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Q&A: Max Attias, COO of Digital Payments, Nuvei

Max Attias is Nuvei’s COO of Digital Payments and has more than 20 years of experience in the field. His previous roles included TATA CIO for… View Article


Q&A: Max Attias, COO of Digital Payments, Nuvei

Max Attias is Nuvei’s COO of Digital Payments and has more than 20 years of experience in the field. His previous roles included TATA CIO for Bank Yahav, IT director at BluePhoenix Solutions, and he spent six years at Barclay’s Bank managing the Israeli R&D and Engineering Innovation center. He joined Nuvei in September 2018.

Please introduce your company. Is there any news you’d like to share?

Nuvei is a payment technology partner, using cutting-edge technology to help businesses remove payment barriers, increase acceptance rates, and optimize their operating costs. Our proprietary platform offers direct connections to all major payment card schemes, over 450 local and alternative payment methods worldwide, and 154 currencies. We’ve had two big developments lately – we acquired SafeCharge last year, and more recently we made history with the Toronto Stock Exchange’s largest initial public offering in the technology sector.

Naturally, we are very proud of this achievement, and excited for the future; the IPO will enable us to invest even more in developing business-enhancing technology for our clients.

Yes, we saw the news – that is exciting! What’s special about your platform and your approach?

We think that our platform is the best payment system available on the market! Our approach to payment processing is payment orchestration. This open approach coordinates all aspects of authorizing, risk-managing, processing, and optimizing payments. We integrate a wide array of payment gateways, issuers, acquirers, and risk and fraud management solutions into a straightforward plug-and-play platform. Our platform’s multi-acquiring environment ensures that our partners never need to put all their payment eggs in one basket. In the case of an outage, our open payment orchestration layer has in-built redundancies across the board. If one payment engine fails for any reason, another is on standby to process the transaction. All of our services are available through one integration, and we place a special importance on maintaining our relationships with our clients, with round-the-clock monitoring and maintenance services.

From your perspective, what challenges are retailers facing in 2020?

We’ve registered a significant spike in digital payments since the pandemic began, and by this point it’s clear that brick and mortar retailers who have survived the lockdown period are facing a long-term pivot to online sales. At the same time, retailers who already did business predominantly online have seen their supply chains affected by the dramatic shift in consumer behavior. In short, the times are changing, and businesses must too.

The changing landscape brings new challenges for retailers. How do they attract new customers and maintain customer loyalty in a world where most shopping is done online? Can legacy payment systems scale with this new demand?

This latter point is very relevant now, with Singles Day, Black Friday, and the Christmas season just around the corner. These peak times are crucial revenue generators, but they also bring concerns for online merchants – payments downtime being high on the list.

Nuvei’s Digital Payments department, having foreseen this market shift, has made the adjustments necessary to scale as needed. Our merchants with can feel confident that we will be able to handle their transaction volumes as they grow.

What are the consequences of downtime?

Obviously, no business wants its payment system to go down during a shopping rush, but they might not realize just how damaging these outages can be. Customers who encounter technical issues when paying will quickly lose confidence in that business and look elsewhere for their purchases, and if this happens too much it will cause long-term damage to a retailer’s reputation. In addition, a retailer experiencing downtime will have to devote additional resources to handling customer complaints and processing refunds.

Peak time outage can be a cause for collateral damage to a business, hence special care must be taken during periods of high traffic. Nuvei research found that a mid-size retail outlet could lose approximately 3,000 euros per minute of downtime. More than 70 percent of retailers surveyed reported having lost at least 10,000 euros in this way, and many lost significantly more. More than a third of merchants interviewed in our survey have seen their services go down during peak times, and it’s difficult to imagine a situation more demanding on online payment systems than Black Friday during a pandemic.

How can a retailer minimize payments downtime?

I advise retailers to shop around for a payment processing partner that has proven itself capable of handling large volumes of traffic effectively. This alone is not enough though – in order to be completely confident during peak times, their providers should guarantee 24/7 system monitoring and technical support, built-in redundancy, and they should be able to carry out system maintenance without taking the system offline.

In the last few years, my department has consistently maintained 99.99% uptime on our payment platform, and we continue striving to improve our scalability and stability, because we understand the negative impacts of downtime on a merchant’s business.

Can you elaborate on zero downtime during maintenance?

Many retailers are still working with legacy payment systems that were developed decades ago. These are expensive to run and cannot remain online during maintenance – a weakness that can have dire consequences during peak times. Newer systems are nimbler and can be altered and maintained with no interruption to the service – at Nuvei we achieve this with redundancy centers and backup servers. We operate with an ‘always-on’ philosophy. All our operational processes are designed so that our customers will not experience degradation of service or downtime.

Is 100% uptime achievable?

100% uptime is, unfortunately, not yet possible to guarantee, but the best providers measure uptime in the nines.

99% uptime, for example, equates to just under 7.5 hours of downtime a month. 99.9% uptime means to just under 45 minutes. Nuvei guarantees 99.99% uptime, or a maximum of 4.5 minutes. Choosing a provider who guarantees less than that is a recipe for lost revenue.

In addition to this, it’s important to note that great uptime is not the end of the story – retailers should also ensure that their payment providers guarantee an instant response in case of unexpected technical issues. A round-the-clock support system ensures that the issues are reported and fixed right away, drastically minimizing downtime, and even preventing it completely.

Looking forward to 2021, what challenges and opportunities do you see in online retail?

I didn’t bring my crystal ball with me, but I think that I can safely say that the spike in online purchasing is not just a flash in the pan. Retailers and shoppers will have to adapt to this new reality in the long term.

This means that the average retailer will have access to a wider customer base and new markets, so they’ll need to offer more ways to pay in order to attract regional shoppers. They will also have to provide the newest payment innovations to create fast and seamless payment journeys. We are already seeing retailers adapting by embracing new technologies such as PayLink, which is based on QR codes, and ‘buy now pay later’ solutions. As payment experts, we predict that these innovations, born of demand, will become the new normal for both retailers and shoppers as they move into a new future together.

To find out how Nuvie can help your retail operation, click here.

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