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Promoted feature: The rise of cross-border payments

EGR talks to Mikael Lijtenstein, CEO of payment solution provider AstroPay, about the rise of e-commerce and how cross-border payments help merchants grow their business globally

Founded in Brazil in 2009, AstroPay is a pioneer in global payment solutions. With extensive experience in handling the specificities of different markets, AstroPay pride themselves on being a fast-moving, user-centric company. They are highly focussed on fraud prevention tools and cybersecurity and closely follow trends in the industry to provide seamless payment journeys and efficient solutions to all its users and business partners.

EGR Intel (EGR): Cross-border e-commerce has grown exponentially over the last few years. Why is that?

Mikael Lijtenstein (ML): The exponential rise in global e-commerce markets has created plenty of opportunities for all sized businesses to grow beyond their borders and generate much more revenue in overseas sales. This is primarily due to an increase in the rise of internet accessibility, choice of products, ease of transaction and fewer constraints on physical presence interaction. Likewise, affordable access to technology and the rapid rise in the use of smartphones has driven convenience. With so many businesses either engaged or planning to engage in cross-border trade, a successful cross-border strategy equally needs a robust international payments approach. Which is where AstroPay comes in.

EGR: How can third party digital platforms and partners make cross border e-commerce more accessible?

ML: AstroPay opens up the possibility for merchants to reach new markets and grow their business in any region through a secure and reliable payment method. So, with one integration, we offer the possibility to reach the entire world. The Covid-19 pandemic sped up growth considerably but even before that there were more and more users moving online. We make it our business to know our customers, know what they want and expect in a payment method and offer to them payment solutions which suit them. Understanding the population of each market is key to knowing what solutions to offer and connecting the users with international sites with cross-border transactions.

EGR: What do companies need in terms of a robust international payment solution to successfully engage in cross-border trade

ML: Businesses need to partner with reliable payments companies with proven experience and knowledge of processing and cross-border transactions. AstroPay was established 13 years ago, and has vast knowledge and experience in Latin America, Asia, Africa and more recently Europe.

It is crucial to understand each market population’s needs regarding payments and provide them with a wide array of payment methods, including the most popular local ones. AstroPay’s solutions are available in over 150 countries, and we adapt to meet each unique need. We also facilitate reconciliation and reporting as well as improved conversion rates. Providing one-tap checkouts, single-click-experiences and automatic payment fulfilment are the best options to achieve a good conversion rate and provide users with a smooth user experience.

EGR: What are some of the technical challenges with cross-border payments?

ML: Security. It’s vital to have a secure system for the merchants and the users, in both directions. The user experience is paramount. We offer what the user is expecting, namely a straightforward, frictionless payment journey. The fewer steps we can give the user the better, as they want to pay simply and quickly. From users’ feedback we iterate and modify our products to ensure we deliver the best possible payment experience.

EGR: How has AstroPay expanded its e-commerce reach and consumer base in new markets?

ML: We have our own dedicated teams to research, explore and understand each market we operate in. We then work with clients and partners to provide the users and merchants with the best solutions. Users require convenient and fast payments methods, and we make every endeavour to be compliant with that regardless of the market. We are expanding our reach in the countries where we are already available as well as analysing new ones.

EGR: What is AstroPay doing to create secure digital payment solutions

ML: Security concerns are amplified when consumers pay overseas, so having a fast, reliable and secure checkout experience is key to gaining user trust and loyalty. One third of our company is data technology and we have teams investigating trends and constantly upgrading and updating our systems. AstroPay has its own practices, we have our own fraud prevention engine and we have our own Know Your Customer (KYC), an identity validation process, which we follow very carefully. Plus, we also work with third parties to reinforce our strength. Basically, we make every effort to show the user they can trust us.

EGR: How much focus does AstroPay place on localised payment options and preferences?

ML: All our focus. We research every market to better understand the user. We partner with local payment methods to give users as many payment options as possible. AstroPay offers more than 200 options all over the world including credit and debit cards, bank transfers and even cash. We have a dedicated team to develop new opportunities and integrate new payment methods.

EGR: What are the main differences in the markets AstroPay operates in and how does AstroPay cater for customer trends and preferences in different markets? 

ML: There is no one size fits all solution. Every market has different regulations, technology accessibility as well as their own local payment methods, and it’s crucial to have teams that

analyse these realities. We have our own resources in the markets where we operate. Being on the ground, understanding the user and looking for new opportunities is paramount for our business. Currently, we have 200 people from all over the world working as part of our team.

EGR: What’s coming next for AstroPay?

ML: AstroPay will continue to grow. Our success lies in customer-centricity and adapting their preferences to create a secure and frictionless payment environment. We have grown considerably in the last few years and our aim is to engage more users and partner with more merchants looking for a one-integration solution. We are working very hard to achieve our ambitions including extending our sponsorships with the Premier League.

Mikael Lijtenstein is the CEO of AstroPay, a pioneering payment solution for consumers making online purchases on international sites. Before becoming CEO in November 2019, he was AstroPay’s chief operating officer, responsible for sales and operations, product development and innovation across multiple markets including Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Lijtenstein has considerable technical expertise and experience in providing cross-border payments and connecting global merchants to emerging markets.

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