INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Growing digital: How the Pandemic Has Accelerated an Industry by a Decade
Ozan Ozerk of OpenPayd is using the latest technology to combine multi-currency accounts, payments, FX and card processing solution
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ozan Ozerk: I think we have managed the lockdown and the various restrictions quite well. It took some time to get used to the travel restrictions as well as interacting predominantly online, especially with people and clients I didn’t know from before.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OpenPayd.
Ozan Ozerk: I am originally from Cyprus but grew up in Oslo, Norway. I have always been an outgoing and social person and had the pleasure to try, and mostly fail, with a lot of different start-ups. As I got more experienced, I also got to take part in a few successful ventures, among them co-founding Biip.no, which was Norway’s largest social network at one time. That was ultimately sold to the Danish media giant Egmont.
As I started moving into more online services, I quickly realized that payments was an important area of friction. Simply put, traditional banks and payment service companies weren’t keeping up with Google and Amazon.
I founded several smaller payment companies that were later joined together and further developed under the OpenPayd brand.
How does OpenPayd innovate?
Ozan Ozerk: OpenPayd allows any digital-first business to innovate ahead of the curve. We use the latest technology to enable other businesses to access a full suite of financial services via a single API. Whether they need banking and payment services for themselves or to build products for their end customers, our infrastructure allows them to access the services they need and embed them seamlessly in their service.
The way businesses consume banking and payments is changing. Brick and mortar stores will no longer survive without digital channels, and OpenPayd is enabling any business to easily access the services they need to grow their digital business both locally and globally.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Ozan Ozerk: OpenPayd is in a unique position where the coronavirus pandemic and a consequential accelerated shift to digital has led to a significant increase in online transactions. We’ve seen both an increase in demand for our services, and we’ve seen our existing clients exceeding growth expectations.
The shift to digital was inevitable, but the pandemic has accelerated this shift, and we believe that OpenPayd is extremely well-positioned to support the growth of the digital economy for years to come. In 2021 alone, we’ll be growing the team by almost 50% to support our growth and build new products and services to support some of the fastest-growing industries and businesses in the world.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Ozan Ozerk: As a global company, our teams were used to working virtually and therefore, we decided to shift to remote before any government guidance. Our team’s safety has always been the number one priority, and we are extremely proud of how everyone has been able to adapt and keep a consistently high standard of work throughout some of these challenging times.
Now we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we recognize that our people would still prefer a more flexible style of working. That’s why when we welcome teams back into our office this September, they will continue to work 2-3 days a week from home if they’d prefer. Alongside this new approach to our working culture, we will also allow the team to work from overseas for 60 days of the year. Not only will this give our teams a chance to experience different cultures, but it also allows our global workforce to spend more time visiting their families without having to sacrifice their holidays.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Ozan Ozerk: OpenPayd has always placed a significant emphasis on transparency and communication when it comes to our clients. From day one of the pandemic, our customer success team has kept an open line of communication and ensured that we have been able to provide the world-class support needed.
Whether it’s Zoom, Slack, email or the traditional phone call, we keep in touch with our customers in the way that suits them best. Our round-the-clock support means that our customers are never left hanging, and this was never more true than over the last Christmas period where we were able to manage to support businesses that suddenly realized the impact of Brexit. One of our clients was able to both integrate and move close to half a million accounts in less than two weeks. An impressive achievement that I, first of all, contribute to the great cooperation between the client and us, but also proof of how our banking as a service platform can be a game-changer for certain clients and industries.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Ozan Ozerk: OpenPayd as a group is a profitable business overall, so we decided not to apply for government grants, as far as I know. But as an entrepreneur, I am very happy that these tools exist so that they can support other hard-pressed businesses that need them.
Your final thoughts?
Ozan Ozerk: For the past 20+ years, the world has been moving towards a digital economy led by a growing online social interaction and e-commerce. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an acceleration beyond what we ever thought possible, and this will not slow down when things start to turn back to a somewhat normal state.
The benefits of every business having a digital delivery channel are clear, and as businesses large and small set their sights on growth, digital-first propositions will be dominating.
Digital-first businesses need digital-first banking. It requires API connectivity, services that are real-time, automated and minimize the need for human intervention. Banking-as-a-Service platforms like OpenPayd will only increase in demand, and we will continue to innovate at the required speed to support the growth of the digital economy.
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