I’ve learned much about the payments industry, and am richer for the experiences I’ve had as part of the Trustly team.
Pay — With Your Bank?
Trustly’s team in the Americas was formed from the acquisition of PayWithMyBank, a Silicon Valley startup, in 2019.
I started talking to Trustly in January 2021. The team in the U.S. was still small, with an office that had seldom been used due to the COVID pandemic.
Open Banking: A New Hope
I heard that Trustly was a FinTech specializing in Account-to-Account (A2A) payments through Open Banking. But I didn’t know what that meant at the time.
Merchants who accept payments by credit cards and debit cards are assessed something called an “interchange fee”. Most consumers are blissfully unaware of this fee charged by the card networks (Visa/Mastercard). The cost is usually paid by the merchant.
The promise of Open Banking is to provide a seamless online payment experience without the burden of interchange fees — which are typically 2%-3% of a merchant’s revenue.
I was inspired by the Trustly mission: to provide an affordable alternative to Mastercard and Visa. Trustly was part of the rebellion to help online merchants against an oppressive duopoly. I decided to join the rebels.
To learn more about interchange fees, you can read about them:
US Dollars to Brazilian Reals
The Trustly Americas business is concentrated in the U.S. and Canada, but its Engineering team is deeply rooted in Brazil. When I first joined, our strategy required all Brazilian employees to agree to relocate to the coastal city of Vitória.
Trustly has since expanded its remote work culture to allow employees to work “anywhere” in Brazil, Canada, the U.S., and beyond.
Reflecting the growth of the business (and leveraging the shared culture), Trustly opened a new office in Portugal at the end of 2021. Expanding to Lisbon allowed us to tap into new pools of talent, and also helped with timezone alignment with the U.K. for our launch of Trustly Direct Debit.
The location in Lisbon was also a bridge between two sides of the business:
- Trustly Americas (HQ in Silicon Valley)
- Trustly AB (HQ in Stockholm)
The new Lisbon office and team reflected the combination of the broader company. “Fica ligado!”
Rockstars: on the Big Stage
We scaled the Trustly Americas Engineering team from 50 to 100 within my first 12 months with the company. In growing the Engineering team, we embraced the concepts of squads, tribes, and guilds — balancing the needs of specialization & focus with overall alignment & ownership.
To grow the team, we partnered closely with our “rockstar” recruiting team in Brazil to broadcast our hiring goals. We even leveraged our online happy hours for serenading potential new hires and sharing open roles via QR code.
We scaled the team, and we also scaled the service.
Every year, the payment volume at Trustly has grown impressively—for everyday purchases as well as outlier events. Trustly can handle occasions like the Super Bowl which have a high burst of transactions in a short amount of time.
At Trustly, we introduced new payment types to our merchants like Real-Time Payments (RTP). Building new capabilities for customers is what we do!
But Trustly is also mindful of how work is done, and who we collaborate with. After the height of the COVID pandemic, we gathered In Real Life (IRL) to share experiences in SF, Napa, Vitória, São Paulo, Lisbon, and other places to build connections and trust(ly).
Payments Are Global
Trustly was not my first time working in a global team. I’ve had the good fortune to work with different cultures across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle-East, and APAC.
My experience at Trustly is one that I will remember fondly, for the team we built, the products we delivered, the relationships we forged, and the experiences we shared.
I tried to gain a better understanding of Portuguese—even while on the airplane to either Brazil or Portugal. Ultimately, I relied on the English fluency of my Trustly colleagues. But no matter what language we speak (or what foods we eat) our similarities are more numerous than our differences.
“Nós somos Brasileiros!”
Trustly in Q4 2023 is a completely different company than the one I first encountered in January 2021. That is not an exaggeration.
We grew the team, opened new offices, explored new strategies, built new payments capabilities, and improved operations.
My time at Trustly pushed me in new directions, geographies, and challenges. Trustly aspires to build a world class payments service, rivaling the largest companies in FinTech. It’s not an easy path, but nothing worthwhile comes easy.
As I said earlier, I’m richer for the experience (and soon, onto another).