Alex Mifsud, CEO of Ixaris

What is Ixaris’ mission statement?

Many businesses and consumers have to put up with inefficient and ‘poor fit’ payment solutions: needlessly expensive, inconvenient, inefficient to operate. Ixaris wants to enable perfect fit and efficient payment solutions for any type of customer or community.

We do so by developing technology that makes it fast, easy and economical to create deploy and support such payment solutions, and also by eating our own dog food: assembling efficient turnkey solutions often involving multiple banks and processing partners to solve complex problems like organising global purchasing for AXA Global Assistance or reducing the effective cost of payments from 20% of gross margin to zero for online travel companies like Logitravel.  We market our technology under the “Ixaris Technologies” sub-brand and our turnkey solutions under – you’ve guessed it – “Ixaris Solutions”, the latter processing €500M in the travel industry alone last year.

Our vision is that in future the movement of money will be as efficient, as seamless and as easily embeddable into value-adding applications as the flow of data on the Internet.

Where are you headquartered?

We are headquartered in London (near Victoria Station).  No one likes the commute but London is the best location in the world right now for a FinTech company, having an amazing pool of talent and the global or regional headquarters of many potential clients and partners within easy reach.

Who do you think will be the most influential figures (or companies) in FinTech, in 2015?

FinTech is already a sprawl so champions will emerge in each segment (lending, retail payments, business payments, etc).  In retail payments, I would pick ApplePay for giving a good disruptive kick to the established payment acceptance brands, and Stripe, for showing how to grow an amazing network by making it easy for developers to embed charging in their website and apps.  In payments infrastructure, Ripple has one of the most disruptive technologies I’ve seen in a long time.  Unfortunately all these large plays are from the US, although European / UK contenders like Transferwise seem to be hitting the big time.  I am a great fan of Earthport who is the grand-daddy of London FinTech firms and after many years in the doghouse seem to be realise the potential that was always theirs.

What kind of year do you foresee for your company, and the industry as a whole?

The year is already proving to be one of progress at breathtaking speed, with our ‘payments innovation toolkit’ technology increasingly getting the attention of financial institutions both in Europe and beyond.  We have been awarded a sizable EU grant to extend our technology to enable banks to open up their infrastructure to developers in a secure and compliant manner, and we are implementing our first banking client in Africa with UBA, a pan-African bank.

What are your key targets for 2015?

Our entire focus for 2015, within our Technologies business, is on partnering with banks and other financial institutions in Europe, Middle East and Africa to get our technology out there and to develop it collaboratively wherever we find partners that get it.  For the Solutions business, it’s all about scaling the business – implementing all the deals we closed last year and signing up new corporates in the travel and insurance sectors are a priority.

 What will be the most important opportunities for FinTech in 2015?

In the payments segment, I see the delivery of services via APIs and the adoption of cloud-based solutions by banks to free themselves from their IT legacy as the trickles that will show definite signs of the flood that will come.  I have been asking banking audiences at conferences how many have ongoing API or ‘open payments’ projects at their institutions: almost none until last summer, and now a few hands are going up.  I predict a lot more by the end of 2015.

What are the key hurdles for growing your business this year?

With Technologies, it’s getting those interested banks to go over the line and commit to do something.  It’s hard to be first, especially for banks.  Ironically African banks seem to be much more ready to take the plunge perhaps because the gains they stand to make from cloud computing are so much higher than for European banks saddled with legacy.  With Solutions the key hurdles are probably compliance and managing the internal pains of growth.

What are your thoughts on the current state of FinTech?

There has been an explosion of innovation, it’s origin probably traceable to the post-financial crisis (2008) timescale.  As with the “Cabrian period” a lot of these wacky species will become extinct over time but winners will emerge to make financial services and the industries that supply it look very different by 2020.

(image credit: @ixaris)

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