By @SimonCocking

Irish Tech News recently chatted with Gary Conroy, Managing Director of Realex. He was very optimistic and positive for the future of the company as part of the Global Payments organisation. Conroy felt partnering up with Gobal Payments enabled Realex to continue to grow and serve a wider global audience. Since then Realex have announced more good news for their Irish based operations. 

How are you adapting to your new role as MD of Realex?

We are adjusting to life after the acquisition of Realex by Global Payments,  a company with a massive global reach. It made sense to scale, we thought we were a big company, but now we are part of an organisation with an even bigger volume of business transactions. It offers us the power of distribution, it’s great for our customers. We can now offer a better solution, with good opportunities, we are in 31 countries now. It’s great for Dublin as our own operations have grown and it’s good to scale up.

We have lots of great things coming up. The goal was to offer a complete payments solution. We are launching in the UK with more product offerings in relation to fraud and recurring payments. We report to Global Solutions directly, not just as a region, we provide both product support and also interact with global outlets, with a good degree of autonomy.

Where do you see the future for Realex, and the challenges faced?

We’re 15 years old, we knew we had to get out of Ireland. We achieved this in 2007, first to the UK, and then we internationalised with Spain next. It’s a lengthy process, our ambition is to have our services availalbe around the globe. We want to keep building and creating around the globe.

The challenges are to scale to meet the opportunity, we have key roles to fill. We have to make it or sell it, and make sure it still runs and sells too. We aim to offer our SAAS  to new and existing companies, but we have to sell this service everyday if we are going to scale.

Fintech, lots of established banks are either buying in new fintech companies or hosting inhouse innovation incubators / or mentoring. Are there still new interesting innovations to emerge?

We’ve flipped a little bit, from being Enterprise Ireland supported to the IDA , but we like to still think like a startup. Innovation and competition are good, it keeps us on toes, and  is good for established players.  We provided white label services too for other companies, so we are constantly able to review what is and what is not working.

We followed this path because we felt it could work eleswhere too. It’s a good strategy to begin as a niche player to build up business. Then if you can prove the niche service works, then try to get it added to other services, Omnipay, Firstdata, Currencyfair did this successfully. We have had similar success too, as paywithfire  was spun off into a new company from Realex, with Colm Lyon running with that now, so it all keeps innovating!

Your tips to new fintech startups?

Look at what will make a difference, and what will be able to scale. What worked for us was to look for big changes. We started in 2000, but it was a year before we got our first customer. Once we got Aerlingus this really helped us. It was a big step, especially because we were only ten people at the time. Then in  2009 we got Virgin, the AA, in 2012 Golabl Payments. Elavon in 2013, these all helped us to scale. So you need to keep looking for scaling opportunities.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

It’s good to write business plans, but you must be ready for opportunities when they arise, and have the vision to see them for what they are. We could have been a bit braver a bit sooner. We rebuilt our platform and infrastructure, we now run at 5% of our capacity. We could have done it earlier. Overall though we did things well too, we kept asking what was right for our people and our customers.

What are your tips for getting the most out of the Web Summit, how did it help Realex?

We were there from the early days, to see their growth is great. Web Summit is great for connecting startups with the business community. There is great value in the networking, meeting other people in the organisation, it is really useful and can save you lots of air miles. At events like Web Summit, and Money202, it is far better to go there to network, and have meetings. Know why you are there and what you want to do. The talks are great, but really people are there to do business.

Does social media offer value for Realex?

We completely use it. We have a good marketing team, it allows us to connect with our customers, and to be part of the conversation. If not you become irrelevant otherwise, as long as you have something to add to the conversation. We use it to help solve our customers problems.

It must be very busy, how do you manage the life / work balance challenges?

I take two weeks annual leave. Unless there’s a big crisis, we turn off the phones. You need to switch off and take a break.

For more information about Realex see below.

Realex Payments, the European payment services provider were acquired by Global Payments this year. They recently announced the creation of 50 new jobs in its offices on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, in the heart of Silicon Docks. The company will be hiring across a variety of roles in sales, marketing, IT operations and software development as well as expand its technical graduate programme.

Realex Payments is an Irish start-up success story, founded by award winning entrepreneur Colm Lyon in 2000, it has become one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing online payment gateways. It processes payments valued in excess of €30 billion annually on behalf of over 13,000 retailers throughout Europe and is continuing to expand its customer base.

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