No other digital payment system has achieved such market penetration in Poland, according to BLIK CEO Dariusz Mazurkiewicz. He lets Acuris Capital Intelligence in on the company’s future growth plans.
Q. What market trends do you think will influence your plans for the rest of 2021 and 2022?
The Polish market is becoming more and more competitive. We see fast-growing Asian and Western players coming to Poland with the goal of starting their businesses here. They see this country as the most dynamic e-commerce market in Europe. They want to use the well-developed Polish infrastructure that is based on two pillars: BLIK (payments) and InPost (logistics).
We have reached significant scale and so, today, integration with BLIK is fundamental for anyone that wants to sell online in Poland. Our scale is driven not just by global giants that operate in Poland but also by fast-growing Polish businesses that are expanding in the region and offer BLIK payments.
But, as clients become more cross-border, we need to enable them to use our features wherever they are, not just locally. That's why it is crucial for us to grow as a regional payment system. Some may call it internationalisation or expansion, but for us, it is simply responding to clients' needs.
Q. How do you expect to achieve that?
We aim to increase cross-border transactions via partnerships with large payment players, both European and global. We are already working with such world brands—Adyen, Stripe and PPro are some examples. Our next goal is to develop partnerships with foreign banks, not just those active in the Polish market. Our ambitions and efforts are focused on proving that BLIK can be used in a completely different market environment than Poland. I cannot yet say which country we will be targeting and when, but we are actively working on it.
Q. What has been the key to BLIK’s success?
Standardisation. The fact that it's not just one bank that enables you to use BLIK, but many different banks. Also, the features are the same for almost every bank using BLIK. Such a universal market standard is usually hard to achieve because different players compete with each other. Nevertheless, we managed to build it.
It's not just a perfect UX that made it a favourite payment method in Poland, but the fact that it is readily available and is always the same. There is no other payment method that is so comprehensive—with BLIK, you can withdraw money from an ATM, transfer cash to someone's mobile phone, pay contactless with a phone at any terminal worldwide that accepts Mastercard payment and buy online. It is convenient, easy, accessible and universal.
Q. What are your M&A ambitions for 2022 and beyond?
We are analysing the market and do not rule out acquisitions. Of course, it's not an easy decision, especially as there are not many payment systems that could easily merge with ours.
For instance, it might be challenging to integrate the Polish payment system with platforms in Sweden or Norway. Nevertheless, we could look at capital-based tie-ups in the region. We could consider companies that would accelerate our growth, both in Poland and elsewhere. We will look at start-ups. It could be players that facilitate payments or supplement our services. One interesting category for us is consumer finance, especially “buy now pay later” solutions. We see ourselves expanding our offer by adding such a feature organically, but we do not rule out adding some other players to our BLIK family.
A bit of background: Polish Payment Standard (PPS) is the owner of BLIK, a digital, account-based payment system that allows fast payments through a mobile app. It was launched through an alliance of six Polish banks and, today, participating institutions include PKO Bank Polski, Alior Bank and Bank Millennium, among others. By the end of Q2 2021, BLIK had about eight million active users and completed 176 million transactions worth over zł24 billion (€ c.6 billion). Mastercard acquired a stake in PPS in 2019.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.