Gregor Bieler: Global standardisation does not always work

Name:

Gregor Bieler

Role and company:

CEO of UNWIRE Group. With the brands Unwire, Inmodo and Pertura, the Unwire Group is the largest B2B mobile payments and Mobile Wallet technology provider in the Northern Europe region and globally among the Top 3 companies in Mobile Ticketing.

Company turnover: 

Estimated Total Payment Value (TPV), for 2012 is €1bn

Employee numbers:

Over 140

Growth forecast for the next three years:

We think it is possible to double our business.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

We enable mCommerce for merchants, banks, telcos and transportation companies by delivering innovative and integrated payment and ticketing platforms/products. Our customers are fans of the world class user experience and design of Unwire – after using our solution they realise the possibility of revenue growth.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Helping to create a cashless society by replacing your physical wallet with a digital wallet.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations: 

The Unwire Group operates in ten countries (DK, SE, NO, FI, Poland, CH, Baltics, Germany, Austria and the US).

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it: 

Early on in my payments career while launching a new payment product, I underestimated the impact of local habits and the importance of integrating local payment methods right from the beginning. We had to entirely rebuild the product according to the local needs – global standardisation does not always work.

What makes you mad in business today?

I find it hard to understand why companies pitch for business with a solution that isn’t aligned to the initial problem. Trying to sell the incorrect technology solution or expertise is never helpful. This happens quite frequently in the mobile payments industry, unfortunately!

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

Foreseeing the next three years is an art. The Internet is only 6,000 days old, but the next 600 days will bring more change than the last 6,000. I certainly believe that mobile payments will be integral to unlocking future business models. We predict that 50 per cent of all smartphone users will use their phone as a payment device in 3 years.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

Financing is key to unleash the potential in our industry. But many venture capitalists have burned their fingers in recent years on somewhat promising start-ups. In my view, business models need to be able to show a clear growth path, but also a clear path to profitability and sustainable revenues.

How would others describe your leadership style?

Here are some real quotes from ex-colleagues and employees:

  • “Helped transform organizations and businesses to become customer centric.”
  • “Passion to innovate around all parts of the business based on customer insights.”
  • “Building world class teams with a passion for hiring better than yourself.”
  • “Acumen to grow businesses in emerging and mature sectors.”
  • “Strong focus on execution, driving results and leading change.”

Your biggest personal extravagance?

I have three iPhones and one Android phone 

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

I would propose three changes: 

  1. Make it easier for foreign staff to emigrate;
  2. More widely available access to start-up funding; and
  3. Make technology a core aspect of the curriculum at a young age.

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