Throughout the past decade, the payments process has been disappearing; becoming so seamless we don’t even think about it. This doesn’t mean the value in payments should be forgotten as well. The data involved can teach us a lot about customers – and that’s what Acquired.com aims to unlock for businesses across the globe.
Acquired.com has experienced huge growth – 300% in 2019 – and was founded by a team with decades of experience at FinTech startups and payments giants. The began their journey hoping to solve an internal problem they’d encountered operating within the consumer credit sector. For businesses operating the recurring payment model with high transaction volume, incumbent service providers where simply not delivering the results required by businesses to effectively operate – so they built their own payment gateway with the goal of being the most data rich, state of the art and robust payment system available in the market.
It became clear that the gateway could be commercialised for a variety of purposes; its functionality was not just limited to the consumer finance sector. Four years later, Acquired.com defines itself not as a payments gateway but a Payments as a Service Provider. “When I joined two years ago we were just a PSP – we connected to acquiring bank and processed transactions with some pretty cool features, but there was no real differentiator in the market,” recalls Ned Barker, Commercial Director. “We just had better quality data and some useful tools.”
Now, the business offers development resources, consultancy, expertise and more. “Developing from a gateway with a few features into what we are now has been a very difficult process, but it has served us well to focus on one particular sector,” says Barker. “We started the business operating in financial services as that is where our founding partners expertise originate. We built partnerships with our banking partners who are also experienced in this space, with great results.”
All about the data
Acquired.com’s USP is centred around one vital resource: data. The platform enables businesses to see a much richer level of customer data in a number of different ways. From raw decline data to chargeback and dispute codes, all fees and charges associated with taking payments, and more. All this data can be used by businesses to help build a better picture of their customer and streamline their operations.
“A key example of using the data can be when a consumer making a loan repayment encounters a decline,” Barker says. “Because Acquired.com can deliver the exact decline reason code to the business, the business can differentiate between somebody that doesn’t have funds in their account to somebody that’s blocking the card due to friendly fraud, for instance,” Barker explains.
“If you know the customer has previously paid seven times and the last time was declined due to insufficient funds, you can make an educated guess that the customer wants to pay but doesn’t have the money in their account,” he illustrates. “If a customer has paid off the first payment then cancelled the CPA, you can make an educated guess that the customer is attempting to commit friendly fraud.”
Integrating the platform
As Acquired.com grows to support more and more merchants, ease of implementation is key. The solution is platform agnostic, meaning it will easily integrate with any existing platform the business may be relying on to operate day to day. “Even as recently as 2017 when I joined Acquired, a big thing we’ve found is a lot of payment solutions are built on legacy technology. There will be existing providers connecting into banks with integrations that are 20 years old and have never been touched. The gateways integrate into the bank which also hasn’t been touched in 20 years.”
Acquired.com, on the other hand, uses state of the art architecture. “Our APIs are built in the cloud which makes our solution easy to scale fast. The messaging is slick and robust, meaning transactions are processed faster and with excellent throughput,” says Barker, adding that one of the first businesses Acquired.com signed up went from processing 50,000 payments in five and a half hours to just 40 minutes.
“We don’t want to overcomplicate it,” Barker adds, explaining that the platform has four or five sections so different teams – IT, operations, finance and more – can review new data reporting once a day. But the platform is far from finished and taking on feedback is vital. “The businesses we work with actually become more demanding once we show them what they can do with the solution. They never had access to all this data before, and the more you show a business what is possible, the more Pandora’s box opens and the more questions you’re asked. We thrive on that; it only makes us better.”
An innovation partner
In April 2019 the company released its banking solution, giving businesses access to accounts and payment capabilities including the UK Faster Payments Network. “We built that solution in five weeks – negotiations with banking partners actually look longer than building the tech. That goes a long way with clients. We can build and deploy it for them, and I don’t think a lot of the bigger payment companies have the ability to do that so much. They’re afraid to play around with their tech in case it breaks.”
This ongoing improvement comes from truly partnering with organisations that use the platform. “To unlock value, you need to get under the nuts and bolts of the business, understand the systems they’re using and their end goals,” says Barker. It’s also important to understand the industry as a whole. “When we go into a business pitching, we understand their problems before we even get through the door.” The team regularly attend industry events and conferences and make it a priority to be on top of the latest developments in FinTech.
It’s an exciting place to be. Even in the time Barker has been at Acquired.com, he’s seen payments gateways develop from a necessary evil to a hotbed of innovation. “This is driving competition, so businesses can now expect more from their service providers than just the bare minimum. Clients are no longer willing to be underserved.”