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How Necessity Proved The Mother Of Invention For MANGOPAY CEO Romain Mazeries

Over the last 10 years, there’s been an explosion in online retail that few could have predicted. Each new commercial proposition comes with its own unique payments challenges. For Romain Mazeries and his colleagues, the issue became so pressing that they developed their own solution. Here, senior editor Matthew Dove speaks with one of the sector’s rising stars about the birth of MANGOPAY and its place in an ever-changing payments landscape…

MANGOPAY
Romain Mazeries
Occupation: CEO, MANGOPAY
Birthplace: Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Books: The Royal GameStefan Zweig (“because I love chess!”), Promise at Dawn – Romain Gary and Hyperion – Dan Simmons (“because I really like sci-fi too”)
Films: There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson), Gattaca (NIccol)
Hobbies: Chess, skiing and photography
TFT: When did your interest first turn to fintech? How did you get started?

RM: I was always interested in economics during my studies and also in science and mathematics. I obtained a masters degree in econometrics…a mix of economics and statistics. I followed this with another masters in management science from a French business school.

From there, I decided to move abroad, I worked a year in California in a start-up when I was 24/25. Working for a start-up gave me the desire to create something. After that, I did another year, this time in Mexico, to finish my studies and I had a couple of professional experiences there too but l had interesting opportunities in France. There, I started consulting and auditing at Deloitte

TFT: You were at Deloitte during the financial crisis. How did that experience influence your view of finance in general?

RM: It was a great experience, I learnt a lot and I worked with many different industry leaders but in the end I felt that what I was doing did not have any impact. While everything was going great, it really shifted my focus to innovating technologies and getting back to working in start-ups. That’s when I decided to join Leetchi. That was 10 years ago and was actually the beginning of this company. 

TFT: So, MANGOPAY was created at Leetchi?

RM: Basically. I started as CEO deputy at Leetchi and from there we decided, together with Céline Lazorthes (the founder of Leetchi), to create MANGOPAY. 

TFT: How did that come about?

RM: To create Leetchi, we needed to develop an in-house technology and we instantly saw the potential for the use of our technology as an API for people who were doing payment intermediation. In a way, we created MANGOPAY to answer our own needs at Leetchi. We saw that this was a huge opportunity to develop an end-to-end payment API for the B2B market.

TFT: Essentially you were MANGOPAY’s first customer?

RM: Yeah, exactly! 

TFT: What precisely is MANGOPAY and how does it work?

RM: As I said, MANGOPAY is an end-to-end payment solution and we’re targeting marketplaces, crowdfunding platforms, the sharing-economy and also fintechs. We’re the payment solution for all platforms doing intermediation in either C2C, B2B or B2C. 

We provide an API which is very easy to integrate. A platform can integrate payment processing into its website using escrow wallets with the ability to send the money worldwide.

All of these solutions are white-label and what makes the success of MANGOPAY is the adaptability of the product. Today, we have over 2,500 platforms using our technology, using MANGOPAY, like Vinted. In the UK, we’ve got Ovalmoney, ArchOver and many others. 

We’re a Luxembourg based company but we have desks in Paris, London and Berlin. It’s also important to note that we were acquired by a French bank called Credit Mutuel Arkéa in 2015. They were our first banking partners so it was the right choice to join them in 2015. 

We provide an API which is very easy to integrate. A platform can integrate payment processing into its website using escrow wallets with the ability to send the money worldwide.

TFT: Twenty-five hundred platforms is a lot, what’s the main reason they chose MANGOPAY and not one of your competitors?

RM: It is indeed a lot and we’re very proud of the product and of the success of our clients. We grow alongside them. Vinted, for instance, today’s leading European marketplace for fashion, is a really beautiful example of this. When they started to use MANGOPAY they were a very small start-up and wanted to scale-up. We then had the opportunity to secure their payments and to scale-up in all of Europe very quickly.

TFT: And they’ve stuck with you throughout that process?

RM: Exactly, the real difference between us and our competitors today is that each client, each platform, can create their own payment flow exactly matching their business model. This is really our thing. The flexibility of the API and the flexibility of the product create MANGOPAY’s success.

TFT: A lot of retail brands are opening their own marketplace, how do you see this trend going?

RM: It’s clear that all of them want to get their own marketplace and I won’t say that there’s only one way to explain this because there are many, but I’ll name a few.

The first reason is the margin, obviously! They get much more of a margin selling in marketplaces. Some of them are looking for a more extensive product offering, some are looking to implement an omnichannel strategy or add services to their product.

I really think that within a couple of years a huge majority of payments on the internet will be done in marketplaces. We can already see it today.

TFT: Can you see Big Tech moving into that space as well?

RM: Of course, everybody is trying to get there. They’re all going there and the good thing about that is that we’ve developed a solution for the big retailers. We do offer a specialised “escrow only” service to large retailers. 

Basically, we let them take care of the acquisition part – because a lot of them are very competent and well set up for this part – and we do all of the escrow and the KYCs. 

We’re working with large retailers like La Redoute (part of the French department store giant Groupe Galeries Lafayette) for example and more recently Rakuten. In fact, we’ll be attending Paris Retail Week (24 Sep  – 26 Sep) and a lot of international retail brands will be there too. So, if any of them need a payment solution, we’ll be there!  

TFT: How is MANGOPAY dealing with Brexit? 

RM: We opened our desk in London years ago, before the announcement of Brexit so it didn’t change our plan. We collaborate closely with the FCA and have obtained the temporary permission regime.. Brexit will not affect our ability to passport our services into the UK. We’ll still be able to work with our current platform and, even in this last two years, we were still able to onboard a lot of clients in the UK. As we don’t know the future of Brexit, it’s clear that if we need to make a move and get a full license in the UK, then we’ll do it. It’s a very important market for us. 

We opened our desk in London years ago, before the announcement of Brexit so it didn’t change our plan.

TFT: Do you have a UK-based team? Where and when can we meet them?

RM: We opened the office (presently located at 41 Luke St, Hackney, EC2A 4DP) in early 2015. This team is run by Tikhoze Banda, our head country manager. She’ll be at London Fintech Week (26th-27th July) so don’t hesitate to come by and say hello!

TFT: What does the next six months look like for MANGOPAY?

RM: Well, regulations are moving very fast so in the next 6 months we’ll be making sure that we’re in full compliance of the PSD2 and innovating accordingly. In parallel, we’ll be expanding in Europe. One of this year’s goals is to expand into Portugal, Spain, Greece, the Nordics and the Netherlands. We’ll also be strengthening our existing teams since we achieved overdid 2.2 billion euros processed in 2018 and we are targeting 4 billion Euros of payments processed this year. And we’re on the right path!

As uncertainty abounds, it’s clear that the payments sector has found a safe pair of hands in Romain Mazeries and MANGOPAY…

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