The current landscape of the payments industry is a constantly expanding one pertaining to its substantial shift into digital platforms. This shift is exponentially raising the bars of the global trade ecosystem, wherein, the aspects of enhanced user experience, simplified payment stacks, balancing back-end and user-end connection, mitigating exchange charges, and delivering viable services for customers all across the globe. A plethora of organizations are ceaselessly striving to match up to these requirements to survive in the industry. However, there are a certain number of players in the payments sphere, which are redefining benchmarks and uplifting their position in the market. One apt example of such industry leaders is Planet.
The company is an international payment service and technology provider that assists merchants, acquirers and shoppers navigate the complex world of modern payments. The original name of the company was FIntrax. Over the last few years, ithas made a series of medium sized acquisitions including Tax Free Worldwide, ETax Free Finland and GB Tax Free. Further, in late 2017, the company made a major acquisition of Planet Payment, a US based dynamic currency conversion provider. Thus, it decided to change the group name to reflect the bringing together of these brands and future of its business, and rebranded as Planet.
Planet specializes in multi-currency payments and VAT refunds services for tourists. It operates in 58 countries across five continents and works with over 300,000 merchants and over 100 banks and acquirers. Its major clients are large luxury department stores and brands such as Printemps, El Corte Ingles, DFS, Chanel, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and manyothers.
These large brands and department stores place a substantial emphasis on service and streamlining the VAT refund process for their international tourists. Planet takes pride in conveyingthat it is now issuing VAT forms in stores in the UAE and Finland in under 60 seconds and validating them at country exit points in less than a minute as well through its digital process.
The company has three major platforms: a VAT refund platform, a 100% digital VAT refund platform and a payments platform. It has invested heavily in platform developments and merchant integrations, and invests€30-€40m per annum in IT. The company’s distinction on the VAT refund side is that it believes that future lies in digital and mobile payments and the company is ahead of its competition in this domain.
On the currency conversion side, the company believes in transparent pricing for its merchant business – pricing at or below issuer rates – and it supports acquirers with a comprehensive training model for their merchants, which it believes is best in class.
Enabling Global Trade
Planet’s range of distinctive products gives it a competitive edge in the cutthroat payments market. Following is the list of its products:
- Planet Tax Free: this is a fast, flexible digital tax refund service for merchants and international shoppers. This system allows shoppers and merchants to print tax free forms swiftly, integrates with Planet and merchant database for a faster tax refund process, while capturing valuable data, and has hassle free kiosks for shoppers to validate their own tax free forms at a range of airport locations.
- Planet Payments: is an international payment processing platform which generates revenue for merchants and acquirers through POS, ATM’s and ECommerce. This platform accepts, converts, and processes international payments with a quick set up. It also provides merchants with the ability to increase global revenue by helping them accept and process payments from customers all around the world on their eCommerce stores. The platform offers financial institutions currency conversion services at ATMs that improve customer service and increase revenue.
- Planet Intelligence: provides data, insight and reports that allow merchants and acquirers to grow sales. The company’s team of researchers and analysts help its customers understand key market drivers alongside macro and micro trends to improve sales performance through this platform.
- Planet Consulting: delivers marketing and sales programs that increase footfall, conversion, revenue and loyalty by providing a consistent and enhanced customer experience across the international customer journey.
Patrick Waldron has been the one of the driving forces behind Planet being the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Patrick was appointed as the CEO of Planet in November 2012. Prior to this, Patrick was Chief Executive of Post Office Financial and Travel Services, two joint venture businesses between Bank of Ireland and the UK Post Office with £25 billion in assets and liabilities, generating profits of over £150m. Previously he was COO for the Bank in Ireland and also ran a number of business units for the Bank. Patrick was approached in 2012 by Exponent Private Equity to become the buy-in CEO of FIntrax, which was purchased for €170m. In 2015, Exponent’s shares were sold to Eurazeo – a French investment company for €550m.
Planet spent a considerable amount of time last year on its vision and values and asked all of its 1,200 staff in the company to give their inputs and in total the company received 10,500 post-it suggestions. As a result, the company’s values, “We Go Beyond Expectations, We Search for Better, We Celebrate Differences and We Grow Together” were shaped by all of its staff.
“What we try to deliver in terms of employee experience is somewhere that anyone can achieve perhaps more than they might think possible and a sense of personal ownership for every job. We feel that if everyone does their job to the best of their ability every day, we can achieve so much more together” Patrick expresses.
Planet has a promising pipeline of new businesses that itaims at delivering. The company started its digital tourist VAT Refund in UAE in November and this year it will also add Bahrain. There are three to four other markets that it will be adding later this year. On the currency conversion side, the company is expanding its ATM and E-Commerce businesses andenvisions many opportunities there.