Alma, the Parisian fintech, launches a customer relations centre in Lille
Who is the Alma, the Parisian fintech?
Alma is a Parisian scale-up that considers itself as much a fintech as a retailtech. Launched in 2018, it’s the brainchild of Louis Chatriot, former CEO of Stripe in Italy, and Guillaume Desloges. The company develops split payment solutions. In just three years, more than 6,000 retailers are using its services daily. The buy now pay later (BNPL) market is nothing new, but until now it’s been dominated by big retailers’ captive banks. Alma finances retailers and manages any non-payment risk. This way, customers can pay later, but the retailer is paid for the whole transaction immediately.
“We’re investing significantly in our product. We want it to be a seamless experience and for it to be as easy to split payment as it is to pay in one go.” François Solignac, Operations Director, Alma
Development challenges for Alma
Favourable external conditions: the rise of split payments
The global split payment market quadrupled between 2018 and 2020, reaching $80 billion, according to Kaleido Intelligence. It could triple again by 2025 to hit $250 billion. In 2021, around 31% of French people sought to defer payment, compared to 25% the previous year, according to the OpinionWay-Floa Barometer on how payment methods are evolving.
Favourable internal conditions: Alma’s exponential growth
In 2019, Alma employed 10 people. Three years later, the scale-up employs a staff of more than 200, is present in five countries – France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy – and has a clear ambition: become the leading European player. With 3 successive funding rounds in 3 years, the latest amounting to €210 million, the company is leaving nothing to chance in its quest for success. Alma’s targets for 2025 are to reach €300 million in turnover, 10 billion in payment volumes and 1,000 employees.
“We’re investing heavily in offering the best possible customer relationship. We have an aggressive growth strategy in France and internationally. We are currently opening in one country per month. Our Customer Care teams will be substantial which is why we quickly decided to create a satellite with a dedicated Customer Care team.”
Choosing Lille for Alma’s customer relations centre
In 2021, Alma launched a location study to identify the ideal site for its customer relations centre. Paris was ruled out immediately. For the equivalent salary, the regions offer a far better quality of life than the capital. Employee recruitment, development and retention is a major challenge. The company shortlisted major cities in key regions – Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Grand Est and Hauts-de-France.
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Two key criteria
To harness its growth, Alma is uncompromising when it comes to 2 fundamental issues. First, the depth of the labour pool. The potential to recruit French and multi-lingual customer service professionals is crucial. The scale-up has big ambitions to ramp up development. The region must be able to meet the company’s growing recruitment needs. Second, Alma needs a flexible real estate solution to meet its rapid growth. The classic office space route was swiftly discarded.
Following a rigorous evaluation strategy, Alma honed in on Lille. The city meets all the conditions to harness the company’s development.
- Lille’s proven track record in e-commerce, and as a distance selling pioneer
- Confirmed recruitment potential of target profiles
- Scalable solution within a tech and commercial ecosystem: Euratechnologies
- Easy access to Paris by train – 1 hour by TGV with 20 trains per day
Alma’s customer relations and support centre aims to employ around 100 by year end 2023.
“What really tipped the balance for us and confirmed our selection, on top of proximity to Paris and the extensive labour pool, is that Lille has a long retail history. La Redoute, Auchan, Décathlon – these major retailers have created an exceptional employment area, offering huge opportunities to a retailtech company. We had a real sense of Lille’s retail heritage. There are companies training fabulous talents who have the ideal profiles for our project. We have also discovered schools and training courses that are extremely relevant. That’s why we chose Lille.”
Alma is currently recruiting customer relations advisors and anti-fraud experts for France and abroad. Check out the jobs available
Alma’s support package from Hello Lille, Nord France Invest and Euratechnologies
Moving to a new region is never simple for any company. Support from experienced organisations is key to an investment project’s success. Alma reaped the benefits of Hello Lille, Nord France Invest and Euratechnologies’ services.
Key support services
- Identifying the ideal premises
- Implementing site visits
- Integrating into the local ecosystem
- Introducing to retail groups
- Recruitment support with the French employment services, Pôle Emploi, the Maison de l’emploi and the Regional Council’s Proch’Emploi.
- Harnessing relocation subsidies
“If we want a clear and objective overview, it is essential for a company like Alma, and any company for that matter, to be accompanied by these kinds of organisations for an investment project. The support we received was invaluable. It enabled us to meet key people, particularly in the Fintech sector. We got to know the Lille ecosystem in depth – the labour market, infrastructures and culture. Hello Lille and Nord France Invest really opened doors for us. Our criteria were precise and we received quick, clear answers. We had immense help from Pôle Emploi at project launch, organising the initial recruitment. Euratechnologies’ flexible office solutions reassured us that it could keep pace with our development. In short, we were hand held and guided from the start.”