[Interview] Nicolas de Labarre, Managing Director of Smile&Pay, retailers get their smile back

In these difficult times, Smile&Pay 's ambitious mission is to keep or restore the smile on the faces of our retailers.

We meet Nicolas de Labarre, Managing Director of Smile&Pay, to discuss their latest news and future developments, including the launch last September of the new Super Smile payment terminal, 3-installment free payment and the addition of new payment methods...

"We offer payment terminals ranging from €99 to €399, with the promise of being able to cash in autonomously. We provide the 4G card to ensure a permanent connection and not depend on Bluetooth or the mobile application. Our new Super Smile terminal is more robust and more powerful, with receipt printing, to meet the needs identified by our customers. Our terminals run on Android, enabling us to continually enrich the additional services supported".

With €240 million in transactions processed since its creation, including €100 million in 2019, Smile&Pay is a key player in the French financial ecosystem. This success can be attributed to the company's undeniable expertise in the field, as well as its local roots, which enable customers to benefit from end-to-end support.

"Traditional banks were neither nimble enough nor expert enough to be able to support the customer, between the cumbersome procedures requiring several meetings with the advisor before even getting an idea of transaction rates and the need for commitment with the rental of the TPE over 2 or 4 years. What's more, businesses in France no longer want to have all their finances committed to a single player, which is also one of the reasons for the success of neobanks.

We also offer a wide range of electronic payment options specific to France and other business sectors. Our terminals are certified by Groupement Cartes Bancaires (CB), the highest security certification. This guarantees payment for the merchant, as soon as a card is inserted into the terminal. Our terminals can also accept luncheon vouchers, deposits (essential for hotels and car rental companies, for example), and even the "Carte Française" (a multi-brand gift card made in France). Our partnership with Alma has enabled us to introduce payment in several instalments without charge, a feature we were eager to make available to our customers.

By implementing all these options, we aim to be the most suitable solution for the French market."


With 13,000 French entrepreneurs already equipped, Smile&Pay aims to support all structures needing a qualitative solution. Gone are the days of the VSE running out of battery power, or the shopkeeper with his arm in the air looking for a connection!

"Of the 5 million professionals and associations, half are not yet equipped with payment terminals, and the other half have old terminals. Over the next 3 to 5 years, all these professionals will have to acquire or renew their equipment. "We're fortunate in that France is one of the most regulated countries in the world in terms of payment, so our solution will be easy to deploy internationally.

In addition to its product expertise, Smile&Pay has set up the Smile Index, an indicator for monitoring French economic activity, in order to measure the impact of the crisis on merchants.

"Among our 13,000 retail customers, we selected all those who had carried out at least one transaction during the last week of January. We then monitored them on a weekly basis, to see how they evolved and to study the impact of containment on this customer base, which is representative of France as a whole. This index fell to 20 in the first week of confinement, with an 80% drop in traffic. From May 2 onwards, with the decontamination process underway, we saw the index rise to around 70.

In June, the index exceeded 100, and in July and August it even climbed to 132, representing a 30% increase in transactions, even though the index included restaurant owners and nightclub owners whose business was still at a standstill.

This indicator has also shown how consumption methods have evolved in response to the measures in force.

"We have seen a very broad adoption of contactless payment as part of the respect for barrier gestures but also favored by the increase in the ceiling for these transactions to €50, with 63% of contactless payments in June vs. 45% in the first quarter of 2020."

Smile&Pay' s next objective is to enable as many retailers as possible to benefit from an omnichannel environment, bringing local businesses up to the same level of visibility as e-commerce pure players.

"We want our merchants to have as many options as possible, with real price transparency, so that they can present their customers with as many payment options as possible, without this representing an additional logistical burden. The same applies to an online presence. In the long term, many of these small retailers will need to have even just a shop window in order to continue to exist.

To find out more about the Smile&pay solution and their payment terminals, click here.

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