BRL 13 billion. That’s how much lead acquirers in Brazil can lose per year if the country’s instant payment system, PIX, be widely adopted by individual users and companies as their main means of payments. The estimative is from the German consultancy Roland Berger and takes into account the 2019 revenue of the five main companies in the sector: Cielo, Rede, GetNet, Stone, and PagSeguro. As a free service for individuals and available 24/7, PIX has the potential to not only capture an important share of card payments but also replace a great part of the banking transfers (known in Brazil by the acronyms TED and DOC).
In spite of this challenging scenario for acquirers, Augusto Lins, partner and president of Stone, the fourth biggest acquirer in the country, told LABS last month that PIX’s arrival will play an important role in the payment industry as a whole, encouraging the entry of new players and stimulating innovation in general.
“Brazil still has a lot of cash circulating, and PIX’s goal is to bring more agility, easiness, simplicity, and security to transactions. Also, PIX will be a huge disruptor in the payment of bills and bank transfers, acting as a substitute to TEDs and DOCs. That will allow more access and interoperability. Since we are focused on technology and on the customer, we believe this initiative will be great for Stone,” he said.
Stone is enabling PIX as a new feature for its POS terminals. With this, Stone’s B2B customers, especially SMBs, will be able to generate a QR Code through their devices and receive the amount directly in their Stone payment accounts, in addition to making instant transfers to other businesses and suppliers also through PIX.
Emmanuelle Nava Smaniotto, doctor in Applied Economics and professor at the Business and Management School of Vale do Rio dos Sinos University (Unisinos), believes Stone is on the right path. “Stone is a company that tries to follow the market: they indicated they will use PIX as a paying method through their devices, having already worked to integrate QR Code payments to their devices during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said, stressing that they did that in order to receive payments from the emergency aid beneficiaries, who were able to pay for goods and services directly from their social digital accounts.
Change of habits boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic
PIX’s arrival goes along with the transformation that the Sars-CoV-2 crisis brought to businesses in general and consumer behavior. To LABS, Lins pointed out that, with COVID-19, entrepreneurs had to find other ways to sell their products and services beyond their traditional brick and mortar stores.
Social distancing led to an understanding that they should diversify – and integrate – their selling channels. “Along with the impact on storekeepers, the pandemic also disrupted the behavior of the customer, who is now more focused on buying online. Stone is ready to offer these solutions both for the seller and for the customer who are going digital,” states the company’s president.
Lins stressed that, in this context, smartphones’ penetration is a key factor in the access to financial services and the development of new payments solutions in Latin America.
How to stand out
At the beginning of this year, the Brazilian Association of Credit Card and Service Companies (Abecs) forecast for the sector was a 24% growth over 2019, with more than BRL 2.3 trillion being transacted through the card industry. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this number is likely to be surpassed. Nevertheless, PIX is pushing this sector to explore new horizons.
“The financial market is adapting to the digital world and people’s new lifestyle by offering online customer services, digital accounts, cryptocurrencies being accepted as payment, among other things. When we look at it this way, we see PIX as a daily basis facilitator. Thus, financial institutions, fintechs, and digital wallets must position themselves as a means to ease customers ‘ lives,” said Smaniotto.
In the case of Stone, this is related to an old (good) habit of the company: listening to its customers. “Our extremely talented customer service team is capable of solving the customer’s problem in a fast and decisive way. In pursuance of market leadership, we always put the customer first. In order to do that, it’s crucial to preserve our culture, bringing along the right people to create a united and high-performance team,” said Lins, who stressed that it was through the company’s interactions with its customers that Stone developed several of its solutions, from faster POS terminals and improved logistics (to deliver and provide the maintenance of these devices) to loyalty programs and financial management software designed for helping entrepreneurs.
Stone current and future acquisitions also tend to stress this position of payment technologies and solutions provider of the company, like the offer for the acquisition of the retail management platform Linx. Stone customers can choose the services they want to use within the company’s open platform. Having Linx software among them is an important asset, since it is used by several types of companies in the country.