Anna Piwko: Following recent news about the introduction of mTAX – a banking-bookkeeping app – I would like to begin by congratulating your team on a successful implementation. We are pleased to see Edge One Solutions succeed by introducing something innovative in an already difficult banking sector. Before we talk about innovations, however, would you please tell us how the idea for mTAX was born?
Mariusz Łobejko: Banking is a field of huge potential with still much work to be done. Banks have begun to recognize the need and seek opportunities to earn money on more than just being a bank. Why is it so? What has definitely led the banks to look for additional business areas and search for startups operating in FinTech was the PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2). On the other hand, banks are aware that soon it is going to be possible to „bank” without a bank itself, and obviously no one would be willing to give up on their customers.
AP: Does it mean that instead of providing a traditional model of services banks are going to become huge service aggregators?
MŁ: Everything suggests so. The process is already taking place. More and more often it so happens that not only do the banks sell loans or installment purchases, but also electricity, gas and bookkeeping services. They have auction platforms, sell software, tickets and who knows what else… It is already happening.
AP: Are you telling me that soon banking services in such a shape may affect every John Smith?
MŁ: Banks have no choice but to go in this direction. PSD2 means that I will be able to provide money management services not being a bank myself, and my client’s banks will be obliged to share this data with me. It’s a significant threat to the banks, hence their need to change and do whatever they can in order to, hidden behind financial wallets, ensure the continuity of their brands on the market.
AP: Is it a direction?
MŁ: Today, there is absolutely no point in creating another electronic wallet. Even if someone succeeds in making a cool and innovative wallet, it is still not going to achieve the success comparable with PayPal. Only the big players, such as Apple or Google have enough power to do that. There are many producers of such wallets, but frankly, I haven’t heard of a unicorn that everybody would be using, which cannot be said about the one provided by Apple.
AP: If not wallets, then what?
MŁ: We have recognized that there are many areas which can be taken advantage of, and we have decided to respond to these needs, especially regarding those services which can be added to banking. This is how mTAX was created – an integrated system connecting the Bank, the Client and the Accountancy office.
AP: Could you tell us a little more about mTAX?
MŁ: It’s an innovative application operating under Android and iOS, allowing for an efficient and swift communication between the bank, the accountancy office and the client. For a client, activities such as invoicing, cost calculations, tax settlements, and paying the invoices have never been simpler, as it is done directly via their smartphone. It’s a great convenience not only for the client, but also the accountancy office since the introduction of mTAX does not entail any changes to the existing accounting and bookkeeping systems. Thus, the implementation of the app does not generate any additional expenses whatsoever for neither of the parties involved. The primary benefits for the clients include a guarantee of a 24/7 on-call support, as well as easy and intuitive handling, continual access to costs, revenues and taxes. It is also possible to attach documents directly from the level of the app or the website. mTAX allows users to generate reports on the financial condition of the company and uses push notifications to remind about the upcoming payments, which facilitates making bank transfers. It also provides information about new legal regulations.
AP: Let’s lay out some more details about the integration between the three entities.
MŁ: To provide a fuller picture of the integration and simplicity I’m talking about, let me give some examples. Every entrepreneur (especially small and medium-sized, for whom mTAX has been created) knows how many documents monthly need to be submitted to the accounting office. When creating mTAX we aimed at obtaining maximum simplicity of such activities. All one needs to do is take a photo of a document, attach it and send it via the app which processes the document. And that’s it – no need to visit the office. If you need to issue a sales invoice, you select a product, enter the quantity and the contrator’s name, and then things happen automatically – a few seconds later you get a push notification with a generated pdf file.
CRM is another aspect. Every entrepreneur has a certain number of clients regarding whom some activities need to be performed. We thought to ourselves: why not do it in the banking app? This is why, apart from the access to standard CRM functionalities, every customer is going to have a possibility to check the number of invoices, control the payment status, or issue a payment order. Through CRM we first of all bond the customer to the bank which, in turn, gets the opportunity to show the entrepreneur how to act according to the existing industry standards. There are also benefits for the bank, as it obtains the possibility to verify clients’ creditworthiness, based on which aspects such as credit facilities, credit conditions and the best time to grant a loan can be specified.
AP: Why was mTAX implemented in Ukraine?
MŁ: The answer is simple. At the time when we decided to make ourselves involved in this subject matter, so promising for banking, it was the Ukrainian market that turned out to be the best for an endeavor such as ours. We focused on Ukraine because it is a vast area for creating FinTech solutions. 3 years ago there operated approximately 200 banks. The situation has changed and today there are a couple dozen banks operating in Ukraine. Except for one Privat Bank, nobody was willing to invest in their banking system. Ukraine is developing dynamically, which translates into a vibrant growth of Ukrainian economy as well. The country is looking to the West, absorbing inspirations and adopting numerous solutions first introduced in the European market. Competition seems underdeveloped, which gives ample scope for our activity. Add to that a growth in the numbers of business ventures being established, together with the possibility to operate on a flat-rate for people such as programmers (taxed 8%), and you get a picture of a very promising market for FinTech solutions.
AP: What future awaits mTAX?
MŁ: We have banks applying to implement our bookkeeping application in other countries. When it comes to FinTech, we are not slowing down – we already have ideas for next applications.
AP: Thank you for your time, and good luck with creating new FinTech applications.
MŁ: Thank you.