Realex enjoys boom in online payments


ONLINE PAYMENTS firm Realex Payments processed over €1 billion in transactions last month as it experienced an increase in the value and volume of sales by its clients.

The news came as the company announced it achieved a 9 per cent annual increase in pretax profits to €783,000 in the year to the end of April last. Despite the economic downturn, revenues grew 8 per cent to €7 million.

Realex is headquartered in Dublin but processes online payments for clients across Europe, including Virgin Atlantic, Vodafone, the AA, AXA Insurance, Aer Lingus and Cryptologic. It has operations in Ireland, the UK, France and the Netherlands.

The company said in the 12 months to the end of November, the value of payments it processed increased by 44 per cent to €9 billion. The average transaction in November was €252, up from €182 in November 2009. The volume of payments processed by Realex over the same period increased by 26 per cent.

“The Irish market has been flat, but the online retail market in the UK is very strong,” said Realex chief executive Colm Lyon.

He said about 45 per cent of the volume of transactions processed by Realex are now outside Ireland.

The growth has continued into the current financial year and in November, Realex signed up 180 new clients.

Realex recently opened an office in Paris and Mr Lyon said the company was now focused on European expansion. It recently signed a deal with French bank BNP Paribas which will allow payments to be processed directly into accounts in France. Until now European customers had to process their payments into banks in the UK and Ireland.

Mr Lyon is also focusing on the development of Carapay, a new electronic payment service which he describes as “your bank account combined with Facebook”. Users will be able to transfer money easily to other people without having to know bank account numbers or sort codes using mobile and web apps.

Earlier this year Carapay got a licence from Ireland’s Financial Regulator under the Payment Service Directive which allows it to offer payment accounts in the European market without a banking licence. Mr Lyon said Carapay will launch next May.

Realex was founded in 2000 by Mr Lyon, who previously held senior IT management roles with Ulster Bank. Mr Lyon is the majority shareholder in Realex Payments, with a 79 per cent stake at the end of April.

The company is chaired by Dr Laurence Crowley, the Aer Lingus director and former governor of the Bank of Ireland.