Digital wallets: Do you know your users?

| By Laura Gumbrell
AstroPay’s chief executive Mikael Lijtenstein speaks to iGB about how knowing customer desires are paramount to pioneering the best payment solutions in the industry.
Digital wallets

“User experience is the core of our business.”

Digital wallets
Mikael Lijtenstein

Lijtenstein is the CEO of AstroPay, a pioneer in payment solutions for consumers who want to make online purchases on international sites. Leveraging his background in engineering and experience in providing cross-border payments as well as connecting global merchants to emerging markets, he blends his technical expertise and practical experience to drive innovation and solutions in payments.

As usual, technology advances quicker than the speed in which laws are passed, which might lead to obstacles like legal limitations and transaction caps for certain currencies that hinder the use of cards – digital wallets are starting to tackle these issues head on.

According to US financial services firm FIS, almost a third (32%) of the global population now utilise mobile wallets, up from 21% in 2020. 

However, in an industry where KYC is such a vital component, do providers really have a clear view of who their customer is and what they want?

For AstroPay chief executive Lijtenstein, understanding the needs of users in different jurisdictions has underpinned the success of its digital wallet solution.

“User experience is the core of our business,” he says. “We need to be sure that what we are offering to our users is satisfying them – having a seamless UX increases the conversion rate and achieves this.”

AstroPay started in Brazil in 2009 before spreading across LatAm. Shortly afterwards, the company began its global expansion across Asia and Africa before launching in Europe, in the UK, Spain and Portugal during the pandemic. 

Despite this seemingly quick expansion, with the company expanding throughout Latin America before moving into Asia, Africa and now Europe, Lijtenstein says it is not a one size fits all approach. “We have to analyse how our users pay, their behaviour, how they access the technology, the internet penetration etc. So, we are focusing very differently in every market because it is not the same.”

This has resulted in the business moving as close to a one-stop shop as there is available on the market today. “Today we have more than 200 payment methods available,” he notes.

Lijtenstein says that having teams in each jurisdiction is important to the success of AstroPay, for that connection to the local market. 

“We are processing in Brazil, India, Europe and Africa; having dedicated teams in each market helps us bring the most successful product to users.

“We have dedicated teams to analyse player behaviour,” he adds. “We have tools to detect pain points and from this we can improve our product via AB testing. We are continually adapting to ensure what we are offering to our users is at its best.

“We have to be sure of what local methods work and then source these to provide for our users.”

Risk and reward

In the payments industry, the risks are heightened – it is a turbulent landscape exposed to constant technological change, meaning incumbents have to stay agile, especially in such a shifting regulatory environment. 

However, Lijtenstein recognises that despite gambling and gaming being a high risk factor in the payments sphere, it is not a hindrance if the industry prepares properly. AstroPay has done so through a robust, progressive and flexible KYC system.

“There’s always going to be risk or change in the payments industry, and we therefore need to ensure we are one step ahead of what is going to happen. This comes down to our team; the capacity in the team to understand the markets, the environment, the landscape and the different trends that will happen.

As a company, the lessons AstroPay has learnt in LatAm and other emerging markets have prepared them for the complicated western regulations, Lijtenstein says.

Agility and innovation

Now it is starting to tackle more complex regions, such as Europe – applying its rigorous approach after its proven success in LatAm, Africa and Asia. 

These digital currencies are growing in popularity, especially with younger generations. At AstroPay they’re keen to cash in on this ‘digital first approach’ in their target continents.

“We launched in Europe some months ago, knowing that there was space for a new solution. We are applying what we learnt in emerging markets and in the case of European countries, digital wallets are mostly used by millennials.”

Lijtenstein identifies that this is where the focus needs to be applied when innovating. Epayments need to be free, quick, safe and simple to use – in order to succeed in all territories, AstroPay need to maintain their agile and dynamic game plan.

“Our digital wallet is free and very easy to use. We want to conquer every country in Europe – we want to be everywhere. We have very ambitious plans, and we are going to go step by step to ensure we reach these.

“We have been in this industry for 13 years – this gives us more trust from users and strength in the industry to continue improving the system and what we offer to our users.”

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