In cross-border e-commerce, transaction speed grows in importance

Register now

For many international enterprises, cross-border e-commerce processing is table stakes. And the more complex the payment, the more important it is to handle it quickly.

For the UAE-based pizza delivery firm Freedom Pizza, fast processing times and the ability to scale up as its business expands across the Middle East and into Europe were important criteria in selecting a payments service provider. Freedom Pizza started out operating solely in the UAE, where it has 11 stores, but is expanding through franchising in the Middle East, the U.K. and Northern Europe.

Freedom Pizza works with London-based, a provider of processing, acquiring and gateway services which counts multinationals such as Samsung and TransferWise among its clients. Previously, Freedom Pizza relied on local bank-based payment gateway services.

From its inception, Freedom Pizza has been a technology-savvy business.

“We were the first food and beverage business in the Gulf region to accept online credit card payments in 2011,” said Ian Ohan, its founder and CEO, and a Canadian expat. “We were the first in the Gulf region to launch Visa Checkout in 2015, and were a launch partner for Apple Pay.”Because it wasn’t happy with existing software, Freedom Pizza developed its own digital ordering and supply chain platform. Its digital platform is also used for the other online food and beverage businesses that Ohan has founded within his UAE-based Krush Brands group, which include vegan food and salad restaurants and virtual stores.

“We also use for our other online food and beverage businesses,” Ohan says. “In addition, we’re working with on a vending machine-based credit card authorization system for our Salad Jar salad restaurants.”

Currently, Freedom Pizza has an online order rate of 55%, and only 5% of total orders are for meals purchased in its stores. With a large number of foreign tourists and expat workers, the ability to process international cards is important in the UAE.

“Cash is being displaced very rapidly in the UAE,” said Ohan. “Seventy-five percent of our orders are on credit cards. We have a very low rejection rate for online payments, as we worked with to minimize friction and rejection for our customers.”

Global growth

Having raised $230 million in May 2019 to fund its global expansion, plans to double its staff in 2020 to about 600.

“We’ve made some great progress in the U.S. market,” said Bradley Riss,’s chief commercial officer. “We signed several notable merchants in Silicon Valley whilst our in-country team has doubled in size. We also appointed Dropbox’s former head of global payments, Cyndi Hoddinott, to retain our merchant-centricity.” has opened offices in Singapore and Hong Kong to expand in the APAC region, plus offices in Paris and Porto, Portugal. In 2019, it was awarded an electronic money institution (EMI) licence in France to serve its pan-European merchants. has an EMI licence in the U.K. and plans to acquire licences in all the regions in which it operates.

“We’re always working to support the latest alternative payment methods and wallets to ensure our merchants can accept more customers from across the globe,” said Riss. “We recently added Fawry, a prominent Egyptian payment method, and Bahrain's BenefitPay. We have an ambitious road map for alternative payment methods, which will see us invest heavily in partnerships with providers.”

Other clients

As its core service is enabling consumers and businesses to transfer money across the world, processing speed is critical to London-based TransferWise. TransferWise was able to increase its transaction approval rates by one percentage point using’s acquiring platform.

“Cutting the settlement time means we can better manage our cash flow, reduce our risk, and use our resources more efficiently," said Aleksandr Povarov, TransferWise product manager.

“As a growing business with 6 million customers, processing £4 billion every month, this adds up,” Povarov said. “Increasing our approval ratio for payments means more of our customers experience a frictionless money transfer experience.”

TransferWise’s U.K. customers have benefited from’s U.K. acquiring licence, because this means TransferWise was able to increase the approval ratio for its payments across the U.K.

U.S.-based Reward Gateway enables its 1,800 customers, which include Samsung, IBM, and KPMG, to offer employees perks, discounts, internal communications, and recognition programs on its global employee engagement platform.

Before using, Reward Gateway used a separate gateway and acquirer, which led to overspending on processing and to conflict over who was responsible for which part of the payment process. With, it was able to link the gateway and acquirer together.

“It means we can go to one provider with any issues we face,” said Will Tracz, Reward Gateway’s chief technology officer. “Our payments costs have dropped by 50%.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Cross border payments E-Commerce Merchant UAE Payment processing Apple Pay