An Irish e-commerce payment processing firm responsible for processing up to €4bn in payments per annum for firms like Aer Lingus and CD-Wow is planning to offer financial institutions white-label payment processing services ahead of the onset of the Single European Payments Area (SEPA).
The arrival of SEPA could lead to an explosion in cross-border e-commerce for SMEs and citizens and will allow a person living in Ireland, for example, to directly and electronically pay a phone bill or credit an account in France or Germany.
Dublin-based Realex processes in excess of €3.5bn worth of payments annually for international online retailers and corporate players such as Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, Quinn Direct, Vodafone, Party Poker, Motortax.ie, VHI and parts of Ryanair. The company recently announced a substantial deal with Hong Kong e-commerce vendor CD-Wow.
The company is headed by Colm Lyons, a former executive at Ulster Bank, has a staff of 35 and has over 1,800 clients.
“Out of our customer base around 25pc of our customers would be international overseas firms. For example, we currently serve six different airlines in the UK.”
Lyons sees the onset of SEPA and the need to remove the overdependence on cheque-based payments in the Irish economy as a prime opportunity for Realex to offer white-label services to financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.
“We are in the early days of a sea change in how payments are made and beyond 2010 electronic payments will become widespread.
“We’ve built up our own technologies to handle payment processing and would in the future consider licensing this to financial institutions.
“We would see financial houses as clients in the longer term. The banks are changing their systems to accommodate electronic payments and rather than rebuild or change everything they would be open to white-label services,” Lyon said.
Realex in recent months launched a website designed to promote harmonised electronic banking across the EU at www.sepa.ie.
“SEPA is a great opportunity. At present 1.5 million Irish people have Laser cards but you can’t buy a book with a Laser card in France. At the same time more than 180 million cheques are lodged every year. SEPA will see harmonisation and the expansion of European systems to handle debit cards and direct debits as distinct from credit card payments,” Lyon said.
By John Kennedy