We spoke with Daniel Brain at OneText, a cloud based messaging service provider that turns every phone number into a wallet by leveraging frictionless payments, to discuss how Payments Orchestration enables OneText to bypass manually building out payment integrations to process payments quickly and successfully; while remaining PCI compliant.
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Payments Dialog Full Transcript:
Lorra Gosselin: Hello everyone, and welcome back to Payments Dialog. I'm Lorra Gosselin, a senior director of marketing here at Spreedly. I am joined by Daniel Brain, who is the chief technology officer, code monkey, and co-founder of OneText. Daniel, thank you so much for joining us.
Daniel Brain: Great to be here.
Lorra Gosselin: We've got a few questions for you and really interested in a bit more background about yourself as well as OneText. Could you give us just an overview of the focus of the organization, and then maybe just a bit about your background in payments?
Daniel Brain: Absolutely, yeah. My co-founder Jonathan and I met at PayPal a few years back. We were both working together on the Checkout team, and we were building out different checkout products. In mid 2022, we decided to go full-time on our new thing, which is OneText. Basically, we really saw the potential of text based payments in sales and marketing, and we saw that no one was really doing it in a very interesting way. We saw people were sending marketing texts, and it was like a billboard style message. It was arriving in people's inboxes. People would read it, they wouldn't really interact, they wouldn't really respond. We wanted to fix that. We wanted to come up with a platform, where people could actually have a conversation, where they could do conversational payments, where their phone number essentially acted like a credit card. We saw the experience. I mean, people for decades and decades have been going into hotels, and when you're in a hotel, you have this really magical payments experience. You want to order something at the bar, you want to get a massage, you just give your room number and that's it.
It's really, really seamless. There's nothing else like it in the world. We said, "Okay, how can we do the same thing, but with your phone number? How can we make it so that you can just reply with one text?" That's where we got our name. Reply, "Yes, make a payment," and just let all of the details get out of your way. We've been doing that since about May 2022. We just got accepted into Y Combinator for the winter of '23 batch. We've just started that this month, and yeah, things are going great so far.
Lorra Gosselin: Congratulations. Big news for the organization. All right.
Daniel Brain: Thank you so much.
Lorra Gosselin: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you touched on it. You touched on the customer experience, and clearly that's one of the things that we hear often from our customers. Taking payments and building that into the customer experience and thinking about it holistically. Right? Not just purchasing from the organization or receiving the service or the offering, but really using payments as a differentiator, right, and that becoming part of the drive behind that customer experience. Maybe you can tell us a bit about how that journey around payments has evolved over your evolution, and how you've put customer experience front and center.
Daniel Brain: Absolutely, yeah. I think historically, people think of payments as a bottom of the stack thing. It's the thing you do, when you've decided what you want to buy. You've committed to buy it, you've applied your discounts, you've compared different products, and you're just ready to click a button and pay. That's great, but a bit boring. You build a payment processor or a card processor and you create your button and you're there, but then you're done. There's nothing new to do. I think payments companies going forward are really going to have to start thinking about how they get further up the funnel. How do they think about getting into the marketing space? How do they think about getting into the sales space? How do they become more of a marketplace and more of an engine to help customers decide, "Okay, these are the kinds of payments I want to be making," and have a bit more of a back and forth with customers, and really become something they want to use rather than just something they have to use. That's how we've been thinking about it at OneText.
I mean, when you're landing in someone's inbox, sorry, in their text inbox, you're no longer just a button that they can click on. You are actually someone they can start messaging and responding to, and asking questions and interacting with. There's a whole world of opportunities there to introduce them to new ways of paying, and that's [inaudible].
Lorra Gosselin: Yeah, absolutely. As a marketer, I'm excited by the idea of having that high touch, right, that high touch opportunity with my customers. That's really interesting. Daniel, can you maybe give a few examples of the types of customers that you're targeting?
Daniel Brain: Yeah, eventually we imagine that our platform can be used by anyone who wants to accept payments. In the short-term word, we're mainly talking to e-commerce and direct to consumer businesses. We've had a great first success with a bunch of Shopify merchants. Usually, we'll do things for them, like cart recovery or an SMS welcome series, or literally a live concierge, who, as you are browsing through the site, they'll text you, they'll ask if you need any help, and when you're ready, they'll ring you up and make sure you have the best possible discount and the best possible combination of products. That's where we started, but we see ourselves expanding from e-commerce. Obviously, there's a lot of business to be done there in the short term, but we want to be everywhere. We want to be in restaurants, we want to be in retail locations, we just want to be everywhere. Everywhere a payment could be done in the future.
Lorra Gosselin: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, it's limitless. Limitless opportunities, it sounds like.
Daniel Brain: Absolutely, yes.
Lorra Gosselin: Well, from the relationship between Spreedly and OneText, how is your organization using payments orchestration? How does that fit into the model?
Daniel Brain: Absolutely. That's really important to us, and Spreedly was the obvious choice for us. Basically, our goal when we first started was we want to be onboarding onto new merchants, new brands, just as fast as possible and as seamlessly as possible. We didn't really want to build out a new payment processor or a new card processor, and we didn't want to build out orchestration, and we certainly didn't want to do the whole PCI compliance thing right now. We wanted to bootstrap the company and get things going very, very quickly. Spreedly was a fantastic choice, just because it enabled us to go and say, "Okay, we can save a card. We can make a payment from that customer credit card to one of any payment processes that our end customers, our merchants happen to support." We have merchants using Stripe. We have merchants using PayPal. We have merchants using authorize.net and others. Rather than having to go in and individually integrate with all of those, we can literally just flip the switch in Spreedly, turn it on, we get card vaulting, and it just makes the process super easy.
I don't know if our business would exist if not for Spreedly, yeah.
Lorra Gosselin: Quoted. Quoted. Thank you, Daniel. That's very nice. That's nice to hear. No, that's certainly something that is a big driver and something that we hear from firms like yours, where we often call it the bring your own gateway model, where it doesn't matter what that merchant is using, being able to build that implementation and maintain that as easy as possible. That does let your team presumably focus on some more important details on your side.
Daniel Brain: Absolutely, and I think it's actually become something of a good marketing hook for us. A lot of e-commerce companies, especially the ones who are pretty early or the ones who a little bit less sophisticated, they're dipping their toes in the water in the DTC space. They know that they want a list of customer emails. They know that they want a list of customer phone numbers with consent to market to them, but they're not even thinking about, "How do I get cards on file?" That's something that Spreedly has made really easy for us as well. Right? They're not thinking about vaulting customer cards, getting cards on file, so we can come to them and we can say, "Hey, we can offer you something really unique here." Again, using Spreedly behind the scenes, you are going to want to start saving your customers' cards and making it really easy when they come back to do another purchase or a subscription. You have their cards, and they're ready to go. Everyone's loved that so far.
Lorra Gosselin: Yeah, right back to the customer experience. Make it easy to buy from you.
Daniel Brain: Precisely, yeah. Exactly.
Lorra Gosselin: Awesome. Well, Daniel, that's amazing. So what's next? What's next on the list of things, areas of focus for OneText?
Daniel Brain: We have a few focuses right now. Of course, our biggest focus as we go through our Y Combinator, this month is just growth. We're going to hit Demo Day in March, so we want to grow as as much as possible between now and then, but our longer term goals really are just to be the biggest and best universal wallet. Right now, we let you save credit cards. We also want to let you save your PayPal accounts, your Apple Pay, and we want to give you just as many possible different ways to pay through text messages as possible. We also want to open up to as many channels as possible, so we're starting with SMS, but really, what we really want to open up to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other platforms like that, so we can give you as many different ways to pay on as many different channels as possible. Of course, our focus is on conversational flows. We're more focused on platforms where we can have a bit of back and forth. We do a lot of automation when it comes to conversations.
A lot of the time you can have an AI do responses and help a customer out, but we also have a live human that those conversations fall back to, if they need to. Our goal is just to build the most polished experience. I think for a lot of customers, the payment side of things, obviously, it's important, but it's the thing they want to think about the least. They want to think about, "Am I going to like this product?" They want to imagine themselves using the product. Maybe they've bought a new pair of sneakers, and they want to think about, "Okay, I'm really looking forward to wearing these sneakers." They don't want to think about how are they're going to pay for it. Just being as seamless as possible there and making our platform just get out of the way as much as possible, and make it so they didn't have to think about the payments' step, that's really our overarching goal.
Lorra Gosselin: Well, almost as if you led right into the last question I have for you, Daniel, so thank you for that. Do you have bits of advice that you would share with other founders or other folks in the payment's industry, folks that are looking at how they can leverage payments as a unique differentiator for their organization?
Daniel Brain: Absolutely. Yeah, number one, first of all, yeah, don't go and build all the infrastructure yourself, use a platform like Spreedly. That's just been a game changer for us in terms of our time to market and the time we've been able to spend innovating on other things. That's my first bit of advice, and my second bit of advice is do something more than just payments. Bring something unique to payments. Right? If you look at something like Venmo, they brought social to payments. Bring something new that customers love, and just make sure the payments are as seamless as possible. Yeah, those are my two biggest bits of advice.
Lorra Gosselin: That is phenomenal. Daniel, that is great. Thank you so much for the insights. Much luck with all of the success you're seeing with OneText and we're happy to be along for the ride. Thank you for joining us. Thank you to everyone for tuning in to Payments Dialogue.
Daniel Brain: Thanks for having me today. Cheers.
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