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My interviewee today is Jens Bader, who has a rich management background with more than 20 years of experience in the Online and Mobile Payments industry. He is a a seasoned commercial leader, Jens recently co-founded MIR Limited, an FCA-licensed FINTECH group that develops and operates second-generation electronic money services servicing on- and offline merchants.
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Thank you very much for being available for this interview. First I would like to ask you to shortly introduce yourself.
Jens: My Name is Jens Bader, I am one of the co-founders of a new payments company and scheme called MuchBetter. I spent most my professional life in the payments industry, hopefully growing my knowledge alongside the fantastic and exciting development we have seen in payments technology during that last 20 years.
Will you please tell us more about your company and why you chose to get into gaming?
Jens: As said, I have been working in the online payments industry from the very early days on and online gaming industry has always been at the forefront of innovation. Many of the pioneers in online gaming have been quite important in the continuous development and improvement of online payment services.
During my career, in different roles and for different providers, I worked very closely with online gaming operators. I always found that the cooperation between the payment service provider and the demanding gaming client to be both challenging and exciting. What was once considered to be one of the riskiest online businesses that a payment provider could underwrite, is today one of the most professional managed online industries. Indeed, gaming is now often a benchmark in risk management, fraud detection and prevention.
Personally, I can say that having worked at the intersection of payment and gaming allowed me to learn at a pace that would have been difficult to achieve in a different setup. In my 20 years in the industry, I have seen payments from all sides: Issuing, Acquiring, e-money, cash, processing – there is not a spot in the payments chain that I have not been active in. About a year ago and after a few inspiring conversation with some of my future co-founders, I felt the timing was right to bundle all my experience, my network and enthusiasm for payments to build a payments product that I felt was a next-generation payment service. I felt that it needed to be centred around a number of typical and systematic payments challenges and issues that the gaming industry has been consistently facing. What my team and I came up with is a new payments app that by technological design eliminates or neutralizes the issues we have identified. Our product delivers a better commercial model, hence substantial cost savings, counters and eliminates the typical fraud patterns in gaming and allows operators to have a reliable and indemnified payment product that can be operated internationally. Our payments app “MuchBetter” has also been engineered considering the vast regulatory changes that affect the gaming and the payments world. Our payments service provides data points that support operators being compliant with AML4/5. The world is talking about open APIs, we have anticipated a data and information sharing-approach already when we built the product. We don’t just talk about it, it is live and working. In general, MuchBetter is a payment product purpose-built for the gaming industry, a bench-mark for combining modern technology to deliver a superior payments experience to both players and operators.
You have a rich management background with more than 20 years of experience in the Online and Mobile Payments industry. You have recently co-founded MIR Limited, an FCA-licensed FINTECH group that develops and operates second-generation electronic money services servicing on- and offline merchants. As co-founder of MIR you also design and oversee the commercial strategy of the Group. I would like to congratulate you for this successful career and I would like to ask you: What is the price or what is the secret of such an impressively successful career?
Jens: I enjoy what I do immensely. While it is quite a mountain of work, there is never a dull moment either. The spirit and atmosphere within our small organisation is amazing. I am lucky to be able to work with such an exceptional group of people. The industry is fast-moving, constantly changing and has always had a certain complexity. The fact I could practically grow up with the developments in the payments industry helped me in understanding the complexity. When I am challenged to solve a problem, it often helps me to remember the early days in payments and how the services have developed the way they have. It helps me distinguishing the parts that are actually addressable from the parts that are not worth conquering as they are historical and a pillar I have to work around or incorporate in my approaches. The biggest sacrifice over the years has been the enormous amount of travel that my roles requested. There is so much you miss at home and the time with the family you miss. This I felt was the biggest personal challenge over the last couple of years, being there for the family.
Will you please tell us more about the projects you have worked on and about any difficulties and successes you have experienced during your career?
Jens: I remember the days when payments were mostly unregulated. The sole priority was ensuring that a customer could somehow pay a merchant. That was pre-PSD in Europe and worldwide there was no regulatory framework whatsoever for online payments. When the industry grew up and regulation kicked in, this change needed to be managed. What was OK six months ago, wasn’t OK anymore. I was in the middle of a changing industry that is such a critical item of modern e-commerce as we know it today. I realized payment companies needed to change to comply but were still required to secure and hang on to their existing revenue sources. When I compare the old days with today’s environments, I often smile. It feels so surreal; the way things were handled back then.
The payments industry is all about scale. Transaction business is volume business, so the underlying main revenues come from processing vast volumes. If you operate within an organisation that has been built up for the last 10 years, you have that advantage of sitting on a large merchant portfolio. Pricing pressure on acquiring and processing further increased the necessity to aggressively grow the volume within every payments organisation. The challenge that we face here as a newcomer is being able to offset the fact you come with only marginal existing business into a commoditised industry where volume is the most business-critical economical factor with the chance to utilize better, faster, smarter technology to attract new, meaningful business quickly. We need to challenge the business models to stand a fair chance of succeeding – and this is what we do and what is quite a tricky subject to manage.
What role do you undertake in the company’s life? What are your tasks and responsibilities?
Jens: For one thing, I am the guy with the nice shirts. However, my main role is to set the company’s commercial plan and strategy, and ensure it is formed in a way that allows the teams to execute it promptly. I oversee the commercial day-to-day activities and still take on many of the market-facing tasks such as meeting prospects, representing Muchbetter in the industry, and talking to influencers to imbed Muchbetter further into the payments landscape. I like the hands-on activities, writing to business and helping to execute the commercial plan that I set in place. The shirts sometimes help with that.
What is your personal opinion about the gambling industry in general in Europe or in the countries you know better?
Jens: The gaming industry has constantly developed and is – in Europe – on a very high, professional level. The amount of regulatory change and adoption over the last 10 years has been almost overwhelming. One effect we witness today is the state of consolidation. Consolidation in any industry vertical is always a sign of maturity, market saturation and requirement to capitalise on synergies to maintain growth. Overall, I think that the European Online Gaming industry has achieved higher social acceptance, improved their overall reputation and grown to an exceptional professional level. Personally, I sometimes miss the “old days”, the eccentricity and unconventional ways of how the industry operated, but as someone running a supplier business now, I am immensely grateful for the solidity and good governance that we see in the industry today. Gaming today and certainly even more so tomorrow is all about the quality that is being delivered to the customer. You can enjoy gaming, you are legally allowed to do so, now it is about coming out on top by meeting customer’s expectations.
Which are the future plans of the company that you can talk about to our readers?
Jens: We are all gaming and payments experts, so we will always be close and aligned with the gaming industry. However, we need to further develop our payment service to be just as ground-breaking in other industries as we are for gaming today. Diversification is always a difficult task to manage and succeed with, so it’s better to start early. We identified certain online industries that are battling similar payment challenges as gaming does. We apply the same philosophy here – we identify the main issues that we as a payment supplier can address to make life easier for the participants in such markets. We further build on our existing payments app to grow acceptance on both sides, merchants and customers, but we will also be broadening our payments portfolio and infrastructure to offer additional services and capabilities to our merchants. We have great ideas around subscription management, market-places and money remittance markets. Social money concepts are one of the topics close to my heart.
Tell us please about your future plans, projects regarding your professional life.
Jens: Obviously, my main objective is to build MuchBetter into a rock-solid, leading payments organisation. This won’t happen overnight, so I consider this to be the long-term goal. I also serve as advisory to some companies which helps me keeping an open mind and a sense for the wider market and helps us in identifying opportunities for partnerships. Any successful payments business needs to be international, when the time is right, I like to take the lead on our internationalisation and maybe be the one that opens our Chinese offices!
Who is your favourite actor or actress?
Jens: I enjoy watching Steve Buscemi – he is a genuine character and unique in how he plays his roles.
Where would you travel the most in Central Europe?
Jens: London for business, but for pleasure and good food, it has to be Italy
Jens has a rich management background with more than 20 years of experience in the Online and Mobile Payments industry. A seasoned commercial leader, Jens recently co-founded MIR Limited, an FCA-licensed FINTECH group that develops and operates second-generation electronic money services servicing on- and offline merchants. As Chief Commercial Officer of MIR he designs and oversees the commercial strategy of the Group. Previously he was Chief Commercial Officer of Secure Trading Group, a leading European Payment Service Provider and Card Acquirer. At Secure Trading Jens managed the Group’s revenue generation and retention. In his prior role as CCO of paysafecard he led the global Account and Sales Management Teams overseeing and managing all commercial merchant relationships. Before joining Paysafecard in 2010, Jens was holding various roles in the payments industry with blue-chip financial institutions as well as payment start-ups. Jens is a frequent speaker on payments and fraud-related topics worldwide. Jens holds a degree in International Business Management.
MuchBetter, operated by MIR Limited UK Ltd, an FCA-licensed and regulated e-money issuer, is the new payments application for iGaming. Available on Android and iOS, MuchBetter make effortless online, offline and contactless payments throughout EMEA. Funds can be transferred and received in real-time and MuchBetter’s unique commercial model increases operator revenues while its anti-fraud features and use of best in class technology reduces risk.
Source: European Gaming Media and Events