“We’re riding the wave of Corona” says Mollie CCO Ken Serdons

By Aisling Finn on Tuesday 24 November 2020

FeaturesDigital Banking

It's safe to say that as e-commerce has boomed, so too has Dutch payment processing firm, Mollie. AltFi caught up with Mollie’s CCO Ken Serdons to chat about all things online shopping.

“We’re riding the wave of Corona” says Mollie CCO Ken Serdons
Image source: Ken Serdons (left)/Mollie.

It’s safe to say that online shopping has experienced a bit of a boom this year. Very early on in 2020, as the world was plunged into lockdowns, more and more businesses shifted to online. 

With online shopping growing as rapidly as it has, we’ve also seen payment processing firms ride that wave: this is where Mollie comes in. 

The Dutch payment processing firm has gone from strength to strength as the year has gone on, breaking its own records and adding more businesses to its platform than it anticipated. 

AltFi caught up with Mollie’s chief commercial officer Ken Serdons (over video call) to see just how well the fintech was coping under the strain of the pandemic. 

Splashing the cash 

It would be hard to discuss payment processing without mentioning one of Mollie’s keenest rivals, Checkout.com. 

If you needed any evidence for just how strong the payment processing sector is doing, Checkout.com tripled its valuation to $5.5bn following a $150m Series B funding round.  

Mollie followed closely in Checkout.com’s footsteps closing its own €90m Series B funding round at the beginning of September, taking its total raised to date to €115m. 

“We are massively investing in product and engineering,” Serdons told AltFi.  

“We are also focussing on integrations, making sure that we are integrating with the right software packages with the right platforms."

The CCO also told AltFi that the freshly raised cash would be used to help its Covid-hit customers, many of whom are relatively new to the world of e-commerce.  

“We are definitely one of the ones to have benefitted from this shift to e-commerce and so we really want to help the economy and the businesses, especially the ones that are struggling because their offline shop has been closed.” 

The CCO admitted that Mollie, one day, wants to provide a well-rounded platform for its customers was to help all types of businesses that use the platform: “winners, losers and innovators,” as Serdons put it.  

He explained that, in his experience and given how 2020 has gone so far, that it is impossible to expect every business to be thriving, particularly for certain sectors, like travel, ticketing and events. 

Despite being one of the self-described “winners” of the pandemic, Mollie's processing volumes are currently growing at 1,100 per cent faster rate in Germany than it was last year, it’s focus is not just on exponential growth.  

Confessions of an online shopaholic 

Despite the summer being a notoriously slow period for e-commerce, Serdons admitted that May 2020 was a record month for Mollie, with the upwards trend slightly tailing off in September as more counties began to open up once more. 

Serdons went on: “The summer is always interesting, in the summer we always see a little bit of a decline, but May was our strongest month on record and then September was slightly less strong in terms of growth compared to August.” 

“In October it’s taken off again, usually we get another peak around this time but, October has actually been another record month for us. It’s been the biggest month ever.” 

Like many fintechs, within the e-commerce arena, in particular, Mollie has continued to experience growth as the trend of online shopping continues.  

“The last quarter of the year is always strong, but with so many non-essential shops closing we’ve seen most people shift back to online shopping,” Serdons explained to AltFi

With Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year just around the corner, Serdons also predicts that the peak might not be as long as previously thought. 

“We’re continuing to see a lot of interesting dynamics that we’ve never seen before that’s for sure,” Serdons told AltFi

“We’ve already seen a lot of shops starting to offer discounts and incentivising customers so I think it will be really interesting to see just how high the peak will be for Black Friday, or if it will be spread across more days or over a week’s time,” he went on. 

Looking to the future 

Serdons also admitted that while Mollie is “riding the wave of Corona,” he has seen some reports that the wave could crash early 2021, although he’s hopeful it won’t happen to Mollie.  

“I’ve seen some reports that say e-commerce won’t be as big in 2021 as it was in 2020. Some say it could be bigger but I definitely think that market has always been growing over the last couple of years and now, because of 2020, there has been a significant shift in behaviour,” Serdons told AltFi

“I strongly believe we will continue to see a growth in e-commerce,” he went on.  

The Mollie exec added that in all his years in payments, which is coming up on a decade, he’s never not experienced growth within the sector. 

“Market dynamics change,” the CCO told AltFi, “a lot of the trends in payments we’ve seen this year were already happening.” 

Serdons went onto add that despite the coronavirus pandemic causing a shift away from cash, no less because of a fairly damning report from the World Health Organisation came out early on in the crisis that showed the virus could live on paper notes for up to three days 

“The cash to card conversion in shops was the foundation of this movement. Electronic payments in shops, including contactless, became an incredibly popular innovation.” 

“The real question for us as a company was how to respond to that. How do we make the experience as smooth as possible for the consumer?” Serdons mused.  

The answer, of course, is to have a dedicated action plan for each country. Serdons explained that what works in The Netherlands might not have the same impact in German and vice versa, “every market in Europe has their own payment method.”

It’s safe to say that Mollie has had a bit of a busy 2020 and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon.

Time will only tell if consumers continue to shop online, or if they begin to take tentative steps back into physical stores. Although I’m sure that Mollie, and all the businesses that have pivoted to e-commerce to survive, would like to think so. 

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