Co-Founder, Adi Ekshtain, is interviewed by Adam Torres in the Mission Matters podcast. They discuss Amaryllis, payment facilitation, and what businesses need to know about monetizing payments. Check out what Adi had to say in the podcast below.
ADAM TORRES: Hey, I like to welcome you to the episode of the Mission Matters Business podcast, your source for all things business. My name is Adam Torres. You can follow me on Instagram at ask Adam Torres to keep up with my book releases, book tour schedule, signings, all that other good stuff. Always love to connect with you there. And as always, if you’d like to apply to become a co-author of one of my upcoming books, just head on over to the website Mission Matters dot com and click on “Become an Author” to apply. All right. Today, I have Adi Ekshtain on the line. He’s co-founder over at Amaryllis. Adi, Welcome to the show.
ADI EKSHTAIN: Thank you Adam.
ADAM TORRES: All right. So excited to get into these topics. So we will talk about payment facilitation. But before we get into that, maybe let’s go a little bit further into your background. So how did you get started really in this whole payment industry?
ADI EKSHTAIN: Yes, so about 20 years ago, in my first job straight out of college, I was part of a very small team that invented mobile payments, which was the precursor to what you know today is Apple Pay and Google Pay. Now, I don’t know if you remember what kind of phone you had in your hand in nineteen ninety nine, it was probably a flip phone or a Motorola StarTAC or a Nokia phone. In any case, there were no smartphones, there were no apps. There wasn’t even any app store. And we found a way to put an app on those mobile phones. And we partnered with Orange Telecom and we deployed a commercial solution where people could go to a grocery store, a restaurant, a pharmacy and pay for the goods with their phone.
ADAM TORRES: Wow, so that was the that was the original, and I do I do think I remember I think it was one of those little square Nokia’s. I don’t know if I had the flip. I think I had the American Freedom Plan. Forty nine ninety nine for five hundred anytime minutes. I do remember you took me way back. Well Adi that was like time travel. So that being said, I mean, you obviously are a pioneer in the industry. You’re working at this very, very early on. And now many years later, I mean, take us to Amaryllis and the company you started and tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing present day.
ADI EKSHTAIN: Yes. So throughout all these years, I designed and implemented numerous payment systems in about any industry you can think of, from health care to real estate, ridesharing. And what we noticed is the pattern in the market that companies kept building the same payment system, in-house over and over again, unlike, for example, CRM software, you would not build your own CRM software these days, there is so many available packages to choose from. So we decided to take all of our knowledge and expertise and mold it into a technology stack that others can use so they don’t need to reinvent the payment wheel. And that’s Amaryllis. Amaryllis is a cloud based platform that lets company’s embed payments, monetize payments, and become payment facilitators. And it’s mostly suitable for marketplaces or enterprises or well funded startups that want a shortcut to this market and they can operate in almost any industry. We serve clients in e-commerce, retail, grocery delivery, travel and many more industries.
ADAM TORRES: So I don’t want to I don’t want to assume that everybody listening knows exactly what payment facilitation is. Maybe just a brief education.
ADI EKSHTAIN: Absolutely. So payment facilitator or payfac, in short, is a company that provides many payment processing services, so to speak. So they get permission from a real payment company to accept payments on behalf of their merchant. And in the process, they get to decide who they are going to do business with so they can sign up their merchants very quickly and charge a fee for each transaction running through their system. So maybe a couple of examples, good examples are Mind Body and Shopify. Mind Body provides software to manage fitness, wellness and beauty services to over fifty thousand merchants. Shopify, as you may well know, is an e-commerce platform that powers online stores for millions of businesses. And the interesting thing is that both of these companies, after they started facilitating the payments of their customers, a large portion of the revenue comes from the payment monetization and not from the sales of the software. And I can speak to the benefits of payment facilitation. I can name the top three so the audience can understand. First is creating a new revenue stream, as a payments facilitator you get to cap to and charge a margin, a fee on all payments of all merchants in your platform. The second benefit is the speed up or slow merchant onboarding. Today if your platform enables payments for merchants at the websites or the stores, you either have to send them to a third party payment processor to apply for what’s called a merchant account.Or you need to collect a lot of sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, bank account details, and then hand it over to a third party. And this process takes times, days, sometimes even weeks. But when you become a payment facilitator and with the help of software like the one provided by Amaryllis, of course, you can onboard your customers instantly, which brings me to number three. That your business valuation will go up because now you have more customers and you’ll monetize them much better.
ADAM TORRES: Wow. I mean, there’s a lot of benefits here. I mean, one, obviously, the you’re you’re really helping, especially with marketplaces, things like that. And the fact that you’re you’re lowering the barrier of entry. So now that somebody doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel and I like the CRM example you’ve made, like nobody right now is going to go and build their own CRM. It’s not realistic. And why there’s so many different solutions out there. So now you’ve done the same thing and payment facilitation. It’s awesome. So so how can you know, there’s some people listening right now and they’re thinking about different business opportunities or how to integrate what you’re doing and what you’re talking about with maybe what they’re doing or maybe they want to go further into that industry. I mean, how do people scale a business without taking much risk in this whole payment facilitation world?
ADI EKSHTAIN: Yes, absolutely. So the challenge is that bringing payments in-house is very expensive, and that’s because if you want a part of this pie, you have more responsibilities, you need to take more risk and you need to build more tools to support that. And that’s from our experience, easily take a couple of years and the costs are in the millions. And so what I recommend is seeking out the help of payments professionals that specialize in payment facilitation and of course, use cutting edge technologies like Amaryllis that can save you time, money and also make sure you don’t make avoidable mistakes.
ADAM TORRES: That makes a lot of sense. So where do you let’s let’s take it just maybe maybe one step further there. So if somebody is having a because you’ve seen both sides of this. Right. So you’ve seen people make these type of costly mistakes and then you’ve seen the other side. So, I mean, take us a step further and what that might look like.
ADI EKSHTAIN: Yes, so managing risk is an ongoing task you need to do before, during and after you’re on board your merchants or customers. So typical mistakes that could be avoided are on the underwriting and onboarding part. You need to know what questions to ask. And you want to have rapid onboarding. You don’t want to ask too many questions and scare your merchants off and when I say merchants it could be drivers or any other participants in the sharing economy. And then once you make a decision that you want to work with them and take payments on their behalf and also pay them their residuals, you need to ongoingly monitor the activies in all the accounts to make sure there is no fraudulent behavior, that everybody behaves. And that’s how you really manage risk. And the best way to do it is with a software that does it for you automatically and then sends you alerts whenever you need to pay attention to something.
ADAM TORRES: That’s awesome. So if somebody is listening to this and they want final question, two part question, if somebody is listening to this and they want to learn more about Amaryllis, I mean, number one, what’s usually the right type of fit to work with you and your company? And number two, what’s the best way for them to connect?
ADI EKSHTAIN: Yes, so I would say the best fit for us are enterprises or marketplaces or well funded startups, typically doing 25 millions or more in payments, and they can just head over to a website at Amaryllispay.com and fill out a short form and we’ll get in touch with them right away.
ADAM TORRES: Fantastic. Adi, really appreciate you coming on the show today and share more about your background and how you got started. Taking me back to that Nokia phone I had once upon a time and also all the great success that you have with Amaryllis helping businesses out. So thank you for that. And to the audience, as always, thank you for tuning in. Hope you got a lot of value out of this. If you did, especially if you’re a first time listener, don’t forget, hit that subscribe button, we love to have you be a return listener, we have much more great guests, just like Adi coming up shortly. So we don’t want to miss out on those. So Adi, thanks again for coming on the show.
ADI EKSHTAIN: Thank you, Adam.