Klas Bäck is the General Manager of International & Payment Strategy at Braintree, a Paypal Service.  We are very excited to have Klas join us on the discussion of payment innovations on a global scale.  We were grateful for the opportunity to feature Klas this week and ask a few questions about his work and his stance on the “State of Digital Money”:


SODM: You cut your teeth in global banking systems for almost two decades. What is the single largest truism about the financial sector that a layperson like me wouldn’t know about or consider?

Klas: I can’t comment too much on what others are doing but the one defining factor between traditional banking and more modern “fintech” companies is probably innovation. It’s clear that consumers want experiences that are fast, easy, and secure. The beauty of fintech is that we marry money and commerce with advancements in technology to offer experiences that are better and more seamless for consumers. People’s relationship with money and the ways they spend it are changing so it’s imperative that we cater to their increasingly sophisticated needs.

SODM: What comes to mind when you hear “digital money”?

Klas: Digital money can really be a variety of things but in essence, it is a monetary value that exists in electronic form. The obvious example is a digital wallet or a payment method — like PayPal or Apple Pay, which has revolutionized the way people shop online or even at the point-of-sale inside a physical store. Digital money can also mean a peer-to-peer (P2P) experience like Venmo in the US. P2P allows the free movement of money between people without the hassle of needing banking numbers or other sensitive information to make the transaction possible — its convenience has really changed the relationship that consumers have with money. The definition of digital money has changed even more recently with the immersion of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, which is less prevalent but definitely a trend.

Ultimately, digital money has tapped into the psyche of consumers who no longer want to carry around a wallet or type in credit card numbers every time they shop, which can cause  friction and, potentially, a lost sale.

SODM: How has the landscape of #fintech (technology behind finance like mobile payments, etc.) changed in your time working in the industry?

Klas: I’ve been in the industry for a long time so I’ve seen a lot of changes. But the one that is probably most striking is the rise of mobile. When Braintree first started, mobile was still in its infancy but we knew that it was a trend we needed to get ahead of. Thanks to our early bet on mobile, today, we power some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing mobile businesses — companies that are leading and shaping the commerce experiences of tomorrow. We’ve helped traditional brick-and-mortar businesses go from offline to online and have even helped some optimize their mobile experiences to open new revenue streams for their businesses. The rise of mobile is also the reason why we launched PayPal One Touch, which allows people to make payments on their favorite websites with a single touch across platforms. One Touch eliminates the need for usernames and passwords each time you pay while allowing merchants to maintain  the trust and security that Braintree and PayPal have long been known for. It gives consumers a faster and more seamless mobile-buying experience, alleviating the friction that they may otherwise encounter. It’s no secret that mobile will continue to rise, but it’s been a really interesting and fun ride to see it explode the way it has and the tremendous things it has done for our industry today.

SODM: Can you tell us more about Braintree and what problems is it trying to solve?

Klas: Braintree is an all-in-one global payments partner that helps business of all sizes accept and process payments. As a leader in mobile payments, we believe payments technology can drive innovation and revenue. We provide the commerce tools merchants need to minimize security concerns, expand globally, and enable new commerce experiences — all with white-glove customer service, because merchants are at the forefront of everything we do. And, as a PayPal service, Braintree uniquely enables merchants to accept PayPal, Venmo, credit and debit cards, and more in a single integration.

The most important problem we’re trying to solve is reducing the friction that integrating a payments platform can cause for merchants because it can be so complex. We believe in offering an easy, quick integration for merchants so they can start accepting all the payment methods they need. We also believe in connecting merchants with consumers across a variety of contexts, particularly where consumers already spend a majority of their time. We do that through our contextual commerce tools, which enable businesses to partner together and securely share payment data with each other to help create new distribution channels and make in-context commerce experiences possible. An example of this is the work we did with Pinterest to enable their Buyable Pins or our work with Skyscanner in Europe, which lets consumers to purchase tickets directly within the Skyscanner platform, alleviating the need for clunky redirects which really interrupts the purchasing experience. We know that our technology, coupled with PayPal’s global reach, puts us in the best position possible to help merchants succeed and transform the way their customers transact online and on mobile.

SODM: Can you talk about being apart of PayPal?

Klas: We’ve been a part of PayPal for almost five years now and we’re just as excited about it today as we were when we were acquired. Together, Braintree and PayPal operate a two-sided network that allows us to reach more than 225 million buyers and 18 million merchants worldwide. Being a part of PayPal also gives our merchants more flexibility and choice in their commerce offerings. Between PayPal, Braintree, Venmo, and our other portfolio of brands, we can offer a solution that meets any unique business need regardless of scale, size, customer demographic or country.

SODM: How is Braintree different for others/competition?

Klas: It’s really that two-sided network I mentioned before — that’s unique to us. We’re the only player in the space that has access to both consumers and merchants at our scale, in addition to offering the breadth and depth of solutions that we do. Together, we have global reach, capabilities and brand recognition that are unmatched. We also have a long history of helping businesses compete in the global economy and there is nothing more valuable than having rich experience and a real understanding of what our merchants need.

SODM:What are some resources interested parties can use to educate themselves?

Klas: There are a lot of third-party studies and resources online that are very helpful about payments. We recently launched a resource hub that houses a lot of thought-leadership pieces — whitepapers, articles, case studies, that type of thing — on a variety of topics that we feel are important for organizations in the space (or not) to learn about. You can find that at braintreepayments.com/resources.

SODMBig picture – Any predictions for 2018? and beyond that?

Klas: We believe contextual commerce is the purchasing behavior of the future. For retail brands, owned destinations (ie – their websites) will be less important than showing up in contexts where consumers spend most of their time in (ie – social networks, chat apps, connected devices, etc.)  Where people shop, or from whom they buy, is  increasingly dictated by things like convenience, proximity, shipping speed, or cost than it is by brand. It’s fueled by search, in-the-moment decisions, social-media inspiration, and peer recommendations. What is most important is to show up in the places, platforms, and experiences So what can brands do to show up in the places, platforms, and experiences that consumers are buying into? They can partner with service providers — like a payments partner — who have the reach and technology to make in-context commerce experiences happen. Experiences must be seamless and quick and redirections are a thing of the past. A purchase experience has to have as few steps as possible to purchase to keep consumers happy and conversion rates high, and of course, a great mobile strategy will continue to be the name of the game.


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