Customers in a cafe

How SumUp Makes It Easier for the World to Pay with Card

I’m sure you’ve seen them – at the window of a food truck dishing out spicy kimchee ramen during lunch hour, or with a pop-up vendor selling chilled coconut water on a sweltering day at the beach; maybe at an outdoor book fair in the hands of a bookseller hawking wonderous old tomes or perhaps at your family-owned neighborhood coffee and donut shop that has a custard-filled chocolate éclair with your name on it.

I’m talking about those modern credit card readers small enough to fit in your pocket that enable a quick and easy payment process for you and the vendor.

Welcome to the Experience Age

This little marvel, the SumUp Air Reader, is the brainchild and namesake of SumUp, the leading mobile point-of-sale company based in Europe. The company provides terminal hardware and mobile applications for merchants to accept credit and debit card payments as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay with a single device, connected to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. Its mission is to allow smaller merchants to easily accept card payments with a mobile device, thereby supporting local businesses, enhancing the end-user experience, and fostering economic growth.

A few years ago, the co-founders of SumUp saw a huge card-acceptance gap for small merchants. It was no secret that small businesses, especially nano- and micro-sized businesses, were not well served by traditional payment providers such as banks. The bureaucratic complexity was just too much for all concerned. SumUp saw things differently and realized the need to provide fintech services to these smaller businesses. It developed a unique payment technology – hardware and mobile app – to make it simple and affordable for businesses of any size to securely accept payments from customers.

The end result was a convenience factor that was certainly evident to the end user, but especially more meaningful to the small business merchant.

With Rapid Growth Comes Multiple Challenges

Since its inception in 2011, SumUp has been in rapid growth mode and its popularity with vendors has exploded beyond its original UK borders. In less than six years, SumUp has expanded its payment system into 31 countries across Europe and the Americas. Impressive, but that kind of success also created some confounding business challenges. With a client base growing by 4,000 merchants each day and more than 1.5 million merchants globally using SumUp services, the myriad of disparate regional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems could not keep up.

The company needed a more professional solution for a number of processes as a result of its fast growth that would enable:

  • Better structured processes
  • Improvements in system integration
  • Less manual work
  • Less documents
  • Improvements in data reconciliation
  • Optimization of month-end closing
  • Creation of a central location for data
  • Understanding of specific tax requirements for each country in which it does business

Its internal challenges were an antithesis to what SumUp stood for: simplifying and cutting out complexity. The company understood it needed a stable and scalable solution for managing resources and for reporting purposes – an integrated system to automate processes, to communicate with other systems, process big volumes of data, and support legal and language requirements in different countries. It required a powerful, centralized digital core.

Why SAP Solutions for SumUp?

The management team made the decision to implement SAP S/4HANA in February 2018. They concluded it was the best solution for the company and would support future growth, a key consideration, thereby providing more to its customers in the long run. Also, having functionalities to support the vast legal requirements in different countries and work in many different languages were important factors.

Though SumUp was using SAP ERP Central Component 6.0 in some entities, the company elected to not build on top of what they had and chose SAP S/4HANA as its new ERP system. According to Elisaveta Tuncheva, head of ERP Implementations at SumUp, “We already had experience with SAP ECC 6.0 in some entities since 2012. But that’s with very limited functionalities. As the structure of the company, processes, and requirements changed significantly, we decided not to develop the current system, but to start on a greenfield with a new and modern solution.”

SumUp chose SAP S/4HANA for processing large volumes of payment transactions and shipping orders. SAP Fiori helps SumUp benefit from a more intuitive user interface for reporting while a separate system of SAP governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solutions was implemented to help the company comply with tax requirements in Brazil.

Realizing Quick Rewards Through SAP Solutions

Implementation kicked off in a number of European markets plus Brazil, which has one of the most complicated tax systems in the world – and live since May 2019. The remaining markets are planned to go live by the end of 2019, concluding a super-fast implementation phase.

Upon implementation in Europe, SumUp quickly experienced multiple benefits, including:

  • High degree of system integration, non-SAP systems included, with interfaces for master data, sales orders, invoices, and transactions and posting, greatly increasing automation and reducing the use of spreadsheets
  • Improved logistics processes, such as full visibility of end-to-end sales processes with full document flow in the system, and automated processes via interfaces running on a daily basis
  • Higher-volume processing of payment transactions and shipping orders on SAP HANA
  • Faster, more accurate reconciliation of inventory and merchant payment transactions with accounting records
  • Automatic issuance and transmission of invoices for point-of-sale customers, which had to be done manually pre-implementation
  • Simplified compliance with tax requirements in Brazil with SAP GRC solutions, helping reduce risk and avoid financial penalties
  • Removal of time-consuming manual activities
  • Intuitive reporting interface with SAP Fiori

For SumUp, moving to SAP S/4HANA created a unified data structure for all entities, providing a single source of truth and enhancing and simplifying reporting.

What’s Next for SumUp and SAP?

SumUp intends to implement SAP S/4HANA across all its entities. “With SAP S/4HANA, we have removed a lot of manual processes,” said Tuncheva. “Now, we have more time to better analyze the data and have more control than we did before. As we continue to integrate new processes into the platform, the time and cost savings will keep rising.”

She added, “We are excited by the production start in Brazil, where we have better integration for logistics processes. SAP S/4HANA will be a game-changing solution for Brazil.”

If that boils down to a street food vendor in Rio de Janeiro that sells Coxinha being able to accept card payments with ease via the SumUp card reader, there is no doubt that a bunch of hungry customers will be looking forward to a very satisfying experience with great anticipation.


Michael Kure is lead writer for SAP Customer Lifecycle Marketing.