Mikael Lijtenstein: AstroPay's CEO discusses the next steps for the payment provider

AstroPay’s CEO, Mikael Lijtenstein, speaks to Gambling Insider about the business’ expansion plans, its service and what can be expected in the near future.

AstroPay 2

AstroPay’s CEO, Mikael Lijtenstein, speaks to Gambling Insider about the business’ expansion plans, its service and what can be expected in the near future.

What has 2022 been like for AstroPay so far?

We were founded in 2009 to serve the payment needs of the Brazilian population. Our first product was a voucher called AstroPay Card, which was our main priority back then. Nowadays we have evolved and improved our product while offering a digital wallet that we improve by listening to our merchants and users from all over the world. We have a digital wallet solution that we offer to our millions of users throughout LatAm, Asia, Africa and the UK.

We started in Brazil and moved to Asia, before launching in Africa during the pandemic and in the UK in 2021. With our product we offer merchants the chance to reach our users from all over the world with a simple integration, which makes payments easy and fast for the users – that is our idea as a user-centric company. We are very empathic with the user, and we have a list of merchants that want to use our solution in the gaming industry because we work very closely with them – meaning we can tailor-make solutions for them and the users. 

How important is the ease of use for the retention of customers?

It’s very important because it is far cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one. We want to expand our brand everywhere in the world. We trust in our product, so it is very useful to have a good user experience – as long as we satisfy the users with a simple and easy payment journey that they can trust, especially in terms of payment methods and security, in as fewer steps as we can for the user to complete.

What new markets is AstroPay looking at for 2023, what is the plan?

We define expansion in two ways. One is markets, the other is products. We are almost everywhere in the world now, offering our products in LatAm, Asia, Africa – where we are focusing on the future – as well as the UK. In terms of products, our idea is to have constant innovation. We launched the crypto offering a few months ago in some of our markets – now we are listening to our users about the journey of the product to improve it - which is at the core of our business.

We’ve also launched debit cards, Mastercard in Brazil and Visa in the UK – which we are testing and making sure they satisfy users’ needs. Moreover, we offer P2P transfers, gift cards and provide users with the possibility to collect money from a payment link. In short, we aim to be the go-to brand to solve users’ financial needs.

Was the launch of the debit cards a tough process?

It demanded hard work, but we are used to it. We devoted a team to analyse the different markets and their population needs. Adapting our offer to users’ requirements is a challenge we embrace happily. That’s why we offer Visa in the UK and Mastercard in Brazil. Users are able to activate and use the prepaid card instantly without any charge and pay in any merchants that accept Visa or Mastercard.

The card also has attractive benefits including cashback and other perks available on AstroPay's platform. Our next objective will be to expand across the rest of Latin America, targeting Mexico, Argentina and Peru in this first stage.

Are you expecting a bigger influx of people using your system with the World Cup?

For sure, we are alert and are preparing the company to see what will happen. The world has changed a lot since the last one, and we had a pandemic in the middle. So, it’s complicated to compare with the last competition, but we expect to see some spikes and volumes.

Which market do you think will be critical for you going forward? 

We trust in both emerging and developed markets. We come from emerging markets – and with the experience we gained through that we learned a lot. For us, it's very even because we now have 13 years in Brazil in terms of knowledge – but now we have the UK, where we launched just under a year ago. We expect both markets to continue growing but it’s difficult to say which will be our main one in the next few years. 

How has the UK been for you in the first few months of your launch there, better or more challenging than you initially thought?

For sure, starting in the UK is very challenging. It’s a huge market with a lot of competition, but we know there is always space for a new payment solution that a lot of people can test and try. For us, it’s been very fruitful, and we have improved a lot along the journey – added new payment methods, grew in terms of users and merchants and are very happy with the work we have been doing.

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