24.11.2015 | Hamburg
Otto Group, the retail and services group, has taken this step as a result of the highly competitive but slow-developing digital-payment business. While Yapital will no longer service the end-consumer market as of 31 January 2016, it will remain active as an e-money institution in the business-to-business (B2B) market.
The goal was ambitious: with Yapital, the Otto Group intended to create the first pan-European cross-channel payment system with retail roots and modern commerce in its sights. Ultimately, however, although this innovative system was highly respected by experts, and was highly popular with over-the-counter retailers and e-commerce operators, consumer behaviour is changing much more slowly than all market observers anticipated. Marc Berg, Yapital Executive Director: “At the moment it is simply impossible to forecast business performance in this segment accurately – and above all, the development of the number of end-consumers. While we were already talking about the mobile-payment breakthrough three years ago, today studies indicate there are currently only 200,000 users in Germany.”
Operational factors mean the acquisition of new customers through pure marketing activities is unrealistic. He adds: “Owing to the falling margins as a result of a change in the law (Interchange Fee Regulation), we believe we cannot profitably win over consumers to new payment systems such as Yapital in the absence of strong partners with a broad customer base. Consumer behaviour is changing too slowly for this”, says Marc Berg summarising the key issue. Until very recently, the Otto Group was still engaged in discussions with potential strategic partners to turn Yapital’s cross channel-payment offering into a sustainable success model in the current situation. “We were optimistic to the end, but ultimately things did not work out. We always knew we had to solve the ‘chicken or egg’ issue to be successful.
Unfortunately we were only able to solve one side of the equation: acquiring strong and attractive retail partners”, continues Berg. As part of this decision, we will close existing Yapital user and retailer accounts on 31 January 2016 and terminate them with the agreement of the relevant partner companies. Yapital’s Hamburg location will also be closed. Although Yapital’s commercial operations as an e-money institution will remain at its Luxembourg location, headcount will be reduced significantly. The Otto Group is reviewing options to place employees elsewhere within the Group.
Yapital will remain active as a payment platform in the B2B market. “In the B2B area, we have already established many highly successful companies such as RatePAY and Risk.Ident”, says Marc Berg. “This is why we are focusing on this sector and will also be launching new solutions in this area in 2016”.