We got together with Ana Stef, Global Head of Payments at NetBet, one of the biggest online gaming groups across Europe, to discuss the role of the payments team and its importance for any global business.

Ana Stef has been working in payments for over 15 years and now plays a crucial role in leading the payments team at NetBet. Combined with extensive experience in the payments space, as well as data to test and optimise the payments process, her team helps the company make informed financial decisions, giving it many competitive advantages. And ultimately positively impacting the bottom line.

Here are the key things we learned about the payments team:

The payments team plays an integral role in driving business growth

The payments team has become is a vital part of business growth as they are responsible for optimising the all-important payments process to improve checkout experience across all channels, creating a positive impact on business results. In an increasingly digital and globalised economy, merchants need payment solutions which are both secure and meet the needs of customers. Having a fully functioning payments team is proven to tackle these issues, leading to a positive impact on revenue.

Each day the payments team works proactively to ensure a frictionless and flexible customer journey whilst providing highly secure and localised payment solutions. The payments team uses tools such as User Experience (UX) analytics and data analysis to maintain conversion rates and remove approval rates, declined transactions, fraud rates, and transaction costs. As digital channels are open 24/7, 365 days a year, these services need to be readily available at any given point.

In addition to reviewing and optimising the customer journey, the payments team also ensures that the company’s payment plans align with the overall business strategy. For this reason, involving the payments team in strategic, as well as operational decisions, is known to increase results.


A highly skilled team with clear communication is the pathway to success

The team must be made up of a diverse group of payment experts and data analysts who have a deep technical understanding of the industry. As the payments landscape is always evolving, they need to constantly learn, understand trends and adapt to changes.

Effective communication with other teams within a business is also crucial. Whichever team they are working with, everyone must understand the clear processes and procedures to coordinate effectively in the workflow. If the whole team or stakeholders do not understand the full picture, then results cannot be achieved efficiently.

Working closely with the compliance team, which is especially important when operating in the gaming verticals, ensures the payments team is up to date with regulation. It is heavily advised too, to have a good relationship with regulators and ensure every rule is implemented correctly for both merchants and the business itself. What’s more, working with other teams such as IT and customer services allows for direct feedback to the payments team to ensure the payment product can be adapted in line with customer demand.


Confronting major challenges for the payments team can bring new opportunities

Providing multiple payment solutions for merchants whilst maintaining a frictionless experience can certainly prove difficult. As a provider of payment solutions, we understand the negative impact on revenue these barriers have. Issues such as fraud or poor connectivity can instantly lead to checkout abandonment or even prevent customers from revisiting merchants.

One main area to consider is when working with acquirers to optimise results and increase conversion. Domestic acquirers have better rates than international ones because they simply know their market better. However, they are limited as they only service one market. For that reason, merchants look to work with international acquirers for optimisation and direct traffic to other acquirers themselves if needed.

Moreover, while European markets are quite mature and adapt quickly to innovation and trends, other countries are new to the increasing volumes of alternative payment solutions. As a result, payment teams must be ready to analyse data and test all elements of the payment process, every single day, to ensure new methods can be made available and that there are no issues in the process.


The future for the payments team

In line with the continuation of digital transformation and customer demand, the team will continue to play a critical role for the growth of businesses and evolve in many substantial strategic roles. With all the changes we see across all organisations that have a payment element to their offering, many are focusing more on defining their strategy and increasing the number of payments experts on their team.

Many card schemes and issuing banks have started working more closely with the payments industry and are providing more insight than a decade ago. This will give payments teams even more opportunities and tools to expand their services and prove their value.

We are also seeing that as technology and data gathering becomes more sophisticated and accessible, it will assist the payments team when optimising payment performances. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, will eventually make it far easier for merchants to offer more personalised services which suits customers’ preferences.

As consumer demands change, there will also be a huge shift in terms of payments solutions. Open banking, which provides faster online payments, will become more prevalent and cryptocurrencies, have started to show more progress with regards to regulation. These may soon become day-to-day solutions. The ease of the payments process can mean the difference between success and failure for any business. Having a dedicated payments team is a key way to inform strategic decisions and, increase revenue.