There are 3 co-founders and managing directors of balancr GmbH: Matthias Gall, Natallia Martchouk and Thijs Reus. Some years ago they worked together as software architects at ClickandBuy, one of the first German fintech companies, that was later acquired by Deutsche Telekom, and then they decided to start a business for themselves. They each have more than 10 years of experience in developing online payment systems and thus founded a company that provides software development, consulting and products in the fintech area – an exciting space with lots of innovation and opportunities.
what balancr is ?
We are positioning our company as a “fintech enabler”. balancr (https://balancr.io) is our newest B2B product, launched in May 2017. balancr is the scalable and secure wallet as a service that can be integrated really fast and easily. We aim to bring value to fintech startups and SMEs that require efficient balance management in their systems. Instead of building their own solution from scratch and reinventing the wheel, startups can use balancr to concentrate on their own business ideas and USPs, to save development costs and to shorten time to market.
Why did balancr start and where did the idea come from?
Our original B2B fintech product is CoreWallet (https://corewallet.finance). CoreWallet is a software framework for building complex emoney management solutions, that we are licensing to our customers. CoreWallet is the enterprise edition, for big players on the fintech market, well-funded and established companies. But we realized that there are a lot of emerging fintech startups worldwide and we wanted to provide a similar product for small and medium companies, that on the one hand don’t need the full range of CoreWallet functionalities and on the other hand may be cannot – but also don’t need to – pay for it.
How would you describe wallet-as-a-service to someone who is not tech-oriented?
In it’s simplest form wallet as a service manages balances and transfers between virtual accounts. It allows you to model real world wallets and money transfers in the digital world. Here’s an example: imagine you are a game player and earn some virtual coins in the game. Using wallet as a service the game publisher can create a virtual wallet for you and put some virtual money into it. If you are unlucky in the next round you can lose the earned coins or maybe you want to buy some virtual goods in the game. In this case your virtual coins can be transferred back from your wallet to the “game wallet”. But balancr is of course more than just a wallet provider for game developers. It can be used everywhere where you need to track account balance, manage some values (not necessary money!) in this account and do transfers between different accounts. We have published an article that describes 6 additional ways of how balancr can be used in online products. It elaborates the value and features of balancr even for non-technical people.
On your website, you have stated that balancr a perfect match for fintech startups that require efficient balance management. Why do you think startups need safe and secure balance management?
Let’s first clarify that with balance management we mean tracking and management of stored values like virtual or real money, loyalty points, incentive credits, etc. We think that safe and secure balance management is very often a core part of a fintech product, but it’s rarely a unique selling proposition. We see this fundamental part of a fintech product as an infrastructure that you don’t need to build from scratch, costing valuable time and money. Building a secure, reliable and performant balance management system is actually really hard, error prone and time consuming. System security, scalability and performance is often underestimated by the young fintech startups or is being sacrificed for the sake of a short time to market or a fancy feature set. Sometimes it leads to bad security leaks in financial products and scandals in the press. Unless it’s really your core-business, you’re much better off relying on a battle-proven solution built by experienced professionals, which is based on state of the art technologies.
What makes balancr services different from those given by any other company?
The balancr REST API is modern, well documented, easy to understand and fast to integrate. We have also a tiered pricing model with even a free tier, so that you “pay as you grow”. We provide a sandbox for our customers to support fast integration and testing.
But when we are talking about the competitors and our biggest advantage that makes us different from them, then we can definitely say: it’s the fact that balancr is very flexible and allows you to store and manage any value unit. The API is quite abstract, so that you can define your own currency, assign real world value to these virtual units, design your own business processes on top and use balancr for fast and reliable balance and transfer management in the background.
Who are your clients?
As stated above our customers are predominantly fintech startups and small and medium sized companies that are starting or extending their business and require management of stored value. However, balancr is not limited to financial services and can handle also other value units. We have described more examples in our blog.
It’s worth mentioning that balancr can be used as an “as a service” solution, meaning that fintech companies can use balancr via APIs hosted by us with 24/7 support or they can get an on-premise license and host the system by themselves (this option is especially interesting for regulated fintech companies, because we don’t have an emoney license yet at this stage of the product).
Who are your biggest competitors?
There are some known players in this area like Mangopay or Paycash. But they concentrate on specific financial processes or are limited to the FIAT currencies. balancr supports storage, transfers and management of any value and we haven’t found something comparable on the market until now.
How are you guys funded?
Balancr is currently completely financed through the mother company trimplement. We’re planning for some investment though, to push marketing and sales activities to get more traction.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Technically we are on the safe side, we’ve launched MVP and are already working on further cool features (like configuring your own currencies). But we need to get traction quickly, to make everybody aware of that balancr exists, to attract developers to the platform. We would love to get some feedback on the product and to verify that we are on the right way with our roadmap for balancr.
What’s next for balancr?
We have an extensive roadmap and are already working on further development of exciting balancr features. Currently it’s an “MLP” (“minimum loveable product” :-)), but we will provide more and more features like defining your own currencies, setting up transfer limits, configuring KYC levels for wallet users, support for multi-currency transfers and so on. But talking about a big milestone – it is definitely a partnership with an emoney institute so that we would be able to provide not only on-premise installations, but also balancr as a service for regulated companies.
What advice can you give entrepreneurs who want to venture into the fintech industry in the future?
The fintech industry is running at a very high speed, so don’t waste your time on basic things that you can get as a service! Find a lucrative niche, concentrate on your business vision and USPs, use balancr for tracking stored value in your product and let us take care about the security and auditability of your balances!
Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to readers?
Thank you for your attention! We would like to encourage our audience to try out balancr and to give us feedback on the feature set, what they like and what they are missing in balancr. We would appreciate the feedback to improve balancr, and help whenever possible. Just ping us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website on http://www.balancr.io