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Interview with Lukáš Choleva

Payments Product Manager at Mews Systems

Lukáš Choleva has been working in the payments world for more than 10 years, for various merchant, acquirer and issuer companies all across the CEE region.

Defining himself as a man-in-the-middle between Business & IT, Lukáš Choleva is currently working for Mews Systems as the company’s Payments Product Manager. We sat down with him for a chat to learn more about what his role entails, what is the place of payments in hypergrowth companies and how he sees the future of payments.

Q: What was the career path that led you to payments? 
A friend of mine was working for a certain company and was talking about payments, credit cards, terminals and other terms that sounded very foreign to me at the time. I found it quite interesting though, but literally had no idea what they actually meant! A couple of months later I decided to join that company and became a member of his team. And so my payments journey began.

Q: Since it’s a relatively “young” profession, can you tell us what a head of payment does? Do you have additional members on your team?
Yes, we do have a dedicated payments team here at Mews and without them it would be impossible to achieve the same results that we have achieved over the past couple of months. Our primary goal is to focus on the product development of our payments platform. In other words how can we give the best payment-experience to our clients in the most effective way and at a reasonable cost. 

Q: Can you tell us about Mews Systems?                                                           Mews Systems belongs to the Travel & Hospitality sector, and is providing a Property Management System to our clients (e.g. hotels, hostels, rentals (apartments), etc.). We aim to disrupt the industry's status-quo by creating some unique features like payments- automation, fraud management tools, reporting, alternative payment methods etc. With our PMS you can get rid of the hassle and friction so you can truly focus on what matters most - to bring the best experience and hospitality to your guests.

"Even though every cent counts in terms of your overall costs, the cheapest provider is not always the best one"

Q: Mews Systems has been experiencing hypergrowth in recent years, how does growth look like from a payment’s perspective? what were the main hypergrowth-related challenges you had to face?
I would say the biggest challenge is to provide payments in different countries all over the world and keep an eye on local differences. Act on a truly global basis but be local as much as you can. 

Q: Many companies look at payments as a commodity. However, in the online travel industry, payments are considered a strategic component since they have a profound impact on customer experience. Does that fact impact Mews Systems' approach/emphasis on payments, and if so, in what way(s)?
As payments are the main revenue stream for our company we approach them very seriously. Everything we do in this area leads eventually to our ultimate goal - which is to enable great customer service to our clients. 

Q: How do you cope with recent regulations such as PSD2/3DS/GDPR? How do you think They will affect the customer experience? Do you think they will have a positive/negative effect on the acceptance rate? Do you expect to see less fraud?
It has been quite a challenge to cope with these regulations especially with PSD2. For sure there will be an impact on the customer experience but at the end of the day I think the overall result will be positive and worthwhile the effort. 

Q: You have been working for both sides of the payment world: for a PSP (Global Payments), and for hypergrowth merchants (Mews Systems, Fortuna). What are the main differences you find among the two? Are there any secrets or tips you can share with your peers when it comes to negotiating with payment providers?
That's a great question! I would advise two things - do not push too hard when it comes to the processing fees. Even though every cent could make a huge difference in terms of your overall costs, the cheapest provider is not always the best one. Secondly- take your time when you make a decision. Great things do not happen overnight.

Q: What direction do you think the world of payment is going to take in the following years (global vs. local/ multitude of payment methods vs. several strong ones)?
I think it is going to take a simple direction - to offer the right payment method at the right time to the right customer. Personalization and seamless user experience will be the key things.

Q: What is your biggest nightmare as a Payments Product Manager? 

I've never thought about it actually! I guess that experiencing a complete outage of all your payment service providers might be a good nightmare-candidate :)

Q: What will be considered a win for you as a Payments Product Manager?
When payments are seamlessly integrated in the background without the client is even aware of them. When they become a natural, integral part of the system.

Q: Any advice for new Payment professionals?
Don't be afraid to fail!

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