Small Enterprise  speaks to the Sirish Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO of Telr, about the new TelrSecure

Tell us about TelrSecure.
TelrSecure is a collection of Telr’s anti-fraud features, designed to keep online merchants secure and their customers safe. It centres around our 100% proprietary state of the art security software that provides real-time monitoring of online transactions. Our proprietary algorithms, combined with the timely exchange of information with Telr partners such as banks and Telr’s online merchants, help prevent fraud in real-time: TelrSecure proactively monitors and detects security issues before these impact the bottom-line of our online merchants. Recognising that one set of rules does not always fit all situations, TelrSecure also allows businesses to add their own additional online payment security parameters, specific to their individual business.

This protects merchants’ revenue by ensuring not only that fraudulent transactions are identified and prevented, but also that legitimate transactions are not blocked. This means fewer claims from the online merchant’s customers – and results in an industry-leading transaction success ratio for our merchants. In this way, we minimize our merchants’ revenue leakage from online fraud.

This has the further advantage of helping build the buying behaviour of customers, who buy from more than 100 countries on Telr’s online payment platform: we assist our merchants in striking the right balance between ensuring security for their customers and themselves and minimizing user friction at the point of payment. Brands play a vital role in encouraging their customers to pay online, and experience is a critical component of this. TelrSecure brings the highest levels of security to online payments, without compromising the customers’ experience.

What sort of audience is it aimed at?
With customizable features and a world-class monitoring system, TelrSecure is equally appropriate for startups or SMEs taking their businesses online and established merchants seeking to scale up their online businesses. Revenue protection is just as relevant, no matter the size of the business.

What is the onboarding procedure for merchants to get into the system?
At Telr, we understand that the setting up an e-commerce operation is not easy, and so our onboarding process is designed for efficiency and to ensure that there are no unforeseen issues that might delay operations.

Each client has a dedicated person from the Telr team that leads them through all the steps: from getting the right documents in place (which can be done completely online – something we pioneered in the region), to assistance with integration, for which we have a number of options.

What sort of documents are required?
During our onboarding process we gather our client’s documents and verify them – generally speaking, the documentation we require enables us to check the identity of the business and the individuals running it. There are also a number of requirements relating to the client’s website that we need to check up on – and all of our documentation and website requirements are set out on so that our clients know what to expect as we go through the onboarding process.

Are you working with any regional financial institutions for this service?
We work with a number of banks across the region, to ensure that our clients benefit from a seamless process from onboarding through to activation and the day-to-day operations of the payment gateway.

What factors do you need to consider when selecting an online payment system?
Every business that accepts payments online needs a payment gateway – but the right payment gateway can go far beyond simply enabling a business to accept payments. A payment gateway can support the growth of an online business by providing features that allow the business to optimize its online revenues – such as antifraud software that protects against revenue leakage, or real-time dashboards that allow complete visibility over the status of payments, or payment methods that offer a more effective way of reaching existing customers, such as e-invoices or a recurring payment facility.

Feature-rich payment gateways can go far beyond this, however, opening up entire new revenue-generating opportunities to online merchants by providing access to a wider online buying population – examples here are the ability to accept payments in different currencies and from different countries; or social commerce tools to reach the significantly larger online audience in social media; or even to bring the efficiencies of online payments into the bricks-and-mortar world.

Our advice to merchants looking for payment gateways tends to be to make sure that the payment gateway that they choose will be able to meet their expanded requirements as their online businesses grow, and is able to evolve as the payments landscape itself evolves. In this respect, selecting a payment gateway with its own proprietary software is critical: ownership of the underlying software allows a payment gateway to stay nimble and aligned with the ever-changing demands of online consumers and businesses.

What are the benefits of online payments over offline payment systems?
Online payments offer significant advantages over offline payments – chief amongst these are the antifraud protections that are integrated with the online payment process, the efficiencies of online payments in terms of real-time visibility over payment status, and the benefit of not having the cost burdens associated with handling cash. Ultimately, we estimate that the efficiencies of online payments as compared to offline payments translates into 2x to 3x growth in margins in the longer term.

The benefits go beyond the purely transactional, though – we see that businesses that adopt digital payments are subsequently better positioned to evolve their business models, and scale up into new revenue streams. Online payments are the gateway to business agility and new markets. Online payment systems also have the ability to connect directly with other business platforms, such as accounting or inventory management software, further enhancing the efficiency of the business.

Indeed, such are the advantages of online payments versus cash, that we are now seeing a movement to bring digital payments into the bricks and mortar world. Retailers and service providers such as restaurants and hotels are looking at how to enable digital payments in-store at point of sale, and to replace cash-on-delivery – and we have a number of features that support this.

Why should SME’s adopt an online payment system?
The primary rationale for adopting an online payment system is to be able to accept payments through websites – this tends to be the driver for SMEs’ initial exploration of online payment systems.

However, and as we touched on above, online payment systems bring a host of other benefits to SMEs, all of which enable the SMEs to reach wider audiences and enhance their own efficiency.

What sort of Infrastructure is being used for digital payments in the UAE? How secure are these?
The security of the payments infrastructure is absolutely paramount to its success. It is without a doubt the most critical aspect of the proposition. Telr’s payment gateway is PCI DSS Level 1 certified, and interfaces directly with card scheme and bank infrastructure, which is in turn subject to the highest levels of security protection.

Telr’s PCI DSS Level 1 certification removes the need for individual merchants to be certified themselves. This provides an extra level of comfort to consumers, as it means that they don’t need to worry about how secure their payment data will be on individual merchant websites.

Merchants are able to concentrate on the overall customer experience on their websites, while we focus on ensuring that their customers are as secured and protected as it’s possible to be, without facing additional friction at the point of payment.

Do you think consumers in the region are confident enough to use digital payments over offline payments?
During 2017, UAE consumers spent an estimated $59 billion (Dh216 billion) on goods and services using their credit, debit and prepaid cards. 2.5% of card transactions in the UAE are online – this compares to up to 25% in developed markets. So it’s plain to see that there is enormous upside potential for digital payments – but the key to increasing the proportion of online payments lies in persuading consumers that online payments are more convenient and more secure than offline.

One of the notable characteristics of the region is their preference for cash – cash continues to be the UAE’s most popular payment method, and is even used when paying for online transactions, with cash-on-delivery. This of course creates a significant burden for merchants – but here too we’re seeing an encouraging trend. Our own analysis shows the proportion of cash-on-delivery payments steadily declining over the past few years, from up to 80% four years ago to around 40-45% today.

Consumers are gradually becoming more comfortable with using their cards for online payments – this is being driven in no small part by the need to use cards for online payments where cash is not a realistic option, such as subscription services, government services, or on-demand services. As consumers become increasingly comfortable using their cards to pay online for these services, so they tend to use their cards more for online payments in general.

Payment gateways and merchants now need to continue to boost the confidence of consumers, by providing a payment experience that is both convenient and faultlessly secure. This has been our driving purpose with the creation of TelrSecure.

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