The future of payments is here 

BRANDVOICE

An explosion in alternative payment methods (APMs) has splintered the ways shoppers pay. Optty helps merchants stay relevant with a single integration for every payment method in the world. 

Once upon a time, consumers had to use an antiquated thing called cash to pay for goods and services. Later, they were able to use cards, but only from banks and major schemes like Visa, Mastercard and American Express. 

Those days are gone. Today, consumers can use hundreds of alternative payment methods (APMs), from digital and e-wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay to Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services such as Afterpay and Zip Pay to cryptocurrency. 

“Consumers love choice,” says Natasha Zurnamer, CEO and Founder of Optty, a universal payments platform. “They don’t just choose what they buy; they choose how they pay for it.” 

But while APMs are wildly popular among consumers, most remain unavailable at check-out. 

“The massive fragmentation of the payment market presents a big problem for merchants,” says Zurnamer. “The integration of each of those payment types is a huge effort.” 

Integrating payment methods into retailers’ systems is time-consuming and expensive, especially for large companies trading in multiple countries. Regulatory compliance across jurisdictions, coordination across financial institutions, security and foreign exchange are some of the hurdles. 

“Imagine trying to integrate every individual APM, one by one, in each country,” says Zurnamer. “Tech teams cannot keep up.” 

As a result, retailers face impossible choices about which APMs to prioritise. 

“They go into what I call ‘integration amnesia’. They are overwhelmed and paralysed by the choices and scale of the issue.” 

As customers expect more payment options, ‘integration amnesia’ poses an existential risk for merchants. 

“Here’s what we know: payment is a key driver of growth and revenue,” says Zurnamer. 

“The more ways a merchant can offer to pay, the more customers will complete the shopping experience, whether physical or digital.” 

“Merchants need to offer their customers alternative payment methods to stay relevant.” 

A world of payment methods at once 

Optty solves this problem by offering a single integration for every payment method worldwide. 

It helps merchants give their customers as many payment options as possible. 

“Once a merchant has onboarded Optty’s technology for the first time, any payment method can be integrated in under a minute,” says Zurnamer. 

“We are payment agnostic, so we’ll integrate anything. We are partner agnostic, so we’ll partner with anyone.” 

This has led to partnerships that place Optty at the fulcrum of the digital payments industry. 

It is now embedded into the Mastercard Gateway, which powers debit and credit processing services for more than 200 banks and half a million merchants around the world. Other major partnerships include other major Schemes and Global Banks, PSPs and Gateways including The Hut Group’s Ingenuity, a multi-billion pound UK e-commerce platform. 

“These companies are embracing payment inclusion because they recognise that they need to offer a holistic service,” says Zurnamer. 

Optty’s business model is focused on being an “honest broker”, providing free integration and only charging for API calls. It does not charge subscription or commission fees. 

As a technology service, Optty has no contact with funds or commercial agreements between merchants and payment methods. 

“We are only the pipes,” says Zurnamer. “We are sitting there as the agnostic partner that provides integration and integration only.” 

From retailer to FinTech CEO 

Zurnamer has worked at the nexus of traditional merchants and new technology for decades. 

As a digital and business strategist in fashion retail, she has worked with eBay, The Iconic and Trunc (a high-end online retailer in the Philippines) to build successful digital retail marketplaces. 

Optty was born in 2020 in Singapore, when Zurnamer worked with Openpay during a blizzard of BNPL expansions. The Australian company wanted to go to market in the UK. 

“I thought it would be easy,” says Zurnamer. “But when I got there, the response was, ‘Line up. We’re being wooed by every single new kid in town – Afterpay, Clearpay, Openpay – what makes you different?’ 

“They said the cost was prohibitive, and the time it’s going to take is prohibitive. 

“I’ll never forget going to a meeting for Openpay and having a £100,000 offer to give to this retailer to integrate Openpay. Their head of payments told me, ’Put another zero on it, and you can come back and talk to us’. They wanted one million pounds.” 

“I was on a train ride back and just had this ‘Aha!’ moment. 

“It was then I decided that I would solve this problem and create a single integration to every alternative payment method in the world.” 

Optty’s success

Zurnamer funded a team to build the prototype, then raised $2.5 million at early seed. Today, the company has raised nearly US$25 million. 

Early investors include Debra Wittner, a director and executive of Wittner Shoes, and hedge fund billionaire Will Vicars via his private family office managed by Tom Forde who is also a director. Other entrepreneurial visionaries on the board include best-selling business writer Alan Miltz as Chairman, venture capitalist David Shein, Saudi billionaire Faisal Alsayed and Marie Elise Droga (NED), a domain expert who led Western Union and Visa’s global fintech partnerships.  

The company team now comprises 65 people across Singapore, London, Dubai, Sydney, India, Nigeria, and Arizona. 

It includes a large contingent of Generation Z, including Zurnamer’s sons, Zac and Hugo and a hiring rule of only connected individuals. 

“Young people are reshaping payments. They’re telling us how they want to pay. They’re the future of paying, not people my age,” says Zurnamer. 

After building in stealth mode a moat of unrivalled integrations, Optty has quietly positioned itself as the silent hero powering giants. Already embedded into PSPs and gateways, this has now evolved. Schemes and banks are embracing payments inclusion.  Optty’s reach is now set to be available to over 7brr50 banks and two million global merchants with zero tech uplift to merchants utilising these gateway services. 

“Payment inclusion has the potential to revolutionise economies,” says Zurnamer. 

“The legacy of Optty will be driving economies and helping merchants of all sizes, seamlessly accept a digital payment with zero tech effort. I’m so excited to be at the forefront of that.”