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CurrencyCloud CTO Eyes Global Growth After Going All-In On AWS

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

INTERVIEW: International payments firm set its sights high after embracing the agility and innovation of cloud

The fintech industry is one that has enjoyed supersonic growth over the last few years, as the way in which people pay for goods and services shifts dramatically.

Many regions around the world are fast transitioning to cashless societies where the emphasis is now very much on digital payment platforms that are easy to use and can be seamlessly integrated by vendors.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the UK. London is widely known to be one of the leading fintech markets, with some of the world’s biggest financial organisations setting up shop in the capital and the likes of Transport for London leading from the front.

One company that has been busy making the most of this fintech boom is CurrencyCloud, a London-based provider of a global payments platform that helps businesses move money quickly and securely around the world.

AWS

AWS or bust

CurrencyCloud has experienced significant success since its birth in 2012, with transaction volume growing at around 50-60 percent annually for each of the last three years.

But with this growth, of course comes complications. Speaking to Silicon at the AWS Summit in London, CurrencyCloud’s CTO Ed Addario outlined why the company reached a point where an all-in move to cloud was the only way forward.

“Moving to Amazon is one of those milestone steps that we need to take,” he said. “We have been seeing phenomenal growth, by the end of June we will have made as many payment transactions as we did in the entire of 2016.

“It got to the point where our existing provider couldn’t scale enough. The question that our CTO had to be able to answer was ‘what happens if tomorrow there is a potential customer who decided to give us a chance to deal with all their international payments?’ Are we in a position to go from 200,000 transactions a month, to 2 million transactions a day?

“From a technology perspective, the architecture of our system was not far off, so the question became one of how can we guarantee that elastic growth that meets demand and then when that demand peaks, out how can we make sure that we can shrink back?”

As Addario says, flexibility and agility were the two main drivers that triggered the decision to fully embrace the world of cloud and the company is now running 100 percent on Amazon’s platform following a six month migration process.

But why AWS, I hear you ask. Well, CurrencyCloud took a range of issues into account before making its decision. such as security and the scalability capabilities mentioned above.

But, in the end, it was AWS’ level of innovation and the availability of complementing services that set it apart: “[A] concern that sets Amazon as a clear leader in the market is the periphery of additional systems and tools that are interconnected with the infrastructure. This translates into the real world as two things. Firstly, most likely as our services grow we will need access to those technologies to keep adding new services at the same cost model, meaning if we use it we pay for it, if we don’t use it we don’t pay for it.

“Number two is the innovation. Obviously Amazon is spending a significant amount of money on innovative products around AWS and we want to take advantage of that. We will never try to match that level of investment and even if we had the money, that’s not what we do.”

CurrencyCloud did also consider Google’s cloud platform, but Addario explained that it fell short in that one crucial area: “If the only things we were using were computing power and storage power and memory power, I think the Google cloud would have been as good as Amazon.

“But it was that additional innovation. I’m sure Google will get there at some point but right now Amazon has the lead.”

samsung pay edge

Looking ahead

Now that the migration is complete, CurrencyCloud is setting its sights firmly on international expansion, with the aim of eventually becoming synonymous with international payments in the way that Google is to search or AWS is to cloud infrastructure.

“We have a good presence in Europe, we our ramping up our operations in the US and right now we are focusing on Asia,” Addario said. “When you look at the flow of money, the biggest pipe of money is from the US into Asia or from Europe into Asia, a lot of money goes that way.

“And although we can process payments to Asia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, we are going for a banking license in Singapore which will give us the ability to offer even lower rates for customers.”

The company is also planning to look into the use of technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine intelligence and pattern analysis, with AWS’ infrastructure enabling it to quickly test new products and services in the future.

Just another example of the benefits that businesses can enjoy by embracing the wide world of cloud technology.

Quiz: The cloud in 2017