In light of Covid-19, lockdown accelerated the growth of the creator economy as increased spare time and a shift to remote working for many opened the door to evolve their passions and hobbies into emerging businesses. For others, particularly those facing redundancy and wage cuts, it was a means to generate a much needed new income stream. Social commerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy and Depop, as well as Patreon and Twitch, played a huge role during the crisis, as they allowed individuals to make money with minimal initial capital from the comfort of their own home.
This has led to increasing demand for digital payments, more specifically, account to account payments. VibePay is on a mission to make easy, instant, account to account payments – without the need for cards or wallets – the default way to pay and get paid amongst friends, with businesses and at checkout. Moving money between friends, consumers and businesses is fast becoming a commodity as the technical and legislative barriers are being removed thanks to Open Banking. This has put the onus on payment providers to offer a better post-transactional experience and create more value for users.
Luke Massie is the CEO and Founder of VibePay, which he launched in 2018 after the 2013 launch of his first company, VibeTickets, an online, no-fee ticket marketplace.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
VibePay at its core aims to promote and celebrate individual skills and personalities, empowering people to follow their passions in life. We have developed our payment solution to meet the needs of independent sellers and ensure that entrepreneurs and consumers alike are not losing out to middlemen through unreasonable and unnecessary transaction fees. Rather than payments being an inconvenience for entrepreneurs, we must create an environment where they can focus on the things that they love doing the most and earn a living from it.
What FinTech ideas have been implemented?
We are taking advantage of the opportunity Open Banking provides, leveraging PIS for real-time account to account payments and AIS for bank balances and transactions. Fintechs no longer have to focus on the foundations and can put all their time and attention on the things that really matter: solutions and experiences. We recognise that there is a huge amount of value to be added in the rapidly evolving financial landscape, such as the post-transaction experience in payments This includes sellers being able to interact with customers, fans, or subscribers in the same place real-time payment was made, adding a new dimension to the payment experience. Alternatively, for end consumers it can mean being able to do more with their transactions, whether that’s sharing with friends, splitting payments or unlocking responsible consumer lending opportunities. This is when we will start to see the real impact of embedded finance in Europe.
The VibePay experience has been developed with those within the creator economy in mind, offering a payment service that will provide entrepreneurs with an instant settlement, lower fees, and tools that will bring value to their everyday lives. They want a more frictionless and instant payment service to simultaneously enhance the experience for their customers and ensure they can be paid on time.
What benefits have these brought?
It is enabling creators, entrepreneurs and those with a ‘side-hustle’ to make viable, long-term businesses out of their passion. There is a misconception that the creator economy earns a bit of extra cash on the side when in reality these social entrepreneurs are running businesses with huge customer bases and loyal followers on platforms such as Twitch and TikTok and social commerce sites like Depop and Etsy.
Our recent research showed that nearly two-thirds of entrepreneurs plan to make their ‘side-hustle’ their main income, so there is a fundamental need to have an infrastructure in place for the boom of the creator economy we are currently witnessing. VibePay’s technology is enabling individuals to take and track payments from multiple income channels, with many current solutions causing delays and enforcing significant transaction fees.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Some of the new trends that cemented themselves within our lives during the pandemic are here to stay and its critical fintechs continue to respond to these. Social commerce will continue to expand and we believe the creator economy will become a mainstay in the world of finance, and we have also seen a rapid rise in millennials wanting to take more control of their money (embedded finance). We need to celebrate and encourage creativity and proactivity during these difficult times and innovative, problem-solving fintech will play the defining role in shaping a new financial services landscape and the future of money.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Absolutely. Open Banking and PSD2 have given fintech founders across Europe a platform to deliver what customers of the future need now. VibePay is meeting these challenges in the payment sector through social commerce and embedded finance, while some of our peers in the investment space, for example, are making great strides. While it is positive to see, it has been long overdue as we watched fintechs in the US and China become multi-billion pound companies, but I hope VibePay can be a shining light for what is impossible in revolutionising payments and empowering the next generation financially.
It’s an exciting time for fintech founders as there is a major opportunity to build big. The tools on offer have levelled the playing field, taking the power away from the traditional banks and payments providers. Over the coming years we will see the birth of the first super app in Europe; this will change the lives of consumers and businesses across the continent. The race is on and we can’t wait to lead the way.