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For Business

"The banks and credit card companies have spent 50 years building a proprietary, locked-down system that handles roughly $2 trillion in credit card transactions and another $1.3 trillion in debit card transactions every year. Until recently, vendors had little choice but to participate in this system, even though - like a medieval toll road - it is long and bumpy and full of intermediaries eager to take their cut. Take the common swipe. When a retailer initiates a transaction, the store's point-of-sale system provider - the company that leases out the industrial-gray card reader to the merchant for a monthly fee - registers the sale price and passes the information on to the store's bank. The bank records its fee and passes on the purchase information to the credit card company. The credit card company then takes its share, authorizes all the previous fees, and sends the information to the buyer's bank, which routes the remaining balance back to the store. All in all, it takes between 24 and 72 hours for the vendor to get any money, and along the way up to 3.5 percent of the sale has been siphoned away. [...]  According to a 2003 study in the Review of Network Economics, every sale by credit card costs a merchant six times what the same sale with cash would run. (Cash comes with its own costs, such as requiring more oversight of cashiers, upkeep of vaults, and a banks services to process it.)"

                     - 'The Future of Money: It's Flexible, Frictionless and (Almost) Free', Wired Magazine, March 2012.

How does the present status of the financial services industry hurt your business?
  • Many businesses face artificially reduced markets because the majority of the world's population who live outside of the financial first world are unable to gain access to payment systems to deal with you directly.  This means that your market access is limited through expensive, high overhead dealer/distributor relationships that are time consuming to set up and distance you from your customer.
  • Most present-era financial settlement systems provide no integrated means for backup links or high availability.  If your settlement gateway or bank becomes unavailable or goes on holiday, your business bleeds money and loses profits.
  • Are you unfairly forced to accept liability for fraud that is inherent in legacy settlement systems such as those operated by the credit card companies?
  • Do you consider the expense of hiring someone to read or translate pages and pages of contractual legalese a waste of money?
  • Consider integration costs for financial systems projects to be excessive?
  • Do you worry about the future portability of systems you are developing, given the emergence of mobile paradigms, NFC, digital currencies, and other changes to the financial services environment?
  • Are you involved in manufacturing or supply chain processes, wishing that the visibility, reliability, choice of partners of your supply side systems could be replicated to your financial partnerships or vice-versa? Would it make sense to use the same systems to manage physical assets, production capacity and financial assets?
If so, you'll love IFEX.

IFEX is about choice and diversity.  It aims to create a free market for financial services that empowers you to extract hard service commitments from financial service providers before entering in to transactions.  Service providers give you this data in a clear, structured and precise manner (instead of legalese!) so that you are free to let your systems switch automatically (based on your policy) to the most appropriate financial service provider for each transaction, partner or customer.  This lowers overheads, enlarges your potential market, and creates redundant settlement options that ensure business continuity in the case of temporary or permanent failure of one or more of your settlement partners.

What's more, by adopting IFEX as your internal settlement standard, you will be able to connect rapidly to new partners, customers or settlement service providers without any more costly upgrades, since your infrastructure's core will be flexible enough to handle a huge variety of financial assets or currencies, as well as any known settlement network.

Sound good? It gets better! You are invited to participate in the development of the IFEX protocol by offering feedback and suggestions. A free open source software implementation of IFEX will be made available, so you can deploy without needing a loan to cover licensing fees.

Right now, the following components are already available:
  • IMIC - open identification of internet-based financial markets
  • IIBAN - open identification of internet-based financial endpoints
  • X-ISO4217-A3 - open identification of currencies and currency-like commodities

Implement today, and join the revolution!