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How e-learning platforms can scale with payment orchestration

Revenue for online learning platforms is projected to reach almost $60bn this year, with the number of users reaching almost one billion by 2027. Factors such as the increased offering of remote and hybrid working as a result of the pandemic, inflation, rising living costs, and continued globalization across multiple industries, has led to more and more individuals seeking new skills. From learning new languages – both linguistic and code, through to marketing, accounting, and sociology, e-learning has become the preferred way to learn given the added flexibility of setting a schedule that suits everyone.

Though online or e-learning has been established since the 1990s, stringent lockdown measures through 2020 and beyond has led to the “normalization” of remote learning across almost all age groups across the world. In global comparison, China is expected to see the most revenue generated, with figures projected to reach almost $42bn in 2023.

So, as e-learning continues to boom, how can businesses operating in the sector capitalize on increasing interest? Class is officially in session.

Lesson one: The challenges of growth – from payments to privacy

Scaling isn’t without its complexities. With more customers comes more demands and preferences to contend with – and this is even more complicated when dealing with multiple countries with multiple currencies. For consumers, flexibility is more important than ever, and consumers want to pay the way they prefer, with multiple options. For many, they are battling with rising inflation and impending recession, but are still keen to invest in their future.

E-learning and online learning platforms must be aware of consumer payment preferences across their customer base – whether they prefer to pay via a digital wallet, split their payments into instalments through ‘buy now pay later’ (BNPL), cryptocurrency, or via online cash application, and money transfer, among others.

The challenge  is, onboarding, integrating, scaling, and managing any new payment method—let alone multiple. First, it can be laborious for a company to negotiate with multiple payment service providers and costly to accommodate their different APIs and functionalities. Often, months of painstaking integration work are required to add a single payment type to an existing payment stack and to related payment, fulfilment, and accounting systems. Then there’s the back-end work needed to support updates and enhancements to a payment type across its lifecycle.

On top of the challenges of deployment, there’s also geographic and demographic complexity to contend with. Online learning platforms require a deep knowledge of a market’s unique payment landscape plus technical and linguistic skills that many do not have. Once a market’s preferences have been covered, there also needs to be knowledge of generational preferences – is BNPL favoured by Baby Boomers or Gen Z? Do Millennials prefer debit cards or digital wallets? In order to capture the largest potential market share, companies need to have the financial and technical wherewithal to accommodate these different options.

Regulation presents still more complexity. In Europe, the EU General Data Protection Regulation mandates the local storage and management of citizens’ payment data. India and Brazil boast similar regulations. Meeting these diverse requirements is a significant challenge and requires cloud-driven Edge computing capabilities that bring computation and storage closer to the sources of data.

Lesson two: What is payment orchestration? 

So, how can e-learning platforms cope with such varied challenges? One way is via payment orchestration. Online learning platforms need good and reliable payment solutions that can cater to an international customer base. They need to have localised and personalised checkout experiences, and that historically required heavy investment in technical resources to build, manage, and deploy.

However, payment orchestration – either through a payment orchestration platform (POP) or a payment orchestration layer (POL), is a way of alleviating the burden that comes with checkout optimization and payment optionality.

Current payment market models create long lead times, an inability to add or change payment stacks, add high costs and hinders retailers’ capacity to scale various payment options. Flexible payment infrastructure will be critical for retailers to remain agile, quickly roll out new payment methods and take on government payment and data regulations. The inability to be agile is a significant business cost and risk.

For merchants, a payment orchestration layer or platform helps to streamline this process. Through one integration, a merchant has access to multiple payment providers and acquirers, and is able to optimize the checkout experience on both the back-end and the front-end, while ensuring regulatory compliance and enhancing fraud protection.

For example, in the back-end, a merchant can quickly toggle between multiple payment service providers (PSPs) depending on location, payment method, or even commercial transactional volume deals. If one or more of the PSPs experience an outage, payment orchestration ensures failover so the merchant is automatically and seamlessly switched to a backup PSP, ensuring a transaction is never lost.

In addition to back-end orchestration which covers transaction routing to optimize for a variety of outcomes, including fraud prevention and authorization rates, among others, POPs can also orchestrate the front-end checkout experience. That is, everything a merchant’s customer sees throughout their experience with the checkout, offering a merchant the ability to dynamically filter and order payment methods offered to individual customers at the checkout based on the content of a shopping cart or preferences based on previous transactions.

Lesson three: What payment orchestration provider is best for online learning platforms

The payments landscape is riddled with complexities, and while payment orchestration platforms and layers have been developed to try and help combat this, selecting the right partner or method – should a merchant choose to build a layer in-house – can feel like more of a hindrance.

While merchants can build a payment orchestration layer in-house, it is a significant time and cost investment to achieve a minimum viable product. Download the free whitepaper, ‘Cracking open the payments orchestration layer’, and explore the use cases presented by consulting group, RPGC, which explores this option.

For merchants that don’t want to invest the money, time, and technical resources into building an orchestration layer in-house, there is an option to outsource to one of a number of payment orchestration platforms (POPs) on the market. However, merchants must consider their needs and whether that fits a platform built as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

SaaS platforms are widely available, and have a number of benefits depending on the size of the merchant. For start-ups and small businesses, SaaS platforms take the burden of managing and upgrading software completely off their hands – a major advantage for small teams with limited resources.

For large merchants who are scaling quickly and globally, and want control over their data and systems, IaaS platforms could be a better option. An infrastructure-first solution built natively in the cloud gives merchants the tools and features they need built into their own individualized cloud instances that they can quickly spin out as an ‘Edge’ to new locations, adding new and localized payment services through a single Universal API.

Edge computing provides flexibility for organizations to achieve greater data sovereignty, greater autonomy, better security, and solve latency issues. A cloud-native POP enables merchants to enter new markets by creating Edge Instances within a chosen country or region, keeping transactions and data secure within a local, unique Edge that is compliant with local sales and privacy regulations.

Unlike the shared tenancy SaaS platforms offer, an IaaS provider offers a single-tenant cloud infrastructure which reduces points of failure to ensure a merchant never loses a transaction. Merchants will not share infrastructure or server loads with other merchants meaning there is no risk of slowdown or interference from other merchants, as well as the ability to create bespoke deployments to improve regional storage. IaaS is not a ‘one deployment fits all’ solution – merchants have their own private payment infrastructure customized to meet their individual needs.

To read more about the differences between SaaS and IaaS offerings, and more about building a payment orchestration layer in-house, download Gr4vy’s eGuide exploring the options in-depth

POPs allow retailers to use payments as a strategic advantage. The platform a retailer chooses should optimize conversion rates at a cart level and at checkout, as well as advise and recommend how to increase sales and decrease costs as a retailer’s business grows and expands. Cloud-native POPs can replace legacy payment infrastructures and systems and streamline and manage payment methods, services and transactions in one place.

Gr4vy’s POP leverages the power of the cloud to give users the capability to streamline and manage payment methods, services, and transactions all in one place. Its orchestration layer upgrades a company’s payment stacks to make infrastructure nimbler. While its intuitive, no-code dashboard centralizes the integration and administration of payment methods, providers, conditions, and transactions. With Gr4vy, you never have to lose a transaction again.

For an overview of Gr4vy’s platform, watch this short video, or explore the platform features and get in touch with a member of our team to learn more.