German payments giant Wirecard targets US with new app

Wirecard, a Germany-based payments firm that works with brands and retailers, recently launched its first U.S. mobile application in an effort to expand its reach across the Atlantic.

The 20-year-old publicly-traded company recently reported transaction volume grew by 37.5% to EUR 77.3 billion for the first half of this year. More than 300,000 merchants are on its platform. Last month, it entered into an agreement to handle payments for Germany’s two Aldi retail chains. Now, it’s ramping up its U.S. expansion plans with a “fully digital payments solution” designed to reach millions of U.S. consumers.

Wirecard app interface

Wirecard’s new U.S.-based app grants customers easy access to their accounts, from which they can check balances, track expenditures, locate in-network ATMs and make sure that payments were received. “From a user standpoint, we’re offering things up like account balance, payment and transaction details; ATM locators; and really an easy access point into our customer service center,” said Sean Healey, Wirecard’s head of product management. “From the corporate client standpoint, we do allow some white label or branding opportunities for our customers to make sure that their brand remains front and center with their customer base.”

Wirecard rolled out the app out last week. It attributes the expected uptick to “the continued dynamic growth of the global e-commerce market, the trend towards digitalization in the bricks-and-mortar space, the acquisition of new customers, cross-selling effects with existing customers and the continuous expansion of the value chain to include valuable additional services such as data analytics, loyalty programs and financial services,” according to the company’s half-year report.

Wirecard both accepts and makes payments on behalf of clients, which range from large enterprises — such as a global airline — to local businesses. The company operates a network of bank account licenses and partnerships, including its own bank in Europe and a money license in Singapore. Additionally, Wirecard offers value-added services that include “big data and analytics solutions,” according to the company, which currently has 301,000 SMEs and enterprise clients across five continents. 

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While the app’s feature set will add to the payment options that brands can onboard, its offerings are what many would consider “table stakes” today, according to Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Wirecard North America was created through the acquisition of Citi Prepaid Card Services in March 2017, but the company already has an application established in Europe, called boon. That app tailors content to the user’s country and allows consumers to make “contactless” Mastercard payments at participating locations by tapping their smartphone to the terminal. The new U.S. app, however, was developed independently of boon, according to Healey.