By Aisling Finn on Tuesday 1 September 2020
Luke Massie first founded VibeTickets in 2013 to resell concert tickets and has since expanded the Vibe Group to offer payment solutions through API-backed VibePay.
VibePay is not Massie’s first successful company, he founded VibeTickets in 2013, a ticket re-selling platform Massie created out of frustration at having to pay middle-men extortionate fees to re-sell concert tickets.
Since then, Massie has expanded his original ticket resale platform to create VibePay, an API-driven payment processing app that simplifies subscription and checkout processes for its customers.
AltFi caught up with Massie to see just how well his Gen Z-focussed business coped under lockdown.
Like for many other companies, Massie admits that lockdown was “extremely stressful.”
“The moment it was announced, we looked at all of our operations to re-evaluate where we were spending money and whether that was the right thing. We also looked at our product roadmap and decided which products we should prioritise over others,” Massie told AltFi.
Similar to many other fintechs, VibePay also experienced an increase in traffic during the government-mandated lockdown as people were forced to shop online, some for the first time ever.
Massie told AltFi: “Lockdown has really made us reassess what our business objectives were and, as a result, we actually brought our B2B product further forward.”
“Our old market strategy was to build out our community, build a consumer product and then go for our B2B product, but it’s now been flipped on its head.”
This change in tactic came as e-commerce boomed under lockdown and Massie and his team saw an opportunity to expand their B2B payment platform as a way to keep above water.
As the CEO of a Gen Z-focussed company, Massie says that a lot of VibePay’s small business customers are people selling things on Instagram and other social media.
He told AltFi: “We’ve seen a huge spike in what I like to call ‘social commerce.’ So, people who may have started the business 12 months part-time but have taken it on full-time because they’ve been furloughed, for example.”
“A lot of these sellers are selling things on Instagram, we like to refer to them as ‘Instapreneurs,’ they’re really the doers and the makers and the creators,” Massie added.
Massie thinks that a lot of Vibe’s popularity with social sellers comes from the fact that money from a transaction ends up in the seller’s bank account instantly.
Whereas arch-rival payment processing giant PayPal keeps the cash for 21 days before depositing it to the creator.
Massie asserts that VibePay is not “a middleman" and, thanks to open banking, any money paid through the system is transferred immediately.
Massie also practices what he preaches when it comes to using his own products.
Under lockdown, VibePay asked its customers what it would like to get from it and users of the platform overwhelmingly asked for the hottest clothing item right now, face masks.
“We built our own popup shop,” Massie told AltFi, “we said to our customers what do you want us to sell on here and they all said masks.”
“We basically created a safety kit and started selling it online, which, number one, allowed our community to buy merchandise, but it also meant we could ask people who bought from our pop-up what the checkout experience was like and how could we get better.”
For Massie, customer service and a sense of community is paramount.
Back in June, Massie sent a VibePay user £50 to help her cover the cost of her car insurance after her furlough check didn’t come through in time, an incredible act of kindness and shows what kind of vibe Massie is trying to cultivate with his platform.
The CEO and founder said that the overwhelming response was positive and that he really feels he’s starting to build a brand that consumers can trust.
“I think Vibe’s got a good chance of taking market share away from PayPal,” Massie confidently told AltFi.
“We've got enough cash to see us through to at least mid-2021, but you know we have had three of four offers from VCs earlier on this year,” Massie told AltFi.
A lot of the interest from VCs Massie thinks comes from “the engagement we are getting on our consumer app.”
And while he remained fairly tight-lipped on the topic, Massie did admit that VibePay will be looking for a VC to come on board in mid-2021, to help VibePay to expand its current product offering and bolster its B2B service.
The CEO also told AltFi that whichever investor comes on board next year will be a very specific one.
Another topic Massie remained fairly tight-lipped on is what’s coming up next for VibePay.
The fintech has seen a huge amount of growth under lockdown so must have some big plans coming up in the next few months.
“I can’t say who, but we’ve just signed an exclusive commercial agreement with one of the biggest, if not the biggest, web builders in the world to power their open banking checkout solution,” Massie told AltFi.
Massie hopes that Vibe can rapidly expand through that partnership with the mystery web builder, which he says is home to about 300m websites.
Another task Massie says is next on Vibe’s to-do list is to expand even further across Europe.
“Our open banking gateway currently has 98 per cent coverage in the UK and we are about to do our next version release in October which will see us cover 65 per cent of Europe,” he told AltFi.
“We can soon allow consumers in Germany, Italy, France and The Netherlands to download the app, link a bank account and create a Vibe ID, which will allow them to buy off websites in those regions.”
Despite the big expansion plans, Massie’s main focus still remains fostering a community of ‘Vibers’ who trust his platform and can help make it better.
It’s safe to say that Massie and his team are not just surviving, but are thriving under lockdown, and are poised to take on the industry’s big hitters in any way they can.