In this month’s Inside Credorax interview, we sat down with Alon Bigler, Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Solutions at Credorax. Alon’s hidden talents and interesting hobbies have come to light and have shown us the secrets to his success.
Can you please describe your role at Credorax to our readers?
My role is the strategic development of our organization and promoting our unique solutions and products as sales programs within the sales team. I realize this sounds a bit complex, so let me break it down into the basic components:
- Strategic alliances – as our organization plans to expand into new jurisdictions, either as an acquirer or as a payment processor, I handle strategic relationships with partners supporting that global expansion.
- Promoting our POS efforts – Although Credorax is an e-commerce specialized acquirer, we do have strong technological capabilities that we decided to implement as part of our POS and mPOS proposition. I assist the sales team in promoting these solutions.
- Cross-currency conversion product – as part of our service, Credorax offers a cross-currency conversion solution for settlement. I assist the sales team in promoting this product to our merchants and partners.
- APAC regional development – As our activity in Asia is fairly new, the sales and business development teams in this region require my support, both in liaising with the rest of the organization and in promoting their deals.
You began your professional life as an actor. What made you switch to this completely different career?
I completed my studies in acting and theater, but beyond my student experiences as an actor, I have not pursued this path much beyond that. I learned very quickly that being a working actor meant living on a shoestring budget. I was planning on having a family, so that lifestyle wasn’t right for me. I was looking for a profession where I could use my skills of delivering a message with a meaning in a way that would motivate people to action. Sales and, later on, business development suited that purpose best. It’s quite amazing how often empathy and the human connection play a role in business relationships. People want to work with people they like and people who deliver a message simply and clearly. Focus is key as well. These are all skills taught to actors that I was able to apply in sales.
In a way, I’ve discovered that in business development “the world is my stage,” because I get to use these skills often. Acting is not about being phony or false on the stage – that never works. True acting is about bringing your true full self to the play in a way that conveys the required message genuinely. I am happy that I literally get to do that every single day – I bring my full self to the message of “Smart Acquiring” with Credorax.
What do you think is the secret sauce to building long-lasting relationships with partners and customers?
I am not sure if that’s a big secret. To me, it’s very clear that clients want to work with people they trust and whom they believe would take care of their business as if it was their own. I definitely try to do that, and I think this has been the “secret” to success for of the entire Credorax sales team. Our clients know that we handle their business with care, and that we go the extra mile to bring them the solutions they need.
You have played a crucial role in building the company’s POS/mPOS product offering. It is now one of the most successful and in-demand solutions by several global partners and merchants. Do you think the success is due to Credorax’s expertise in EMV technology?
I think the secret here is that we bring all our agility and technological capabilities from the e-commerce world into POS. The POS world is very traditional, and it needs the fresh viewpoints coming from the younger, modern, e-commerce world. As we specialize in e-commerce, we can actually bring these capabilities into POS. These include working very efficiently with payment facilitator models (also in POS) and an onboarding API.
As for EMV, it was the minimal requirement for us to have full EMV capabilities (including online PIN) in POS. We are a technology company, so we make absolutely no compromises in that area.
You play a crucial role in strategic sales development for Credorax’s APAC business. Can you tell us “best practices” for ROW companies entering targeted countries in this market?
My main piece of advice for people approaching APAC is not to think about Asia as a single unit. Asian countries and cultures are very different from one another, and therefore the business culture from one Asian country to another is extremely different. I have learned that representatives from China and Japan, for instance, conduct themselves very differently. Even the cultural gap between mainland China and Hong Kong is sometimes big enough that a Chinese salesperson may find it challenging when communicating with a business partner in Hong Kong. Therefore, I recommend creating a dedicated sales and business development team in each Asian country you target, even if it’s a very small one of just one or two people.
As a thought leader in global online payments, can you share a few predictions for 2017?
What I currently see in the market is a lot of globalization and consolidation. This mostly means that companies are getting larger and more global, through mergers and acquisitions. I expect this trend to continue. I also see the banking sector becoming more digitized, the way the e-commerce payment sector has been for a while now. As fintechs enter the banking sector more and more, and as consumers themselves start using their bank digitally (digital branches, etc.), I foresee some of the payment companies out there starting to offer banking services.
You are an award-winning Persian cat breeder. How has this unusual hobby influenced your work at Credorax?
Indeed I am. People often find this amusing, and — a bit like my acting background — don’t always see how it relates or corresponds with my day job. I often use this fact as an icebreaker, because it puts me in a different light.
But there are business lessons to be learned everywhere. In almost 20 years as a cat breeder, I have learned that a good brand relies on both expertise and very good service over a long period of time. When a kitten leaves my home, the buyer doesn’t only purchase the kitten, they also purchase the added value of my support, advice and responsibility regarding the health and behavior of this cat over its lifetime.
Acquiring and payments are very similar. When Credorax engages with a partner, it is for a very long-term relationship, and I try to bring that approach to business. So when I close a deal with a partner or merchant, you could say I treat it as if “I sold them a kitten.” Our team puts their hearts and souls into building a structurally sound solution, but then we are responsible for our service throughout the length of the partnership – hopefully a very long time. We owe it to our clients to be experts in what we do.