DANIEL VAN DELFT ON THE FUTURE OF CURRENCE
by Ronald te Velde and Hans Croon
Daniel van Delft has been appointed CEO of Currence with effect from 1 February. Daniel was Country Manager of VISA Netherlands for the past 10 years. Before that, he worked at Fortis and ICS, which was part of Fortis at the time. With twenty years in the payments industry, it’s safe to say that Daniel is a “Payments nerd”. He can talk passionately about card technology and point-of-sale payment trends. What expectations does he have for his work at Currence, and what accents will he place?
You started as CEO of Currence on February 1, after 10 years as Country Manager of VISA Netherlands. How did that application go?
“I was approached by an agency and decided to respond. There were more candidates, and I soon realised that I had good opportunities. In the second round, we went deeply into the plans for iDEAL 2.0. I found those very interesting, and at the same time very challenging and convincing. I will certainly not get bored during these Covid-19 times!”
Your predecessor Piet Mallekoote has led Currence for about 17 years. Which things do you take over from Piet, and which things are you going to do differently?
“First of all, I am a different person, so many things will automatically change. Piet is very good at safeguarding the interests of Currence as a company on behalf of the shareholders. I am making it my mission to prepare Currence’s products for the future and to continue its success. Together, we are going to evolve to become even more competitive.”
Piet Mallekoote combined the two positions of CEO of Currence and the Dutch Payments Association. Very practical. Now both functions are split. You will work intensively with Gijs Boudewijn as CEO a.i. of the Payments Association. Do you know each other well?
“Yes, Gijs and I know each other well, and let me say that the collaboration with Gijs is not on my list of new challenges. In other words, I don’t see any issues there. We will ensure that Currence and the Payments Association are “fit for future”. Piet has kept his two functions perfectly apart all these years. That is commendable, because the governance differs: a company with shareholders versus a membership organisation. In any case, Gijs and I don’t have to worry about that.
In practice, we can still share resources, such as a Communication department. Or call on each other’s experts. We will look at how we can organise it most efficiently.”
Currence is responsible for 3 payment products: iDEAL, Acceptgiro and eMandates, and 1 online identification product: iDIN. Can you already say after a month how you will divide your time between those four products?
“Even though I am still in my first weeks, the answer is obvious. I estimate that I’ll spend 70% of my time on iDEAL, then on iDIN 25%, and the rest goes to Acceptgiro and eMandates. The use of Acceptgiro forms is rapidly declining because there are better alternatives, such as iDEAL QR, the (paper) direct debit mandate and the Payment Instruction.”
You mentioned the evolution that Currence will have to go through to remain competitive in the future. iDEAL has now existed for about 15 years. Currence recently announced that the product will be fundamentally renewed. The iDEAL 2.0 press release points at the renewal of the technical infrastructure as well as new functionalities and services. Currence has started a market consultation among the stakeholders (license and certificate holders). What is the current status?
“The market consultation has been completed. This has enabled us to find out what all stakeholders think of the proposed change from iDEAL 1.0 to iDEAL 2.0. We are very pleased that all parties appear to be in agreement on the main objectives.”
What is the central idea of iDEAL 2.0?
“The biggest change is that we will add a central access point to the scheme, a switch that makes it easier to connect to the scheme as an issuer, acquirer or CPSP, but also as a merchant. Currently, when an issuer is added, it has to establish a connection with all acquirers. And vice-versa. With iDEAL 2.0, an issuer will only have to establish a link with the access point. It is then automatically linked to all parties that are already connected. You can imagine that connecting foreign parties is not easy enough now. With a central access point, setting up the connection it is much easier and faster.
A second advantage of the central access point is that all payment flows pass through it. We can better analyse these flows in order to enrich and improve the service.”
Project planning and approach
Can you tell us more about the timelines of this project? When, for example, must the technical infrastructure be replaced? When will merchants and consumers be the first to notice the renewal of iDEAL?
“We have communicated quite ambitious timelines. Precisely because the market is changing very quickly, we want to launch the new infrastructure quickly, namely at the end of September. Obviously we are dependent on all parties in the chain.”
How is the project tackled?
“We work entirely via agile / scrum, with three-weekly sprints. Amos Kater acts as program manager and product owner. Eelco Laddé, who has been appointed CIO of Currence as of March 1, will be responsible for the IT side of the project. All parties are involved in the scrum teams. So far that has worked very well. Even though the timelines are ambitious, we are still on schedule. We have a strong learning ability that allows us to adapt quickly.”
Added value services
Ordering via iDEAL (iDEAL Scheduling) should be the first new functionality. This functionality was already announced for 2021 in May 2020. Is iDEAL Scheduling part of the first release, if all goes well at the end of Q3?
“iDEAL Scheduling is one of the value added services in scope of iDEAL 2.0, but we may change the priorities. Partly due to legislation and regulations there is, for example, an increasing need for age verification in the online ordering and payment process.”
There is also talk of iDEAL Checkout. When is this renewal expected?
“iDEAL Checkout, now called Easy Checkout, is one of the core functions of iDEAL 2.0, with which we make life easier for consumers. With his explicit consent, we pass on his data, such as name and address and preferred bank, to the merchant during the transaction.”
“With iDEAL 2.0, we will ensure that it can compete with competitors such as Click to Pay and Apple Pay.”
In your previous position at VISA, you were involved with Click to Pay. The joint checkout experience for online payments should make it easier for consumers to pay in the future. And it should further increase online security (1). How does Currence’s Easy Checkout process compete with the international card schemes solution?
“iDEAL is a very strong brand with a strong market position. With iDEAL 2.0, we will ensure that it can compete with competitors such as Click to Pay and Apple Pay. Just as easy and just as fast, with valuable additional functionality and fully integrated with the user’s payment account.”
iDIN: niche product or serious competitor of DigID?
By mid-2020, there were approximately 250 companies and organisations that offered 2-factor authentication via iDIN. Throughout 2020, iDIN was used 7.5M times for online identification. Do you consider iDIN, a spin-off of iDEAL, as a niche product or as a full-fledged product? Is iDIN a serious competitor of DigID, which, for example, will profit from the investments in iDEAL?
“iDIN is definitely a mature proposition with a broad reach in the private domain. For the time being, it is the only serious low-threshold digital identification method for use outside the government domain. Within the government domain, DigiD and iDIN would complement each other well to optimise the availability and accessibility of online government services. With iDIN, this can be accomplished very quickly.”
New products to be added
What new products or services do you expect to be able to add to Currence’s portfolio in the future?
“I expect that many new products and services will emerge from the new infrastructure basis of iDEAL 2.0. However, whether completely new schemes will be placed under the Currence umbrella in the future is another question. At the moment there is no prospect for this, but never say never. We are always open to innovation and new partnerships.”
(1) In a previous joint interview with Daniel van Delft in his former role at VISA, and Mastercard Country Manager Jan-Willem van der Schoot, we talked about Click to Pay. Read the interview here.