With a fast-paced lifestyle, consumers can benefit immensely from a swift, seamless payment experience. Trustly, a Swedish fintech company, has introduced a global payments network where consumers can pay directly from their bank accounts. Michael Bond, Director of Expansion & Banking at Trustly, lets us in on the company’s success in the UK and how Trustly is at the forefront of enabling the shift to a cardless society.
Founded in 2008, Trustly’s account-to-account platform has redefined traditional payment methods, making the company a global leader in digital payments. The unique selling point is that consumers can pay merchants directly from their personal online bank accounts instead of using a card, and users are neither required to register or download a mobile application. The payment process is entirely managed by Trustly, making the transactions quicker, simpler, and safer. “It is a product which works from account-to-account. The consumer and the merchant get instant and secure payments within the familiar environment of online banking where the authorisation and the portal are supported by Trustly,” Michael Bond, Director of Expansion & Banking at Trustly, says. The company is integrated with about 8,000 merchants, including companies like Alibaba, PayPal and UNICEF and the merchant base is constantly increasing.
Trustly is a licensed payment institution authorised and supervised by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority. The company’s head office is in Stockholm, Sweden, with a branch in London. With support for more than 6,300 banks across 30 countries, the company has a reach of 525 million consumers. In 2020, Trustly processed about USD 21bn worth of transactions, and the net revenue of the company amounted to SEK 1,974m. Globally, Trustly has more than 500 employees, with a team of 15 working in the UK. The company’s success in the UK can be demonstrated by the London branch doubling in size within a year of entering the market. “The London office is predominantly a sales office. It helps engage and support the merchants in the best way possible,” says Michael. He adds that the recruitment of a senior team to lead and build the UK office and sales activities was another achievement for the company.
Expanding to the UK
In June 2016, Trustly launched its London office and entered the UK market, which was greatly facilitated by having a Swedish payment licence. “The UK is a global financial centre and is recognised as being one of the great financial centres in the world. It is the perfect place for a reputable payments company to gain access to a large merchant base and support consumers in e-commerce.” As the outcomes of Brexit have been rolled out across legislation and businesses in the UK, companies are slowly but surely gaining confidence in the market again, which for many businesses remain their foothold into Europe.
Although the opportunities have been many, Trustly faced a few challenges as the company launched in the UK. “The UK market was dominated by credit and debit card usage, which is still in practice. The challenge for Trustly was to raise awareness of open banking or account-to-account payments in the UK. In Sweden, however, the card payment method was less embedded and easily adaptable. This was a major difference between the Swedish and UK culture, which also showed the need for local teams to create awareness and provide collateral.” This meant that the company had to modify certain aspects of the product according to UK market requirements. A major milestone related to this was how Trustly’s product supported the UK consumers to pay from their bank accounts and the adoption of open banking by consumers and the incumbent banks. The introduction of the offering and the new product played a huge part in differentiating Trustly from its competitors.
Significance of the UK Market
According to Michael, having a physical office in London has been key to their success. “I think it is great to have a presence and an office where we can interact with merchants and potential partners like banks and resellers. Our employees can have a meeting place where they can collaborate and work as a true team. Having a physical presence is also vital to find the right talent locally.” Michael adds that the strength of the UK market and the Swedish licence make it easier for Trustly to expand into other countries, as it indicates that the company has been reviewed by the appropriate regulatory bodies. Further advice to other companies looking to enter the UK market is to not be afraid of the challenge or underestimate the amount of effort needed to build a solid foundation for a company.
"The bridges built between the UK and Sweden with the help of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Department for International Trade in the UK can facilitate for new companies that are looking to launch in the UK."
Moving forward, Trustly plans to expand in marketing and sponsorship activities; one such example is the sponsorship of West Ham United Football Club. Michael believes that such steps are effective in making the brand eminent and rooted in the UK. As the dust settles from the UK expansion, Trustly is now more focusing on sales strategy, customer success and product enhancement for merchants in the UK and abroad. Additionally, the company is looking to partner up with more merchants, working closely with banks to strengthen their network in the UK and, in the long run, serve more consumers.
Getting the Right Support
“It is fairly easy to establish your company with the right support. The bridges built between the UK and Sweden with the help of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Department for International Trade in the UK can facilitate for new companies that are looking to launch in the UK,” says Michael. He adds: “These business platforms help build initial connections, finding the right office space, establishing a business and setting up a legal entity.” The secret ingredient is to have the right support in order to expedite the groundwork. Put simply, having access to the right resources and knowledge is key for emerging companies.
Year of establishment
Sweden: 2008 / UK: 2016
UK offices London
Number of employees
More than 500 in total, of which 15 in the UK