"DigitSecure Payment Acceptance Platform Is Certified" Seshadri Kulkarni, CEO, Digitsecure

DigitSecure offers its omnichannel, SoftPoS payments acceptance platform to banks, payment processors, and payment facilitators for onboarding merchants interested in accepting card payments and processing the transaction at the point of sale.

1. Your academic accomplishment tracks down a masters in engineering and then a shift into an MBA in General Management from Southern Methodist University. What led to the shift into a business-centric career?

As my career advanced, I saw a need for expanding my knowledge and understanding of the management side of a business while developing necessary leadership skills. The soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, ethics, communication, critical thinking, negotiation dynamics, and strategic planning that I gained from business school nicely complemented the quantitative and problem-solving skills from my educational background in engineering.

2. You started off your career as a consultant at First Horizon National Bank, the USA in 2003 and now you are the CEO of DigitSecure. Could you comment upon the journey you have endeavored?

After completing my MBA, I was clear that I wanted to be a part of the business function at a large company and an industry leader with the goal of diversifying my business management skills focusing on one specific industry. The one at American Express checked all the boxes. After a few years with American Express in the US, I moved to India for personal reasons and continued on with the same organization for several more years before venturing into global business development role with Mahindra Comviva. The opportunity at Mahindra Comviva gave me the global exposure to business development that was missing in my prior roles. After a relatively brief stint at Comviva followed by Fiserv, I took up an opportunity to lead merchant acceptance line of business for Visa India and South Asia. The experience at Visa, the mother of all fintechs, was exhilarating with some black swan events like demonetization and Covid happening during my tenure. The experience working with fintechs, launching innovative products and solutions to remove friction from digital / card payments, and doubling the number of merchants accepting card payments prepared me well to ease into the CEO role at DigitSecure.

3. Having been an important part of well-known companies like American Express, Mahindra Comviva, Fiserv and Visa, what do you feel about the various work cultures and ethics across the world and industries?

The work cultures in the US and Indian companies differ in many aspects: organizational hierarchy, employee empowerment, leadership styles, communication, and decision making. The organizational culture and ethics to a great extent are defined by the cultural norms, behaviors, beliefs, customs, and values shared by the local population. In fact, the culture within the same organization is different in the US and in India. It is important that individuals learn to adapt to organizational culture to be more effective and successful else it can be frustrating and counter-productive.

4. We know that DigitSecure is a fintech, payment services provider with the first device and OS agnostic platform with certified integrations with banks and ID authorities in multiple countries. Could you briefly take us through the functioning of the company?

DigitSecure offers its omnichannel, SoftPoS payments acceptance platform to banks, payment processors, and payment facilitators for onboarding merchants interested in accepting card payments and processing the transaction at the point of sale. In select markets, we help our customers with digital KYC verification with the connections we have established with various ID verifying authorities such as Aadhar, GST, Emirates ID, etc. We also partner with enterprise merchants directly for specialized payments that require customizations to merchant specific needs. Our platform is suitable for wide range of merchant types and sizes. It helps our partners and clients to enable SMEs for card acceptance at a fraction of cost and time compared to the traditional methods currently employed.

5. DigitSecure claims to have put a lot of emphasis on the security of all components. What are the specific measures and how effective and reliable are they?

The DigitSecure payment acceptance platform is certified by the Payments Card Industry and payment card networks (Visa and MasterCard) for data security of all the components, including: payment acceptance devices – mobile phones, tablets, mPoS, and business devices such as laptops and desktops -- to read and process the payment card or payment device; payment acceptance software application that runs on the merchant device initiating payment transaction; and back-end systems that are independent from the merchant device and support monitoring, integrity checks and payment processing. Through a combination of the security controls built into the merchant application and ongoing monitoring and integrity checks performed by the back-end systems, merchants and consumers can have confidence in the security of our solution and the payment transaction.

6. With a strong business, technical, and regulatory knowledge in prepaid, debit, credit, cobrands, risk, Issuance and acquiring you have shaped the payments landscape by influencing key partners, regulators, govt., and industry bodies through DigitSecure. What are the company’s highest achievements?

DigitSecure was originally established with the innovative idea of accepting card payments at the doorstep when consumers were warming up to e-commerce shopping but preferred to pay on delivery. The company had several firsts including acceptance of Aadhar payments and biometric ID verification leading up to PCI certification of contactless card payments acceptance on commercially off-the-shelf mobile devices. DigitSecure’s platform is also the only platform to certify physical card acceptance on global e-commerce payment gateways. Merchants accepting online payments through these gateways can now accept card payments on delivery, in-store, and in-app with minimal cost and effort by using our platform.

7. The year of the pandemic was a trying time for many companies. How did it overcome 2020 or any innovation that the company came up with? 

The impact of the pandemic on DigitSecure business has been mixed. Some of our business with exposure to travel segment was heavily impacted due to lock downs and social distancing. On the other hand, the innovative SoftPoS Payments Acceptance Platform has generated strong interest from card payment networks, banks, and merchants. Our platform helps banks to acquire SMEs profitably and SMEs to accept card payments affordably. Banks can reduce their CAPEX and OPEX by 70% and 50%, respectively using our platform. We have had demonstrated success in the India market with two leading private banks using our platform within in the 3 months of announcing our platform readiness. We are also in advanced discussions and implementation with banks, payment processors, and payment service providers in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East markets.

8. What are the plans and goals that the company is driven towards in 2021? Is the company considering expansion?

DigitSecure has been doing business in India, Middle East and Africa for several years. We currently enable our global merchant partners for accepting card payments in 18 countries. Since we pivoted our business to SoftPoS and omnichannel payments, we have seen demand coming from several Asia Pacific and European markets. We have already established and certified connections with the global payment gateways as a means to rapidly expand into global markets. These connections give DigitSecure access to thousands of banks and millions of merchants across the globe. Our strategic partnerships with international card payment networks and banks and processors operating in multiple markets are also key to our global expansion.

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