As the world of payments goes mobile, Payscout is going virtual. It has launched an application that enables easy payments inside virtual reality experiences. The Payscout VR Commerce app is integrated with Visa Checkout (VCO), which allows users to register payment credentials within the digital wallet or access their existing Visa account. The integration of Visa Checkout, tied to an immersive 360-video experience and offering the opportunity to explore merchandise in a virtual store, means consumers can execute a secure, frictionless payment in the VR experience without having to remove their VR headset.
With the introduction and success of many virtual payment and mobile payment systems, Payscout is the first to succeed in creating a platform that offers real commerce in VR. Payscout is a global payment processing provider covering six continents by connecting merchants and consumers via credit, debit, ATM and alternative payment networks. Payscout has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of America's fastest-growing, privately-held companies for three consecutive years, ranking #2,416 in 2014, #434 in 2015, and #383 in 2016. This year, it was ranked #17 on Entrepreneur's Top Company Cultures list for medium-sized companies.
I sat down with Payscout Founder and CEO Cleveland Brown.
LM: Let's start by giving me a snapshot of you and the company.
CB: I grew up in Silicon Valley, with Apple and IBM in my backyard. I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit and come from a family of entrepreneurs, so studying business was a natural fit for me.
I started working early in banking at the age of 18. Through that process I was introduced to philosophy and economics. By building one of the first communication and e-commerce platforms for public schools, I was introduced to payments and the software side of finance. Building software, I understood how important the payment mechanism was and the application development piece came from my natural born curiosity.
Payscout is a payments innovation company. We span six continents and connect merchants and consumers via credit, debit, ATM, and alternative payment networks. Our technology platform offers payment processing solutions for brick-and-mortar and ecommerce transactions, and gives merchants instant access to 100+ countries, billions of consumers and trillions of dollars.
LM: Tell me about your origin story. Why you? Why was this company started?
CB: The catalyst for Payscout's founding was, fundamentally, thinking about the globalization of payments. At that time, we had the foresight to understand that globalization is the future. Payscout Limited started as consulting company for international financial institutions, providing infrastructure and technical systems to help them become e-commerce enabled. Payscout Inc. is the global organization that we are today.
We were inspired to the enter the VR market after attending the 2016 Sundance film festival. There was this incredible buzz around VR as a part of the New Frontiers exhibits. There were literally lines down the street - and filmmakers are some of the hardest people in the world to get excited about anything. They have seen it all, heard it all, done it all - but this was a group that was genuinely excited about this new technology.
LM: What is your favorite part about starting this company.
CB: My favorite part about starting Payscout is the team we have managed to build. My team inspires me. We built this culture to provide a scalable decision-making framework, and when I see my team implementing that process, it inspires me. This year, we were recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as #17 on their Top Company Cultures list for Medium-Sized Companies. Of all our corporate accolades, this is the award that makes me most proud.
LM: Talk to me about your company's mission. What makes you stand out against other companies in this field?
CB: Our Mission is "to support the entrepreneurial dream one transaction at a time," and it is the cornerstone of our culture.
Fundamentally, we're a payments innovation company, and there are five layers of innovation, starting with culture. The remaining layers include innovation in global payments, new payment technology (VR/XR are good examples), securing those payments with innovative fraud monitoring tools such as our Gumshoe product, and the final layer is regulatory technology and making sure our disruptive entrepreneurs can stay in business.
Those five areas of innovation (culture, global payments, new payment technology, security/fraud prevention, and regulatory technology) are what differentiate us from the competition.
LM: How did you think of the concept and what/who was your inspiration behind Payscout?
CB: The idea started with a previous business venture - we were building e-commerce platforms for public schools to facilitate communication and transactions among all stakeholders: parents, teachers, coaches, etc. From that experience, I learned about the value of implementing e-commerce systems, and started thinking about how that translates globally. I traveled abroad and began consulting with ministers of finance and other international leaders to find out our e-commerce was being implemented in their economic policies.
LM: Tell me about your clients and what kind of audience you are targeting.
CB: Our clients include major marketplaces such as Alibaba, renowned service providers such as AAA, and prestigious universities such as Colby College, among many more. We serve more than 3,000 merchants globally.
In terms of target audience, we are looking for companies that align with our culture of innovation. From a VR perspective, we're targeting entrepreneurs, content creators and developers to make VR commerce payments technology available to as many consumers as possible and expand to as many types of retail experiences as possible through the Unity development community.
LM: Talk to us a little bit about why you think this has been so successful?
CB: I see our company culture as a major reason for Payscout's success. Culture allows you to move through the learning curve of taking that idea and making it successful in the current economy. We are really focused on building a globalized culture, so that every country we work in, every market we tap, we can all speak the same language.
LM: How can emerging brands in the space be successful (best practices)?
CB: For someone at the outset of a career in FinTech, I would make sure I had a fundamental understanding of AI/ML. If you don't, I would say you build a knowledge base there to understand how those elements are going to impact FinTech.
Entrepreneurs should not shy away from making mistakes. It is part of the process. A mistake can lend itself to a learning opportunity. However, entrepreneurs should be afraid of making the same mistake twice. Make mistakes, but make new mistakes.
LM: What is your take on the future of Payscout?
CB: From my standpoint, the future for us is to continue our vision to become the thought leading and fastest growing payments innovation company in the world. So how do we do that? We define thought leadership as being the resource that inspires others to innovate and achieve new standards. From an innovation perspective, we shape the future by empowering creativity and delivering winning solutions to unforeseen challenges.
We can't wait to see what Payscout brings to the virtual space!