SafeCharge Interview: How To Build a £700 Million Payment Company

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From left to right: Yuval Ziv (CCO), David Avgi (CEO) and Tsach Einav (CFO

 

Nuvei completes the acquisition of SafeCharge for US $889 million, strengthening its global payment technology and reach. Our CEO Susanne Chishti interviews the SafeCharge leadership team on how to build and scale a global payment company and what their top tips are for other fintech entrepreneurs.

Susanne Chishti, CEO FINTECH Circle: David, you have co- founded SafeCharge 12 years ago and successfully went public on London’s stock exchange AIM five years ago. On the 17 July 2019 the Board of SafeCharge accepted a £700 million cash takeover offer from the Canadian payment company Nuvei. What were your personal highlights during this time? Which are your top 3 tips for other entrepreneurs?

David Avgi, CEO SafeCharge:  The last 12 years were an incredible journey with too many highlights to mention them all. Most important for me was building and working daily with a winning team. Having amazing people around me who are passionate, execute well, lead from the front and inspire our global employees in Israel, the UK, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Italy, The Netherlands, Singapore, China and Mexico – this is the true reason for our success.

Another important virtue in our fast-paced payment sector is patience! That’s an important quality to have, required to build up long-lasting relationships and a world class technology platform. SafeCharge’s core technology allows us to own the value chain, that’s key and empowered us to scale up globally in a very profitable way.

My top tips for other entrepreneurs are to go for your dreams and spend your time on something you are truly passionate about. Build a team of people who share your vision and continuously invest in your tech platform. To develop the best tech solutions, you need the smartest people you can get. That’s why SafeCharge is like family to me and I am really proud of each of our employees globally, everyone is special and I am very excited about our journey going forward with Nuvei.

Susanne: What unique payment solutions does SafeCharge provide and why do you believe that the acquisition by Nuvei will be so beneficial for SafeCharge’s employees and stakeholders worldwide?

David: So far SafeCharge’s geographic focus was Europe with our core development team based in Tel Aviv and Sofia. We also successfully entered many Asian countries and Mexico. Nuvei, on the other hand is a payment leader in North America. Therefore, the acquisition of SafeCharge by Nuvei makes so much sense, as we are jointly creating a global payment leader with an unrivalled talent pool and technology stack. This will allow our SafeCharge employees even more career opportunities long-term and being part of a global company, which we can all be very proud of.

The acquisition will allow us to be even more customer centric, service our global customers consistently across different time zones, scale up our product and service offering to merchants and offer the most innovative solutions worldwide. We also have a great cybersecurity team in Tel Aviv which allows us to implement the highest safety standards.

The transaction is also very positive for our shareholders as the agreed price per share was at an attractive premium and so all our shareholders will clearly benefit from the deal, as will our employees who will be rewarded with bonuses and through their options which they have received over the years.

Susanne:  Tsach, as CFO you built up a company with annual revenue of more than £110 million and EBITDA of more than £30 million. Which priorities did you set over the last years to build such a robust financial framework?

Tsach Einav, CFO SafeCharge: The strategy and the employees are the two most important factors in our success over the years. We built a clear organic growth strategy targeting both our existing customer base and new customers with value-added products and services, together with diversification of the business into new sectors and geographies.  The execution of our growth strategy was with the long-term view to build a global company with strong financial performance for the long run.  And the employees of SafeCharge were always at the heart of the Group’s success and we are proud of the expertise and professionalism of our teams.

Susanne: SafeCharge also successfully executed strategic investments and acquired companies. Can you give us one example and your top tips in what to look out for when choosing the best corporate investments? Is strategic fit or ROI more important?

Tsach: The most important factor for us in our strategic investments and acquisitions over the years was to identify acquisitions and investments with a potential to accelerate growth through synergies. Identifiable growth synergies were key in our investment decisions.

Susanne: As CCO you were responsible for building up a global sales team. How did you achieve that, Yuval? What are your tips for other fintech companies who want to expand into new territories? What’s the best way to enter a new market?

Yuval Ziv, CCO SafeCharge: I strongly believe that while it is obvious that a company needs a strong commercial team, more than anything, the team needs to be acting as such, and therefore we kept it as one of our most unique standards to make sure that while building sales teams we also need to make sure that they are real team players, an acting together towards one goal. Any new Fintech company, or one that wants to expand rapidly needs to ensure that the teams are always acting together and are aligned towards one unified goal.

Once the objective is known and transparent, once the KPIs are clear to the team and once measuring the performance is done easily – the company will be able to expand easier.

Susanne: SafeCharge built a global ecosystem of payment partners. How did you nurture key partnerships long-term? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Yuval: Indeed maintaining successful relationships with our partners has been and still is a vital part of our success, as global payment technology partner, it is important to create real win-win for the partners and us.  Over the years we’ve been developing very transparent relationships, enabling both SafeCharge and our partners to enjoy the growth we’ve created.

In addition, we’ve kept developing the network of partners, keeping our merchants’ needs to have global coverage at all times as our utmost priority, while ensuring that our partners are such that can serve us to the same levels of service that we are expected by our clients.

By combining the proprietary technology, and the flexibility of our development capabilities with the levels of partnerships we’ve created – we’ve basically reached a level of service that is second to none, differentiating us from the competition.  Our Native+ service is exactly that- offering the flexibility to the merchant to choose our own acquiring with a combination of utilizing our partnerships.

SafeCharge press release: Nuvei completes acquisition of SafeCharge for US $889 million, strengthening its global payment technology and reach