Checkout.com’s new president is bullish on US expansion, says she ‘welcome’ comparisons to Stripe

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Stripe competitor Checkout.com announced last month that Céline Dufétel has been appointed as its new president.

She previously served as CFO and COO of the London-based fintech startup for around 18 months prior to her PhD. In her expanded role, which continues to include the position of COO of the company, Dufétel oversees all operations and go-to-market teams, including finance and marketing. When announcing the appointment of the New York-based director, the company had told me the move was symbolic of Checkout.com “staking its claim in the US”

Dufétel certainly has an impressive background in the world of financial services. Prior to joining Checkout, she served as COO and CFO of T. Rowe Price for three years. And she worked for that Neuberger Berman and was a partner at McKinsey & Company. Dufetel was too named in Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women in US Finance in 2021, and in Fortune’s 40 under 40 in 2020.

Checkout.com is building a full-stack payments business – in the words of TC’s Romain Dillet, it acts as a gateway, an acquirer, a risk engine and a payment processor. It allows you to process payments directly on your site or app, but you can also rely on hosted payment pages, create payment links, etc. It supports card payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Alipay, bank transfers, SEPA direct debits and you can also make payments with it.

In December, the company made headlines when it cut its internal valuation to $11 billion, which was a huge drop from the $40 billion valuation the company reached just under a year earlier. At the time, CEO founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz had told TC that the move was to “take advantage of the current circumstances to update the company’s tax valuation.” More recently, Checkout.com launched a new product that allows customers to create payment cards for their own customers.

gotechbusiness.com got in touch Dufétel to learn more about her plans as Checkout.com’s new president, including what’s in store for the company this year, her thoughts on the future of payments in general, and why she sees so many opportunities in the US. We also asked her what she thought of the Stripe comparisons… and her answer might surprise you.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Congratulations on your new role! What awaits Checkout.com in 2023?

Thanks, it’s an exciting time to expand my remit at Checkout.com as 2023 is a critical year for us – we’re really ramping up our commercial efforts, especially in the US. While we’ve seen tremendous growth in APAC and EMEA, the US is the second largest e-commerce market in the world and there’s extensive untapped growth opportunity there.

The US payments landscape is currently dominated by old and new incumbents, and we know that competition would ultimately deliver better outcomes for consumers. We have a robust pipeline of brands across a variety of industries and industries that we already serve internationally, and we’d like our support in the US as well. For example, we recently announced a partnership with GE Healthcare to support the company’s rapid e-commerce expansion.

How did Checkout.com perform in 2022? Can you share revenue/growth metrics (YoY)?

As Checkout.com is a private company, we do not disclose group financials, but we are a flexible and well-funded company that is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities in a rapidly growing overall addressable market. We’ve launched five products in the past few months and have a strong pipeline planned as we continue to innovate to better serve our merchants.

How many employees do you have? Have you resigned at all in the past year?

Since 2012, we have grown to more than 1,900 employees in 21 global offices. Like many companies across industries, we have had to adjust growth rates to current macroeconomic conditions and made the difficult decision last September to reduce Checkout.com’s workforce by nearly five percent (about 100 people). This decision did not come lightly, but it was a strategic re-prioritization of our workforce where we reduced workforce in some areas where we invest less, and retained or even grew in areas that are a high priority for us. This allows us to focus on the strategic priorities under our mission, which is to enable businesses and their communities to thrive in the digital economy by providing innovative products and services when they need them most.

What do you think of comparisons to Stripe?

We welcome them. Stripe has built an impressive business and we believe strong competition drives better results for merchants everywhere, which is our goal. But when you compare us to Stripe, an important distinction to make is that Stripe’s roots are in serving small businesses – ours are in the mid-market and global enterprise segment. Our target customers are customers that have grown in complexity and often have a global presence. Those merchants need another level of sophistication because the performance of their payments and global reach really matter. The service, engagement and collaboration we can provide is really important – because we work with thousands of merchants rather than millions, we can provide that excellent service and flexible solutions to meet their needs.

Sellers want transparency and engagement to help them solve their most complex problems, and we provide that too. Where others’ tech stack is more of a black box, we enable those more mature traders to provide transparency and customization of their infrastructure to improve performance. Working closely with our vendors to co-develop solutions is of utmost importance to us. We deliver a real strategic advantage to digitally minded brands, and I’m proud to say we have one of the highest adoption rates in the industry.

How has the global downturn affected your business?

It’s no secret that the current macroeconomic environment is challenging for many businesses, including some of our traders. That said, we are focused and determined to meet our long-term goals and continue to add new sellers to our growing customer base. Our diverse customer base – encompassing a healthy mix of international markets and industries – helps diversify our revenue stream to minimize the impact of instability in specific regions or markets.

I’m not sure if you work with crypto/web3 companies, but if so, has the FTX debacle led you to rethink some of those relationships?

We have always believed in serving innovative companies, starting with fintechs since our inception, and more recently innovators in the crypto/web3 space in 2019. While this is an exciting industry, it represents a humble part of our business. We, of course, recognize the gravity of the current situation as opposed to other events in the past, but remain committed to supporting our merchants with the best possible payment solutions.

These events underline the need for a clear regulatory framework. That’s something we’ve long advocated to better support innovators, bring this technology safely into the hands of businesses and consumers worldwide, and build trust in the ecosystem as a whole.

Overall, what do you see for the payments industry in 2023?

Now more than ever in the uncertain economic landscape, CFOs and heads of payments are limiting themselves to the impact of payments on revenue growth and profitability. Business leaders are increasingly recognizing the measurable impact of well-performing payment systems in maximizing acceptance rates, minimizing costly fraud issues, and reducing operational costs. Particularly in the US, where digital payment infrastructure has lagged behind other regions, there is scope for businesses to support their payment processes to drive better business outcomes.