Worldpay ramps up chase for Aussie and Kiwi merchants

George Lekakis Payments, mobile & wallets
A world of opportunity in merchant acquiring for ex ANZ banker Callum Juniper
A world of opportunity in merchant acquiring for ex ANZ banker Callum Juniper

Worldpay, the global online payments processor, is eyeing a large slice of the Australasian merchant acquiring market after announcing an expansion of its operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The payments juggernaut, which is the largest merchant acquirer in Britain and the US, will today open new client service offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

While Worldpay has been operating in Australia as a payments facilitator and merchant acquirer since 2016, the latest expansion marks a significant upscaling of the technical and business services offered by the company.

Worldpay has poached a raft of executives from Australian banks and other payments rivals, most notably ANZ institutional bank’s former head of merchant services, Callum Juniper.

Australia is the fourth market in Asia where the company has established an “on-the-ground presence” to support merchants using its payments processing and gateway platforms. The company has regional head offices in Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo and Sydney.

Worldpay is also establishing a beachhead in New Zealand after a securing regulatory authority to operate as an acquirer for Kiwi merchants wanting to sell products and services to international customers.

Worldpay is looking to expand its Australasian client portfolio, which already boasts a string of globally-focused retailers and service providers, such as Lonely Planet, Webjet, Skiddoo, Coco & Eve and BodyBoss.

It also facilitates payments for overseas ecommerce companies selling to Australian consumers, including ASOS and Expedia.

The Australian merchant acquiring market is dominated by the four major banks, but their supremacy is under threat from specialist providers such as Worldpay that can deliver integrated payments services and global gateways to local retailers.

Worldpay, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market cap of US$33 billion, leverages formal partnerships with more than 300 international payments providers including, Visa, Mastercard, Alipay, ApplePay and PayPal, to deepen the acceptance capability of merchants.

It is also able to process transactions in more than 150 currencies.

The big Australian banks have been relatively slow to respond to the strategic threats posed by the likes of Worldpay and Wirecard.

Banks such as CBA and NAB have only begun to forge strategic partnerships with new payments providers such as Alipay, while there is little evidence to show that Westpac has moved at all.

The lethargic response of Australian banks is likely to result in disintermediation of longstanding relationships with merchants as the local retail sector adjusts to the challenge of operating in a global consumer market.

The New Zealand card payment processing licence, which will be activated before the end of June, will allow Worldpay to process transactions domestically for merchants trading in New Zealand. It positions the company among only a handful providers to offer domestic acquiring capabilities in the country.