What next for payments in SaaS: Interview with Jack Mangnall

Shape Technologies is revolutionizing the payments industry with its cutting-edge payments-platform-as-a-service, designed to empower payment service providers globally. Fintech Review sat down with Jack Mangnall, Cofounder of Shape Technologies, a dynamic player in the fintech space. Jack, with his extensive experience in client-facing operations and strong focus on innovative fintech solutions, has played a pivotal role in identifying technology gaps in the payments sector and addressing them through Shape Technologies. We delve into Jack’s journey, his insights on significant trends in SaaS, PSPs and payments, and his thoughts on the future of traditional acquirers and emerging payment methods in the fintech landscape.

Tell us more about Shape Technologies. What is your elevator pitch?

Shape Technologies provides a dynamic payments-platform-as-a-service (“PPaaS”), offering its fully customisable platform to payment service providers (“PSPs”) the world over.

Shape’s mission is to get payments businesses to market quicker. The platform is designed to power merchant-facing interfaces for any payments business, including acquirers; payment facilitators; payment gateways; independent sales organisations; and many more.

In the eternal struggle that is buy vs build / capex vs opex, Shape offers an alternative like no other: true, user-friendly white-labelling made possible in a few simple clicks and at a fraction of the price of a self-build. And with its extensive range of customisation options, with Shape no two platforms need ever look the same. It’s white-labelling and then some.

What is your background, and the story behind the company?

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Throughout my career, I’ve focused on client-facing operations, with a particular emphasis on forging strong commercial partnerships. These relationships are built on identifying challenges and opportunities and collaboratively creating innovative solutions that benefit our partners and their customers. In recent years, my focus has shifted to the fintech space, covering a wide array of payment-related domains, including payment gateways, open banking, treasury services, payment facilitation, and acquiring.

The journey that led to the founding of Shape Technologies began with a recognition of the technology gaps that PSPs and their merchants face. We saw the need for a modular platform that offers a range of products that can be combined to create an end-to-end service. The Shape platform is designed to automate manual backend processes in critical areas like merchant onboarding, AML/KYC/KYB verification, fund orchestration, reporting, and billing. It addresses the industry’s unspoken challenges, providing automation throughout the entire payment process.

What are significant trends when it comes to SaaS and payments?

I see a few key trends: automation; data analytics; and, as a result, outsourcing. 

I think SaaS providers naturally seek as much automation as possible and generally they deliver it. Payment Service Providers (PSPs) on the other hand are heavily burdened by manual processes and so, if PSPs intend to scale fast, they must seek to automate as many of their processes as quickly as possible. Therefore, there is a big trend in PSPs searching for new ways to automate as many processes as possible. 

When it comes to data analytics, most businesses have become aware of the value of the data they hold, but not all are delivering a useful solution. It seems that most of the time analytics falls down the pecking order on the to-do list, with businesses focussing on maintaining core product instead. I foresee a big shift in businesses spending increasing amounts of resource on the management of their data.

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Outsourcing is a huge topic for me. Just as examples, the two topics I’ve touched on are normally much easier to deliver by outsourcing development, if not support too. And the trend appears to be that more and more companies are seeing outsourcing as the way to scale their business fast. Call it what you will: outsourcing; partnering; licensing; and so on, you only need to look at the headlines in payments to see the shift. The biggest card payment processors partnering with the biggest open banking providers. Arguably, one could have built the others solution and taken it to market. But would it have been as good as their “would be” rival, how long would it have taken, and how much would it have cost? Outsourcing technology enables businesses to move faster, allowing them to secure more opportunities and ultimately giving their customers a better experience. 

Do you think that the long standing “traditional” acquirers will lose market share to tech first full stack payments providers? 

Yes, I think there is a huge danger that those large financial institutions run the risk of losing market share to tech first disruptors. From my own experience, I think most acquirer’s biggest downfall is the internal bureaucracy that can come with businesses of their size, which leads to an inability to change with any real pace.

Time and time again, we’ve seen acquirers lose years building technology and let’s face it, the result can sometimes be underwhelming. 

What do you see as other major trends in the payments industry?

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Not sure if there is a trend, but orchestration of orchestration of orchestration is one that always gets me. Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood through the trees when trying to understand what a PSP actually does and what their technology offers. I think that as an industry, we can be guilty of over complicating things and building eco systems on top of eco systems, thinking we’re adding value, without even considering if it is something merchants or consumers want or need.

So many “innovations” fall by the wayside because either the solution doesn’t actually address a pressing issue, or because the innovators fail to recognise how difficult it is to change consumer behaviours and encourage the adoption of new technologies.

Other innovations in fintech or elsewhere that you find particularly interesting?

I always keep an eye on emerging payment methods. I’m a big fan of Open Banking, but mainly for the services that AISPs can provide. I think the PISP element for one off payments will always struggle for adoption up against Apple Pay/Android Pay.

But Variable Recurring Payments is a superb alternative to Direct Debits, so I’m keen to see how that can disrupt the market. Additionally, I’m enthusiastic about the potential of cryptocurrencies to revolutionize payment processing in certain parts of the world, allowing regions to bypass traditional card-based systems and move toward next-generation payment solutions. It’s an exciting space to watch.