Vantage: Crassula

Providing payment innovation to Eastern European businesses

Payments platform provider Crassula helps various businesses, from banks to startups, become more innovative by providing them with custom payment solutions. Hear from Crassula’s CEO, Daria Dubinina, on how these solutions are transforming the financial industry, how invaluable quick adaption is when responding to client’s requests, and how truly disruptive FinTechs are at improving customer experience.

Tell us more about Crassula, including what makes your company and your vision unique?

Crassula is a FinTech software platform which provides White Label solutions that help businesses create their very own financial products. Currently, we have several products: eCommerce, Banking, Cryptocurrency Exchange and are working on some new ones as well. Starting this spring, we have also opened a new Operational product – we help our clients with their back-office, gathering dedicated teams that help deal with account management, bookkeeping, customer care, technical support, etc. Recently, we have also opened a RegTech division, offering an AML/KYC solution that, with a unique scoring algorithm, which helps companies efficiently manage risks and comply with EU regulations in the process of onboarding new users and merchants.

The most outstanding feature is that Crassula helps FinTech businesses launch within several days and with very low budgets, no matter if our partner builds payment systems, wallets, banking, wants to start generating IBANs, or launch a cryptocurrency exchange messenger bot.

Where is Crassula on its journey and what have been the key challenges in getting there?

Crassula is currently at the growth stage. We started building our company 3 years ago and initially provided services as a payment system. Our team was interested in developing unique functionality – we did a lot of experimenting with marketing and analysing purchase behaviours.

After a while, our clients started asking about White Label and for us it was an interesting concept to try. After the first White Label contract came the second and then the third, and at that point we understood what  solutions we’re doing well and with which we can add real value to our clients. We then began connecting with new customers, listening to their problems and expanding our functionality.

FinTech is one of the most complicated spheres to work in – it requires specific business, legal and financial knowledge along with technological intelligence. Shaping the product that would become compliant in 31 countries (EEA), that would become valuable as an ecosystem and that would solve most business tasks was the challenge. That’s how the idea of creating the whole ecosystem with modular products appeared. In addition, the company was fully bootstrapped from day one and we had to develop business fast and efficiently. We started listening to the client’s pains and struggles and at that point our products were shaped uniquely in order to address the clients’ needs. This helped us to grow our partnerbase and we were lucky enough to become profitable within two years.

What pain points in the customer journey are you aiming to solve with the solutions you provide? How do you address these pain points?

Usually, the creation of payment solutions or cash account systems takes no less than one year and requires at least a €100K budget. Moreover, creating such solutions requires developers to have lots of expertise because they are working in a very regulated space. Businesses have to make their solutions compliant. Crassula’s ecosystem allows businesses to create solutions in several days and with a very low budget. Our services are already compliant with EU regulations, which makes it a plug and play product.

Another great thing is that the company which uses a Crassula White Label solution does not need to have an IT team at all; thus, our clients can focus on sales, finances and growing the business, knowing that all technological aspects are taken care of, maintained, updated and all functions necessary are delivered for a successful business.

How do you maintain momentum in continually improving the experience for your customers and their customers?

We do not create products that we think would work just because of our gut feeling. We have partners that are working with their clients, creating the products that are on high demand. We are very open and flexible in technology development, which allows us to listen and listen to our partners’ needs and work with that. All our products appeared because there was a demand for it and it was particularly expressed to us. Luckily, our team is able to quickly adapt, understand and create unique products. In this way, when a client comes to us with a “I wish I had…” request, we are ready to provide them with not just a solution, but with a fully developed, unique and perfectly working product.

In your opinion, how disruptive are FinTechs really when it comes to customer experience? Are FinTechs truly disruptive or actually just effective at improving a specific experience?

Today we can witness existing products transforming into something more contemporary, adjusting features that would make them unique or making some services free of charge, or just making products more convenient for users, or faster. From one point of view, these changes are disruptive, but on the other hand, we are still talking about the same services. Here are some examples:

  • We now have mobile banks that provide the same services as traditional banks, but faster, remotely, with an opportunity to manage your operations on mobile. But they are still payments, transfers, savings.
  • We have disruptive insurance solutions that track you when driving or automatically calculate your medical score to generate offers based on that and thus eliminate costs and save time. Such solutions communicate with you on a very different level, however we’re still talking about insurance.
  • Wealth management has gone through lots of automation recently, however that’s well-known financial advisory.
  • In trade, people have already forgotten about borders – transactions are made globally, connecting people in milliseconds.

The approach to solving the daily tasks is disruptive and improving the specific experience, but we’re not talking about reinventing the wheel. In addition, there were many big steps made in the FinTech industry lately and the speed of change is very high. This transformation is so essential for people that are using FinTech products that they cannot really identify if there is a disruption. However, if we make a comparison to what has been 10-20 years ago, it is a huge step forward and it is only gaining speed.

While digital currencies are increasingly being trialled in different industries, their applicability in the real economy and their place in the financial services ecosystem remains a grey area. What is your view?

Digital currencies have the potential to offer great value. However, instruments that are used for cryptocurrency adoption in the real world are so underdeveloped that there is still lots of work and development to be done before the cryptocurrency will be commonly used in everyday life. There is a possibility that cryptocurrencies will remain on the same level as they are now and will be comprehended as assets similar to gold, without a wider use in everyday life. That would be a shame because the technology itself is brilliant, and the idea of operating the whole financial system internationally in a decentralized manner is incredible.

We feel that Crassula is making a contribution in developing the adoption of Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies by creating products that help make the transition from traditional currency to digital currency more convenient, fast and essential. But there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.

The European FinTech movement has so far been largely focused into a few large hubs such as the U.K. and Germany. How would you characterise the Eastern European FinTech scene? What are the main trends and most innovative solutions we should be aware of?

Eastern Europe becomes less isolated from the rest of the world and the trends that we can see in Western countries. This development goes towards erasing barriers between different parts of the world. If we look at the tech industry 10 years ago and compare it to what we have now, we can see a wide adoption of online services, whether it is payments, insurance or wealth management. In some Eastern European countries this adoption is already being implemented – some countries are faster, some are still developing. It is an interesting fact that, since a lot of Western companies have outsourced their intellectual forces to Eastern Europe, it helped them accumulate a knowledge of how to create innovative technologies, and the progress in this part of the world is faster than ever.

Eastern European countries have shown a fast adoption of Blockchain and cryptocurrency. That can be explained by different factors, starting from the interest in new technologies and moving to the historical events that caused people to lose the trust towards the traditional financial system. In Eastern Europe there is a big trend of mining cryptocurrencies and there are all the natural resources available for that, and people are smart enough to adopt these technologies.

With Brexit quickly approaching, there has been an increased competition between the U.K. and E.U. in creating an attractive regulatory environment for FinTechs. What are the main advantages of each jurisdiction from an aspiring FinTechs point of view?

Brexit is very unlikely to cause an isolation of the UK from the European commercial and legal scheme. Europe is a huge market, and the UK has significant experience and adopted procedures, technology, regulations and other processes tightened with EU. Thus, my prediction is that there will not be a full isolation of the UK from the EU. On the other hand, European countries feel that there is a potential to fill the leadership place in the start-up and technology ecosystem. And this interest can create miracles. So, the UK might see a lot of competitors coming in the near future to become the next leading tech country or even the appearance of a ‘European Silicon Valley’.

Finally, what is the one pearl of wisdom you would share with FinTechs starting their journey and why?

Try to ask yourself ‘am I doing crap?’ every single day. This will help stop shaking the air and focus on things that really matter before the problem emerges. Value your time and resources. Direct your energy on your business and needs of your clients, fulfil their needs. It will make your business grow, will make the company more interesting for investors and will lead to financial results.


About the Author:

Daria Dubinina is a FinTech entrepreneur and CEO of Crassula. She has over 8 years experience in e-commerce and payments. Daria has been leading strategy and international business development for several payment companies, responsible for signing international agreements with Paypal, IBM, Alipay, Riot Games and several other leading names.

More about the Vantage Series:

This post is part of the Vantage series by KAE that provides a fresh perspective and hears first-hand from various players across the FinTech & CX ecosystem.

KAE will be posting a number of interviews with companies that share their candid viewpoints and to really get under the skin of the FinTech world and Customer Experience within various industries.

If you would like to share your views and participate in the Vantage series, feel free to reach out to us at Vantage@kae.com.