Disruption in the payments landscape
We sat down with Giulio Montemagno, General Manager for Amazon Pay Europe, to ask him a few questions about Amazon’s new payment solution.
“At the end of 2016 we had over 33 million customers that had used Amazon Pay”
Could you tell us a bit about your professional past and your current position at Amazon?
I’ve been in commerce and payments for almost 20 years now. I started with eBay back in late 99 and stayed there for four years. In 2004, I joined PayPal and stayed with them until 2013, where I had various leadership positions in Europe.
After that, I joined a start-up heading up the international business outside of the U.S. called RetailMeNot, which had operations in several different countries in Europe. In January 2017, I joined Amazon to head up Amazon Pay in Europe.
And with that, you are now responsible for all of Amazon Pay Europe if I understand correctly?
Yes, correct. Today we have operations in five countries, but we are serving customers from all over Europe at this point.
Can you tell us why Amazon decided to start its own payment solution, Amazon Pay?
I think it is a natural continuation of what we’ve done in the past. Developing technologies internally and then making them available to third-party merchants. We did this with Marketplace, for example. There we built our retail business and then used our e-commerce platform to enable third-party sellers to sell. We did the same thing with AWS, where we started internally and then made cloud computing available to third-party merchants and developers.
Amazon Pay follows in the very same direction. We have over 330 million customers that are active globally with Amazon. Over 10 percent of these have already used Amazon Pay using their Amazon credentials to pay on third-party sites, safely and quickly, without having to create an additional account. We’re seeing a significant uptake on both the merchant side and the consumer side of our service.
How important is Amazon Pay for Amazon?
Hopefully it’s very important huh (laughs)? We are still a young business within Amazon. Amazon has many businesses and some are well established.
However, being innovative and constantly bringing new things to market is a part of Amazon’s DNA. Amazon Pay is one of those innovations that the company is betting on and has significant resources invested in it to develop a product that will enable merchants to grow their business. We’re still small in the grand scheme of things, but we are growing extremely fast.
Giulio Montegagno, General Manager, Amazon Pay Europe
How would you describe Amazon Pay’s current position in the market, compared to others?
Many competitors have been in this segment for over 20 years, if not more. I’m really pleased with the growth that we’re seeing, and with the quality and names of merchants that have started offering Amazon Pay to their end customers. We more than doubled our merchant base in 2016 and the number of Amazon customers that have used Amazon Pay has continued to grow at a very high rate.
At the end of 2016, we had over 33 million customers that had used Amazon Pay for the first time, with a growth of 78 percent year over year. A recent study done by Goldman Sachs calls out Amazon Pay as the fastest and most disruptive payment solution in the market for the years to come.
“Today Amazon is the most trusted brand when it comes to commerce globally”
What do you think makes Amazon Pay so different, so disruptive as you say?
I think it’s the size and quality of the user base. Prime customers – our most loyal and active customers – spend significantly more online than other typical online users. Not only do they spend more, but they do transactions online with Amazon very frequently: this means that their shipping address and payment information are very current. So, when you put it all together, the quantity and quality of the user base that the merchants offering Amazon Pay can have access to are extremely high.
On the other hand, the trust of the brand is also very important. 78 percent of all online users continue to consider trust the most important thing in commerce. Today Amazon is the most trusted brand when it comes to commerce globally and this is something merchants and consumers value greatly.
What trends are going to change the payments landscape in the near future?
Voice Commerce. Voice is what mobile was 10 years ago and it’s an entirely new platform. We are investing heavily in this new platform, enabling thousands of developers to create an application and help us continue to invent on behalf of our customers.
There are many things that we will be rolling out and announcing over the next few months. I cannot disclose exactly what is going to happen but Voice is going to be a key part of Amazon’s strategy.
What is this going to mean for Amazon Pay?
We are noticing a strong interest in developing voice-based and voice powered shopping experiences with merchants across Europe. It’s a much more natural way for humans to interact with machines, rather than just typing input on a keyboard or into a phone.
With stable technology and the investments that we are making into developing this platform, I’m con dent that we can bring solutions to market that respond to a variety of problems that merchants and retailers have today.
Please tell us a little about the environment at Amazon. What makes it such a great place to work?
Well, I would say it’s the spirit of innovation that we have, which is really amazing in my mind. There’s a healthy ambition, a desire to design products and services and make them as good as they can possibly be to serve our customers. That is probably the greatest trait that we have.
Aside from that, there is a sense that possible. We are surrounded by very smart, very motivated people who really have a genuine desire change the world.
What is the reason Amazon has chosen to work together with PaymentGenes on your more strategic hires in Europe?
You’ve done some very good work helping us source great talent in the payment space. Obviously, our ambition is to create a successful payments franchise over the next few years. To do that, we need to be able to attract the very best possible talent in each market.
I believe that your network in the payments business, your presence all over Europe and the track record that we have started building together will enable us to do so. To me, these are very encouraging signs of our partnership for the next few years.