Manos Makromalis: Excelon is strategically positioned in the convergence of two popular worlds, electronic money and digital currencies
The co-founder and CEO of Excelon talks exclusively to STARTUPPER MAG about the creation of the most sophisticated crypto fintech Startup of the Greek ecosystem, explains the secrets of digital currencies (cryptocurrencies) and the technologies that support their integration into sophisticated digital platforms, analyzes the philosophy and strategy of the company to provide advanced services and reveals Excelon’s vision and plans for a new digital banking experience with unlimited possibilities and innovative solutions for individuals and businesses in the UK and Europe
S.M.: This year you are completing four years of presence in the market. Would you be kind enough to offer us a tour to the highlights of Excelon’s journey so far?
Manos Makromalis: In the four years of our presence we have achieved the initial goals in terms of the technological, regulatory and commercial dimension of our product. Today we can see with confidence the future evolution of the digital banking experience we already offer to customers across Europe and in the UK. In terms of the technological part, the first and perhaps most important part of digital user input in the world of Excelon is one of the most basic steps. For both consumers and companies we have designed digital onboarding to be done with great ease and speed. Upon completion of the digital onboarding, the customer gains access to applications such as an e-wallet with the provision of an IBAN and the possibility of remittances via SEPA, Instant SEPA, SWIFT, or through UK Faster Payments, Debit Mastercard, a custody crypto wallet and a digital currency exchange (crypto exchange), as well as in many decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, such as deposits with return, etc. At the same time, we have developed, under the trade name ZILLION, a product only with electronic money services that is addressed exclusively to the market of corporate customers.In terms of regulatory compliance, Excelon has received the appropriate approvals and licenses from regulatory authorities (such as the Bank of Lithuania, the UK FCA, the Hellenic Capital Market Commission in Greece, FCIS in Lithuania) to offer its services both for the provision of electronic money services and in the field of digital currencies.
S.M.: Excelon’s initial goal was to transform and shake up the wider financial services market, while it did not hide its intention to gradually transform to such an extent that it became the first Blockchain bank internationally. At what point are the aforementioned aspirations?
Manos Makromalis: Our perception was and remains strong that the form of money is changing rapidly. Although any development in the field of banking is by nature slow, the changes that are taking place during this period are significant.Our vision is “to provide our client with the ability to access any asset they have (e.g. euros, pounds, digital currencies, shares, NFTs), and to be able to manage and use them easily, safely and directly in their daily transactions and not only on an investment level.Consumers are now looking for different banking services than in the past, as a result of changing needs and lifestyles. Digital nomads are citizens of one country who reside in another country and want to be served for their transactions by a digital bank, such as Excelon. At the same time, the individuals belonging to Generation Z are the generation that perceives digital money as an equal trading tool such as the euro.They wish to complete any process from their mobile phone, without the need to visit a physical store. All the above needs as well as many others that are created daily, we cover them both with our already offered services and with the design and development of new services.
S.M.: How is Excelon’s strategic planning evolving at the level of maturity and numerical quantities, which in the first stage was developed in two phases: On the one hand, in the Mastercard version and the opening of an account (IBAN) and on the other hand, in the availability of an innovative Crypto Wallet? What are the next steps in the aforementioned dual dimension of activity?
Manos Makromalis: The provision of an e-wallet or a crypto wallet was essentially our entry point in the market, but it is no longer our strategic target. Today we have exceeded, without any substantial advertising campaign, the 24,000 registered users.It is worth noting that within the three years of the commercial launch we have to demonstrate important indicators (KPIs), such as the average revenue per user (ARPU) which in 2021 stood at EUR, and within the next three years we aim to reach 130 EUR. At the same time, we maintain a relatively stable cost of customer acquisition (CAC) at the level of 34 EUR.The above indicators demonstrate the sound basis of our business model and the upcoming profitability, as the number of customers will increase. At the beginning of July we presented the second version of our application in which many parts of it have been optimized and now we are at an important point for its dynamic promotion and growth of our clientele. One of the new services concerns the integration of XLON Coin, which is traded on international exchanges as a utility coin but also the tradeable loyalty reward. A customer can purchase a predetermined amount of XLON coins and contribute them (“Stake”) against specific benefits. The customer is rewarded with cash back for the purchases he makes with Excelon Mastercard and receives a 100% refund of their subscriptions such as Netflix, Spotify, etc. All returns are made in XLON Coins which are instantly exchangeable in euros and freely transferable, making XLON Coin one of the few digital currencies that have the use of utility coin and tradeable loyalty reward.
S.M.: What is included in Excelon’s generally developmental and productive Pipeline today and what areas of interest will concern it in the coming period?
Manos Makromalis: Excelon is at an important point of maturity, having a complete proposal for the consumer or for the company that wishes, in addition to the services of classic banking, to enjoy a number of other services. The steps that follow are (a) the organic growth of our clientele within Europe and the UK; Vassiliou, (b) the extension of licences (for electronic money) and the payment and card platform, which will allow geographical expansion to customers in Asia and South America and (c) the upgrading of our infrastructure and the number of employees in the various regions, as well as the development of new products and services.
S.M.: How is the landscape of FinTech companies evolving internationally? What are the challenges emerging today, what are the obstacles that need to be overcome, what kind of opportunities are presented and how do you aspire as Excelon to address them?
Manos Makromalis: Today, the world is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and any predictions for the future are a bit precarious. Certainly, technologies such as AI and Machine learning are going to evolve the interaction of customers with digital banks, as well as their internal processes. Digital banking platforms, such as Excelon, have a clear comparative edge over traditional banking institutions, in being able to target people with personalized offers and support that match their behavior. A pleasant challenge for Excelon is to work with retailers and marketplaces and their ability to offer payments to their customers on credit (BNPL) or other financial products (Embedded Finance).
S.M.: What are the differentiating factors that make Excelon stand out in its field of activity?
Manos Makromalis: Excelon is strategically positioned in the convergence of two popular “worlds”, electronic money and digital currencies. Usually, there are companies that do either one or the other. Excelon today, through a super-app, offers its customers the exploitation and use of all their assets, with incredible security, speed and ease in their daily lives. In conclusion, the interoperability enjoyed by the Excelon customer, which can and does move without restrictions between these “worlds”, is the most important factor of our differentiation. This kind of differentiation is offered by very few providers on the international stage.
S.M.: How do you envision the emerging field of digital money? What factors will characterize it and what are the guarantees that lead to the successful presence within it?
Manos Makromalis: Today, we see that in a very short time cryptocurrencies have evolved from digital innovation to technologies worth trillions of dollars, with the potential to disrupt and help the global financial system. This in turn has led governments and central banks to design digital currencies to be issued by central banks.The formation of an appropriate regulatory framework, the issuance of digital currencies by central banks (Central Bank Digital Currencies) and innovative digital banking services, such as that of Excelon, will create the conditions for the wide and successful use of digital money. The only sure thing about the future is that Excelon will be at the forefront of shaping new products and technologies around the new digital banking experience of the 21st century.