As a startup founder, you’re in a good position to set the culture of your workplace: Interview with Paybase founder Anna Tsyupko

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London-based Paybase is a flexible payments solution for online marketplaces, fintechs and cryptocurrency businesses.

The fintech was founded by Anna Tsyupko in 2017, and has developed a sophisticated API that combines payments, compliance and risk management – allowing businesses to reach the market more quickly and seamlessly. Paybase is able to accommodate a wide array of use cases, enabling businesses at any stage of development to build better, more competitive products.

Below, we interview Anna about how she got the idea for Paybase, how it helps SMEs, and about being a woman founder.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your background, and where did you get the idea for Paybase?

I manage the overall direction and strategy at Paybase, working closely with clients and suppliers whilst overseeing all aspects of the business. Before founding Paybase I held positions in private equity, after receiving my BA from the University of Cambridge and Masters from the University of Oxford.

I first had the idea for Paybase when I was overseeing an investment within the fintech space. The rigidity of the legacy payments sector was very clear, as was the gap in the market for an accessible, modern, flexible payments provider.

In the financial space there is a very high barrier to entry owing to mandatory regulatory requirements and the limitations of incumbent financial institutions. For me and my co-founder, to have taken Paybase from the idea stage to a thriving live product is something I’m very proud of. We now have over 30 clients live or in onboarding onto our platform, we are starting a new funding round, and we’ve begun the process for our expansion into Europe in 2020. We’re excited about what the next quarter will bring for Paybase!

What is Paybase’s mission, and what problems does it solve for SMEs?

Our mission at Paybase is to raise the bar of what payments can and should do. Too many businesses are being failed by payments and by the rigidity of payments providers, often being told that their innovative ideas are unfeasible, too expensive or simply not worth the payments providers’ time. We take a different approach by putting our clients in the driving seat. We allow them to build the product they want to build, and give them access to infinite customisable capabilities out-of-the-box, giving them the framework they need to scale. This is not only critical to helping businesses reach the market, but it enables them to continuously enhance their offering.

We’re enabling businesses to build more competitive products and to do so without compromise.

Can you tell us more about Paybase’s unique and specific offerings?

We are a licensed eMoney Institution (EMI) and we work with three main target markets – the platform economy (online marketplaces, gig/sharing economy), fintechs and cryptocurrency businesses. Our uniqueness comes from our out-of-the-box flexibility, which enables our clients to not only build the products that they want to build but enhance them without the need for custom development.

If a marketplace platform, for example, needed to re-engage its merchants, it could temporarily remove commission fees for those that have not made a sale in the past three months. If a gig economy platform wanted to enhance trust and security for its users, they could hold funds in escrow until a gig is complete. For a fintech specialising in customer savings, they may need to create separate ‘pots’ with funds being automatically sent between them based on date, time, current balance or any other variable. Using Paybase, all of these features can be set up in a matter of days, meaning that you are always equipped to adapt to market needs.

How are you innovating in your space?

The Paybase Platform is a tool not only for innovation but it also goes some way towards democratising the payments space. For too long, the most unique and innovative payments features have been reserved for big businesses who can afford to pay for costly custom development – for example Uber, Deliveroo and more. With Paybase, this is no longer the case. Our platform is built with flexibility at its core, giving businesses at any stage of development access to infinitely customisable, out-of-the-box capabilities.  

What do you envision will be the next frontier for the e-payments market?

Since 2008, the financial landscape has been evolving and adapting to meet the growing expectations of modern consumers: security, personalisation and strong UX. The financial crisis prompted the birth of the platform economy (online marketplaces and gig/sharing economy platforms), fintechs and cryptocurrency businesses – but commoditised payments are no longer appropriate to serve these markets. Payments are changing from being an external feature that is plugged into a product to one closely intertwined with the product itself. The above markets all need the ability to accept, send, route, hold and split their end-user funds – simply to get to market with the product that they want. I therefore predict that there will be a more urgent push to combat the commoditisation of payments, and more businesses will leverage them as their defining feature.

Tech Nation recently released a report revealing that women make up only 19% of tech roles in the UK, and account for only 23% of directors in the tech sector. Can you tell us a bit about your experience being a woman in tech/fintech?

As a founder – especially in a startup or SME – you’re in a good position to set the culture and dynamic of your workplace, and certainly in a stronger position than you would be entering an existing company culture in a junior position. At Paybase, we have a 50/50 gender split in our senior management team, which I believe has helped to filter diversity and inclusion down through the teams.

In terms of Tech Nation’s findings, it’s not surprising. Although there have been positive changes in the industry, the lack of diversity in the tech space is a historic problem. I’ve heard horror stories about larger corporates struggling to combat this issue. As a founder, you’re at a vantage point to pioneer change – but whilst such a low percentage of women are in this position in the tech space, there’s still a lot of progress to be made.

How have you impacted the payments space?

Since launching in 2017, Paybase has received consistent acclaim for the work we are doing to disrupt the fintech industry and for our company culture. As well as being awarded a £700k grant by the government-backed body Innovate UK in 2017, Wired recognised Paybase as one of the companies set to revolutionise finance, with Real Business naming us one of the UK’s 50 most disruptive companies in 2018. This year, Paybase was named one of the top 100 UK companies to escape to in 2019 (Escape 100) and selected as finalists in the Tackling Economic Crime Awards.

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