Satispay’s CEO and co-founder Alberto Dalmasso explains why he chose Luxembourg to launch his e-money platform and how the Covid-19 crisis has been a business opportunity.
Why did you choose to come to Luxembourg?
Since we’ve always had in mind to expand our business in Europe and not only in Italy, our EMI license has been under the Satispay Ltd subsidiary based in London until March 2019.
Before Brexit we decided to start the authorization process in another country with the specific objective of protecting our users from the possible inconveniences that a Brexit no-deal could have caused.
After an in-depth market analysis, we found an extremely professional environment in Luxembourg, with a well-prepared regulator offering market security and correctness, while providing new business entrants the opportunity to operate in a regulatory framework that supports growth and meets the needs of environments like ours.
We first arrived in Luxembourg with our subsidiary Satispay Europe SA, our e-money institution, at the end of 2018. After conducting an in-depth analysis of the market in the second quarter of last year, we began work to set up operations and kickstart business development activity towards the end of 2019. Satispay‘s app was finally made available in the Luxembourgish app store at the beginning of March 2020, but due to Covid-19, we decided to postpone the official launch until now.
“Our platform has proven to be the right tool during the Covid-19 emergency”
Is the company still hosted in the LHoFT? Or completely headquartered in Kirchberg?
Our subsidiary Satispay Europe SA has its headquarters in the Kirchberg area, while our business development department is still hosted in the LHoFT.
What other countries do you now target?
In Italy, we are by far one of the most successful digital payment solutions with 50% market share in non NFC in-store payments, more than 1 Million users and over 100 thousands merchants. We have the ambitious goal to become the most used financial instrument in Europe, so we definitely plan to expand progressively to other countries. Besides Luxembourg, our app is already available in Germany, where we are planning to launch, too.
What has changed in your organization since the Covid-19 crisis?
This difficult situation, which blindsided us as well as everyone else for its severity, gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the added value of our service even to all those who didn’t believe in digital payments.
Our platform has proven to be the right tool to use during the Covid-19 emergency not only because it allows secure cashless transactions but also because it guarantees the ability to pay from a safe distance. In Italy people, and especially merchants, recognised this and started to not only use but promote our app as the only safe payment method during this time.
This new awareness has reflected in figures, of course: during the very first days of the emergency, when nobody was fully aware of the real infection risks and the Government asked locals and bars to close earlier, we started to record a decrease in consumer signups and in-store transactions. The trend started to reverse after a couple of weeks and Satispay app signups started increasing at a fast pace, reaching a +115% peak in consumer signups and +50% in merchant signups compared to the weeks before the lockdown.
The stricter the Government measures became in terms of shops closure, the more merchants started to organise their own home-made delivery services in order to keep their business going and help people who are forced to stay home.
“In Luxembourg we have already been able to close partnerships not only with a big retailer like Auchan but also with more than 70 small-medium merchants.”
Is this the reason why you decided to develop new features and functionalities?
That is why we also decided to support them by creating the new “Delivery and Take-away” service; a new feature to help businesses gain visibility and receive orders from customers who can then easily pay through Satispay.
During the Covid-19 crisis we also started a fundraising campaign to help the Italian Civil Protection department tackle the emergency. We are proud to say that we were able to raise more than 1 Million euros in less than a month.
Lastly, our company has been chosen by the city of Milan, and other municipalities as well, as their partner for welfare voucher distribution. As you might know, the Italian Government issued welfare funds in order to support families in poor economic conditions due to the recent Covid-19 emergency. These funds will be distributed autonomously by each municipality in Italy.
Satispay has been chosen as the partner for the technical issuing of the vouchers since our platform guarantees ease of access and allows municipalities to directly provide families with money. Families will be able to use the funds through our platform and spend them in the affiliated stores easily, quickly and in a securely.
After Auchan, who will be your next partners in Luxembourg?
In Luxembourg we have been able to close partnerships not only with a big retailer like Auchan – “Satispay partners with Auchan Luxembourg” – but also with more than 70 small-medium merchants, such as Urban Bar, Bistrot Beim Renert, Charles Sandwiches, Go Ten Bar, Njörd and Häagen-Dazs. We are now working on other partnerships and we certainly hope that such an important partnership can put the spotlight on the many advantages of our payment solutions and attract more merchants and users.