A couple of years ago, Nicolas Mertens was with his friends in Cambodia, each one of them bribing his tuk-tuk driver to race the fastest. In this “makeshift competitive environment”, they talked about challenging each other to solve real problems. One problem that caught their attention was that performing bank transactions from abroad was painful since using the “much-hated card reader” was very cumbersome. With an understanding on the merchant side of running a Payment Service Provider, Nicolas took the challenge to do something about it, which triggered the thought of finding Sign2Pay.
In Europe, when you bank or shop online using a debit card, you have to use bank card readers to verify and validate transactions. “It’s an annoying process, filled with lots of number-punching on cheap, non-ergonomic plastic contraptions, and you never have a card reader when you need one.” Sign2Pay allows people to buy online by just using their signature, a debit card, and a mobile touch-screen device. “With 12,000 data points in a signature, the Sign2Pay app converts the signature into biometric verification—much faster than the long, tedious process of inputting numbers on a card reader. And since our phones are always in easy reach—we can complete an online transaction with debit cards in seconds. Plus as not all Europeans have credit cards, debit card holders are an important market.” says Nicolas.
Sign2Pay makes online shopping with a debit card both secure and effortless. “In Europe that’s gold!” Nicholas says. He adds, ” There are tens of countries, systems and players, but we streamline it into a single, simple–card-reader-free–payment system. Retailers love what Sign2Pay means for shopping cart conversion. If you’re in bed about to book a flight, you don’t have to get out from under the covers and hunt for a card reader. Just pick up your phone or turn your tablet to sign. Sign2Pay has hidden security features, too, like if contact information does not match payment details, the Sign2Pay payment option remains hidden.”
About the founders…
Nicolas Mertens, the CEO, aged 29, is from Antwerp, Belgium. He had spent time working in the online payment space, mostly in the Netherlands. His friend Tom Schouteden, aged 36, is also from Antwerp and the founder of a Linux services company. Tom built the first Sign2Pay prototype and currently serves as COO. To find the right Full Stack Engineer, Nicolas hosted a barbeque where he met Nick Lloyd, aged 39, from Canada. Nick joined the team as CTO.
In February 2015, Sign2Pay scored the “Innovation prize” at the Merchant Payments Ecosystem Conference in Berlin with 600 key decision makers and merchant payment experts (mobile, online and in-store payments) including American Express, PayPal, ABN AMRO, MasterCard, Shell, Discover, Carrefour, and Total, among others voting. Sign2Pay won with nearly half the votes over the other 4 nominees. Today, Sign2Pay now works with 3700 European banks. Nicolas says that he would sit at his kitchen table every Saturday and try and tackle the next burning challenge – running out of money, needing a new developer, withering marketing funds, retailers that would lose their nerve to try.
Nicholas considers Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal as competitors, “mainly because of the name recognition, marketing budgets and perceived infallibility.”. However he adds, “But our software is faster, and the user experience is better because the purchaser stays within the native merchant shopping environment. Plus, Sign2Pay works across mobile platforms. Offering Apple Pay is great, unless you’re one of the +65% without an iPhone.”
On expansion plans…
Sign2Pay plans to set its foot in Netherlands and Germany, so that it shall have its a presence in three countries. “We’re aggressively working on sales to merchants across Europe–the bigger the retailer or service, the better.” Nicholas tells us. He adds, “At the same time we want to improve public awareness so that Sign2Pay is a trusted interaction, not an abstraction. The more people who use Sign2Pay, the more they like it—debit cards without those clunky, junky card readers is a definite improvement in the online shopping experience. Aligning ourselves with forward-thinking investors is also a top priority.” Nicholas believes that the early adopters and millennials will use their product first since they trust mobile more.
Sign2Pay has already had an early investment of €600,000. Now it is actively seeking investors who “have to be the right fit, though forward thinking, with payment experience & who understand the importance of increasing conversion”. “We are playing with the Big Boys in the payments world; the meek don’t have the stamina. We want investors and partners who can transcend the conservative banking mindset in Europe.” Nicholas tells us.
Please visit https://sign2pay.com/ for more information.
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