What is the idea that triggered the foundation of the company and what are the problems in the market it aims to solve (or the opportunities envisaged in the market)?
Hans Vermeijs and I founded the company on May 1, 2019 with one powerful reason in mind: to open up the European market to the possibilities of PSD2 products, such as payment initiation and account information services. Simply put, our aim is to access over 5000 European banks and connect them to our platform, granting our customers access through one single API.
Earlier in our careers, we have been involved in similar payments and banking-related projects. For example, Hans was one of the architects of iDEAL, which is essentially an ecommerce payment system introduced in the Netherlands in 2005 with the aim of allowing people to buy online using direct online transfers from their bank account. Hans has a technical background, whereas I have 25 years of banking experience in a vast network, not only in the Netherlands but also in Europe.
My mission? Leaving the world around me at least a little better than I found it. Everything I do, whether it’s in my work or in my private life, is always linked to this credo. ibanXS is a good example in this sense because here we’re striving to make payments easy in a digitized world. We are here because we want to leave a legacy. In ten years’ time, when you ask someone “Do you use ibanXS?” and the answer is “Yes, of course”, you feel happy. This is the ultimate legacy.
How are your core services different from other similar services in the market?
We come with simplicity and flexibility, above all. When a client requests a connection to particular banks, we’re putting it on the roadmap and facilitate it very quickly and with great flexibility. Our clients don’t have to worry about integration, maintenance or security, as we ensure that they’re always on top of their payments game through the means of our dynamic connector.
Our offering and services are tailored to fit all of our clients’ needs; one can opt for payment initiation, account information or both. We can personalize the offering without compromising on the quality of the technology we deliver.
What is also different about us is that, whereas other providers not only facilitate services but also compete with clients for their customers, ibanXS solely works in the cooperative domain. With us, no one has to worry that they’re financing competitors, as our only mission is to add value to our clients’ products and expand their reach across the industry.
Can you share some highlights from the company’s track record so far and your plans for 2020?
I worked for major banks, all of them big companies, with long time to market for technical solutions due to cumbersome internal processes. In the incumbent banking ecosystem, the introduction of a payment method could take up to two years, even more. What we did at ibanXS was that we started on May 1, 2019, and four months later, on September 13, we had our first live transaction. The track record of building a viable system in a very short time with a dedicated team is what we are most proud of.
For next year, the focus will be on obtaining our own PSD2-license with the Dutch Central Bank, connecting with all the European banks by the beginning of 2020, and expanding our reach to European consumers via our clients. We’re aiming to unlock the European market. Furthermore, we’ll work on continuous development, we’ll never cease to improve our platform and deliver relevant services to our clients.
How do you see the entire Open Banking ecosystem evolving at the European level?
In Europe, we notice that the regulations of the European Commission are very customer-centric. For the payments world, it all started in 2001 with SEPA, when there were talks in the banking community about getting a consensus between European banks and developing a payment regulation. In hindsight, the practices in the banking ecosystem suggest that, without regulations in place, banks don’t open up. In the beginning, I was working for banks, but now that I am independent and able to share my opinion without being subjective, I really feel that we need a PSD3 to mend the flaws of PSD2. We need this new regulation because, currently, there is a limited period of time that the consumer consent is active. After that, the consumer needs to renew the consent. On paper, this seems a good practice, because it puts the consumer in charge. However, in practice, consumers don’t want to go every now and then back to their banking app and through the same processes again and again even for simple actions like a direct debit for paying the rent.
The open banking ecosystem in Europe is not homogenous in terms of approach. In the UK, for example, Open Banking has been in place for over one year. Here, banks truly listen to their consumers and do more than the PSD2 requires. In essence, we’re talking about consumer-based products, and this is why they’re adding savings accounts in the UK, among other services. Currently, Dutch or German banks, for example, are only focusing on payment accounts because this is what the PSD2 stipulates. Therefore, I believe we’ll see banks shifting their focus a little bit more to their consumers and fintech companies coming up with new value propositions for bank’s consumers. Fintechs will push the banks further towards consumer-friendly products. And ibanXS is there to facilitate this innovative process.