Vantage: Breathe Payments

Simplifying the merchant payment sector...

Tell us more about Breathe Payments, including what makes your vision unique!

We’re an ethical payments company offering businesses an honest and transparent view on payments and how they can save money and grow their business. We focus on technology and cash flow solutions to help them do this.

We offer a full range of products (Epos, Online, Chip & Pin, smart tablet based systems and even e-invoicing), so we can be impartial about the products we recommend to our customers and do this purely based on their needs, customizing our choice of solution and with growth and cost saving in mind.

We understand that the merchant services sector can be confusing for many businesses, with hidden fees, varying pricing structures, and minimum monthly charges. To change this, we are being transparent on pricing with ‘pay as you go’ and ‘pay monthly’ pricing options.  We also focus on the pain point for customers and have price plans to suit them.  Many payment companies charge a % & pence fee, which is fine for customers with a high average transaction value, but when this is low then a pence fee per transaction can add a few percent to the rate.  So we offer both depending on that customer and their specific needs.

As our company culture is so ethically focussed, we donate a % of profits to ocean conservation charities – Something we strongly believe in.

Where is Breathe Payments currently on its journey and what have been the key challenges in getting there?

Breathe Payments is a relatively new business, but already making good progress, with a diverse range of customers. We’re committed to growing organically so we can ensure our customer services and support capability can keep pace with our customer numbers. We are highly customer-centric and our aim is to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, so we put a dedicated point person on the account until things are back up and running, no matter the size of the business.

As well as a dedicated customer service, we are also understanding of painpoints merchants typically experience and are proactively aiming to soothe these. One example is that we saw an increasing number of businesses out there stuck in long, unappealing contracts that they were unaware what they were entering into. We have tackled this by being more flexible for businesses, allowing them to avoid anything over a 3-year contract and also offer pay as you go or shorter contracts.  But ultimately, if anyone really wants to leave for a valid reason other than a better price elsewhere, then we’re not going to enforce contracts and make people stay against their will as this seems a little unfair.  Stuff happens in business and we’re here to work with our customers, not against them.

We now have a great range of products which we have specialist knowledge of enabling us to offer tailored recommendations but are adding to our portfolio with a new smart card machine with built in epos software to help better service the Health & Beauty & hospitality sectors.  Many businesses are still using a card reader that needs to be linked to a tablet or phone, but with these new devices you can avoid the common issues of connectivity problems and just use one device that has built in wifi and GPRS.  You can also take orders & payments on the same device, saving time walking from the point of sale to the epos system.  We are responding faster and faster to technological changes to keep ahead of the curve and help offer our customers the right tools to help run their businesses.

Breathe Payments has recently partnered with YouLend, what are the main benefits of such a partnership and how has this impacted the overall offering you provide?

We focus on ways to help businesses grow and access to business funding is one way we can help them. YouLend are also relatively new to the UK, but they have data-driven credit assessment platform with various integrations so they can assess applications allowing  them to provide instant decisions and funds to a wide range of businesses in just a few days. YouLend’s quick approval process, no hidden fees and flexible repayments fits with our ethos and our faster payments proposition, which offers businesses same day settlement of card transaction funds. Many businesses with high sales peaks during the week typically have to wait 4-5 days to receive card takings, which is a long time to wait in this day and age, considering that customers are increasingly demanding as a result of the efficiency we see in the B2C world.

Breathe Payments acknowledges that every business is different and positions itself as flexible to merchant needs. What approach does Breathe Payments take to understand its merchants in order to provide more tailored solutions?

We like to differentiate ourselves by asking our customers a comprehensive range of questions, regarding their operations and how they plan to take card payments. More than half of the customers we speak to have the wrong product for their business as people haven’t asked them the right questions.  For example, many are using chip and pin machines when they only take payment over the phone, so are paying high monthly charges for no reason.  Or they have a card machine and are capturing bookings and customer details on paper, when they could have an epos system that will run this all for them.

As mentioned before, things like annual card turnover, average transaction value and how customers intend to take payment are critical questions to assess the right product and price plan.  It’s an all to common problem, that businesses are using the wrong system or machine and paying too much.  We often direct potential customers to competitors if they can get a better deal there and it really depends on the value of the card payments they expect to take.

Understanding the technology they already use is vital in providing niche recommendations.  Many salons are using multiple different systems to manage payments, staff, bookings, accounts admin, customer management and more.  Our epos platform consolidates all of these functionalities, so in some instances there are big savings to be made by merging complex systems into one epos system.

Breathe Payments promotes its friendly customer service. How important is customer experience in the eyes of merchants – do they really care about it or are they more focused on getting the best acquiring deal?

It’s an interesting point as many businesses are just looking for a cheap deal.  Sometimes this works out, but on many occasions it’s a false economy as when things go wrong there’s little customer service and support to get them up and running again.

It pays to look at the whole deal when shopping on price as many payment companies have a low debit rate to hook them in, but lots of hidden fees like the pence & % fees mentioned before.  It’s worth taking your time and calculating the impact of all of these costs before signing anything.  And watch out for those long contract lengths buried deep in the T’s & C’s!

What are the technologies/innovations you feel will have the biggest impact on the future of acquiring? What technologies are you leveraging or looking to leverage and why?

The most interesting thing for me are the integrations that are becoming available with the new connected smart POS solutions.  For example, it’s great that with some epos systems you can now flow all of your transaction data straight into Sage or Xero via software integrations.  This helps cut down on accountant bills & admin time leaving owners to run their businesses and do the things they love.

You can also access open apps in the market place via smart devices like our Poynt smart chip & pin device.  This allows you to bolt on additional services as the need arises.  Like customer loyalty tools and online booking systems.  With these apps the sky is the limit for what these systems can do for a business.

Finally, what is the one pearl of wisdom you would share with payments start-ups beginning their journey?

Focus on technology.  It’s easy to do things the same way they’ve been done for years, but there’s always a way to improve customer experience and the way everyone does business through new innovations. Customer data for example is becoming so important.  If you have a system that can manage your customer details then you can more easily run promotions, market to them, cross sell products & services and communicate with them.  Customer loyalty is the part many people forget, but technology can massively help on this front and is an essential part of business today.

With the market becoming increasingly saturated with FinTechs, knowing the market is more important than ever to stay relevant. Challenge people to do things better!

Jamie Mills
CEO & founder of Breathe payments

Jamie worked in marketing for over 20 years working on some of the World’s biggest brands and eventually joined Worldpay to lead the UK SME Marketing team.   Jamie worked on instilling many of the principles of brand marketing at Worldpay – Building customer trust, delivering great service & helping them to grow.

These are the principles he’s brought to Breathe payments adding an ocean conservation element to the business and helping to fund small businesses to achieve their growth ambitions.  He also ensures that staff are happy and motivated by giving all employees a part of the business.