Can you tell us about your role and what VallettaPay is about as a company?
I started working as an accountant way back at the age of 17, working at Deloitte. After that, I graduated as an accountant with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
at the age of 21. I spent the following 15 years working as an accountant, gaining invaluable experience from different industries. Later on, I was approached by a friend of mine who was working on a project. After a couple of months, we realized we had good synergies working together and we thought it would be a good idea to do something together. This is how VallettaPay started way back in 2016. I am the CEO and focus most of my energy on business development, human resources and also strategic planning.
What would you say you learned the most during your time as an accountant?
First of all, it was a good experience for me because I didn’t have the opportunity to experience business firsthand. As an accountant, you can get a lot of information about the business itself, and the financials. I was always interested to learn more about different challenges faced by different businesses. One of the main problems I encountered was the debtor book. You will find a number of companies having to collect a lot of money from others, which has a direct impact on cash flow. The other big lesson I got was funding. Funding is always a big challenge when you have an idea and want to make it commercially viable; funding plays a very important part in this process.
Could you walk us through your journey from founding VallettaPay in 2016 to today?
Yes, VallettaPay was founded by myself and my good childhood friend, Colin Jones. Like many other start-ups, we had to invest most of our savings to employ the first six people. We had to spare some money for laptops and other equipment, as well. Originally, we started as a card processing company, so we had a payment gateway that was connected to a number of acquiring banks. Our clients would be selling products or services online; we would connect them to our gateway and the clients would process mainly Visa and Mastercard products. The acquiring bank would then make the settlement to the online merchant. So our background was always related to companies that sell products and services online.
We were lucky to break even in the first months of our existence, and this gave us the courage and opportunity to focus on our product, ensuring we offer a better product, and it was working well. Except for the fact we had a number of clients that had funds sitting at acquiring banks, and were facing difficulty to receive these funds because of the general problem arising from the banking industry. So we had a number of banks that did not understand or were not willing to open accounts for clients selling products and services online. We thought this was our opportunity to tap into this particular market. Colin had a good connection with a financial institution and we thought it would be a good idea to partner with this institution, which would complement our product offering. This is how it all started and how we shifted from card processing to banking.
Moving forward, we understand you prefer to work with niche clients in niche sectors, rather than a more general, overarching approach. Can you tell us more about exactly what this strategy means?
The online industry is quite big. But it is serviced by a number of banks and institutions. We understand this very well, so strategically it was always important for us to grow organically. This means good clients and clients who fall within our risk appetite. Also, we always wanted to compete on the service. To compete on the service, you need to have a limited number of clients. You cannot offer the product to everybody, because otherwise the quality of the service will start to deteriorate. So it was natural for us to remain focused on clients that have good volumes and good history.