast of the regulation changes across Europe more burdensome and can add to the time and costs involved. We addressed this challenge by factoring it into our operations from the start, to ensure we were accommodating the time and resources required. We also developed great relationships with the banks in our networks so for complex regulation changes, we exchange thoughts with them as well as with other providers on the market. How will Brite Payments be able to complement solutions of SOFORT and add value and what are typical use cases for merchants? SOFORT has a significant international presence facilitating bank-based payments, however they previously did not have their own payouts offering. We partnered with them to introduce our payout solution to their technology, which means that together we can provide a closed loop payment offering to merchants. This development is significant for the industry because it means that the consumer’s money is in a closed circle, increasing both the security and convenience for consumers who are looking for both A2A payments as well as instant payouts. The partnership speaks to a wider trend within the payments space, where companies are innovating to ensure they remain customer-centric. In 2022, we have seen that there are a great deal of use cases for an instant payout offering: essentially any online business models that have a payment recipient on the other end. The examples that most people are now familiar with include marketplaces, instant refunds, online trading of shares and the instant disbursement of consumer loans or insurance payouts. Can you give us a real-world example of how the typical customer journey has been and is improving now with the new solution? Prior to the partnership, merchants using SOFORT would have used a third-party provider to facilitate the payouts, which means that there would typically have been a delay of several banking days to receive the funds. Now, merchants will be able to get both the payments as well as payouts through their existing SOFORT integration. And because the offering is closed loop, from the consumer point of view it will be a one-click payout solution where the funds land in their account in just a matter of seconds. We always ensure we are putting the customer first, and this new relationship is allowing us to provide a secure and efficient solution for our customers. How is this journey enabled from a technical point of view? What’s going on behind the scenes and what data will be collected from the customer - how do you ensure transparency and privacy? SOFORT and Brite will be integrated with one another, which means that all merchants who are already using SOFORT, will be able to use Brite without additional technical effort. Brite is an open banking first, cloud-based provider and we have built a proprietary payout offering that covers all of Europe and the solution leverages this. In terms of data collection, the required information to perform the payout will be transferred securely from SOFORT to Brite, and the payout happens under bank-level security. What benefits will merchants see when using the joint solution compared to other providers? The first significant benefit of the partnership for merchants is certainly the immediate access to a pre-integrated provider. The ease of integration and usage was a huge consideration in our planning stages, and we know this to be a crucial factor for merchants when selecting a provider. The coverage we can provide is another advantage for merchants, as we are offering instant payouts across a wide variety of markets in comparison to our competitors. Additionally, a benefit that we are very proud to be facilitating through the partnership is the closed loop payment offering. The security and convenience that merchants can offer their consumers is a very competitive benefit in the market. How will the partnership of Brite Payments and SOFORT evolve? Right now, our focus is to bring this product to market for the SOFORT merchants as quickly as possible. In terms of next steps, we are focusing our time on expanding our service across more markets, particularly those where Brite already has product coverage. We are also continuously improving the development of our product, based on the input we receive from our joint merchants. What plans do you have going forward in terms of products and expanding Brite Payments? We are looking at establishing the operations of the different markets that we currently operate in, opening more local offices to develop deeper connections with our local customers. We are also working on new products for specific verticals that we plan to bring to market in 2022, continuing to drive our growth with a focus on merchant and convenience. In addition to these products, we are always looking to increase our market coverage, and provide our full product offering for merchants. What are the two or three trends in payments and fintech that you are most excited about and what’s your take on how they will evolve in the near future? I am excited to see how the trend for transforming recurring payments evolves in the coming months as this is something we have been predicting for a little while now. It is easy to understand how the use of digital payment methods for recurring subscriptions has materialised, because it makes the process easier for the consumer and has great potential to reduce churn for the merchants. So far most of them have been card based, but Open Banking is creating amazing opportunities for improvement. I am looking forward to seeing the adoption of this across sectors and the transformation that it brings. Another big trend in the industry now that I am interested to see the evolution of is embedded finance. There is a lot of work going on in the industry at the moment to increase the understanding around the topic and delve further into its transformative nature for businesses and consumers. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

Bio Lena Hackelöer is an experienced leader in the Fintech industry, transforming the space since her arrival at Klarna in 2010, where she began building their global B2B marketing. Lena moved to pursue further positions in the broader FinTech industry, gaining additional unique insights into the limitations and challenges facing existing brands, before founding Brite Payments in 2019. Brite Payments leverages open banking technology to process payments in real time between consumers and online merchants, removing risk and increasing safety across a wide range of verticals.

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