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Astropay CEO Mikael Lijtenstein talks recent success and future plans

31st March 2022 11:14 am GMT

Having recently launched its digital payment offering in the key European markets of Portugal, Spain and the UK, AstroPay’s appetite for global expansion shows no sign of abating. Chief executive Mikael Lijtenstein discusses his company’s success with Gaming Intelligence.

Since its launch in Brazil in 2009, AstroPay has gone on to attract more than five million users to its digital payments solution, which is now integrated with more than 200 banks and payment systems.

The company’s rapid growth to date is attributed to its extensive experience in handling the specificities of emerging markets, and its commitment to delivering a fast and secure solution in every market in which it operates, for both merchants and consumers.

“It is incredibly important to meet customer expectations,” Lijtenstein tells Gaming Intelligence. “We need to understand what they want when they are making a purchase or a deposit. With that in mind, listening to the users is vitally important, bringing them to more sites and adding more features to their payment solution.”  

One of those features is AstroPay’s One Touch e-wallet solution, which launched during the pandemic in 2020. It is a digital wallet solution for merchants that allows them to process deposits and withdrawals instantly, easily and securely.

“With a single integration, iGaming operators can easily access the benefits of One Touch, including greater control over transactions, minimise risk of fraud or missed payments, auto enrolment channel with little to no IT intervention required on their side, and automatic approval for payments from recurring users. This alongside Know Your Customer (KYC) verification and identification control, access to analytics and reports, as well as fraud alerts that meet the levels of security and compliance required nowadays,” says Lijtenstein.

“For users, the One Touch digital wallet enables them to withdraw and deposit money easily, making the whole process instant and seamless. What’s unique about One Touch is it has been developed with user experience and journey in mind. We developed it to make sure end users avoid pain points when making transactions, making their payment journey as seamless as possible with only one touch.”

Another huge milestone for AstroPay was their launch in Spain, Portugal and in particular the UK after already debuting in Kenya, Asia and South Africa. “We’re happy to take on this new challenge to service users all over the world,” said Lijtenstein. “Europe is a huge and challenging market, but there is always space for a new payment method to offer to our clients. We’re hoping that the early adopters – the users who will try new payment methods – will start using AstroPay.

“Countries in Africa and Asia are some of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world. They have big populations and mobile gaming, mobile payments and user experience are growing rapidly there so the markets are very conducive to adoption of digital payments. We saw this as an opportunity to expand our user base and market reach as part of our ambition to become a global payment company with our solutions available in more than 150 countries.

“Furthermore, these markets have something in common which is the fact that a great number of their population are still unbanked and many consumers don’t have access to traditional financial services such as credit cards and bank transfers. Therefore, alternative payment options like digital wallets and mobile payments are popular and very well received by this group of consumers, which also helps with the rise of online gaming in these regions.”

Expanding from emerging markets into heavily regulated countries such as the UK is no easy feat.  Lijtenstein attributes AstroPay’s success to being able to offer the same solution to all users across multiple markets. “We have learnt from the complex emerging markets that we started in, now launching to Europe we have all that experience to get us going. We have dedicated teams on the ground to listen to users, making the customers the centrepiece of the company,” he says.

The advancement of their dedicated teams has been helped by the rise of remote working, alongside the acceleration of cashless payments, both products of the pandemic. This has allowed AstroPay to attract top talent from all over the world, solidifying their position in regions such as Asia and Europe. “We are constantly watching the trends of the markets which dictates how we communicate with our customers and clients, it is clear that cashless transactions are the future for markets and technology – the pandemic accelerated what we already knew.” 

AstroPay will be attending ICE next month at the ExCeL centre in London, alongside a host of other companies where Lijtenstein says they will showcase their improvements of the past couple of years. “We now have over 5 million users as well as our new features and we are excited to welcome everyone attending our role in the iGaming industry.

“iGaming is a huge industry and there is a lot of potential to develop from this sector. We helped igaming operators with prepaid vouchers when we first started AstroPay, but technology has evolved, and we realised we had to develop something new, something that would satisfy the needs of our operators and users. This is why we have been focusing on developing our API and providing simple integration for operators for easy checkout and cash-in in order to help them with their business, by providing the technological solution to payment flows on their websites.”

As well as improving and expanding their product, AstroPay have recently announced high profile sponsorship deals with English Premier League football teams to increase the company's visibility. After having already revealed they would be the shirt sleeve sponsor of Burnley FC for the 2021/22 Premier League season last July, AstroPay announced their sponsorship of Crystal Palace’s official training wear alongside having their​ branding feature on LED advertising boards at the club's Selhurst Park stadium on match days and on social media channels.

“The Premier League is the most watched league in the world. It is massive for us that we are there involved with such an established team like Crystal Palace,” said Lijtenstein speaking on the deal.

AstroPay have their sights set on launching in new markets during 2022 and beyond as they continue to make the digital payment path easier and faster.

“As a Fintech company we focus on understanding what our users need while remaining compliant with the regulations in every market we operate in. Our goal is to continue to make the payment path easier and faster by being adaptable. We started in Brazil, then expanded into the rest of Latin America, then into India and China. During the pandemic we launched in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Bangladesh. We are watching markets constantly to see how they develop, it’s what we do every day,” concludes a visibly excited Lijtenstein.

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