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Pagopace – how to pay with a WOW!

Premier League footballers, international darts players, Dragon’s Den investors, the list of people proudly wearing and paying for things with their Pagopace contactless payment ring is long. The company has come far in a few short years. We speak to two of the founders, Steffen Kirilmaz and Lukas Schmitz, to find out more.

Hi guys, what is Pagopace?

In a nutshell, we produce and market contactless payment rings that look cool, create a wow factor when used, and ensure secure payments for our customers. Our name sums up our product. Pago is “I pay” in Spanish and Pace means “quickly in English – “I pay quickly”. Oh, and we’re a German company.

How did it all get started?

It began as a collaboration between Steffen and Bernard; Lukas joined the team a few months into the project. Each person brings their own area of expertise, which has proven to be the ideal mix of skills to get us from conception, to market, and now to international growth. Bernard is the expert in semiconductors, Steffen, sales and marketing, and Lukas, e-commerce and logistics. Of course, these are not lines drawn in the sand, in a start-up everybody does a bit of everything and, for instance, both Lukas and Steffen have worked with marketing, e-commerce, sales, and logistics in the past. But none of us had contactless payments expertise.


So, you needed a contactless payments partner …

That’s right. We had the hardware, our rings with their secure NFC chips, and the sales and marketing knowhow, but we needed a platform that supports contactless payments on the leading payment rails, i.e., Mastercard and Visa. And that’s where our collaboration with Fidesmo began.


How smooth has the partnership with Fidesmo been?

Working with Fidesmo is very smooth. We’re both in the process of growing and are helping each other to do that, and as a result, are in regular contact. We have, of course, faced and overcome diverse challenges to get where we are today. For example, having to get our NFC chips certified by Mastercard and Visa, was a longer process than joining the Fidesmo platform. And, when we launched the rings, our customers had to start banking with VIMpay, which although a great service, requires that you top up your account to make payments, i.e., there’s no credit. Some people like that, others don’t, it was therefore essential to be able to offer an alternative. Now, there are several German high street banks on the Fidesmo platform, along with other large banks in different countries. Then there are global payment providers like Curve, which considerably broadens our potential market.


Talking about the market, how has your business grown since those early days?

It’s been phenomenal. There has been so much interest from the German media. We’ve been featured in many of the most prominent newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations, which reached its peak when we appeared on the prime-time Dragon’s Den series. That led to about 200,000 hits on our website. Then we have people like Firmino, the Brazilian footballer who plays for Liverpool, sharing his love for our ring on social, and if you watched the World’s Dart ’s Championship, you would have seen a player wearing our ring – there are a lot of close-ups when throwing darts. This, together with our work on different social channels, has led to substantial growth. We’ve gone from a three-person to a 20-person company, with a flagship store in downtown Cologne. And other Fidesmo partners are selling and using our rings to market their offerings.


Is contactless payments a growing segment in Germany?

Absolutely, virtually every store has contactless card readers today. The market moved quickly from contactless payments scepticism to wide-scale adoption. This was partly driven by Covid but now it’s the favoured way to pay in stores. Let’s say the timing couldn’t have been better to launch a contactless payment ring.


Tell us about your products…

A ring is the ideal form factor for contactless, so we have no plans to move away from that, and we have launched lots of new colours and models, most recently introducing wooden rings to our range. One of the great things about paying with our ring is that there a no batteries or chargers involved – it always works when tapped against a payment reader. But that requires a clear and uninterrupted signal, which means we can’t use metals. Plus, all our rings are waterproof and shockproof so that people can have them on 24/7. We have specific challenges that we must overcome in the design phase, which is fun, and we are exploring plenty of new design ideas.


What about the user experience?

It’s very positive. Paying with our ring is one of those things that once you try it you never go back. It’s convenient, more secure than a credit card payment, and almost always surprises the cashier, who wants to know what just happened and how you paid. If you haven’t tried it, you really should.

So, what’s next for Pagopace?

We will continue to grow, continue to design new cool rings, and continue to wow users.


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