Since 2000, Ixaris has specialised in developing global applications based on open-loop prepaid card schemes. Its payment applications enable consumers unwilling or unable to access credit card services to gain easy access to electronic payments. Victoria Conroy reports.
In the world of prepaid, industry players recognise that reaching out to unbanked consumers who would otherwise be denied access to banking or online shopping is a key strategic pillar in growing their businesses.
One UK prepaid solution provider, Ixaris, is making a name for itself by offering consumers the option of having either physical or virtual prepaid cards, and by offering businesses the option to co-brand Ixaris’ payment solutions.
In a relatively short space of time, Ixaris has been recognised by Visa and MasterCard as an independent sales organisation (ISO). Ixaris is also certified by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) as a small e-money issuer, and its financial service partners include RBS, Barclays, Transact Network and Bank of Valletta, giving it the clout to compete with some of the more established names in prepaid.
Under the EntroPay brand, Ixaris currently manages financial transactions exceeding $15m per month and, with more than 100 clients, Ixaris offers a rage of co-branded payment applications that enable enterprises within the health care, travel and affiliate marketing industry, and financial institutions to capitalise on the growing market for prepaid payment solutions through the global payment networks Visa, MasterCard and SWIFT.
The company’s payment platform enables businesses and entrepreneurs to create and run their own payment applications, which the company claims reduces cost, complexity and time needed to bring them to market. Ixaris’ technology powers a range of co-branded prepaid payment applications that manage the global transfer of funds through the Visa, MasterCard and SWIFT networks.
The core of Ixaris’ proposition is the EntroPay prepaid payment service, which can be used wherever Visa is accepted, and which provides both consumers and businesses with self-service access to its range of global payment applications. EntroPay users can make purchases and withdraw cash through virtual and plastic Visa and MasterCard-branded products, and also send and receive money worldwide using their own bank accounts.
EntroPay is also being positioned as a micropayment option for consumers, and can be used for micropayment options as small as $0.01. For merchants, where card payments of £5 ($7.9) or less tend not to be economical, the benefits of EntroPay enable them to utilise a cost-effective method of accepting micropayments, particularly for merchants in the pay-per-use, download and paid-for digital content spaces.
EntroPay is based on a previous incarnation, SmartPay, which is a stored-value account electronic payment engine. SmartPay provides several ways of transferring funds into prepaid accounts, including via online and physical payment card, direct debit and bank transfers. SmartPay also provides a range of spend options, including online Visa payment, direct payment to merchant, P2P payment, and e-vouchers.
SmartPay is offered as either a co-branded solution or a custom solution. Under the co-branded option, Ixaris will customise elements of EntroPay but the resulting solution must adhere to the basic EntroPay business rules. Ixaris operates the back-end for the resulting solution, and can also operate the user interface (eg website) and customer service if requested.
The custom option is a bespoke or white-label proposition. Ixaris develops the bespoke solution around the SmartPay e-payment engine and also operates the back-end for the delivered solution. Alternatively, Ixaris can offer a software licence for the SmartPay engine to allow customers to operate the solution themselves. With the custom option, Ixaris enables EntroPay to be integrated with POS terminals, loyalty card schemes, and in partnership with umbrella shopping sites.
Ambitious growth plans
Ixaris recently made a number of senior-level appointments in preparation for the next phase of its development.
John Chaplin was recently appointed as president, having already been an existing non-executive director of the company. With more than 20 years’ experience at the forefront of the payment card industry, Chaplin has previously worked in senior positions at global payment processor First Data and Visa, where he was executive vice-president in charge of its processing business in Europe.
Chaplin has been brought on board with the aim of further expanding the organisation and its partnerships in the payment industry.
Ixaris uses multiple routes to market for its electronic payment and transaction-based financial services,” Chaplin said.
“I will lead the company’s strategic alliances to ensure we capitalise on the surge in demand for innovative solutions that enable organisations to derive greater revenue online.”
The company has also made two new senior management hires to take advantage of the buoyant prepaid market and add to the team’s electronic payments expertise. As a signal of its commitment to innovation, Ixaris has created a new product director role for Patrick Abela and Kenneth Bonnici joins the company as operations director.
Ixaris CEO Alex Mifsud said: “In the last three years, Ixaris’ turnover through our virtual prepaid solution has grown more than 500%. By diversifying our payment products and with an imminent announcement about our long-term strategy, Ixaris has forecast even bigger results for the end of 2010, as well as almost doubling its staff.
“With a strong senior management team in place, Ixaris is poised to grow its partnerships with financial institutions and corporations that want to gain a valuable revenue stream through new online channels and prepaid products.”