The Insiders – James King, Luxembourg’s head of Payconiq
Payconiq is Luxembourg’s leading mobile payment solution. Launched in 2012, Payconiq Luxembourg is now partnering with six leading banks (BCEE, BGL BNP Paribas, BIL, POST, ING, RAIFFEISEN) that distribute the Payconiq-supported apps to their customer base. The company handles merchant affiliation, including Luxembourg’s top retailers, small and medium merchants, and invoice issuers. Today, the Payconiq-supported apps are well known by 85% of the residents (18-65yo) and have become the new normal in digital payments in Luxembourg.
To spotlight the best insights into Payconiq’s excellence, we ask a few questions to the inspiring crew behind it.
Today we speak to James King, Luxembourg’s Head of Payconiq.
1. Hello James, can you tell us more about yourself and about your work at Payconiq Luxembourg?
I’m James, originally from England, but I spent my childhood in Belgium. For the past 25 years, I have been residing and working in Luxembourg, holding positions in various companies. Throughout my time here, I’ve had the joy of raising my three children in this vibrant country. In 2018, I joined Payconiq Luxembourg.
At that time, our biggest undertaking was the migration from the Digicash platform to the Payconiq platform. In 2021, we successfully migrated to Payconiq, marking a significant milestone for our organization. The migration process was seamless and efficient, allowing us to continue growing without any disruption to our business operations. Not only did we experience a smooth transition, but we also took advantage of this opportunity to enhance our services. We introduced new functionalities, including the integration of Payconiq into mobile banking apps, providing added convenience for our customers. The migration period was challenging, but it proved to be an incredibly enriching experience.
One of my key objectives upon joining Payconiq Luxembourg was to assist banks in enhancing the functionality of their banking apps by incorporating payment methods for their users. The aim is to enable customers to use Payconiq Luxembourg for their daily payments, whether in physical stores or through e-commerce. This approach has been incredibly successful, with a significant number of peer-to-peer and invoice payments processed through Payconiq in Luxembourg.
Additionally, we are actively collaborating with local merchants. Our focus at Payconiq Luxembourg, both from my team and myself, is centred on serving Luxembourg, our banking partners, and the local merchants and service providers. We value the close relationship we have established with them, and it remains a top priority for us. Our day-to-day operations revolve around working with these local stakeholders and continuing to grow our business within the Luxembourg market. This endeavour has brought us great satisfaction over the past decade, and we are committed to its ongoing success.
2. As a leading mobile payment solution, what are the 3 main challenges that you deal with every day?
One of our primary challenges lies in understanding how consumers want to use Payconiq and fulfil their needs. While our primary focus is on merchants from a commercial standpoint, we recognize that it is ultimately the consumers who decide whether or not to embrace our payment method. To encourage regular usage, we must ensure that Payconiq is incredibly user-friendly and offers direct value to them. For example, our QR code on invoices provides clear benefits by simplifying the payment process, saving users the effort of manually inputting extensive information into websites or apps, and enabling quicker transactions.
The second challenge pertains to our presence and product offerings. It is crucial for Payconiq to be widely accessible. Consumers expect to encounter the Payconiq QR code everywhere, which is why we strive to provide merchants with a comprehensive range of products that respond to their diverse needs. We work towards integrating the payment process seamlessly across various channels, including online, invoice, in-store, and in-app experiences, thereby ensuring convenience and versatility for both merchants and consumers
Thirdly, our other big challenge is offering seamless payments and building an omnichannel payment experience where everything is integrated, with intermediaries. Today in Luxembourg, we have payment and integration partners, and we are keen to work with more of these, so that the merchants have more options in how they want to accept Payconiq payments. The objective is that everyone has all the payment information circulating in real-time flawlessly. Setting up all these integrated channels is where we spend most of our time thinking. Executing, implementing, explaining, and following up is the core of our business and activities at Payconiq Luxembourg.
3. Payconiq International has been recently acquired by the European Payment Initiative (EPI Company), a move that represents a significant milestone to shape the future of payments. Could you explain what it means concretely for Payconiq Luxembourg?
In April, the European Payments Initiative (EPI) announced acquiring Payconiq International. The acquisition is an essential step for Payconiq as it brings the group closer to our goal, i.e. building an innovative payment solution for consumers and businesses across Europe. The model that EPI targets is quite similar to what we have been doing in Payconiq Luxembourg for more than 12 years now. This acquisition validates our business model in Luxembourg, working in partnership with the banks, and offering payment services to merchants, be that directly, or indirectly through partners. Payconiq Luxembourg will remain the same for the short term. And then, in the longer term, the objective is to integrate into this pan-European structure. EPI will bring additional features we don’t have yet, in particular a harmonisation of the solution which is a recurrent request from Payconiq’s users in Luxembourg. Today, our users can seamlessly transact in Luxembourg and Belgium. Adding France and Germany to our geographical coverage would add a lot of value for citizens and merchants in Luxembourg.
4. Before Payconiq, you have held multiple business developer and sales executive positions in Belgium and in Luxembourg jumping from corporate life to Entrepreneurial life. What did you learn in your career within corporations that is valuable today at Payconiq Luxembourg?
In 2001, I went from being an implementation consultant on banking IT systems to a B2B sales role. And from that moment on, I was effectively dealing with B2B sales, mainly in IT related to financial services. It brought me a lot of experience, skills and knowledge about dealing with external parties or third parties.
How do you manage communication between two or three legal entities where you’re not dealing with people internally but with other people from other organisations externally? How to explain things? How to put context around things? How to make sure that everyone speaks the same language? You constantly have to bridge that gap.
It is important to develop resilience when engaging with external parties, as their satisfaction does not guarantee a successful outcome for you. I have learned to keep an eye on the long-term project objectives or partnership objectives, which is paramount today in my work at Payconiq. At the same time, details remain essential. You need to dive in when there are issues and ensure you understand things before acting in any given situation. When you set things up, ensure everything has been reviewed as much as possible: product, finance, operations support… and finally, never assume that everyone will know what you’re trying to do. Put yourself in the position of the others and realise they’ve got other things to focus on. This philosophy immensely helped me in my daily work at Payconiq Luxembourg.
5.To maximise the use of mobile payments, the challenge in Luxembourg is now to attract users, businesses, and merchants. Payconiq has a pivotal role to play with the banks to achieve this dual objective. How do you work with banks daily?
Our partnerships with banks play a crucial role in our operations. At Payconiq Luxembourg, we collaborate closely with banks to facilitate the payment process for beneficiaries and provide essential payment information, such as the desired amount and recipient. In turn, banks offer the consumer’s bank account and execute the payments. This interdependence is what makes our delivery of the Payconiq payment service possible. Without the banks, we could not operate, and without a partner like us, they could not offer a Payconiq payment-type service.
Being there for our banking partners is of utmost importance in our day-to-day interactions. We prioritise being available to address any concerns or topics they may have. Additionally, we understand that there are moments of risk, and it is crucial to work together to navigate through them effectively.
Fraud prevention is an ongoing focus for us, and we continuously adapt and evolve our strategies to mitigate this risk. Collaborating with the banks is essential in implementing new defences and ensuring a robust security framework.
Furthermore, working with banks entails engaging with various teams. As we collaborate, it is vital to provide clear explanations, support, and effective communication to different stakeholders, including top management, operations teams, and technology teams within the banks. We strive to ensure they grasp the context and address their specific concerns, whether related to payments, marketing, compliance, or operations. Typically, we engage with multiple teams within the banks, such as senior management, project management, technical teams, and marketing teams. This necessitates a didactic and transparent approach, wherein we explain the functionalities of our app, how the payment process works, and the features available.
6. Who is your role model, and why?
I am always intrigued by people who try, who act, who dare, and who don’t give up, because it is through persistence and continuous diligence that amazing businesses and projects are built. In order to create value added services, products or deliverables, you have to live and breathe the domain you operate in. I don’t have, per se, a role model but more a code of conduct. I believe in trusting oneself rather than succumbing to the opinions of everyone around you. When there is an issue, it is vital to address it quickly, as well as in depth, viewing them as opportunities for growth and learning.
Working extensively with third parties has taught me not to take things personally. If a client expresses frustration, it is not directed at me as an individual but rather at the circumstances surrounding the situation. As a service provider, it is essential to maintain composure and consistently focus on finding solutions to problems while capitalising on opportunities. This approach fosters continuous evolution and progress.