“A merchant must address all problems encountered by their customer, regardless of the aspect or step in the customer journey where such an issue occurred. This creates a trust relationship, which is the foundation of any long-term business and sustainable business strategy.”  The article was originally published in eCommerce magazine. 

Monri Payments is now part of Payten within the ASEE Group, with over 160 employees in its six regional offices, and collaborates with 25 partner banks. Monri started as a startup with a few employees and developed into a recognizable brand in a relatively short time without which the business scene in Croatia and the region cannot be imagined. Thus, every fourth payment in stores in Croatia is processed through the system of this provider of eCommerce and POS solutions, which ensures high-quality services in transaction acceptance and processing for its clients. The key points of our questions were the current market situation and the benefits of a well-organized payment system for eCommerce businesses, which Ali Sallabi, Business Development Manager and head of eCommerce at Monri Payments, answered. 

There are no restrictions on the time or place of payment 


As a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in Monri Payments’ business, Ali highlights market position, extensive experience, and understanding of client needs. “We grew out of a local environment, and by merging with the large ASEE Group system, we gained a platform to show what we can do in the wider regional and European markets. All of this has led to us being the leader in eCommerce business in Croatia today, offering a comprehensive range of services in our portfolio that includes various payment methods, bank integration, additional payment methods such as KEKS Pay, Aircash, PayPal, and Google Pay, with Apple Pay soon to be added,” announces Ali. 

 The company continuously works to expand the range of payment options available to merchants and their customers. It is important to emphasize that Monri Payments offers services in our region’s European Union member countries and non-EU countries.” This is a significant advantage that only Monri offers because some other providers cover only the EU market and do not offer solutions for business in our local region, which includes Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and other countries. Additionally, for eCommerce business, our support is crucial for Croatia and the entire Balkan market,” explains Ali. 

He further clarified that after the webshop is opened, product assortment and logistics operations are established, and a bank is selected, and the next step is integrating the payment system. Monri assists the merchant in securing the best conditions with the bank, ensuring the integration of payment methods and all the elements involved, such as Merchant Initiated Transactions (MIT), Cardholder Initiated Transactions (CIT), and Card-on-File. The latter is a sales tool that enhances the user experience by creating a loyalty scheme, as the cardholder can save their user data, which they no longer need to enter afterward. 


With the help of Visa’s tokenization system, stored card data can be seen only by us, authorized to handle card data. This is a bulletproof system that prevents card data theft. We are fully protected under GDPR, and we are currently undergoing certification according to the highest security standard, ISO 27001,” emphasized Ali, adding that constant efforts are made to ensure that the service is top-notch in support, technology, and integration capabilities tailored to the user.  

As a guiding principle in this entire process, Ali highlights that there are no longer any limitations on the timing or location of payments. This means that if a user decides to buy sneakers, book a hotel, or order a taxi, they can do so at any time, regardless of their location. “Merchants should take advantage of this, and we extend a hand of cooperation to them,” says the head of eCommerce business at Monri Payments. 

Do you want proactive or reactive sales? 


With all the significant challenges that eCommerce business entails, introducing a new payment method is not easy as it requires adherence to strict rules and procedures. In this regard, Monri Payments offers substantial assistance to merchants because expanding the options available to customers is one of the company’s main visions, along with adapting to local habits and tools that are most popular in each market or industry. Regarding the hospitality sector, it is important to note that demand is generated by foreigners, and therefore, it is necessary to offer the payment methods they seek. 


Ali emphasizes that hospitality is a very important business segment for Monri, in which they offer a fully protected and secure solution, both for merchants and cardholders, regarding card data protection. “In the past, it often happened that a user would dictate their card number over the phone, or such data would be sent by a travel agency to hotels, which is not by the law and privacy protection rules. We have developed a system that acts as an intermediary between the card number and the reservation number, in which the card number is tokenized and linked to the reservation number, ensuring that card data is completely secure. This is important from several aspects, not only as a legal obligation and responsible attitude towards clients but also as a crucial lever for building trust and credibility, as there have been situations in which such principles of professionalism were not adhered to.” 


“We offer similar solutions for the car rental industry, insurance companies, and all industries that require direct sales. It is up to the merchants to decide whether they want to have proactive or reactive sales. A proactive approach involves predicting needs through constant monitoring of requirements and inventory and timely ordering,” emphasizes Ali. He adds that this certainly requires certain time and material investments, but the return on investment is achieved quickly, as such solutions bring an annual sales growth of 30 to even 50 percent. “An additional advantage is that dedicated solutions like these can also access European Union funds for digitalization,” adds this Monri expert. 


BNPL has existed here for decades 


Emerging technologies are increasingly impacting the payment area, with artificial intelligence transforming the entire payment ecosystem. Ali emphasizes that Monri is aware of these trends and has strongly incorporated them into the solutions they offer to the market. These are behavioral systems based on artificial intelligence that can predict customer behavior and integrate with CRM systems, bringing significant business benefits through increased sales. 

 “These are neither cheap nor simple systems, but over time, they will become the standard as banks and large retail systems are already introducing this technology to achieve the ideal of ‘frictionless payment.’ The trigger for payment is always the merchant or their system, so with the help of artificial intelligence, it will be possible to predict customer needs better and encourage them to make purchases through timely offers,” Ali emphasized. 

 Responding to the question of why Buy Now – Pay Later (BNPL) is a well-established form of payment in some European countries but has not taken off in Croatia, Ali, with a smile, explains that this model originated in our region and is better known as interest-free installment payments, first offered by some franchisees and card companies such as Diners and American Express. “To remain competitive in the market, banks had to introduce such offers, and today, any major purchase without this model is practically unimaginable. Therefore, more than 80 percent of furniture, electronics, and similar high-end goods purchases are paid in interest-free installments,” he explained. 

 However, there are differences between financing models. In some other countries, the cost of such purchases is transferred to the customer, making it a type of revolving scheme, while in Croatia, installment payments are financed by the bank, which assumes all the risk. “The merchant receives the full amount within 30 days or according to the agreement with the bank, and then the bank collects that amount from its client in monthly installments. Therefore, it can be said that in Croatia, banks and card companies enable the BNPL payment model,” Ali explained. He also highlighted a significant advantage for Monri in Croatia the excellent relationships with all banks, allowing merchants to offer all payment methods on a single device and payment gateway, regardless of the bank they choose. 


New trends and how to maintain trust 


In today’s payment ecosystem, new trends include Smart Checkout, which is crucial as it significantly impacts the user experience and reduces cart abandonment, and personalized Customized Payment Checkout, tailored to user preferences and purchase history. “These are all features offered by the Monri Components system,” says Ali, explaining that this means there are no pop-up windows for payment; instead, it is conducted within the merchant’s page. “This creates a better user experience, and we are constantly working on it,” Ali emphasized. 


At the recently held Money Motion conference, a recurring keyword was trust, described as “the most important currency in the payment ecosystem.” We asked this Monri expert what our web merchants should do to earn and maintain this trust. “From the perspective of their customers, it is crucial that, as a merchant, you stand behind your service. A merchant must address all problems encountered by their customer, regardless of the aspect or step in the customer journey where such an issue occurred. This way, a trust relationship is created, which is the foundation of any long-term business and sustainable business strategy,” Ali responded. 


The perspective of the largest tourism company in Croatia 


As Ali frequently mentioned, in the hospitality sector, where optimizing payment methods can significantly enhance the user experience, speed up sales processes, and create long-term loyalty relationships, we decided to ask Valamar Riviera, the largest tourism company in Croatia. 

 Franko Radoš, IT and e-business department manager at Valamar, responded. He is one of the key figures behind the company’s successful adoption of modern payment methods. Franko is characterized by a high curiosity and openness to new ideas. He initially explained how the world of payments naturally evolved as an extension of the development of web systems, reservation systems, and the technology of all systems involved in the process from the moment of booking to the guest’s stay at the group’s facilities. 

 “Initially, the share of direct bookings was small, and the technology was either undeveloped or nonexistent. Over time, the volume of direct bookings at Valamar increased to over 60% today. The technology of connected systems has evolved, and with the development of API interfaces, we gained the ability to automate the entire process, which is extremely important given the size of the company and the number of guests,” he explained. 

 Valamar began automating the payment of individual reservations 12 years ago, driven by the growth of individual reservations and the volume of credit card payments, which were previously done manually. Over time, they adjusted and supplemented the process based on guest feedback and the development of sales and processes. “Initially, we automatically processed payments only for refundable reservations. Over time, we automated the payment of reservations in camps where reservation services exist. We further improved the process by automating guest communication and optimizing internal processing tasks such as fiscalization, invoice generation, reporting, etc. The next phase was the automation of reservation pre-authorizations,” Franko added. 


Application of artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry 


Franko Radoš from Valamar highlighted their use of artificial intelligence at various levels and stages within the company. He mentioned that Valamar utilizes AI in both production-level projects and those in the discovery/test phase. AI is employed as a co-pilot in applications and development tools, for generative AI, in various message classification tools, and in various robots that automate specific processes. This implementation has enabled employees to focus more on less repetitive tasks. 

 “Five years ago, we launched self-check-in and check-out at Valamar, which has proven to assist reception greatly and is highly sought-after by guests. This system allows reception staff to dedicate more time to communicating with guests. We enhance this system annually with new functionalities and process optimizations,” Franko emphasized. Additionally, alongside self-check-in, Valamar introduced a digital registration card. 

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