Saturday 10 December 2016

The revolution will be monetised: top five tech firms that are reinventing global finance

Simon Rowe

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

Patrick (left) and John Collison, founders of mobile payments giant Stripe.
Patrick (left) and John Collison, founders of mobile payments giant Stripe.

Monex - Kerryman Frank Murphy is probably one of the few people in the world who has ever walked away from the casinos in Las Vegas with millions of dollars in his wallet, despite having never placed a bet.

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Murphy's Killarney-based software firm Monex Financial Services closed a massive deal last year that saw his company's technology rolled out in ATMs across the casino capital of the US.

The ATMs use Monex dynamic currency conversion software, an innovative software that allows consumers to pay in the currency of their debit or ATM card.

Monex is now processing 163 million transactions a year, with a total value of €28bn. Worldwide, the firm's technology is supporting 65,000 cash machines.

Analysts value the company at over €100m and banking giant Lloyds was close to buying a 25pc stake a few years ago.

STRIPE

The mobile payments giant founded by Limerick brothers John and Patrick Collison (main photo, above) in 2010 was recently valued at a jaw-dropping $5bn - up from $3.5bn a year earlier.

Stripe has expanded to 23 countries and is routinely striking partnerships with the likes of Visa, Apple, Alibaba, Facebook and Twitter.

Industry sources put Stripe's payment volume at about $20bn a year. For every transaction it processes, Stripe in the US gets a swipe fee of 2.9pc plus 30 cents. That would put Stripe's revenue at more than $450m (€410m). The company says that 27pc of Americans will have bought something through Stripe in the past year, a big jump from just 3.8pc two years ago.

Last month the firm signed a lease on a 45,000 sq ft building in Dublin's docklands.

REALEX

Colm Lyon, right, became one of Ireland's richest men last year when he sold his online payments firm Realex for €115m. Now he is hoping to strike gold again with his new fintech venture, Pay with Fire.

When the new technology is ready for launch, it will seek to outflank banks when new European rules (known as PSD2) on access to accounts come into effect before the end of 2017.

Lyon, a former IT boss at Ulster Bank, describes the new venture as a "big play" whereby Pay with Fire will provide an online payment account - to both personal and business customers - similar to a bank account, with BIC and IBAN numbers.

"We've roadmapped a whole series of releases over the next 12 to 18 months - so we've got a big roadmap," he said.

UPLOAD

Although not strictly an Irish firm, Uphold was founded by Trinity College graduate Anthony Watson, who was in Dublin last week at an IDA-organised trade event.

Branded the 'Michael O'Leary of the financial services industry', Watson predicts that "money will be free as email to send and receive in 10 years' time".

Uphold lets users upload cash from traditional bank accounts and credit cards across 33 European countries, including Ireland, the US and China.

Uphold, formerly known as BitReserve, is moving beyond its Bitcoin root and trying to rethink the way a bank should operate by harnessing the technology behind bitcoin to create the "internet of money" and become a full-service financial provider.

Uphold has raised €20m since launch, including €9m through crowdfunding in the UK.

FENERGO

Fenergo specialises in enabling financial institutions to meet regulatory compliance and data requirements. With offices in London, New York, Boston, Sydney and Wroclaw, the firm secured $75m (€68m) in investment from New York-based private equity firm Insight Venture Partners last year. It was the biggest ever investment round by an Irish software company.

The company, which counts some of the world's biggest lenders, such as RBS, Scotiabank, State Street, Rabobank and RBC among its clients, said the funding would be used to increase its international business, targeting new markets. The company also intends to invest in R&D.

Founder Marc Murphy said Fenergo - a spinoff from IT outsourcing firm Ergo - plans to grow revenue from €20m a year to €100m a year by 2018 and then float on the Nasdaq. It has doubled turnover for each of the last three years.

Sunday Indo Business

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