The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 28, 2016 • Issue 16:11:02
Meet The Expert:
As Chief Executive Officer since 2012 of BillPro Pty. Ltd., one of Australia's leading merchant processing specialists, Daria Rippingale oversees a multimillion-dollar enterprise with operations extending across five continents.
In this interview, she discusses her career path in payments, the distinction between managed risk and high risk, the advantages of a flat business management structure, and more.
How did you get your start in business, and why have you chosen a career in the payments industry?
I started working in e-commerce as the Affiliate Manager for a large gaming network, focusing on web-monetization and agent incentives. In this role, I was part of a large project to build out payment solutions for our affiliates, which was my first introduction into payments. I realized quickly what a complex industry it is and yet, how hard it was to find effective solutions. I found the industry fascinating, and as a natural problem-solver, I was hooked.
After spending the year working on introducing these solutions, I decided to really get a grasp on this industry. I knew I would need to fully immerse myself. I was contacted by BillPro, a startup payment service provider that was looking for someone to build out their strategy and help them launch in Australia ‒ so I made the jump.
Since then, I have expanded the business over multiple countries and adopted over 35 different payment types and technologies for our customers. The industry is constantly changing ‒ with advancements in technology and new media, resulting in regulation changes. The learning curve never stops, and I enjoy the versatility and excitement of it all.
To what do you attribute your swift rise from managing a merchant portfolio to becoming a global authority on transaction processing, e-commerce and international payments?
From the beginning, we took a global approach to payments. We focused on introducing merchants to opportunities abroad by connecting even small businesses with relevant payment solutions and types worldwide. Having worked for an international company, I always viewed e-commerce as a "no borders" industry, so we structured our business to support merchant growth worldwide, rather than just in local jurisdictions.
This approach was vastly different from most mainstream payment companies that generally look to develop a stronghold locally before slowly adding products for new regions over time. Because we came out of the gate with the goal of solving the international payments burden, we stood out as a truly global payment processor. This standout factor, along with the hardworking team we have in-house and our dedication to one-on-one service to merchants, is the reason we have celebrated so much success in such a short amount of time.
What's the difference between high risk and managed risk? Why is that distinction important?
The classification of "high risk" is really important and causes a lot of confusion in the market. Two types of businesses are classified as high risk by banks and acquirers: merchants who fall into high-risk categories (adult, gaming, replica, etc.) and merchants who pose high financial risk to a bank.
While we don't work with the high-risk category merchants, we do provide services and assistance to merchants whose businesses might be considered higher risk to banks from a financial risk perspective.
In my opinion, these merchants should be classified by the industry as "managed risk" merchants, because the term "high risk" carries industry connotations and the stigma that goes along with them.
Merchants with managed risk include companies with high-value tickets (transaction sizes) or extended fulfillment of their products. For example, a merchant who makes custom jackets is considered high risk by banks and acquirers because the merchant makes bespoke products for customers. Banks would consider the retailer high risk because:
- The per item transaction size is high (jackets might be over $200 each)
- Fulfillment is extended (customers wait weeks for the jacket to be made before it can be shipped)
- Product is custom (customers could decide they don't like the jacket or it was not as they envisioned)
These three factors would make a merchant selling custom jackets high risk from a bank's perspective, because the likelihood of customer dissatisfaction is high, and that means customers may initiate chargebacks. This high-risk classification is shocking to merchants like this, who consider their businesses to be honest and reliable. Once that classification is received, merchants will have a hard time finding processors that are willing to work with them.
At BillPro, we consider these merchants to be managed-risk merchants. We understand the financial risk, and we put controls in place to manage it. By incorporating custom account features for these types of merchants, we can quickly and easily support them without any financial risk, and they can focus on running high-quality, online businesses.
For example, some of the controls placed on a managed-risk merchant could be:
- We authorize the transaction upon order
- Merchant to provide mock-up of final design for customer sign off
- Payment captured when customer approves design
- Date of product shipment provided to customer
- Integrated package tracking used for customer receipt confirmation
By taking the time and effort to understand merchants' businesses, we can easily manage their risk levels and help keep honest retailers selling goods worldwide.
As CEO of BillPro, you keep a relatively flat business structure within the business. What are the advantages to that type of management structure?
We maintain a flat management structure to promote self confidence in our staff and increase their speed of learning. In the same way that we pride ourselves in transparent communication with our customers, our management structure is set up in a similar way.
As a growing business, we foster a culture of support and camaraderie, ensuring that every staff member feels important, heard and responsible for the overall success of the company.
We also cultivate growth by upskilling our employees; having a flat management structure allows our staff to have more involvement and awareness of the business from a companywide perspective, giving them the ability to make decisions, develop key learnings and take pride in accomplishments achieved.
When you want to add a new person to your team, what qualities do you look for?
Choosing quality employees is one of the most important skills a business owner can master. In order to accomplish workplace harmony, personalities and work ethic levels must be complementary to the overall environment of the company. For me, confidence and a can-do attitude are vital for any team member at BillPro.
I give less importance to experience; some of our best employees came straight from university or had experience in unrelated industries. Rather, I need to see that someone has the ability to step outside of their comfort zone, be comfortable working in a nimble environment, get their hands dirty, be naturally curious and ask questions.
I also look for strong problem solving skills, as I feel they go hand in hand with a resilient attitude. I want to know that even when faced with obstacles that seem insurmountable, they are willing to find a way around or through them. The last quality I look for is genuine enthusiasm and an interest or passion for the industry – payments, e-commerce and/or fintech. Our world is online, and I want to know that my employees have an interest in what they are taking on.
What advice do you have for women new to the industry who want to find a niche where they can prosper and grow?
The most important piece of advice I'd give to women is to forget the fact that you're a woman and just GO FOR IT. There are enough barriers in the world already facing young women on their journey to the top, so don't allow the preconceptions of others (or your own) to get in your way. Make goals and don't let anyone stand in your path, especially not yourself.
For women who are new to the industry – I would advise them to network, research and empower themselves with knowledge. There are many great resources online, like The Green Sheet (which I relied on as a young woman entering this industry), and associations like Women in Payments, that provide the kind of insights needed to succeed in the industry.
Go to events and make conversation; don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask someone you admire to be your mentor; you'd be surprised that most would be happy to be a mentor, but aren't often asked. I also think it's important to learn the full "environment" that you want to work in, not just your specific industry. The most successful women (and men) I've met in processing are successful because they understand every aspect of the value chain, from marketing and consumer behavior, to social media and new technologies, all the way through to processing, banking and treasury management. Get involved and learn with enthusiasm.
What's next for BillPro?
We have quite a few things currently in progress that we are excited to be announcing soon:
- BillPro opened cross-border payment services in Europe recently, and we are already expanding services in this region to include direct acquiring and issuing as well as banking and international bank account number services.
- We've been working very hard behind closed doors to build a revolutionary payments platform for the e-commerce industry and will be rolling this out over the next year across Western Europe and then Eastern Europe.
- The company is expanding both the Australian and European teams, and we are in the process of adding new regional management teams in local European markets.
- BillPro has also been finalizing strong partnerships in the United States with a number of leading e-commerce technology providers who leverage BillPro's high-level gateway and acquiring services to deliver a whole new set of solutions to the U.S. market.
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