ECOMMBX – A Unique Banking Platform


According to the Central Bank of Cyprus, there are currently 14 electronic money institutions (EMIs) and 10 authorised payment institutions (PIs) active on this dynamic Mediterranean island, with another 43 applications pending.


One of the most exciting and ambitious of these is ECOMMBX. Originally licensed as an EMI in 2017 and headquartered in Nicosia, ECOMMBX had lofty aspirations from the outset. “We have always been determined to develop one of the most powerful electronic payments systems in the world, capable of offering customers seamless cross-border transactions,” says Michael Christos G. Charalambides, ECOMMBX founder and CEO. “Our goal has always been to grow and expand beyond the Mediterranean region.”


Charalambides track record suggests that he has every chance of turning this vision into reality. An early champion of fintech, his first company was largely responsible for breaking the Cypriot ‘bricks-and-mortar’ banks’ monopoly and many of the elite team of so-called Spartans who form the beating heart of ECOMMBX today have been with him for the best part of a decade.


Charalambides is, however, insistent that it is not his intention to pose an existentialist threat to Cyprus’s network of local banks. Rather, his vision is to help them adapt to rapidly changing business environment. “I don’t see us as competing with the local banks, we’re actually trying to work with them,” he says. “We are inviting them to share platforms and technology and to exchange ideas and services. We’re not looking to extend credit lines or to set ourselves up as retail bank.”


In line with this strategy ECOMMBX immediately identified its target market not as businesses looking for lending facilities or credit lines, but as those who were looking to harness the power of digital technology to streamline functions such as their forex activities or wanting to improve the API interface of their payroll systems or their CRM. Today, the company specializes in e-account management, cross-border payments and multi-currency conversions. It also issues debit cards for business at both whitelabel and retail level as well as facilitating online payments. E-products of ECOMMBX is a principal member of both Visa and MasterCard.


What each of these and every other product in the company’s constantly changing and ever-growing portfolio share is the ECOMMVERSE. The single, innovative, and intuitive platform that hosts them. Its flexibility and reliability, Charalambides believes, will serve as a solid foundation for ECOMMBX’s future growth. “We have a very robust core and, in that sense, we are quite traditional,” he says. “We go to great lengths to make sure we have closed any loopholes that might leave us vulnerable to cyber-attacks. “By the time we add something new, you can be sure it has gone through a rigorous process of trial and error.”


In financial terms, it has proved to be a successful strategy. Having broken even three years after start-up, ECOMMBX has been, in its founder’s words, “super-profitable” ever since. Not only that, it has chosen not to pay out any dividends but rather ploughed all that profit back into product development. “That’s how we’ve managed to keep on growing,” says Charalambides. With the ECOMMVERSE as the engine room of its own and the island’s fintech growth. “What we are doing is for the good of both company and country,” he says. “Our platform has the potential to become the backbone of Cyprus’s entire banking and fintech sector. “


Another of the ECOMMVERSE’s strengths is the agility it gives Charalambides and his Spartans to react quickly to fintech’s rapidly changing environment. “We are a very hyperactive corporate animal which you have to be if you want to break the mould and conquer new frontiers,” he explains, “and it’s all going to be about the survival of the fittest, which to my mind means specializing.” While Charalambides anticipates that many traditional banks will end up dominating niche markets such as correspondent banking, global transactions, and global governance, he believes that the way forward for enterprises like ECOMMBX is to specialize on platforms rather than services.


Charalambides is now ready for partners who can help him accelerate ECOMMBX’s international growth by increasing the company’s brand recognition outside Cyprus and Greece (where it has established alliances with a number of chambers of commerce and other business and banking organisations) and by the pooling of experience and expertise. “Of course, we would like to cement new international alliances, and right now our priority is not capital injections,” Michael says. “What we are really looking for is a knowledge partner.”



| TIME Magazine

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