Adding banking to your services via APIs

January 26, 2023

In this episode, Legislate meets Alex Mifsud, Co-founder and CEO of Weavr. Alex shares a bit of background about Weavr and how the design of your contracts can accelerate the uptake of your business.

Listen to the episode below:

Learn more about Weavr

Learn more about Legislate

Charles Brecque: Welcome to the Legislate podcast, a place to learn about the latest insights and trends in property technology, business building, and contract drafting. Today. I'm excited to welcome Alex on the show. Alex is the CEO and co-founder of Weavr, a scalable platform that allows companies to add banking to their services by APIs, quickly and affordably Alex, welcome to the Legislate podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself and share a bit of background about

Alex Mifsud: Thanks for having me. I am what you would call, a serial entrepreneur. I started life as a computer scientist. I started building payments businesses in the early two thousands. I built what I think is the world's first virtual prepaid card business called entropay.

Then went on to build a commercial payments business called Ixaris, which was sold last year. And now I'm building my third business called and as you said, it's about enabling any digital application to integrate financial services within the application.

Charles Brecque: Congratulations. On that track record. What's been your favorite moment so far?

Alex Mifsud: Gosh. Seeing customers use what you create, I think has to be it, right. We all get excited about fundraising and all the rest of it, but what's really exciting is when you see the thing you visualized, and other people using it and coming up with ideas you never thought it would be used for.

Yeah. And there have been plenty of those last year we closed just over 50 deals of these digital applications that are integrating financial services. And many of them are just incredibly creative. So yes, plenty of good moments.

Charles Brecque: And in terms of those surprising applications of your product, are you able to share any of them?

Alex Mifsud: Yes. Absolutely. One of them is an employee benefits platform that's rewriting employee benefits for the 21st century. As part of doing that, they had decided to integrate all the financial services that go on to pay for these benefits. So collecting money from employers using that money to pay traditional benefits providers like pension and health care, but then doing some more wacky things like being able to pay Spotify subscriptions for employees if that's what employees choose to do, being able to pay for lunch or leisure or concert tickets, and actually really creating advantages that employees truly love.

So that's something which we're powering. That idea I found really exciting. Another application is around powering devices like this one here which is a sports tracker and some of these devices now have payment chips in them and FC chips and actually provide you the payments infrastructure. So those chips can then be powered with actual real cards that can be used for contactless payments, whether that's support for public transport or for buying your sandwich. But actually making that much more of a holistic solution for whoever's wearing the sports tracker and obviously helping monetise it as well. So a really broad range of applications.

Charles Brecque: That's very exciting. And you're a serial entrepreneur. What do you wish you'd known before starting that first or second or even third company?

Alex Mifsud: Well you learn all the time, right? So there are some lessons that carry across and some things you have to be humble enough to start from first principles. I think you start thinking how hard can it be? And then you fall flat on your face a couple of times and then you sort of say, well it's doable, but I've probably got to be a little bit more patient, a little bit more thoughtful, a little bit more trusting as well.

I think the main thing is you realize how much you can do, but how much more careful you have to do it. It's very easy to do a PowerPoint deck. It's less easier to make that PowerPoint deck into a real sort of business that's that's doing all the right things, getting customers, generating revenue, getting customers, making customers

Charles Brecque: And I imagine you need to be careful, especially in payments as well.

Alex Mifsud: That's right. It's a highly regulated industry. It's also really sensitive to security breaches, the scams, all sorts of dragons, and that you've got to be careful with.

Charles Brecque: Absolutely. And where do you see yourself and Weavr in the next three to five years?

Alex Mifsud: We are really building a global platform. We think of this concept of integrating financial services into non financial businesses. So whether they are transportation like Uber, or, more B2B SaaS, like the employee benefits platform I described at the start, we're at the start of a trend where instead of asking customers to go to their bank.

You actually bring the bank to your customers so we're building a global platform to enable digital innovators to be able to do this anywhere in the world. We're busy getting customers on board and getting banking partners on board raising more money so that we can do a little bit more of that and expanding it to more territories. So it's an interesting and exciting ride.

Charles Brecque: It does definitely sound very exciting. And through these companies and now Weavr, as a CEO, what are the key contracts that you interact with the most?

Alex Mifsud: Without contracts , you know, in almost everything we do, whether that's hiring. Whether those are with partners and of course with our customers, ultimately we are really trying to remove friction. There's the automation side of signatures, but there's also the aspect of standardizing contracts and really narrowing the number of parameters you would have in contracts, so that you remove a whole bunch of friction in the whole buying process, I think is a really important element of how we accelerate take up of our business.

Charles Brecque: I think parameters is one thing that we try to do. With all our contracts at Legislate is to parameterize them so that there is flexibility. And we definitely try to offer as many parameters as we can. Not that we want the people to negotiate, but we know that negotiation is inevitable. And instead of querying a solicitor in terms of how do I make this flexibility possible. In Legislate you change a toggle, change your answer, and then end up with a resulting compliant contract. So that's definitely something that we try to make possible.

With those contracts that you've been creating to grow all your businesses. Has there been any friction or key objections that you've encountered, whether it's specific clauses or specific contract types and how did you overcome them?

Alex Mifsud: Yes. So first of all you design contracts, when you launch your product and you do your best shot, and then you come into contact with reality. There's a buyer on the other side. There's a range of behaviors. Some people will trust you and will sign the contract with a cursory. They'll look for gremlins and if they don't spot any, they'll sign it, others will go to get legal advice. it's a sensible thing to do, of course, , and there's not always a correlation between the maturity and size of the customer. Some people are really just starting out, but they're very cautious. Some have done it before and they can read contracts themselves. For us, once you really make contact with reality, you start to see those clauses, which people ponder on the most. And in some cases you say, actually we're beyond reasonable here, or are we being too vague?

Or are we just getting so many objections there's something really fundamentally wrong here? And then we go back and we think about what's the right thing to do? What will have the best outcome? And we kind of design options around that. There's the contract we would like and there's the contract we would put up with and often there are many stages in between. Even if a contract is not that structured our thinking has to be structured in the way we navigate the asks on belief in the legal negotiation process.

Charles Brecque: Yeah. At Legislate we definitely try to standardize wording so that at least the wording is not a point of negotiation. And it then just comes down to the parameters and what is one side willing to accept. But I think what we definitely try to do is make sure that contracts are fair so that both sides have equal rights and obligations.

 I'm conscious Alex, I've already taken a lot of your time. So I'm going to ask you the closing question we ask all our guests. If you're being sent a contract to sign today, what would impress you?

Alex Mifsud: Clarity is probably the number one thing. I do read contracts. We do have legal counsel who I ask to review contracts, but it's important that when you read a contract, you have clarity in terms of what you're signing up for. I really like contracts that have a section at the beginning that summarizes the contract.

I think that's a real big plus to say this contract is made up of the following areas, this is what we're looking to achieve in each of those areas. That's really helpful. It just speeds up the reading so much. And where the use of language is as much plain English as possible.

I think you can say a lot with plain English and not language that sort of obfuscates what the other party is trying to achieve. So those are the things I've looked for, a good structure, a summary ideally, and use of plain English.

Charles Brecque: It sounds like you've described legislate!

Alex Mifsud: I'm glad to hear that.

Charles Brecque: Yes. We've had to definitely explain our contracts in plain English, but also present the contracts as a set of questions and answers because a lot of our users are unlawyered and therefore they need to understand what they're signing. But yeah thank you very much, Alex, for being on the show. Best of luck, bringing banking to more creative solutions and hopefully we can have you on again.

Alex Mifsud: Thanks for having me.


Listen to more episodes