What advice would you give to a business owner who is thinking about signing up for Chinese digital payments?
The world is changing, and as part of that, the payment world is changing. There are constantly new payment types coming on the scene. Chinese digital payment is the next wave, the next step towards a cashless society. It will be a requirement to doing business. It might be new today, but so was contactless payment with your debit card four or five years ago.
For the big top-tier retailers, adding Chinese digital payments will help them cater to a niche but very powerful consumer group—the Chinese community. This consumer group wants to make payments this way. It will make your customer experience better.
For smaller independent merchants, there are three specific consumer groups to consider: Chinese-Canadian residents, Chinese tourists, and Chinese students. If you think about these three consumer groups, a Chinese grocery store is an obvious spot for Chinese digital payments, but so is a tourist or souvenir shop at a local attraction, as well as a traditional burger place near the campus. Chinese digital payment isn’t just for traditional Chinese merchants, it’s for any merchant who would serve these different consumer groups.
What is OTT Pay’s biggest strength right now?
It’s our business strategy. We want to aggressively grow the business, but in the right way. We don’t just want to grab market share. We want our growth to be sustainable over the long term.
In the short term, we’re focused on going after the right merchants in the right locations, but we’ve also got a product and service roadmap that will take us beyond the next 12-24 months, so that our products and services will sustain us beyond the products we’re selling today.
What sets OTT Pay apart from the competition? What are your biggest competitive advantages?
First of all, we’ve set ourselves up to offer a platform of products and services. Today, we’re mostly an electronic transaction processor. But that’s just a platform, and we’re adding other products and services to that platform. Another strength is our customer-centric culture. This is very important in the Chinese culture. Trust is like gold. It takes a long time to earn it, but you can destroy it very quickly. Focusing on our customers will let us establish our brand as a trusted brand, both here and in China. Finally, we are strong financially. We are owned by a Financial Services company, which gives us the power to have a solid 5-year strategic plan. Some of our competitors in the marketplace right now are startups, and they’re only looking at short-term market share.
Whenever products enter the marketplace people tend to focus on what’s new and shiny, but there’s a real vacuum of information. For merchants looking for a partner, the financial stability of the company they choose will be critical. And this is a huge plus for us. We have a plan beyond the next 12 months. The competition might be 5 basis points cheaper, but will they develop a relationship with you? Will they come back to you with the next wave of payments? Will they offer new product solutions that work with your existing technology? Our financial stability and our future vision set us apart in this noisy, shiny-object lifecycle of the product.
What is the connection between OTT Pay and the Chinese market?
Our brand is well-known in China. Our marketing services let us take your Canadian brand and start advertising for you in China. We can translate your web pages into Mandarin. For an online business in Canada, this means you can potentially have hundreds of millions of people seeing the jewellery or the maple syrup you sell. If you’re targeting Chinese visitors to Canada, we can profile your business on the sites where Chinese tourists and students go to make decisions about their trips to Canada. We can offer promotions such as discounts or couponing events. Finally, we also know how to work with the Chinese government. We break down all these hurdles for you. These are the value-adds that really make OTT Pay stand out.
What’s the biggest challenge facing OTT Pay?
Right now, our biggest challenge is an uneducated marketplace. This is changing quickly, but there are still many retailers that don’t fully understand this payment method. The second major challenge we face is the short-term focus of some of our competition, who are just interested in building up market share. It’s very tempting to match the prices on the street, but we need to stick to our long-term business strategy. And the third challenge we face is managing our exponential growth. The demand is way more than we can manage easily right now, so we’re working hard to grow the business properly.
How do you see OTT Pay changing over the next two years?
Right now, we’re mostly acting as a payment processor. Two years from now, we’ll be offering more services and assets. For example, we just launched digital gift cards, and in the future, we might sell business insurance, or offer couponing. We’ll have a whole suite of technology-based transaction services that go beyond electronic payment transactions.
What have you learned since joining OTT Pay?
I’m really intrigued by the power this consumer group has to push this new payment method. It’s a powerful, affluent group, and their numbers are growing.
What do you enjoy most about working at OTT Pay?
We’re right at the start of this new wave in payments, and there’s a huge amount of potential for the future. We can see a massive opportunity ahead of us. It’s exciting, but it’s also quite intimidating. We need to be careful about the direction we take, because we’ll give up certain opportunities when we choose a specific path.
If you could describe OTT Pay using one word, what would it be?
As you may have gathered by now, it’s hard for me to answer anything using just one word! I would say focused. Focused or determined.