In conversation with Gianluca Cassaro, Payments VP, and Elaine Nguyen, Payments Operation Lead at Palta

Learn more about the crucial role of fast and efficient payments in helping individuals make healthier choices and the reasons behind Palta's partnership with Primer.

The spotlight on health and well-being has grown brighter in recent years. And it's no surprise. The global pandemic has fundamentally changed our outlook, making us more conscious than ever of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. 

The stats speak for themselves. A survey found that 60% of respondents acknowledged that the pandemic has made them more aware of the need for proactive health measures. Additionally, a report from Accenture found people consider health and well-being spending as 'essential,' with 80% planning to maintain or increase their investments, even in challenging financial times. 

These trends have given rise to the booming health tech industry. And Palta is one of the companies at the heart of this boom. 

Palta, founded in 2016, envisions empowering billions of health-conscious individuals in the upcoming decade. They achieve this by teaming up with some of the world's most innovative healthcare startups, including SIMPLE, Lovi, and Zing, and providing them with the support, tools, and guidance needed to scale and succeed. 

I caught up with Gianluca Cassaro, VP of Payments, and Elaine Nguyen, Global Payments Operation Lead, to learn more about how Palta is driving the advancement of health technology, the crucial role of fast and efficient payments in helping individuals make healthier choices, and the reasons behind Palta's partnership with Primer. 

Ellie: Please provide some insights into Palta’s business model and how it works with its portfolio of start-ups. 

Gianluca: Palta is a group of consumer health tech companies. We created all the current products that can have a positive global impact and give them the support, insights, and platforms they need to scale and succeed. 

We offer various support, including legal, financial, and HR assistance, from our in-house expert teams. Our brands also gain access to two valuable platforms to bolster their businesses.

The two platforms were developed by the Palta Brain team. One is the Data Platform, our data collection, processing, and analytics platform. This platform enables raw data to insight processes for our brands and promotes sustainable growth opportunities. 

The other platform is our monetization and payment solution, which is where Elaine and I come into play. We aim to make payments a catalyst for growth across all our portfolio businesses. We are achieving this by building an industry-leading payment platform each brand can use. 

Ellie: It’s a fascinating business model. Let’s double-click into the role of payments and your team. 

Elaine: When it comes to payments, there are two areas where we actively contribute to the growth of our brands: one is payment industry expertise, and the other is through our state-of-the-art payment platform. 

Gianluca and I bring payments industry expertise and empower brand founders with a deeper understanding of payments and their significance in their business. We also provide chargeback management and prevention support to minimize risk and negative impact on our brands. 

As for why we’ve built the Palta payment platform, it's all about granting these brands access to a top-tier payment infrastructure without worrying about building or maintaining it in-house. We don’t want our brands to view payments as a cost center; we want them to use payments as a lever for growth. 

In the early days, as we built the platform from scratch, a significant part of our results came from consultancy and knowledge sharing. Today, our primary focus has shifted towards onboarding brands onto the platform by showing them how it outperforms whatever solution they have running in-house. 

Ellie: You’re using Primer’s Unified Payment Infrastructure to build the platform. Tell me about why you made that decision. 

Gianluca: Our goal is to build a sophisticated payment platform that includes integrations with multiple payment processors, payment methods, and, at some point, other third parties. 

The question we posed to ourselves was: 'What's the best approach to achieve this?' Should we develop all these integrations in-house or seek a partner who has already built and integrated them?” 

Elaine and I previously worked for companies that built and managed their payment stacks internally. Given our familiarity with this approach, we initially leaned towards doing the same. 

However, we took a step back and weighed the pros and cons. It became clear that we’d struggle to achieve our goals without investing heavily in the size of our engineering team and managing the complexity of these integrations.

That’s why we decided to work with Primer. Primer is a great partner and platform to meet our objectives. It gives us access to the payment services we need through a single API integration—and it’s effortless to switch on these services on the platform. 

In addition to seamless integrations, we chose Primer because it combines enterprise-grade functionality with the flexibility and agility of a startup. 

For instance, it’s easy to build sophisticated payment workflows in Primer. We can set specific rules based on whether the brand or the customer initiates the transaction, minimizing friction and optimizing authorization rates. These workflows also empower us to manage risk for the brands by setting rules to decline transactions from specific markets and BINs. 

On top of that, Primer provides a suite of optimization tools. These include Adaptive 3DS, Fallbacks, and Network Tokenization, which we can enable as required for the brands to enhance their payment performance further. And we can view the performance of the payments in granular detail in its powerful analytics suite

Ellie: And what’s the journey with Primer been like so far? 

Gianluca: It’s been incredibly positive. We're two companies that are growing and learning together, which offers numerous advantages for both of us. 

For instance, we have a voice and can influence the product roadmap, enabling us to quickly access the features we need. Of course, there are times when compromises have to be made, but Primer is always transparent with us and explains the reasons behind these decisions, effectively managing our expectations. 

And because of the reciprocal nature of the relationship, we’re always happy to test new features and offer our feedback to help Primer enhance its product. The way we see it, Primer isn't just a vendor; it's a true partner we genuinely want to succeed. 

We also greatly appreciate the exceptional support from the Primer team. Ellie, you, as our customer success manager, are the best I've ever worked with, and we have complete trust in you. And our interactions with the rest of the Primer team are consistently positive. They have deep knowledge and genuinely care about achieving the best outcomes for their customers. 

Ellie: What’s top of mind heading into 2024? 

Elaine: There's always so much happening in the payments landscape; there’s rarely a dull moment. When it comes to trends, I'm intrigued by the moves of major tech brands into financial services. It's fascinating to see how they'll continue to shape the industry.

I'm also hopeful that we'll see developments that make it easier for merchants to prevent and combat chargebacks. The rules increasingly favor the customer each year, leaving us merchants vulnerable to fraud. I'm optimistic that we'll see changes that provide more protection. 

Gianluca: In addition to what Elaine mentioned, I'm also keeping a keen eye on the impact of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) as it comes into force in 2024—and whether the US will follow a similar path. 

Beyond these market trends, I'm excited about exploring and using more of the functionality offered by Primer. 

Implementing fallbacks is definitely in our plans for 2024 to recover failed transactions and boost our revenue. I’m also keen to explore UpliftAI. There’s enormous potential for the application of AI across payments, and we need to ensure that we’re keeping pace with the developments. 

See our case studies to learn more about the success leading merchants are having with Primer.