Five questions for GoCardless president Paul Stoddart
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GoCardless has continued its push to become the world’s bank pay network by bringing in Paul Stoddart, Mastercard’s former president of new payment platforms. The former CEO of Vocalink brings a wealth of experience from stints at Barclaycard, NatWest and Worldpay and will assume global responsibility for the go-to-market organisation including the strategy, sales, product, marketing and customer teams, with a view to accelerating growth.
His appointment comes as GoCardless broadens its offering of direct bank payment solutions for both one-off and recurring payments and builds out its suite of payment intelligence products to help businesses manage their payments more effectively.
We put five questions to our new president to find out his plans for the future and what’s top of his to-do list.
Why did you choose GoCardless?
GoCardless has been on my radar for quite a while. My previous role meant I worked with all the stakeholders in the UK clearing system and I have always been impressed with the direction the company has taken. Having previously sold a business to MasterCard, and then joining them to help them acquire and grow businesses of all sizes, I feel I have a lot to offer GoCardless as we move into the next phase of our growth. Obviously, the world GoCardless operates in plays into my payment expertise, but the culture and people here are those I instantly felt I could work with and who would bring the best out of me.
What are the main global opportunities for GoCardless?
The global opportunities for GoCardless are huge. If you look at the global payment landscape, only about 20 percent of electronic payments are related to cards. That means 80 percent is there to play for - and that equates to something like $200 trillion in annual value - so the size of the opportunity is very attractive. The reason I think GoCardless can win in this challenge is because of our success in the UK, where our focus has been on developing a product that resolves pain points for customers. The UK market has historically been a beacon for the global payments industry to follow and we can absolutely replicate and expand our work in the UK to a number of other markets around the world that have similar traits and behaviours. We are in the enviable position of having already built a global bank debit network - that means we have the foundation in place to build out new bank payment products and services. We are already looking beyond recurring payments with the introduction of Instant Bank Pay and I see extending that product set as being the main means of expansion into new markets.
What are the specific opportunities for GoCardless in Germany?
Germany has fascinated me for a long time and the reason for that is because it's quite different in terms of payment types and utilisation in the market. Germany is heavily bank payment oriented and card usage is fairly low relative to the UK, the US and France. This structural difference means we need to be thinking about different channels to market and how we adapt our current successful propositions in the UK and France, for example, and localise it for German consumer and business payment needs. Germany represents a significant area of potential growth for us and it is a market we will be targeting heavily.
What are the main ways GoCardless can help businesses grow?
One of the things I was most impressed about with GoCardless when looking in as an outsider was that the product suite was diverse enough to provide value to businesses of all sizes. When people think of business they probably think first of large corporations, but GoCardless has a long and very impressive record of helping small businesses to get off the ground and reach their potential in all the geographic areas that we operate in. At the heart of this is customer understanding. Small business owners don’t want to spend a lot of time worrying about payments, so, by having such a quick set-up, having a thorough set of partner network integrations, and by being so easy to use, GoCardless has helped thousands of small businesses take the pain out of payments. The challenges are different for larger businesses, of course, but it still comes down to how well we understand them. For enterprise organisations the challenges are around seamlessly integrating our payment platform into all the other things that they do, having the capability to deal with much larger volumes, automating much more of the payment process, and so on. We have proven ourselves on that front many times over from a product capability point of view and by investing in understanding the needs of our customers we are confident of articulating that our solutions are suitable for businesses of any size.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don't be in too much of a hurry! That was a piece of advice given to me by my mentor when I was in my early twenties and it is something that I have seen become more and more relevant as my career has gone on. There is nothing wrong with urgency, of course, but rushing decision making only leads to unsatisfactory outcomes. There is always more time than you think and by not being in too much of a hurry you can accumulate the information you need to make an informed decision.