[Interview] Eran Feinstein, CEO, DPO Group
For the last 13 years, DPO Group, Direct Pay Online, has positioned itself as a market leader in the provision of payment services in Africa.
Working with 45,000 private and corporate merchants spanning airlines, hotels, e-commerce platforms and tour operators and with a presence in 16 countries, DPO Group is redefining the African payment ecosystem.
Eran Feinstein the company’s CEO spoke to Africa Business Communities about the business model, strategic partnerships it has entered into, plans to expand to 28 African countries in the next four years and the greatest threats to business.
What is DPO Group in a nutshell?
DPO Group is Africa’s leading payment service provider (PSP). We enable tens of thousands of merchants and consumers across 16 African countries to transact securely and effortlessly using our advanced payment technology.
Our mission is to support economic development and financial inclusion on the continent by offering African businesses and consumers secure and seamless payment processing.
We accept all forms of payment, from mobile money and e-wallets to all major credit cards, and in all currencies, giving our customers the freedom to pay and get paid anywhere and at any time.
Who are your clients?
We work with 45,000 private and corporate merchants across the continent. Our online merchants operate in a wide variety of industries, and include over 50 airlines, thousands of hotels, restaurants, travel agents, tour operators, such as Expedia and Booking.com, and other players in the e-commerce sector.
We also enable individual customers to make payments in real time both online and offline, using credit cards, debit cards and mobile money. We now also offer cash advances to our business customers, supporting SME growth with an easily repayable cash injection which can be used however businesses wish, from renovations to strategic investments.
Our clients vary in size – very small companies which may not have yet developed a website, can transact via the DPO MarketPlace which is a free online market platform where businesses can advertise and sell their services and products, and customers can shop and pay securely using DPO payment processing technology.
How does DPO Group work to improve the payment ecosystem in Africa?
When we founded DPO back in 2006, we noticed that there was a significant gap in the payments ecosystem here in Africa namely an inability to make payments to the end user along with a lack of secure online payment processing technology.
By filling that gap and providing a secure online and offline payment solution, we’re able to facilitate the growth of local businesses across all industries, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are critical to the growth of the economies across Africa.
We’ve also been able to offer businesses the means to transact across borders via mobile-money, DPO Group is the only African PSP to offer this service, facilitating regional trade in the process.
What do you consider your greatest selling points as a payment service provider?
Besides our ability to enable cross-border payments via mobile money as well as all other forms of payment; the very strong relationships we have with our acquiring banks –possibly the largest acquiring bank network in the world, and our new partnership with Mastercard; our sophisticated fraud prevention system is one of our greatest selling points.
We’ve developed an end to end fraud prevention solution, involving real-time scanning, an advanced scoring module, identification of transaction patterns and auto-blocking. DPO is GDPR-compliant and holds PCI DSS Level 1 Certification in all 16 markets in which we operate and is the only PSP in Africa to hold it in every country of operation. (PCI DSS is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard which is administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council).
We also provide in-depth payment security training to all our merchants and we have a skilled team who scan escalated transactions and source instant customer verification. Our fraud prevention team work around the clock to detect fraudulent behavior and react immediately.
We also have a risk management team working alongside them, who analyse online behavioural patterns and modify the system accordingly to catch fraud before it happens. We’re very proud of this system, which we have developed in-house.
What has been the market response to your services since you launched?
The market response to our services and products has been incredibly positive and there is no doubt a growing demand across Africa for people to make and receive payments online.
Since we launched in 2006, we have grown from a Kenyan PSP to the largest pan-African PSP in terms of geographical reach and market share. We have seen a 500-fold increase in transaction values across our platform over the last three years alone.
Since 2016 you have made key acquisitions and entered into strategic partnerships. Are we likely to see more of that this year or anytime soon and if so where are your interests concentrated?
The formation of our strategic partnership with Mastercard in December 2018 is an exciting development for DPO, and this collaboration will enable us to connect more people and businesses to the global economy.
We’re especially excited about the opportunities for cross-border growth that our technology enables, and the impact this will have on the future of the African payments industry. We are constantly looking for new strategic partnerships and acquisition opportunities.
Besides this what are the other expansion plans that DPO Group is looking at?
The African payments landscape is vast and offers a multitude of opportunities for growth. We’ve been in this industry for 13 years now, we have a strong, experienced team so we’re well positioned to continue growing.
We are already in 16 countries including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Botswana and our immediate goal is to expand our reach into Francophone West Africa. We plan to be operating in 28 African countries in the next 4 years.
What is the greatest threat to your business at the moment?
The greatest challenge faced by the African payments industry is the lack of consistent, digital infrastructure on the continent.
Digital payments have the potential to revolutionise the African economy, but the slow pace of developing reliable digital infrastructure is an obstacle to overcome. Further investment in tech infrastructure will not only benefit the payments industry and their customers, but the growth prospects for African economies too.
What is the latest news from DPO Group?
We announced our collaboration with Mastercard at the end of last year, which will enable our customers, more than 45,000 African merchants, to accept Mastercard payments. And we look forward to sharing more news on developments throughout the year.
As the only African PSP facilitating cross-border payments via mobile money, we’re enabling people to make payments without bank accounts or credit facilities, thus removing some of the limitations for e-commerce in Africa and including more people in the financial system. We aim to continue to give more customers – from large companies to small merchants and individual customers – the freedom to pay and get paid securely online throughout Africa.
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