What is going on in payment solutions? Interview with Valeria Vahorovska

Payment is a vast world. A lot of things are happening at every corner, all the time. That makes it a really exciting segment of the fintech industry. Payments were one of the low-hanging fruits that fintech sought to disrupt first. But what is really going on in payment solutions? We asked a few questions to Valeria Vahorovska, CEO and co-founder of Fondy. This interview was conducted as part of the first UK-Ukraine Fintech Summit, organized by The Embassy of Ukraine in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Sigma Software Group, TheCityUK, and London Stock Exchange Group.

Tell us more about Fondy, what is your elevator pitch? 

Fondy is a one-stop payment platform where businesses can accept money and make payments to partners in the currencies of their choice. 

Our platform is designed to help online businesses of all sizes access simple and hassle-free ways of selling online, worldwide. And payments are processed in only a few clicks. Our payment gateway integrates over 300 payment methods, and we use geolocation information to display the best local options. Shoppers will automatically see familiar payment choices. That includes local cards, internet banking and eWallets such as Apple and Google Pay. As well as global debit and credit cards. 

With Fondy’s end-to-end solutions, scaling up is easy: merchants, SMEs, marketplaces, platforms and enterprises can start accepting online payments globally in over 150 different currencies. They can manage and control the flow of payments all in one place and in real-time. It helps to better monitor and understand shoppers’ behaviour, so they can increase sales faster. 

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

I decided to launch Fondy in 2016. I have a background in corporate sales, leadership and over 8 years of experience in financial services. As Fondy’s co-founder and CEO, I am responsible for the overall company strategy focusing on product development, marketing, sales and people. 

Working in financial services and specifically for large banks, I realised there was a gap in the market when it came to economically supporting online businesses of all sizes. In fact, back when I started, the main goal was to provide the highest level of service, flexibility and cutting-edge technology. We wanted to ensure businesses of all sizes, SMEs included, could sell online, expand and succeed in foreign markets. This was to be unlike banks which only catered to big clients, playing against financial inclusion. Today, I can proudly say that we have come a long way and work with thousands of customers. As well as benefiting from a diverse world-class team in the UK, EU and other strategic locations around the world. 

What do you see as the main challenges in the payment industry in Europe right now? 

This is a very interesting question. There is no doubt that 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for everybody and every industry. The payments sector is no exception to this. However, in difficult times, it is even more important to understand key challenges. So we are able to embrace, manage and overcome them. 

  • At the top of the list, there is managing uncertainty when it comes to making strategic decisions for the business. Both in the short and the long term. Customer behaviour and their preferences have changed dramatically recently, which makes it harder to predict the future. To have a competitive advantage in this sector, companies must remain proactive and up-to-date with industry developments and customer trends. I strongly believe that if a business is able to stay focused on its short and long-term objectives while responding quickly and positively to challenges, it has optimal chances for success. 
  • Another challenge is managing continuous changes to regulatory requirements. It is vital to ensure any changes to regulatory requirements are fully understood by the business. In fact, something I learnt along the way, was the importance of hiring a capable and multi-faceted team. A team who is dedicated to understanding trends, can interface with the appropriate regulatory bodies, and have a solid understanding of any regulatory impact on our products or the way we want to market the product. Because one thing is certain: when you run a fintech company, dealing with regulations and regulators becomes a daily norm.
  • Last but not least, another challenge I see the payment industry facing is handling issues related to intellectual property and technology. You always have to be up-to-date. It is a fast-paced industry. If you’re not up to speed and don’t keep innovating with new products and services to satisfy and enhance customer’s needs and wants, you’ll always find yourself and your company a step behind. 

Any plans for the future or product roadmap you want people to know about? 

Absolutely, the future is very exciting at Fondy. We are working on many projects, and shortly we’ll be launching a new product: Fondy Flow. 

Fondy Flow is the new product of our platform where merchants can manage all their funds in the currency of their choice. With Flow multi-currency accounts, our clients save time and money and do business like a local company. Accounts have their own IBAN, so they can use them like any local bank account. It allows them to cut fees as well as to take control of the FX rates they pay. With Flow accounts, our clients can receive authorised payments during the day and settle instantly. As well as trade and make payouts quickly in any local currency to partners. Our users can view and control how to accept, settle, and track payments across all their accounts on one interface and platform. And we have also included the option of sending e-invoices to their customers, so they can match payments to invoices. 

Looking back at the UK-Ukraine Fintech Summit, what are your views on the fintech links between the two countries? 

My personal view is that there is so much both countries can learn from each other and benefit from for future collaboration. You see, Ukraine’s strengths are within IT, and everything about technology and innovation. While the UK is the leading country when it comes to Fintech companies and regulation. Ukraine could support the UK in the creation of cutting-edge technologies for the financial services sector. And the UK can provide its leadership and expertise on how to create and implement a new set of rules and regulations in Ukraine. This will in turn generate an increase in the number of RegTech companies in Ukraine, an industry that perhaps hasn’t been developed much yet. 

Any innovation in fintech more broadly you’re really excited about? 

Absolutely, yes. Having worked in fintech with a specific focus on payments for a long time now, I am really excited about seeing how it continues evolving. The future will be all about speeding up the process of receiving funds both for individuals but even more for businesses, which currently waste far too much time and money. The Faster Payment scheme has already changed the game for the better. So I am eager to witness how it is going to progress and learn how Fondy can be a part of this innovative and fast-changing process. Ideally, a new payment infrastructure should be created. This will help improve the online payments world as well as make the overall procedure faster for everybody and each entity involved in the process, from individuals to gateways and banks.