In 2018, scaling a business is less an ambition than an imperative: over-saturated industries mean there’s a lot of pressure to grow in-line with the market and ahead of the competition. So what about a payments infrastructure?

But running a fast-growing organisation has its challenges, particularly when it comes to infrastructure. An IT setup that’s designed for 20 employees might work at the beginning – but where does that leave your business in six months’ time, when you’ve hired 80 more people?

Payments infrastructure is an essential growth consideration, and when you’re making new hires, opening more offices, and changing the entire shape of your company, it’s not always prioritised. But if you’re scaling up a business, neglecting it is a serious mistake.

 

Payments infrastructure growing pains

As your business grows larger, the pressure on your tech infrastructure will only increase. If it’s designed to meet startup-level requirements, the mechanisms in place for distribution, service, and transaction processing will buckle under the weight of a larger customer base using a range of payment methods.

As volume increases, payments infrastructure must grow to accommodate this customer base’s varied preferences – as well as addressing other, more technical concerns. An issue such as fraud prevention (while always important) won’t often cause undue strain for a smaller business. For an expanding company, however, processes such as risk identification, threat elimination and containment, user authentication, and reporting become more complicated.

 

Cultural learning

A business can’t just grow bigger, it has to grow smarter. If you’re expanding into international markets, it’s necessary to factor in different economies, legal systems, and payment cultures – these differences can be huge.

The European Union may have a supranational legal system and a shared currency, but each nation also has its own discrete laws and customs around payments: in Ireland, credit cards account for 87.2% of transactions; in France, they account for 50%. Pre-paid cards in Italy are used in 15% of all transactions – but the decline rate is significantly higher than regular cards, so businesses with subscription services that require regular recurring debits need to be ready to handle this. Beyond Europe, it’s not uncommon for varying regulations to affect transactions: in the United Arab Emirates, for example, newly-issued cards have restrictions on online payments. So any business expanding into the UAE must put in place a plan for reducing decline rates.

Your payments infrastructure must have room to grow larger, but it must also have the flexibility to accommodate key market variations.

 

Keeping the customer satisfied

A scaling business can’t afford to maintain a small and inflexible payments infrastructure. An erratic purchasing process can cause customers to abandon the transaction. This can have a significant impact on your brand.Click To Tweet

A scaling business can’t afford to maintain a small and inflexible payments infrastructure. An erratic purchasing process can cause customers to become disillusioned and completely abandon the transaction. This can have a significant impact on your brand. Managing growth properly means ensuring that your customers are confident and happy to hand over their money, and a secure, convenient, frictionless payment experience is an essential part of this.

A modern payments infrastructure should be able to accommodate the sheer diversity of options available to end-users. Today’s consumers pay with their faces, their fingerprints, and their voices as well as their cards and cash. Some nations have systems that aren’t used anywhere else: in the Netherlands, for example, a number of banks participate in the iDeal e-commerce platform.

Your payments provider is key to effectively servicing customers in international markets.

They must understand your objectives, collaborate with your team, and reconcile operational priorities with economic, cultural, and regulatory differences. They must, of course, demonstrate technical proficiency, but they also need to understand the needs of businesses in your vertical – and any obstacles that may lie in your path. Above all, they should be able to help you continue delivering great service no matter how quickly you grow, or how much your customers’ needs evolve.

Ultimately, scaling your payments infrastructure isn’t just about raising your capability to the level of your new requirements. It’s about preparing for the next stage of your company’s growth so you’re not constantly playing catch-up, and it’s about adopting the philosophy of a bigger and better business: one that maintains and improves quality of service to satisfy customers – wherever they want, wherever they are, and however they prefer to pay.