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Building a Global Payments Powerhouse — Kamran Zaki, COO of Adyen

In this episode, I sit down with Kamran Zaki, COO of Adyen (AMS:ADYEN), a Dutch payments company that allows businesses to accept and receive payments across multiple channels and platforms. Publicly listed in the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, Adyen’s stock price has risen over 120% year-to-date and has a current market cap of $50+ billion.

Prior to Adyen, Kamran worked in several tech and payments companies, including PayPal, Netflix, and Citigroup, where he headed global payments teams across Europe, North America, and Emerging Markets.

Listen to the full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple Podcasts

Kamran is a true fintech veteran and has been working in the payments space for over two decades. First at Citigroup, then in key leadership roles at PayPal, and ultimately leading the Netflix payments team as the company expanded around the world. Reflecting back on the evolution of the industry, he is most surprised by the sheer speed of growth enabled by technology, in his words “I don’t think way back then I could have anticipated how fast technology would evolve and change, and how global things would become.”

Joining Adyen

After connecting through a mutual acquaintance, Kamran first met Pieter Van Der Does, CEO & Co-Founder of Adyen, over seven years ago. The duo’s relationship evolved over time and Kamran was eventually recruited to lead the US franchise of the firm.

One of the main aspects that persuaded him to join was that Adyen is a truly global company that has grown organically and does not suffer from fragmented divisions or legacy systems. Working under a single framework has allowed the firm to maintain startup-level productivity as they continue to expand across borders, products, and channels. Additionally, a strong emphasis on building a flat organization with a focus on hiring bright people and empowering them to make decisions has been key to the success of the company.

In fact, Kamran guided us through the eight principles of the Adyen Formula that determines the culture of the company.

  • We build to benefit all merchants
  • We make good choices to build an ethical business and drive sustainable growth for our merchants
  • Winning is more important than ego; we work as a team — across cultures and time zones
  • We include different people to sharpen our ideas
  • We don’t hide behind email, instead we pick up the phone
  • We create our own path and won’t be slowed down by “stewards”
  • We launch fast and iterate
  • We talk straight without being rude

Multilateral Expansion and Road Ahead

Adyen’s initial product in 2006 consisted on helping clients like KLM, Vodaphone, and Groupon to make and receive payments across different geographies. Adyen would partner with banks and serve as a bridge between their clients and financial institutions. But as technology and regulations evolved, they were able to obtain a “Payment Institution License” that allowed them to operate across the entire European Union with a single permit and build their capabilities to service the payment cycle from end to end. As clients continued to expand around the world, Adyen became their partner to help users pay with any relevant method used in each market. Be it credit cards, wallets, bank accounts, or even cash-based methods. Most recently, Adyen has expanded to service companies with their physical transactions and you can now find Adyen software on countless payment terminals around the world, creating an “omnichannel experience” that can solve client needs across the board.

The company’s products have taken off in light of COVID, yet Kamran tells us we are still in the early days with a long road ahead. Going forward, they want to continue helping clients through geographic expansion, increase payment methods, and roll out their omnichannel experience across all geographies. Moreover, the firm aims to increase market share with mid-market customers and is working to simplify their products and make it easier for them to use Adyen. Finally, in the last few years, they have realized they can help companies whose business model are marketplaces or platforms and they hope to continue making inroads in this segment.

About Adyen

Adyen (AMS: ADYEN) is the payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies, providing a modern end-to-end infrastructure connecting directly to Visa, Mastercard, and consumers’ globally preferred payment methods. Adyen delivers frictionless payments across online, mobile, and in-store channels. With offices across the world, Adyen serves customers including Facebook, Uber, Spotify, Casper, Bonobos and L’Oréal. The opening of new offices as described in this press release underlines Adyen’s continuous growth across geographies over the years.

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Miguel Armaza

Miguel Armaza

🎙Co-President/Podcast Host @WhartonFintech. Fintech investor @ Gilgamesh. 📚MBA/MA Candidate @Wharton/@LauderInstitute. Author of Fintech Leaders Newsletter✍️