EveryPay is an Estonian financial technology company that commenced operations in 2012, and has since become one of the fastest growing providers of digital payment solutions in Northern Europe. The company started out by offering internet card payment options to merchants as a so-called PSP (payment service provider). It later evolved into a versatile and constantly expanding cloud-based digital payment solution platform provider, serving leading banks in the region. EveryPay, which got its start as a cooperation partner of a local Estonian financial group, has increased its turnover by almost 700% since the processing of its first transactions. In 2020, EveryPay’s platform was selected as the best cloud-based payment solution in the world at the FinTech Futures competition. Also last year, The Global Banking & Finance Review named EveryPay the “Best New Payment Solution Provider Central Europe 2020,” another accolade. In the following Q&A, EveryPay CEO Lauri Teder describes the birth of the company, its journey to the top, the firm’s secrets of success, as well as its future plans.
EveryPay CEO Lauri Teder
How did the idea to create a payment solutions company come about?
The idea to develop a new payment gateway platform arose from a personal need for better and more modern payment solutions. Some similar service providers, such as BrainTree, Stripe, and Adyen, already existed, but the payment gateway was generally more of a solution offered by banks, which tended to be cumbersome and not very user-friendly. Monthly transaction summaries were sent, for example, as PDF documents, where you had to follow up with a marker and pencil and manually count the transactions in order to compile statistics. So, in 2012, the development of the EveryPay platform began, which we started offering to the first merchants in 2015 in cooperation with the local LHV bank.
When and why did you decide to start directing your service to financial institutions (banks) rather than merchants?
Over time, we began to receive more and more invitations to participate in banks’ tenders: in the second half of 2018, we participated in three tenders, where different financial institutions were looking for a payment gateway platform. This showed us that the demand for modern digital payment solutions is growing among traditional banks, and the onslaught of new ‘neo-banks’ and the recent coronavirus pandemic have further increased this demand. Financial institutions already have a customer base to which they offer their services, but if the payment platform or solution offered by the bank does not meet all customer expectations, better alternatives will soon be sought elsewhere. However, having found an ‘external’ answer to one of their questions, the customer may now notice other good offers, and so his original service provider is at high risk of losing the customer. As a technology partner that provides financial institutions with a modern and state-of-the-art solution, we help solve their problem and increase their competitiveness, and thus also serve all merchants who use or will use the services of banks.
What have been EveryPay’s biggest achievements so far?
In the early days of the company, one of our most important achievements was probably when we signed our first cooperation agreement with the first Estonian bank, and soon after that we became a client of an international company engaged in the development and sale of advertising technology. Before, of course, we ourselves believed that our platform would work, but these steps confirmed that our conviction was true. The next milestone was an agreement with one of the largest banks in the Nordic countries, from which we were able to expand our service throughout the Baltics. It was an important sign of trust and recognition for us, which also reaffirmed that we were still on the right track. The third and most recent success has undoubtedly been the domestication of payment initiation options based on open banking APIs. Open banking is still a very new part of the field of financial technology, which is still in its initial stage of development and is therefore constantly changing. We are proud to have been able to successfully adapt the EveryPay platform to this. I would also like to mention the creation of LinkPay. This is a very convenient solution for the merchant, which allows one to accept online payments with just one simple link, even without a working website. It can also be sent to the customer in almost any possible way: by text message, e-mail, QR code, etc.
What do you think is the key to EveryPay’s success?
One aspect is definitely luck – luck and good fortune are needed in all aspects of life, and we have undoubtedly been lucky enough to have good people in our team who have helped EveryPay get to where we are today. Now, if you are lucky, you could say that we have always set out to offer our customers the best solution and most comprehensive service. To do this, we have made it clear to ourselves exactly who our customers are and put ourselves in their shoes – if we were our own, what would we expect from our service provider and what solution would we like to use in a given situation. Another important principle is, of course, continuous development and improvement: no product or service is ever perfect, and there are always new innovations to strive for.
The third aspect, which may sound a little cliché, is that we really care about our customers’ problems and try to solve them. This means that we are not just looking for a solution to the question the customer is asking us, but we are trying to get to the heart of the problem and root it out so thoroughly that no one else will have a similar question in the future. Problems are a bit like diseases – those that manifest are symptoms, but the underlying cause, the disease itself, must be treated.
Have you had to experience more serious setbacks during your activities thus far?
I follow certain principles of lean thinking both in my daily life and when managing EveryPay. One of them is that we do not see the challenges we face as setbacks or any irreparably negative things, but as new opportunities that need to be seized in order to develop and be smarter in the future. Mistakes are inevitable in every walk of life and you should never get too caught up in them unless you start to repeat them. However, when it comes to the challenges, one was definitely the customization of open banking APIs, to which we had to invest almost 10 times more development hours than we had originally considered. There have also been situations where traders are struggling with financial fraud, and we have had to make new developments quickly to protect them and prevent similar situations in the future.
How big is your team and what do you value about your employees?
Our international team currently consists of 29 people. Although we no longer have as diverse a company as we did when we had 10 employees from seven different nationalities, we still have employees from many different countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iran, China, and Vietnam. In order not to limit ourselves to employees of a certain origin or mother tongue, we decided to make English our working language. The most important aspect we value when choosing employees is whether he or she fits into our team in terms of his or her personality and shares with us our values of conscientiousness, drive, and, of course, a sincere interest in the field. I believe that skills can always be taught, but it’s difficult to change the values of an adult.
What’s the next step for EveryPay?
We definitely want to expand across Europe. We’ve already reached a very good position in the Baltics and are now actively looking to partner with financial institutions elsewhere in Europe to help them stay competitive in the rapidly evolving world of digital payment solutions. Whereas in the past the volume of digital payments increased by 10–20% per year, due to the special situation last year, the needs of merchants and people have become even more internet-based. We believe that we can support financial institutions here and ensure that they can continue to offer only the best and most modern payment solutions to their customers.