Here we are with another profile, this week we have Chris Newell from ImpulsePay. They are one of the UK’s leading direct operator billing companies. Let’s find out more, our questions are in bold.
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Who are you and what’s your background?
Hi, I am Chris Newell, founder and CEO of ImpulsePay, one of the UK’s leading charge to mobile companies. I studied Computing for Business at the University of Northumbria during which I also started my first business, TextYou. After University we rebranded the business as Interlinked Media, which was then sold and the proceeds where used to launch ImpulsePay.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
As a CEO I am responsible for growing the company and leading it to meet its commitment to our customers. On a wider level I am also an active industry voice, taking the time to lead on debate and effect positive change for charge to mobile.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
In agreement with all of the UK’s network operators we provide the technology that allows consumers to pay for digital goods and services using their mobile bill instead of a credit or debit card. The costs are charged to their bill or use any available credit.
Premium SMS, the technology that became popular in the early 2000s and allowed consumers to purchase ringtones or wallpapers for their phones, was the precursor to charge to mobile. However both the technology and regulation have improved in recent years and a new level of consumer security, combined with two click payments, has seen the charge to mobile become one of the most powerful mobile payment solutions out there.
We’re at an extremely exciting stage at the moment because we’ve recently launched a new product called BillMobile.
Tell us how you are funded.
ImpulsePay was privately funded through the sale of Interlinked Media
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
We saw an opportunity with the online mobile payments market, that whilst technically good, had a very poor consumer experience which needed improvement. For example, simpler two-click payment flows now mean that direct to carrier billing is 7.5 times quicker than using a credit card, so for consumers a charge to mobile option at check out is often more convenient, meaning merchants are less likely to see basket abandonment.
When it comes to our customers – the merchants – traditionally, premium rate billing has offered competitive conversion rates but with uncompetitive fees, due to the mobile network fees being so high. The goal for charge to mobile has always been to reduce the rates enough in order to compete head to head with credit cards as a payment method. Last year We introduced BillMobile specifically to be able to offer lower fees (9.9%) to merchants that want to use ImpulsePay’s mobile billing technology meaning fees for mobile payments are now comparable to the fees charged for credit card or PayPal transactions and have moved a long way from the 30% transaction fee charged by app stores.
From a technical / integration end, we’ve also been working towards significantly shortening the time it takes to launch a mass-market payment mechanic. To achieve this we’ve been working directly with network operators to automate the on-board and integration processes. This means that new BillMobile customers can effectively start and end the process of integrating a charge to mobile payment option in a matter of days, a process which previously could take weeks.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
ImpulsePay’s target customers are online retailers and merchants that want to include a mobile payment method at checkout. Once we have integrated the technology into their platform we then receive a revenue share from the transactions we bill on behalf of our clients.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
I’d shorten the timescales companies take to implement and launch alternative payment mechanics. Often this area is too far removed from any part of their current business and often requires senior sign off to implement, which slows down the deployments.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
Embrace the change and respond to changing consumer expectations quickly.
What phone are you carrying and why?
I have an iPhone 5 on Vodafone, which has the best quality 4G signal in the areas I work and live
Where do you get your industry news from?
Telemedia and MEF Minute. Two fantastic resources for global mobile payments news and views. I have also recently been introduced to a new blog, Mobile Industry Review, that has already published some great opinion articles (Wow – fantastic! That’s our sister site). For a wider view, Bob’s Guide is a great resource.
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
Paul Skeldon – @Mrskeldon – Mobile editor for Internet Retailing and Editor of Telemedia; Tim Green – @timgreen64 – a journo and mobile money blogger; and although he’s not on Twitter I would also say Rory Maguire, the MD of AIME (Association of Interactive Media & Entertainment).
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the FinTech sector?
Mobile usage replacing the desktop role for consumers and the subsequent challenges this will create when extending the reach and impact new services will have up the age ranges such as confidence, prevention of scams and usability.
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You can also find out about BillMobile on their website
If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s more information on this page.