Asia Pacific has become an exciting forerunner for payment innovation. We speak to Global Processing Services (GPS), the payments processing partner for challenger brands, including Revolut, Starling Bank and Curve, to discover why the APAC region is going from strength to strength and hear about its diversification plans.
GPS, founded in 2007, has integrated with more than 40 issuing banks and operate programmes for 180-plus customers in 60 countries, using more than 150 currencies. It also recently scooped the Best Processing Programme Award in the 2021 Card and Payment Awards against a strong global shortlist that included US-based Marqeta and PPS. The TCPA award follows 11 other significant award wins in the last 12 months, having been named Leading Payments Organisation at the 2020 Emerging Payments Awards.
In October 2020, with the support of the UK Department for International Trade’s Fintech Bridges and the Singaporean Economic Development Board, the paytech firm expanded into the APAC region. It has delivered programmes for WeLab Bank, the first homegrown virtual bank in Hong Kong, and Razer Fintech, the largest offline-to-online digital payment network in South East Asia. In addition, GPS was selected as one of the preferred issuer processors for Visa’s APAC Fintech Fastrack programme.
Damien Gough, head of Asia Pacific for GPS, joined GPS in January after nine years in APAC-focused roles at Visa where he was responsible for forging regional and global partnerships with third-party processors and BIN sponsors. He also spearheaded sales activities and solutions with leading regional fintech issuers.
Speaking to The Fintech Times, Gough explains how the company is in an incredibly dynamic segment of the evolving payments industry, and why he is excited about GPS’s ‘bright future’ in the region.
“I was at a blue-chip corporation but saw growth potential in emerging players and digital banks. You get a lot of learnings from a big traditional bank where there’s super experienced people who know compliance inside and out. Fintech’s are not building teams from that heritage so a lot of education and consultation is required. But traditional players are fumbling, they are not agile nor flexible.”
“As our business scales, it is becoming less hub-centric and more autonomous. We’re in a unique position and set for hyper growth – literally 10 times the growth in the last few years. Revenue wise we’re at the top of the tree globally. Incumbents may have a much bigger base so they’ll never get 10 times growth but for us it’s exciting to see the trajectory and the diversification. We’re purely an initial processor today but as we see more consolidation and cross pollination of services, we’re constantly evaluating how to evolve and this could change in terms of services.”
According to Gough, it is rewarding to be issuing processing partnerships at regional levels where ‘there are acknowledged frustrations’. The GPS ethos is to enter regions with an objective of building the GLOCAL (cross between global and local) structure better and more deeply.
“Culturally and regulatory it makes sense to be effective here to become a much bigger organisation,” says Gough. “By becoming local in the markets you can disrupt traditional services, offer a completely digital end-to-end service and evolve rapidly. Customers become more savvy and want bigger things.
“There is an influence that comes with having local teams and relationships. With us, we get to know the regulator entities, bureaus, schemes. One of the pillars is the partnerships that we create – you can’t create those if you don’t have local teams that can meet face to face and integrate with the systems.
“Our competitors’ approach is to have skeleton teams in the area but this is highly fragmented and complex because every market is different. Other companies might talk about being 24/7 but they are following the sun and with a skeleton team in a region they’re still always going to be relying on people that come online at the end of the day to get things done. That’s not 24/7. Communicating yes but servicing no and not solving problems. Teams need to be very well versed in local trends.
“If you have a big enough team within a region, they can take responsibility on, make changes on code base, test things, etc. There’s no lack of momentum and there’s a constant operating rhythm. Each region is supported and scaled in depth and breadth.
“Our team in Japan is continuing to grow and we have other markets in evaluation to build teams there. In Singapore, we are up and running, as well as Sydney and India, but other regions will be focused on too. We are opening up those locations and building out the teams. Pulling in teams from other processes to become a more modern, cutting edge innovator. It makes for more successful product launches for our clients.”
According to Gough the cloud is playing a major role in the transformation of payments.
“Covid has accelerated the need for digital and the majority of the incumbents are now following a more traditional process of onboarding digitally. The only thing that’s not all digital is the cloud narrative and the challenge has historically been that reluctance to move into the cloud. Especially because of security aspects.”
” There has been sufficient advances in terms of cloud infrastructure and operating models and security overall and banks are warming up to it. Mambu, for example, are seeing significant traction and have no problem getting clients.”
“Over the next three years you’ll see a lot of big players that have digital offshoots. The branch model is gradually dropping off although it won’t go away entirely. Perhaps in Tier 2 or 3 there won’t be a lot of experimentation, but this will rapidly increase in the next few years as they let go of legacy and embrace more modern stacks and cores with products that enable the next generation of Fintechs.”