Georgia Fintech Academy

Episode 24: Oliver POS - Acquiring Payments, Canada, and more..Mathias Nelson of OliverPOS and AJ Al-Bawab from Georgia State

September 24, 2020 Georgia Fintech Academy Season 1 Episode 24
Georgia Fintech Academy
Episode 24: Oliver POS - Acquiring Payments, Canada, and more..Mathias Nelson of OliverPOS and AJ Al-Bawab from Georgia State
Chapters
Georgia Fintech Academy
Episode 24: Oliver POS - Acquiring Payments, Canada, and more..Mathias Nelson of OliverPOS and AJ Al-Bawab from Georgia State
Sep 24, 2020 Season 1 Episode 24
Georgia Fintech Academy

OliverPOS is a remarkable fintech out of Canada that helps web shops accept payments. It operates in 80 countries and is engaged with Atlanta's fintech scene. Mathias Nelson of Oliver shares the history of the company with AJ Al-Bawab of Georgia State.

Show Notes Transcript

OliverPOS is a remarkable fintech out of Canada that helps web shops accept payments. It operates in 80 countries and is engaged with Atlanta's fintech scene. Mathias Nelson of Oliver shares the history of the company with AJ Al-Bawab of Georgia State.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Georgia FinTech Academy podcast. The Georgia FinTech Academy is a collaboration between Georgia's FinTech industry and the university system of Georgia. This talent development initiative addresses a massive demand for FinTech professionals and give learners the specialized education experiences needed to enter the FinTech side .

Speaker 2:

Hello everybody. This is Tommy Marshall , the executive director of the Georgia Thintech Academy. Welcome to episode 24 of the Georgia FinTech Academy podcast today. I , uh , we're excited. Um , I've really been looking forward to this. You guys , we've got eight day out blob with us from Georgia state and Matthias Nelson of Oliver POS. And we're going to talk today about Oliver, about merchant acquiring, about payments about Canada. We might even talk a little bit about , um, and I'm sorry about China and we're gonna , um, really dig into a lot of those topics and fill you in on recent FinTech news as well. So AIG Mathias welcome. It's great to have you great to be here. Um, Matthias , let's start with you. Tell us about yourself. Like what has your career journey been , uh , and kind of lead us up to , uh, Oliver and, and then , uh , and then we'll come back and talk a little bit about all of them . Tell us about it .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, sure. Absolutely. So , um, yeah, I , uh, grew up in, in , in Denmark , um , follow some part of Greenland , um, and , and then , um, started early on , uh, actually just went to business college and in society , if I didn't really want university that wasn't for me. So I decided to , to go out and sell. I w I just knew that I wanted to try and sell. And , um, where can I get the most sales, the most people coming over to me once I basically went to Apple versus, Hey, I want to learn everything there is to know about selling a premium product and , um, and did that for, for one and a half year and moved up through the ranks and then started to traction to do sales training flat for a little while . Um, after that, I decided to get married.

Speaker 2:

You like working in the Apple store or?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. I S I , I trained , uh, the Apple sales agents for the actual source that you see around similar to best buy chains and stuff like that. So did that for a little while. Yeah , I put, decided I was like, I wasn't married at the time. I wanted to go out and I don't know , I just wanted to travel. So I figured now is the time before I , I had really settled down. So , um , booked a ticket to, to China where throughout , uh , couldn't speak the language, couldn't speak really a word and , and neither could put the host family. I found they couldn't speak English. So for me, that was a way where I could learn the language. So, so was , was actually meant to just be a year, but I ended up living in China for seven to eight years , uh, and , and speak Chinese today, actually. So that has been a big part of my business career is understanding , uh, uh, Chinese and Asian cultures by traveling around out there. Um, and , and actually was, did , uh, did a startup around me , uh, being able to, to understand what the European manufacturers of alcohol wonders , as well as the Chinese market . So it build a textile of around , uh, to take things, take alcohol. And there was really the first, first time I ever had anything to do with tick . I've always wanted to be in the tech industry, but never really knew how to get into it. So I found a developer and , uh , started to develop , uh , an after the ticket, fake alcohol. Um,

Speaker 2:

I'm not, I'm not the app. So this was in Beijing. Yeah. All like, no, no pro I mean, this is not easy stuff to like, create a startup Beijing, but then what was the app? Sorry. I'm

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So, so in, in China and many countries, even in Canada, you have a lot of counterfeit products. So, so for example, you might go down and buy grey goose vodka bottle in a nightclub, but it's not really great who should have produced it actually at the time. So it was actually a real thing for them.

Speaker 2:

You are verifying that this grey goose is Greg is

Speaker 3:

Yeah . And you're not going to get a headache. The next day started with excellent me getting a headache the next day and found out there was really bad quality take alcohol drinking, even though I paid the full price, which really annoyed me. So I started developing this , um , and , and figure it out a way that was , uh , yeah, heck proof. So w how we did it was basically, we worked directly with the manufacturers, like , um, yeah, a lot of the big ones, the district of champagne , uh , pinoli con , and a lot of big manufacturers where we, where we helped , uh, secure the bottles from being fake. So anybody with news knows that if, if they bought her a fake bottle , it could be detected as well as a real bottle. And we would also tell, Hey , this is a real bubble. Right . So ran that for, for a number of years, and then decided when , uh, when, when my wife , uh , got pregnant, that we would , that we would say goodbye to China. And some of those ,

Speaker 2:

What do you mean Tik TOK people?

Speaker 3:

Uh , I didn't know. It's a , it's, it's a big, it's a big community out there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I know. Basically it's a big town. [inaudible] The , uh , yeah . Okay. That's cool. But the , uh, I think that's really, I mean, that's a huge accomplishment. I mean, getting a business as a , as a non-Chinese person, starting a business in China is, I mean , that's hard.

Speaker 3:

It was pretty difficult where we're actually , uh , I , I still have , uh, have one of the two companies that started out there and I'm really one of the four companies that are wholly foreign owned. So I own it a hundred percent, but we're one of the only country companies in China that can import alcohol still. So we started helping them putting in all that. And there's really only four companies that have the license for importing alcohol like that .

Speaker 2:

The , uh, the, not that I really know anything about starting a business in China, but I had a very close friend , um, that started one of the big burger chains in China. Uh, and she would Australia. Um, and so, you know, she had this really hurry kind of thing that made the company work well was they were able to , um, you know, procure the meat from , um, Australia and then do like on an American type burger chain , um, out of , uh, she started in , um, she started in, in , um, in , uh, Shanghai and then they did expand into , um, into, into Beijing. Um, but she, she was always telling me about how , um, difficult it was , um, in building the company in China.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It's , it's definitely a lot different than here.

Speaker 2:

Uh , but sorry, I took you off track. So , um, you had that rich experience and then decided to code back to Canada for get , I guess , get out of the smog .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. Basically. And then , and we were in a good opportunity to where we could talk with the company in a good way. And, and , um, and , and that makes it a lot easier for me, of course. So moved , moved here to , to Newfoundland Canada and , um, and decided that I wanted to keep going in to take industry without having any clue about what to do. So me and, and , uh, and the , the former take lead developers , uh, started the company here that helped all the startups. So we basically figured, okay, we don't have all an idea right now. We don't know what to do. Let's just help others building their great ideas. And , uh, there there's , we started a , an interesting company that, that grew pretty good, and we , but we always knew that we wanted to get back and then run our own thing again. So while I was doing a whole lot of, of with shops and stuff, we noticed that there were a big issue with how workshops works together with the physical shops.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Awesome. All right. I'm going to stop you there cause I want to come back to Oliver. Um, but AIJ tell us about you.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So I am not from Denmark, although that was really cool. I'm actually from Dubai was born there. And , um, we moved here when I was six years old, so I had a British accent and I've lost it since then. Um, started school.

Speaker 2:

You can turn it on if you want to.

Speaker 4:

Okay. Yeah . So , uh , started school. No , uh, I started school here, started a business school at a college up in North Georgia and then transferred to Georgia state and kind of started the whole finance thing, the finest track, and really enjoyed it. Uh, one of my first interns wa internships was at a company called field edge, which is basically a field services, software startup, and they are partnered with a payments processor. And so I kind of got the whole background of how a software tech startup works and understanding, you know, recurring revenues and all the stuff behind the tech company, especially one that, that makes and sells a product. So , uh, took that knowledge that I gained in Excel and started to try to learn how to automate things. So I started learning just simple VBA, VBA macros, which then, you know, I'm really curious. So then, you know , I'm wondering, okay, how can I pull in stock prices? Cause I'm a finance major. So then I learned how to, I learned how to stream , um, millisecond like intra tick in between each tick. I learned how to stream that into Python and be able to plot it real time and create like algorithms that would actually calculate, you know, moving averages , um, calculated like a relative strength index. And actually almost started to think about making that into a business. Um, that was really cool. And then, yeah,

Speaker 2:

It's listen to this. Okay. So in 1995, I was at business school at Vanderbilt and there was this company Netscape that was just going public and the web was like a thing. And I was like, this is kind of cool. I wonder. Um, and I was a business school and I was really interested in finance. So I did was I, I started to learn , uh, the script language, HTML, hypertext, markup language, and figured out how I could get delayed quotes , um, brought into a web page . Um, and which, you know, is what, you know, similar to what you're doing, but you're doing now millisecond, you know, real-time

Speaker 5:

Feeds , um, uh, of the quote at that time in 95 near this kind of quote info was to go to a Bloomberg terminal and, you know, have a Bloomberg terminal that you could access to pull quotes . So , um, it was, you know, in its day , uh , a similar thing to what you were doing. Uh, and it was, that was my kind of entree into financial services technology and starting to see the potential double generation . That's cool. Uh, what, what your , what you were doing are doing.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so I kind of went from there and now I'm just learning about how to, I'm currently interning at a bond desk in Buckhead where we're just we're we buy and resell bonds to advisors, but , uh, on the, on the infrastructure side, I'm learning all about, you know, how to, how to send passwords, like how to hash a password and send that to a database. So we don't see a password , just, just little tinkering and stuff like that. So that's me at , uh , at Georgia state.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Great. Uh , well, that's fascinating. Thanks so much. I mean, that , that is financial and applications . Um, so w so Matthias comp let's, let's talk about Oliver, tell us about this company you've helped build. And then , um, I know as we get into that , um , and acquire merchant acquiring for our listeners.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. So , um, so Oliver, [inaudible] kind of finished the story before was we, we looked at at wet shops and say, there's a huge issue with these, with web trips that we're building. So you don't talk very well to the physical stores . So we , we said, we said about , um , the goals , um, where we wanted to, to take the POS industry and , and, and make it accessible as you can do in a web shop . So in a wet shop , you might've seen some of those various fancy checkout forms. And like, we have a cake builder, for example, assuming where advanced that you would do, but you would never ever feel to get that experience in the store. So we really wanted to be able to handle all of that and, and , um, and, and do that in a physical , uh, set up . Um, and , and then we have , we've build onto that building onto web shops , not really wanting to have filled out one products set up and everything, but run it all through cloud or the web apps , um ,

Speaker 5:

Consider yourself a pay FAC a payment facilitator,

Speaker 3:

Not yet .

Speaker 5:

Um, I mean, that's , uh , that's a , I mean, I'm always kind of trying to constantly understand these important differences in definitional definitial differences between, you know, payment, facilitators, payment, POS providers for e-com it ISOs, you know, there's all these really important terms that have very specific differences that I , uh , and I spent a lot of time in payments and have a lot of expertise. And there's times I'm, I'll get confused or I'll, I'll misunderstand important nuances of difference.

Speaker 3:

No, absolutely. So, so the point we're at right now is we, we basically started with,

Speaker 5:

Yeah .

Speaker 3:

So how do we actually really do that? Well, we need to have a good payment experience because it's really about paying and making it a quick and nice and easy team , uh , in the store . So we , we started with, with not knowing anything about FinTech, but knowing that it was probably the most important part of our company. Um, so we, we really, today we are lead generator , uh, in 80 countries where we lead, generate full processors, payment facilitators, however you really want them , um, eventually here, what we're growing into is that we are sitting with a lot of data because when we connect to the web shop, we pull in all orders they've ever had. We, we , we then analyzed rich , um , merchant there with, we know our sort of the processor or ISO I'm interested in the , with , and , and , um , the average volume, all those kinds of things to product types, that would be important to , to , to sit the rates and stuff. We pull that in and are able to do a lot of stuff with it. Um, but for today, we're not a payment facilitator. We're more of a lead generator for, for many different payment companies.

Speaker 5:

I got it. So it's on. So, I mean, this is what you said when you were starting out, but it's like I got a business. Um, I think that you are using an example of like, I'm, I'm a Baker, I'm making cakes and , um, I have this business I'm operating successfully and I have , um, I have a , a payment , uh, really , I have, I have a relationship with an entity that supports pay , um, and that , um, uh, you know, there's all , all sorts of great providers of that service that I've gotten into relationship with. Maybe it's a global payments. I mean, there's my big companies here, global payments being one of them , um, that do phenomenal job in this regard. So I have

Speaker 2:

That in place and I need , and I'm looking to get a really on the web , um, or just do my payment acceptance on the web in a much better way. And so I come to Oliver and you're like, you know, no problem, we have this solution.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So it's yeah, yeah, that is basically, but we , one important thing to mention is we do , uh, we do both install payments as well as to online. So we have the install payments that connects to your web shelf , um, and , and , and, and a few S behind it. So we keep track of your inventory and your customers in the school and all that. But what is important here would be that we sit when, when our merchants come in, they always have a physical locational mini as well as an online store. So, so when we get them in, we actually really provide online payments for them, as well as in payments. Um, and , and we try constantly to, to update them, how can we unfold a merchant as easy as possible. Um, and that, that goes to full way where we take everything in with enabled to share that with, with , with, with all partners that can then quote on , uh, on, on the merchants, I'll be honest , um , really more than beach .

Speaker 2:

Like, are you helping them , like, okay, so be a case study , uh, of , uh , of a potential , um, retail client. Like, are they, are they typically , um, like moving to a tablet experience in the it for the end store and the are , or they're needing your help to do that. And they've got a web presence and like, tell us how's that work.

Speaker 3:

So our , our merchants would always stop from the web workshop and then have a physical location. So they're going to show up as the number one source . They even want to have a system that if they sell , let's say a cake online in a day, they will no longer have to take into soul . They want their , their point of sale to let them know, Hey, this cake discount sold online. You cannot sell it again. And , and , and whole , um, uh , so, so it's really , uh, like both pops , but we've worked with the wet shops that they already have. And then we give them that in-store experience that connects with the ,

Speaker 2:

I got it. I got it. So that's, that helps me. So, so your , your kind of best customer, your target client they've, they've really started with e-comm with the web and they're moving into brick and mortar , um,

Speaker 3:

Vice versa. They could also stop from , from there , from a physical stall , say, okay, we want to sell online. Now we need a system that works with both , um, and , and work your Wells with both set ups . Right. So, so ran a lot of merchants that , uh, for example, doing your in COVID that had a , had a , had a stole . And that really didn't do well during COVID because there were no people outside. So now they want to work with both online, as well as , uh , as their sole a

Speaker 6:

Oh, that's cool. Okay. I got it. And then, so I have , I have a quick question. So you said you were at , you said you were in 80 countries , um, you know, excluding Canada and North America. So how do you , um, what I'm hearing is there's a lot of data that's being transferred between onsite , and I'm guessing between the infrastructure on the backend, how do you deal with slower bandwidth, like on, on internet infrastructure, in the countries that are less developed?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so , so I think that's one of our strong points. It was something we, we knew that we wanted to be global from the beginning, which most companies would stock with one contract and then build it out. But there's a lot of infrastructure that had to be built to work globally. Like for example, you have to handle all the world's tax rates, all of that kind of stuff, currencies, all this. But one of the things we also have to take into account as we have to work on extremely low bandwidth. Um, so, so what do we , our system would work on any, any browser in the world and it iPad Android device, and the thing like that , and we read it, take all your products from your web shop and go in to the whatever device you're using. And then it's very, very little amount of data we need to send back and forth from their device up to our server. And then we connect to their web server server from there. So we take care of all that management from their , from their physical store over to their website .

Speaker 6:

Have you , uh, have you come across any , uh, issues politically when moving through these different countries? Or do you have any customers that are in different countries at the same time?

Speaker 3:

Uh , yeah. Yeah, we do. Um , uh , both. Yes. So, so for example, Europe is very protect merchants , data and stuff only to look at and work on that. So, so it's all encrypted of course, back and forth, all communication .

Speaker 6:

That makes sense. And then tell us the kind of typical client profile is it, is it, is it primarily small business? Um , mid market,

Speaker 3:

So , yeah, so it's , it's small to medium merchants, right? Like I think our largest have 158 location , social thing, and then it goes down through them on a mom and pop store. Right. But , but, but in terms of the segment as such, we try to be , uh , there's another thing I didn't ever read a talk to here, but when I mentioned we are , we are as adaptable as your web shop. Uh , what I really mean by that, any web shop solution, for example, WooCommerce that we started out with works with 30% of all 31% of all the workshops. So they're extremely adaptable to all kinds of setups and that's the same intellectual we bring. So we have to eat this as being the most effective the world through what audience does the iPhone targets . Well, it really targets everyone. Right. Um, and for us, it's, we bring that same power of, of developers specializing for a specific industry. Um, so, so we're extremely adaptable in that regard.

Speaker 6:

The , uh, the 80 countries kind of blows my mind, honestly. Like how, how do you cover all of those countries?

Speaker 3:

Um, good question. So, so where it comes from is we started out with this [inaudible] thing that roasts 31% of all the shops in the world. So that's not just in us, that's not just in Denmark where I'm from, it's not just Russia or China everywhere. It's literally everywhere. It works with any bookkeeping system you can ever think of whether you're in Indonesia or Denmark or us or wherever. So for us, what we wanted to do really, really selfless integrations. So you say, okay, we want to work with this divorce in every country, in the world. How can we be as adaptable to , to their unique setup? Um, and , and that's not easy, but we could probably build a regular pure system and then at the time or something, but we really wanted to take this global mindset from the beginning. Um, and, and I think where the , the, it was a lot of challenges to begin with, but customers are like, we, we , I didn't get in the last day here would had 10 different countries come in. Right. Um, and, and it's, it's really the biggest thing we're working on now is doing payment processing in every country we do pus with. Uh , so, so our POS system really works for every con any country you can, you can imagine already, but now it's , it's about how do we facilitate payments in every country. Uh, and, and that's, that's , um, a hot nut to crack, but we're really working hard on it here.

Speaker 6:

So it sounds like, it sounds like you're, you're, you're operating out of all of these countries and it sounds like there's an onboarding, like an implementation process. I mean, how long, how long does that take and do you have, I mean, do you have teams that speak in all these different languages that can work with these, these customers?

Speaker 3:

Um , very good question . So, so , um, the onboarding process for our merchant , uh, right now, it takes less than a minute. Um , so it's not a big deal for us to get onboarded with really focused hard on a , on a quick onboarding experience for the merchant . So no matter where you are takes roughly a minute to get started, if you then need support well, yes. Then you reach out to our support team at that . That's only based in North America, but most of all of our customers today would find us because they have searched in English, what is the best call PO solution or, or whatever. So, so they find us with English. We're now starting to add a lot more languages through it , um, of support, of course, but really work from the beginning with any language anywhere. Um, and we , we have merchants doing their own language forces. There's a language we don't work with the other day. And then there's a merchant that says , Hey, can I, can I get it done for you because I'm really want your solution. So, so that way we've been able to expand pretty, pretty quick,

Speaker 2:

The , uh, onboarding in a minute that also blows my mind. How are we doing? I mean, I don't think I've heard anyone beyond the onboard merchants in that, that fast. I mean, and I'll just say for the listener too , there's, there's a lot of challenges related to OMP merchant onboarding , um, that are fraud related, right? You want to make sure the merchant is a legitimate merchant. And so , um, because otherwise there's there , it can be a fraud entry point into the system.

Speaker 3:

So I think it's important for me to clarify a little bit on that because we look at it as really two onboardings , okay . We need them on the POS system. And then on the , uh , w we'll put them out on the tool to like the terminals and, and what you would moment regardless on boarding . So there's really two onboarding . It's the first one takes a minute to the second one right now. It depends on all partners. So that can take a very quick time, are like no time or, or, or 20 to 40 or $40 or something. What we're really working hard on knowledge is it's building an infrastructure where in the same minute we can unfold them with credit card processing to online readouts medical installers on their web shop. So really we , we should be able to fully unbolt them for payments in the , in less than a minute.

Speaker 2:

I want to pivot over and talk about recent FinTech news. There's three items worth, worth mentioning today that have been , um , relevant from a , from a news standpoint. Um, number one is related to Stripe Stripe announced , uh , this morning that they've , um, reached an agreement with Salesforce to provide a, an outstanding , um , relationship with their new digital offering that Salesforce has, and really be the , uh , payment acquiring engine for that. Uh , the next is related to salary finance. They closed a $32.8 million series C round. Um, recently they have a meaningful operation here and in Atlanta, and , um, continue to grow and support a variety of different financial inclusion related services , products, and services , uh, Denovo , uh, announced that they're close to launching a credit card with , uh , synchrony financial and this , uh , should be very interesting, you know, what's the appeal of the credit card product to their current gen Z customer base. Um, and what's the strategy will that be acceptable? So , um, you know, several, several key interesting news items there, but , uh, that's going to conclude our show today , uh, Matthias . I want to just thank you for joining us and talking about Oliver POS, and AIJ , it's great to have you here from Georgia state. Thanks for engaging with the Georgia FinTech Academy. And I look forward to talking more soon.

Speaker 1:

The Georgia FinTech Academy podcasts are available on iTunes and Spotify to obtain additional information about the Georgia FinTech Academy. Please visit our [email protected]