A regular at industry events, conferences, and exhibitions, Olga Karablina is a recognisable face in the payments industry. In her role as Partners Team Lead, she’s – unsurprisingly – in charge of partnerships at ECOMMPAY.
Starting from the beginning, when did you join ECOMMPAY?
I joined ECOMMPAY three years ago, in August 2016. My background was in the travel segment, but as I’d worked both independently and for small agencies, I felt very comfortable handling everything that comes with running a successful business – from sales to accounting to marketing to payments. Initially, I was after a sales role at ECOMMPAY, but fate had other plans.
When I got the call that I’d gotten the job, it was worded in an interesting way: “you’ve impressed us, you’re hired, but your job title will be Partner Manager – is that okay?”
Why did you decide to take the role?
Managing partnerships is sales, to an extent. I sell ECOMMPAY as a desirable partner to the payment systems we’re interested in, negotiating attractive rates, and likewise sell the intended payment partner internally. I’m applying a broader range of skills than I would have otherwise, because I’m in dialogue with both internal and external stakeholders. I liaise between the sales, legal, compliance, risk management, and client services teams on our side and I’m simultaneously in constant communication with the same departments on the prospective partner’s side.
One of the main reasons I took the job was because I realised that this is something that will never be boring – this position continues teaching me something new every day!
How has your role changed over the years?
When I first joined, I began working with the payment systems that were already in the process of onboarding, i.e. finalising their contracts, initiating the technical integrations, educating our business development teams and key account managers on how to upsell. I then began doing my own research and analysis, communicating interdepartmentally to understand merchant requirements and expand our regional coverage.
Last year, ECOMMPAY made the strategic decision to diversify into the travel sector. As someone with experience in this industry, I was well-placed to advise and to begin building partnerships with exactly the kind of payment methods travel, tourism, and hospitality operators would be interested in. When we began building our dedicated travel product, I assisted my colleagues in conducting a thorough analysis of the market landscape.
After attending World Travel Market London last year, I realised that we need to increase our coverage of alternative payment systems in Europe. We’ve since integrated Sofort, Giropay, and many more. With the development of our office in Mauritius, we’re looking more and more at France and French-speaking countries, so we need more regional coverage. There’s always work to be done!
How do you typically find new payment systems with which to partner?
We’re constantly tracking market changes. I’m in regular dialogue with our regional sales teams, because they’re talking to prospective clients on a daily basis and have the most up-to-date insights on trends – what questions are merchants asking, where do they want to expand to, what methods are they looking at, etc. Both current and prospective clients typically look to enter new markets or regions rather than integrate a specific payment system, so we take on a very consultative role, advising them on the most relevant methods.
It’s also important to interact with clients, industry peers, and potential partners at events and conferences. Very often, we’ll be approached by start-ups or niche payment methods. We consider each one based on their predicted capacity for growth, trying to ascertain whether this is something we should invest in at an early stage.
Has the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) changed your approach?
PSD2 facilitates new opportunities for payments, especially when it concerns online banking – a very popular payment method across Europe. Payments through online banking will be faster and cheaper when PSD2 comes into force, which we hope to harness in order to enable our merchants to use the new regulation to their advantage.
In terms of onboarding new payment methods, however, we will take the same approach as we always have: compliant, secure, thorough. We assess each new payment method individually across various parameters: what they can offer that we don’t already have, how does integration work and what does it require from our side, will the payment method suit our portfolio, what legal documentation and certification does the payment method in question hold, does the payment method pass our compliance and AML requirements, are the commercials attractive for ECOMMPAY, etc.