Trailblazer: Checkout.com Founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz
As the high-flying CEO and founder of Checkout.com, Dubai-based Guillaume Pousaz is the Swiss billionaire with an estimated net worth of US$20bn
Born in 1981 in Geneva, Switzerland, Guillaume Pousaz studied mathematical engineering at the Ecole Fédérale Polytechnique De Lausanne, before enrolling on a bachelor's degree in economics at HEC Lausanne, with a view to entering the world of investment banking.
As a youngster and student, he was always interested in the creative side of life, and was fascinated by street art – a passion that has resulted in his Checkout.com offices being decked in unique design works that mix logic with art.
However, in 2005, he left his university course and, according to reports, moved to California to become a surfer ‘for a while’.
Entry into finance
Although the surfing life appealed to his bohemian outlook, Pousaz soon began to think about a career in finance once again. While in California in 2006, he began working for the finance company IPC, which seemed a good compromise as it had offices close to the beach.
The role at IPC introduced Pousaz to the payments industry – and highlighted how the world of online shopping was transforming the retail and consumer experience. Pousaz was so inspired by the payments space that, by 2007, he had launched his first startup company – a fintech called NetMerchant that facilitated payments from US and European companies needing to make payments in foreign currencies.
He ran NetMerchant until 2009 and then diversified again, buying the Mauritius-based fintech SMS Pay for US$300,000. He also launched his second startup, Opus Payments, in 2009 – another payments processing fintech – only this time, his target marketplace was Asia. Opus Payments was based in Singapore and managed payments from Hong Kong businesses to process their international transactions from global buyers.
The launch of Checkout.com
By now, it was clear that Pousaz had found his groove. He liked payments, he was good at it, he understood the power of the internet, and its potential for customers. But, he had encountered issues during his first startup years. In fact, one drawback was the issue of payments processing on a global scale, for both shops and shoppers.
He solved the issue by launching his third startup, Checkout.com, in 2012. The ease of use and frictionless experience the fintech offered its customers made it an instant hit with online retailers. By 2019, Checkout.com was one of the world's most successful fintech stories.
Pousaz and his leadership team even raised US$230mn in funding that year – which ended up being the largest Series A funding round ever for a European fintech company.
Pandemic accelerated growth for Checkout.com
Of course, the rest is history. COVID-19 did its worst, resulting in the world being forced into lockdowns, online payments companies reaped the rewards, and Checkout.com was no exception. In fact, by January 2021, the company had launched its next funding round, raising a further US$450mn at a valuation of US$15bn. Forbes then estimated Pousaz's net worth to be US$9bn. During 2020, Checkout.com released a report saying its payments processing volume had tripled in that year alone.
What’s next for Pousaz?
Well, so far, he seems keen to stick with Checkout.com. Now married and a father of three, he spends his time commuting between Dubai and London. And, with time dedicated to his children , he tries not to allow himself to be distracted. “I get 600 emails a day at this point,” he said.