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When the opportunity met the know-how

Have you ever wondered what technology’s role in business is? Why it exists in the life of an enterprise? How it can influence it?

At Symphopay, we believe technology has the power to bring the future into the present. In fact, the Symhopay idea was born that way, from the belief that technology can optimize the payment process and costs for two of the three parties involved: the merchant and the bank.

 

When Opportunity Meets Know-How

The meeting I had with my partner, Sebi, in the Spring of 2015, was probably the most productive one in my career, as it engendered the idea of the Symphopay company. It also started the creation of the Symphopay product – the middleware platform that integrates multiple banks with multiple merchants, and adds marketing and analytics capabilities to POS terminals, turning them into opportunity-rich customer touchpoints.

I hadn’t seen Sebi since university when we used to share class and gang. Meanwhile, since 2002, I had become experienced in e-commerce, working with multiple banks, optimizing payment processes and integrating them with the merchants. Sebi, on the other hand, had grown just as experienced in payment apps development for POS terminals. We had followed apparently different career paths, however, both in the digital domain and, in fact, quite convergent.

Today, only half-jokingly, we remember that day as “the day opportunity met know-how”, since everything we had learned in our professional lives up to that point seemed meant to prompt us to find a solution befitting the Romanian market situation at the time.

 

A Favourable Market Context

Those were the days when credit cards with free interest rate installment payback had taken our market by storm. The offer had been brought over by Card Avantaj, a product of the former Finansbank (nowadays rebranded Credit Europe Bank). Soon, similar products from Raiffeisen Bank, Banca Transilvania, Garanti Bank and other banks followed. Accelerated consumer adoption of this payment instrument came to account for 50% of card payments. Consequently, the payment process grew quite complex at the merchant end, with quite an array of POS terminals cluttered on the counters. Out of them, only one could be integrated with the cash register and sometimes not even one. And thus, a whole chain reaction” of costly consequences was triggered that are still felt today:

  • For the merchant – manual operation of unintegrated POS terminals causes customer waiting time and human error chaos that consequently requires financial / accounting reconciliation, as well as investments in till staff training
  • For the bank – investments in terminals and monthly operating and maintenance costs

 

Symphopay Evolved Fast From The Beginning

Coming back to the story, our backgrounds and knowledge converged with the market needs, prompting us to create a solution that consolidates all banks into one single POS terminal and thus optimizes costs and processes while creating new business opportunities for both bank and merchant.

In July we set up the company and in August we already had the first strategic financer, Gecad. Then Alex joined us, bringing to the table all his substantial expertise in payment solutions, from quite a number of locally-developed internationally-implemented e-commerce projects. A year later still, in the Autumn of 2016, we were certified by Visa and Mastercard with the first bank enrolled, Banca Transilvania. Shortly after that came our first client, FAN Courier, who challenged us way out of our comfort zone and had us create the multi-bank and multi-merchant architecture.

Symphopay – Both Parties Benefit

Today, merchants are eager to upgrade their payment infrastructure and adhere to Symphopay platform to:

  • Increase their sales by implementing marketing campaigns and loyalty programs
  • Simplify their payment processes by having a single POS terminal, always connected to the cash register
  • Real-time business intelligence in the form of transaction data, customizable reports and analytics
  • Enjoy new opportunities of engagement with their customers

Banks also enjoy concentrating on their core business, freed from having to:

  • Create the POS terminal infrastructure
  • Provide permanent tech support
  • Bear the burden of monthly operating, maintenance and communication costs
  • Put up with delays in launching loyalty programs

 

Symphopay: From Payment To Engagement

Ultimately, the Symphopay story is about our team’s converging expertise, enabling us to create a game-changing product. It is about turning a mere payment terminal from an unavoidably limited component, into a smart marketing machine. But it is also about our team and company vision that technology can not only simplify and optimize costs and processes but also and has the power to engage and interconnect the world.

About the author

Daniel Nicolescu

Daniel Nicolescu

Experienced executive with solid track record of managing businesses in electronic payments, Internet platforms, software development and electronic software distribution (ESD). Daniel was involved in key positions in RAV Antivirus (acquired by Microsoft in 2003), Avangate (acquired by Francisco Partners in 2014) and GECAD ePayment (acquired by Naspers in 2010 and rebranded to PayU).

Symphopay is an ingenious middleware payment solution that helps us to provide our partners with customized experiences and make the difference in the banking market.

Viorel Vasile, Alpha Bank Romania

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