EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 361 - June 22, 2014 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 6

Skrill Gives Online Merchants Another Way to Pay and Get Paid

By Julia Wilkinson

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While PayPal is practically mandatory for sellers to use on eBay, they may not realize that, if they click on "Add or remove options" under payments accepted in a listing, there's a checkbox allowing them to accept a service called Skrill. And the online payments service hints at integrating with more marketplaces soon.

History of Skrill
Skrill was founded 12 years ago as "Moneybookers," and has grown into one of Europe's largest online payment systems, said Skrill US CEO Neil Steinhardt. "We've got over 40 million customers, and we work with over 160,000 merchants. And we offer more than 100 payment options in about 200 countries," he added,

Steinhardt said Skrill was the first money issuer in Europe and is authorized by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). "Basically our payments system is two things: we're a payments company, like any other payments company, but we're also a digital wallet operator as well."

Skrill didn't get going in the U.S. until about five years ago, Steinhardt said. "It became kind of important to set up a U.S.-based subsidiary. Based on the business model deployed in Europe, with our emoney licenses, the most analogous business model was to get these money transmission licenses, and so we started the process of applying for all these state money transmission licenses, so now we have a full compliance regime based in the U.S. as well, to support the business." It was a multi-year process to get all those licenses, he said.

Ways to Use Skrill
We asked if Skrill was pushing its service toward eBay sellers. Skrill is used by several thousand eBay merchants, said Steinhardt, and they are not Skrill's only marketplace merchants. "We have a product that I think works really well for marketplaces, and we have over 100 localized payment options, so we're a registered payment facilitator in Europe and the U.S.," he said.

"As a payments company with a diverse global payments suite we work with a variety of marketplaces, direct sellers and companies with a range of international payout needs. We are always happy to add additional eBay sellers, especially where we can add some value and differentiate ourselves from other payment partners."

But, he added, "We also have tons of localized payments. We have paysafecard, which is the company we acquired a little over a year ago for cash payments. We have bank transfer in most European countries. We work with Giropay, iDEAL in the Netherlands, and so forth. So we give sellers the ability to transact in a lot of local currencies in preferred payment methods, also for payout."

Customers who have Skrill wallet can pay by balance, and "Skrill is a really cost-effective way for them to make, for example, cross-border payments and save on the fx (foreign exchange fees). So we have a solution tailored to buyers and sellers," said Steinhardt.

Skrill on eBay
Merchants on eBay.com and its other country sites can accept Skrill as a payment option. About eBay, Steinhardt says, "We have a good relationship with eBay," but "I don't think we'll ever be in the cashier above PayPal." However, the company works with eBay sellers anywhere. Skrill is "a little more popular outside of the US," Steinhardt explains.

Why is that? "Low cost, ease of use, because they use it with the Skrill wallet, so just a convenient way for them to get their commissions, to get their payments," said Steinhardt. "So we work a lot of marketplaces there, and I think we'll actually have a lot of interesting marketplaces coming online very shortly."

Is Skrill more global than PayPal? "Well, PayPal is pretty global," said Steinhardt. "But I think we are, in certain markets, we may be even more attractive to merchants, because we have better transfer back to banking accounts, things like that. So, I think there are some markets where we maybe outperform PayPal from a seller's perspective. But, I'm not here to talk about PayPal; they do a pretty good job."

For a merchant's perspective, you can find a guide about Skrill written by a UK eBay seller in 2012. "I use Moneybookers as an alternative payment system for my business. Also known as Skrill, it is commonly utilized in the gaming industries and in some countries where PayPal doesn't provide any service. Moneybookers is widely viewed as an alternative to PayPal."

Skrill Coming to More Marketplaces
When asked if Skrill has plans to integrate with other online marketplaces, such as Amazon, Etsy, or Bonanza, Steinhardt said yes. "And we do have some marketplaces, maybe not like eBay-ish marketplaces, but we work with Shutterstock, and Dreamstime. We work with some of the talent marketplaces like Elance, and oDesk."

Steinhardt explained that for some of these companies, Skrill provides multiple services where Skrill is, for them, an ability to accept a payment. "So we work in their cashier gateway. For a lot of these marketplaces, we actually work on the payout side. So, we have a product called Manage Pay, where marketplaces pay out commissions, and can send them out to the Skrill wallet, very cost-effectively and very simply through our API," he said. Users can make one call, and send out thousands of payments in multiple currencies.

"So, people who have opened up Skrill wallets - if you send it to an email address, it will prompt them to actually open up a Skrill wallet so they can collect their funds," Steinhardt said. "And a lot of the receivers in these marketplaces prefer Skrill over other payment options."

Creating a Skrill Account
When a user creates a Skrill account, they have options to create a personal or business account. It also prompts users to upload a photo ID. This may seem like more work that the usual online payment signup, but Steinhardt says, "Usually there's no problem. It's quite sophisticated; a variety of databases to verify people, but you know it's important to know who they are, because, like in the U.S., we are licensed money transmitters, and we do have "know your customer" requirements."

In Europe, or outside the U.S., it's a little different, he says. "There are certain things we can do up to certain levels, before we get much more serious about the identity verification."

Adding Skrill to Your Own Ecommerce Website
Sellers with their own websites can add Skrill as a payment option, once they set up an account. "It's a really simple integration," says Steinhardt, adding, "It's not quite a widget, but we accept applications online. So if you were on the Skrill website, and said, "I want to be a merchant," you can actually enroll online."

"Obviously we have merchant underwriting guidelines, so we're going to want to gather certain information about your business. Generally, it's a pretty painless process to sign up and start accepting payments from Skrill," said Steinhardt.

Skrill gives merchants a host of payments, including Visa and MasterCard. "You have a whole payment solution, not just Skrill pay by balance," he said.

Skrill Fees
So how do Skrill's fees compare to, say, PayPal's?

Skrill's fees for U.S. merchants to receive payments online starts at 2.9% plus 29 cents per transaction for monthly sales of up to $3,000, on up to 1.7% plus 29 cents for more than $100,000 in monthly sales.

Steinhardt says the fees are pretty competitive. "I mean, it's a commodity product, so I think we're all priced pretty much the same. Obviously, there's a better discount in volume. If you're a very large merchant, you can process less expensively. But, you know, we have the latitude to negotiate with people. Our bulk rates are a little better than PayPal's," he says.

Steinhardt himself has had 15 years of experience in licensed money transmissions, transaction processes, and "done a lot in the pre-paid space, - you know, our digital wallet is a prepaid product as well," he said. What about the unusual name "Skrill"? It's reminiscent of the word "scrip," a kind of pseudo-money that some people use to pay for golf tickets. But that's apparently not its origin.

"I think it's kind of a Patois; it's Jamaican slang for money, like scrilla. We think it's a lovely name, we like the purple color scheme. And we've got some very exciting marketplace news coming out," said Steinhardt.

You can find more about Skrill on its website, including a breakdown of payment processing fees for online sellers in the U.S.


About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.


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