Satispay an Italian Unicorn

Revolutionizing the mobile payments industry and becoming the leading payment network in Europe. Satispay’s ambition has turned into a mission, because seven years after its launch, the proposal conceived by Alberto DalmassoDario Brignone and Samuele Pinta has achieved first-class numbers, turnover and valuation. More than 3 million users and 200,000 merchants and small businesses use Satispay to settle their accounts, with the mobile app now available in four countries. Important figures symbolize a steady growth that has attracted and continues to attract the attention of many investors.

From the €550,000 with which the project was launched in 2013, it has grown to the latest €320 million all-equity Series D round announced last September. A total of 26 international investors (including China’s Tencent and the US-based Block, the former Square, a fintech co-founded by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey) have collectively funded the Italian scaleup to the tune of over 450 million euros. Thus Satispay’s valuation is over €1 billion.

The expansion in Europe and the funding result from an effective system, a payment network that bypasses banks and allows users to pay lower fees and efficiently manage their budget. Speed of service and ease of use are other factors that convince people to try Satispay because all you need to get started is an ID and the IBAN of your bank account.

Then you have to set the weekly budget available on the app, with which you can make purchases online and offline, at any point of sale, in vending machines, and at petrol stations, but also pay the plumber and electrician, mobile top-ups, slips, donations, automatic payments for your subscription services or exchange money with friends. Almost all consumer services are free, while shopkeepers only pay 0.20 euros for transactions over €10.

To find out more about the company’s present and future goals, we met Giorgio PonticelliChief Operating Officer of Satispay, from 2019.

After the recent Serie D round, what is your plan of action?

In 2015, Satispay launched a payment network independent from credit and debit card circuits, with the mission to simplify everyday payments for consumers and cut transaction fees for merchants. Since then, we have tested, improved and grown our model across Italy and other European countries. We are focused on boosting our growth in Italy and continuing our expansion abroad.

Now we are scaling it and making it even more efficient with the ambition to revolutionize the mobile payment space and become Europe’s leading payment network. We are also growing and strengthening our team, adding new great talents every day, with plans to double our headcounts from 300 to 600 in the next 18 months. We are excited to see great interest in Satispay from candidates with international experience and background who will be key in our global expansion.

In how many countries is Satispay present?

Satispay is live in 4 countries: Italy, Luxembourg, Germany and France. We are following a city-by-city approach across all regions, allowing us to establish a solid and engaged community on both the consumer and merchant sides.

How many users are there of the service, and how are you focusing on its expansion?

Satispay already counts over 3.2 million consumers and 200,000 merchants across four countries, and we are committed to continuing to grow a solid and engaged community. We are laser-focused on consolidating our presence in the regions where Satispay is already live and expanding to selected cities in Italy and abroad. We are confident this approach will help us become Europe’s #1 payment network.

We are regulated as an e-money institution. Thanks to our innovative payment network, independent of credit and debit card circuits, we can provide a faster and more convenient payment experience for consumers and merchants across Europe.

What advantages does using Satispay bring to consumers and merchants?

Satispay was launched to become the everyday payment solution in Europe. Over the past ten years, consumer preferences and habits about everyday payments have drastically changed. Consumers are looking for faster, safer and more convenient alternatives to cash payments – which is at the very core of what we are doing at Satispay. Our objective is to be available for everyone everywhere, from the small merchant next door to the big online international retailer, regardless of what mobile device or bank they have.

Satispay empowers merchants, significantly cutting transaction fees and helping them transition to mobile payments. Merchants using Satispay also see an increase in in-store traffic thanks to their visibility in the Satispay app. At the same time, Satispay simplifies the experience of anything related to payments; what was difficult to pay before is all of a sudden easy and quick with our app.

What kind of features, categories or services are you working on with a view to future implementation?

At the moment, there are no urgent changes needed. We are constantly working to improve our services and provide the best experience possible to both consumers and merchants. For instance, we have increased the flexibility of our weekly in-app budget by adding an instant top-up feature, allowing our consumers to have complete control over their budget and expenses. There is also growing interest from our community to make the app available for consumers under 18, a feature we are currently considering.

Is there an element that favours your success in Italy, a country where startups can only easily emerge sometimes?

Ten years ago, the Italian government implemented a new law focused on supporting innovative startups. Indeed, Satispay, like many other tech companies, benefitted from this favourable framework. Today, as one of the very few Italian unicorns, we are committed to giving back to the country and finding ways to support innovation and the startup scene. We are creating new job opportunities and promoting healthy competition in the payment and financial service industry, contributing to a new wave of entrepreneurship within the tech space in our country.

Is there a model country in Europe for starting and growing a startup?

It is still too early to pick a real European ‘champion’. We have seen many European countries launching exciting initiatives to attract talent and create a startup-friendly ecosystem. However, there is still a lot of work to do, and, at the moment, in each European country, there are both positive aspects and areas of improvement.

To accelerate the growth of Satispay, you want to hire ‘creatives’ in different fields. What kind of people are you looking for?

Finding creatives means finding people who, regardless of their role, can see things differently and constantly challenge whether we are doing things in the smartest way. Such creativity is only sometimes learnt in a university setting. Creativity is fuelled by curiosity and eagerness to learn new skills and improve them, it’s something people have inside, and it can come from many sources: work, education or any other personal experience or interest. In that sense, we don’t see significant differences when it comes to the educational background of our candidates, on the contrary, we do see incredible talents from many different backgrounds and with different life stories. Our mission is to find them!

Alessio Caprodossi is a technology, sports, and lifestyle journalist. He navigates between three areas of expertise, telling stories, experiences, and innovations to understand how the world is shifting. You can follow him on Twitter (@alecap23) and Instagram (Alessio Caprodossi) to report projects and initiatives on startups, sustainability, digital nomads, and web3.