interview by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by SafeCharge

Yuval Ziv, Managing Director and Head of Global Acquiring at SafeCharge, on the possibilities a business has to thrive in challenging times


As in any crisis, there is a silver lining in the Covid-19 outbreak. The unexpected situation forced individuals and businesses to quickly adapt to the new environment of balancing between protecting public health and staying active. Wider adoption of cashless payment is one of these adaptations. In mere days both customers and sellers realized the power of e-commerce not only to make selling and buying faster, but also able to save lives with replacing a potential contamination agent with a more secure one.

The new reality asked for business owners and managers to offer fast, safe and reliable cashless payment. Yuval Ziv is one of the people who can explain best how can a business thrive under the current circumstances. He is the Managing Director and Head of Global Acquiring at SafeCharge, a Nuvei company. As a payment technology leader, SafeCharge helps businesses remove their payment barriers, optimise their operational costs and increase their acceptance. SafeCharge covers all the bases: card acquiring, payment processing, checkout and risk management. The proprietary payment platform is fully-featured and connects directly to all major payment card schemes including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and UnionPay, and also over 300 local payment methods. SafeCharge's solutions are suitable for merchants and partners of any size, across any geographical location around the world.

How did e-commerce change during the COVID-19 pandemic? What challenges did it face – and what opportunities for development and growth it provided?

COVID-19 is unquestionably changing the existing business environment, and some would also say the future of how we do business. At the heart of the matter is the way in which merchants (stores) sell their goods. For instance, many brick-and-mortar stores' POS systems and offline terminals are not even active at the moment as they remain closed under government lockdowns. Those that are open are refusing to accept cash, and are pushing consumers toward contactless transactions.

Our principal clients are e-commerce merchants and those that do not require human-to-human contact. Therefore, they are ideally placed to adapt to life under the stay at home orders issued by multiple governments across the globe. Merchants with online stores, such as online games, and non-contact business models, such as vending machines, are the ones best-placed to grow as a result of the crisis. We believe that what began as a short-term trend in response to a public health crisis will in fact continue long into the future as a result of consumers becoming used to the convenience of such delivery methods.

How can SafeCharge help a company under the current circumstances? Which are the most useful services and solutions that you offer in this historic moment?

There are many different elements in the help that SafeCharge provides to its clients. Firstly, we help our shop owners to transfer their offering online using our unique PayLink technology. It allows traditional stores as well as small, service-related companies to accept instant online payments without the presence of a website. We also have many close relationships with web design companies that can quickly produce websites for our traditional retail clients. Within a mere matter of days, brick-and-mortar stores can become e-commerce merchants with the help of SafeCharge.

In addition, we are currently launching an initiative called SafeCharge Local in which we offer the PayLink solution technology for free. The merchants that will benefit from this offering are mainly small businesses that offer perishable goods as well as a variety of services.

We quickly understood the current landscape of the market and swiftly created solutions that provide alternative revenue streams for merchants struggling to weather the storm. When the quarantine lifts, they will leverage the additional revenue stream and transform their business model, as it is very possible that consumers will prefer the new approach.

We also help to extend the reach of our online merchants by opening up new markets for them, thus expanding their market share. Merchants previously restricted to selling within the EU can take advantage of SafeCharge's connection with hundreds of local acquirers and payment partners to begin accepting payments from LATAM, APAC, and North American markets. Many of our clients have witnessed a dramatic increase in their monthly revenues as a result of venturing into new territories.

How do you guarantee the safety and security of your solutions?

A sizable proportion of our service offering revolves around providing secure, PCI-compliant checkout pages that are combined with industry-leading card tokenization technology. With the added protection in place as part of the SafeCharge offering, the risk of transacting online is significantly reduced, and merchants benefit from descoping their PCI compliance as well as enjoy the liability shift. Furthermore, with our risk management services delivered through our proprietary risk engine, which is based on advanced AI-driven rules, coupled with our dedicated payment risk specialists, merchants can almost eliminate the threat of fraudulent activity.

Yuval Ziv

Security is one of the pillars of our business. We invest millions every year into compliance for regulations such as PCI Level One, GDPR, and PSD2, as well as working with regulatory bodies such as the FCA (UK) or CBC (CY) to ensure adherence to local regulations. Lastly, our global data centers are secured and encrypted to the highest possible standards. In short, security is part of SafeCharge's DNA, which is why so many merchants outsource their security needs to us.

In the past couple of years businesses face the challenge to meet the requirements of 3DS, PSD2 и SCA regulations. Which are the main issues connected to those regulations, and how can you help companies to implement them safely and efficiently?

This is an excellent question as it is very pertinent to the concerns of the modern-day merchant. Many of our clients' business operations within the EU are being impacted by the implementation of PSD2, SCA and 3DS2. Issuers, acquirers, and merchants alike invest heavily to make the necessary changes in preparation for the new protocols. At SafeCharge, we have developed our own smart 3D Secure management, which includes an internal MPI solution to allow merchants to outsource the continual management required of PDS2 protocols.

Regardless of which EU country the merchant is based in, and irrespective of their acquirer, our technology can be implemented as either a standalone solution or as part of overall payment gateway functionality. Either method will ensure that the merchant remains compliant with the regulations associated with both PDS2 and 3DS2.

Why did SafeCharge open an office in Bulgaria in 2007? How did it grow in the past 13 years, and what is its role?

In 2007, we had to overhaul our technology platform to adjust it to our growth requirements. With that in mind, we searched for a location that had a unique talent pool, with prospective employees capable of excelling after receiving a bespoke training and education program. At the time, we were one of the first international FinTech companies in Bulgaria; thus, we had to find talent receptive to this burgeoning industry.

Fortunately, we discovered amazing, dedicated teams that collectively developed themselves as our company moved from just a few individuals to over 150 in Bulgaria alone, out of a global workforce of 450. We have gone on a fantastic journey, from our listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to the subsequent merger and acquisition by the Nuvei Group. Without the hard work and dedication from our team here in Bulgaria, it would have never happened.


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