When we launched Finance Incorporated Limited over a decade ago, our first order of business was to build a financial services provider of excellence that would serve the industry in a way that is exemplary. Our focus was on serving corporates and large organisations that required an Electronic Money Institution to handle enormous volumes of payments with speed and security.
This allowed us to create an incredibly robust infrastructure. Wherever we could, we developed our own systems, using in-house talent to build a remarkable set of tools that could handle the stresses and the throughput that B2B services require. As we are the kind of team that is always looking at what’s next for us, we were on the lookout for a way to make our services useful to even more people and the logical consequence was the development of a retail product.
This requires an entirely different mindset. Rather than having clients, each with a very large number of transactions, we are looking at a model that is quite the reverse – thousands upon thousands of individuals, each with their daily lives represented as a small series of transactions.
What we were looking at is not new. We’ve seen how Revolut, for example, took off in Malta by offering a user experience that none of the banks seemed interested in delivering. Apart from bankers and engineers and coders we’re also regular people with a life outside of work so we all use our own apps to play music, watch video content, purchase online, and do all the other things that the smartphones in our pocket enable us to do.
Armed with this learning and equipping ourselves with market intelligence, we set about creating a set of retail-facing products and services that would be accessed through a single, convenient mobile app. This was the birth of the idea that would eventually become iPaymix.
Keeping in mind that we are a small Malta-based company, we understood that we wouldn’t launch a product that would completely replace the existing apps by doing exactly what they do. This approach would be both redundant and too large an undertaking to bring to the market within a reasonable timeframe.
Instead, we chose an approach that would be more disruptive and significantly more suited to the local market.
The eWallet business starts with the merchant. Think back to when eBay adopted PayPal and it is instantly apparent that merchant adoption can be the factor that creates the single biggest opportunity for any eWallet contender. In the case of iPaymix, we started with brick and mortar merchants since this was more consistent with the way business was conducted in Malta at the time.
The next step in this direction was the addition of a soft POS to the app. This means that anyone using the iPaymix App could sign up for functionality that would allow them to receive credit card payments without the need for a physical POS machine. Everyone has a smartphone and this means that everyone now has the ability to be a merchant, a sole trader that can receive payments without the need for the usual hurdles that starting a business usually entails. Waiting for a merchant account from one of the large retail banks, handling unnecessary hardware, or even being restricted to a single location are some of the hurdles that set promising businesses back by months or even longer.
iPaymix solves these issues and adds a convenient, instant sign-up eWallet account for those who want their account based in Malta, with an office they can visit and people who can pick up the phone and speak their language. There is an inherent reassurance to a local player and we are committed to delivering this to the community. It also means dealing with a financial services provider that lives within the community and understands its nuances.
iPaymix does more for the small business than initially meets the eye. For decades, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software was the preserve of very large companies – hence the word ‘enterprise’ in the name. Recently, however, this kind of app has been adapted to suit a small business of any nature and scale. iPaymix integrates with even the most humble of stock control apps, can link up with suppliers, and in general function as the payments component of a micro-ERP.
As usual, the technology that will make our lives easier is here – it is just not yet widely distributed. We are working with our clients to point them in the direction of technologies that can give them the functionality they need at the cost that suits the scale of their business.
This is not where our ambition ends. We are looking at ways to extend iPaymix across Europe, starting in Berlin and quite possibly a city in Italy as our initial forays beyond our home shores. The technology is in place And thanks to our origins as an enterprise-level service provider, we also have the scalability it takes to reach significantly larger markets. We plan to take these steps with cautious optimism and build outwards from there. After all, neither Berlin nor Rome were built in a day.